The Best In-Game Pinball Tables


Duke Nukem Balls of Steel Pinball from Duke Nukem Forever and the Casino Night Pinball minigame from Sonic Generations.

When going to an arcade these days, a lot of you will immediately gravitate to what pinball machines they have on offer. Pinball stands out gameplay and visual-wise in the arcade space. It’s also a lot of fun but can be really hard. Video games for decades have attempted to emulate the pinball formula.

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Games like The Pinball Arcade and Zen Pinball are good examples. However, there are also games in completely different genres or series known for having a playable pinball portion in them. It can be a short minigame or a full-fleshed pinball spinoff.


8/8 Sonic Adventure: Casinopolis

The Sonic franchise has many pinball sections and even a full-fleshed pinball spin-off on the Genesis. The first one in a 3D Sonic title was in Sonic Adventure’s Casinopolis zone. The majority of the stage will be you playing pinball, and you must get 400 rings in total to finish the level.

It’s quite fun to play the table here, and it’s a perfect balance of not being too simple or too complex. The stage doesn’t overstay its welcome and has just the right level of difficulty since you can accumulate all the rings over multiple plays at the minigame. It’s one of the highlight stages in Sonic’s story.

7/8 Duke Nukem Forever: Balls Of Steel

The Balls of Steel Pinball Table In Duke Nukem Forever.

Duke Nukem Forever actually contains two pinball tables. One in the core game and another in the Doctor Who Cloned Me DLC. Both are different but play very similarly. The main goal is to get as many points as possible. Getting over 280,000 points will reward an ego boost, and getting over a million will result in an achievement or trophy.

The ball physics is a bit odd, but once you get used to it, it’s a lot of fun. There are a couple of tricks that can result in a score far over a million. It’s actually really enjoyable to aim for new personal bests. Like most of the side activities in DNF, it’s a nice change of pace from the standard FPS gameplay.

6/8 Sonic Generations: Casino Night Pinball

Sonic going high from a flipper in the Casino Night Pinball minigame in Sonic Generations.

The pinball minigame in Sonic Generations was originally a pre-order bonus but was later released as a free download. It’s a pretty fun side game that can be played by both classic and modern Sonic, although there’s not much of a difference. The table is bigger than you may expect, and it can take a while to go through the whole thing.

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It’s a blast exploring the entire table for the first time, and it’s a worthwhile addition to the total package of Generations. Unlike real pinball tables, there’s no wizard mode where you must complete everything. For certain people, it can get old, but for a simple pre-order bonus, it does its job as a fun side game to play in between the main levels.

5/8 Trials HD: Infernal Pinball

Trials guy about to bounce off a flipper in the Infernal Pinball skill game in Trials HD.

In the first Trials entry on Xbox 360, there were some awesome skill games. Further Trials titles cranked it up even more, but the first skill games were still enjoyable. In the Infernal Pinball one, you control your bike and must use the movement of the flippers to get as high up as possible. It is easy to learn, but it takes a while to master using the flippers correctly.

You need to go just the right amount of speed so that the flippers will take you to where you want. These mostly vary for each flipper, so you need to accurately time each bounce if you want to get that platinum medal. Out of all the skill games in Trials HD, this will be one that you’ll take a stab at often to beat your best.

4/8 Sonic Frontiers: Pinball Stage

The pinball machine featured in Sonic Frontiers.

Sonic Frontiers has quite a few minigames throughout the single-player story, like the shoot ’em-up sections. However, the pinball one is probably the most notable. The table is actually rather small but is about the same size as the other minigames. The big sticking point is that you need five million points to progress onward.

For experience pinball players, this is a really fun endurance test that will test your skills. If you’re bad at pinball, this minigame can halt your progress for a bit. There are, however, a few ways to rack up points fast, such as collecting the red rings. While it should have been more beginner-friendly, this minigame is a satisfying and fun challenge to overcome for pinball enthusiasts.

3/8 Metroid Prime Pinball

The bottom screen of the Snow table in Metroid Prime Pinball.

The first Metroid game on the Nintendo DS wasn’t a standard entry, but instead Metroid Prime Pinball. While it sounds weird on paper, it actually makes quite a lot of sense. One of Samus’ more iconic abilities is the morphing ball feature. The DS also works great for emulating that big cabinet feel with the two screens.

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It’s not perfect since there is a separation between the two, but it still feels right for the DS. This game is an excellent pinball title, especially early on in the DS’s life. The package also came with the DS Rumble Pack, which was awesome, but unfortunately, not many games used it. Prime Pinball was a solid holdover while people waited for Metroid Prime Hunters, the first traditional DS Metroid game five months later.

2/8 Mario Pinball Land

One of the starting areas in Mario Pinball Land.

Another pinball game of an iconic Nintendo property is Mario Pinball Land. In fact, it was made by the same developers of Metroid Prime Pinball, Fuse Games. The gameplay is solid with smooth physics. The graphics are excellent for a GBA title, but it’s brutally hard. You likely didn’t get very far if you played this as a kid.

It’s so unforgiving because if you mess up and go down a screen, you must reopen the door all over again. Metroid Prime Pinball was far more forgiving. Unless you’re a pinball wizard, you likely won’t be getting far, but it’s still a quality pinball title.

1/8 The Pinball Of The Dead

A ball hitting a zombie in The Pinball of the Dead.

There are tons of wacky spin-offs to Sega’s beloved light gun shooter House of the Dead. There’s a typing game and even a title used to improve Japanese speakers’ use of English. Another noticeable one is Pinball of the Dead for the GBA. What’s cool about this pinball spin-off is that there are three different tables to play.

If you’re tired of one table, you can simply play another to spice things up. The tables work the elements of House of the Dead 2 very well and creativity. There are even boss fights, and all six from the original game are present. This title is a lot of fun and a worthwhile spin-off.

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