The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 21.01.2019

Review for The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 on Nintendo Switch

Zen Studios has recently dominated the digital pinball spectrum with their take on a variety of different licensed tables. However, FarSight Studios has dedicated their craft to preserving the feel and look of real life pinball tables in their digital format, The Pinball Arcade. Now making its way to the Nintendo Switch, Stern Table Pack 1 is the first of eight DLC packs that are available for download with the base version of the game. This first pack brings about five tables by legendary pinball developer, Stern Pinball, and formerly Stern Electronics.

Stern Table Pack 1 brings five new table packs to the The Pinball Arcade from the pinball maker. The
“Master of Flow” Steve Ritchie features with two of his tables on the digital front, with AC/DC and the more recent Star Trek tables; Harry Williams takes us back to the early ‘80s with the, innovative-for-its-time, Flight 2000 table; Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow teamed up with their Starship Trooper table and Pat Lawler with his Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The AC/DC table is by far the best table of this pack, and that is probably thanks in part to its rocking soundtrack. There are twelve hit songs from the band known as ‘Acker Dacker,’ such as T.N.T, Highway to Hell, Thunderstruck, Hells Bells, Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long, Let There Be Rock, Rock and Roll Train, War Machine, Whole Lotta Rosie, For Those About To Rock, and Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 on Nintendo Switch

The songs act as the 'key' to unlocking the 'Wizard' mode, as all twelve of them need to be played within three balls to achieve the higher-scoring mode. The table was originally designed in 2012, and as such, the digital version also benefits from the technological advancements of the physical pinball tables. The AC/DC table is filled with eye-melting light shows, and it has a sunken play-table that only comes into play when songs with the word 'Hell' in the title come on, which is featured in three song titles. The table is also filled with a bunch of homages to the band and their featured songs, such as the train mould, the T.N.T detonators, the rotating cannon, the moving band members diorama, and heaps more to uncover during play.

Moving to Steve Ritchie's second table in the pack, is the Star Trek table from 2013, based on the first sci-fi film of the rebooted movie series, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto starring as Captain James Kirk and Spock respectively. This table is packed with the sound-bytes from the film, from character quotes to the iconic Star Trek motif theme song. Of course, there is a greater appreciation to be found on this table from fans of the iconic TV and movie series, though that does not mean newcomers won't find much love here.

Playing in the Star Trek table may be preferred for pinball-newbies and novices, as the table itself is more open than some of the other tables in the pack. The extra flipper and the easy Klingon multiball allow for an easier time to accrue huge point gains, and it makes the table much more fun to replay as well. There are eighteen scenes to play out from the movie with five different multiball modes; coupled with the sci-fi sound effects and the flashy colours with 60 tricoloured LED's, this is one of the better-looking tables.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 on Nintendo Switch

Of course, a pinball recreation would not be as authentic without a table from the "Father of Pinball" himself, Harry Williams. The space-flight themed table, Flight 2000 is culturally significant in pinball history for being the first table to feature talking or speech, back in 1980. Not only is the table important due to the significant ground it broke, but also for how difficult the gameplay of the table is. Simply put, this is not an easy table to master. Sure, the table itself is quite wide and open, and activating the table's missions are simple; but garnering a high score will take a lot of practice and mastering due to the unforgiving nature of the table.

The Flight 2000 table is unique for having a separate section in the top-left of the table, where three balls can get hit into to initiate the 'locking ball' sequence for a multiball mode. Other multiball modes are also hidden behind complex missions such as lighting all the letter to 'BLAST OFF' or hitting targets 1-5 in descending order. Don't expect to score big points on this table in the early stages; the table is best reserved for pinball enthusiasts who seek out a masterful challenge of conquering quite a task, as there are a lot of ways for the ball to fall down the sides or straight through the middle of the flippers.

The fourth table in the Stern Table Pack 1 is the jointly-designed 1997 Starship Troopers table by Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow, based on the film of the same name. Like the Star Trek table in this pack, Starship Troopers is a fast-flowing ball-game with frenetic pacing and high-scores aplenty. Controlling a member of the Mobile Infantry, the aim of the game is to visit six planets and nuke the Warriors, Plasma Bugs, Hoppers and Tankers in order to eventually capture the Bug Brain.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 on Nintendo Switch

The fast-flowing gameplay allows for a rapid rise on the points scale, while activating the various missions and multiball modes quite quickly. Probably the only main drawback to the presentation is the awkward sound-bytes, though they are part of the physical table and as such, it is cool that FarSight Studios has also remained quite true to the original in that regard also.

Pat Lawler's Ripley's Believe It or Not rounds out the new table offerings for the first Stern Pinball Pack. Released in 2004, this table is based off the various exhibitions of the titular program, and the quirky nature of the show is on display in full with this pinball table. What makes this table so unique is that Pat Lawler wanted to create a table that not only appealed to casual pinballers, but also allowed for the more advanced players to be able to boost the game's longevity.

This multi-level approach is a success, and FarSight Studios has done an admirable job in bringing this table to the digital front in all its glory. Explore seven continents and discover some of the more weird and wonderful facts with Robert Ripley. Apart from Flight 2000, this is probably one of the harder tables to score heavily on for newcomers, though some sessions can go on for a bit longer than some of the other tables. Maximising the jackpots and the multiball modes is the key to posting big scores, as is generally the case with all pinball tables.

Furthering this pack, FarSight Studios has also included the flyers for each of the new tables, which are absolute gems to have. While they may not add much to the casual pinballers, they will be a delightful sight for pinball aficionados who long for the nostalgic value of the older, physical pinball experience.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Stern Table Pack 1 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Without a doubt, Stern Pinball Pack 1 is a must-have collection of five tables that add a heap of value to The Pinball Arcade. Each of the tables provide a thorough challenge to the longevity of the pinball sessions, as well as trying to achieve the high scores for bragging rights on the leader boards. With tables designed by names such as Harry Williams, Steve Ritchie and Pat Lawler, this pack just cannot be missed. Each table also comes with a series of challenges to further entice some gameplay out of the tables, and to provide extra incentive to truly 'explore' each pinball table.






Table Games



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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