The Pinball Arcade: Gottlieb EM Pack (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 13.04.2019

Review for The Pinball Arcade: Gottlieb EM Pack on Nintendo Switch

Trying to restore the physical pinball tables into the virtual format is a task that FarSight Studios has been accomplishing with The Pinball Arcade. Unlike other digital pinball titles that opt to create new tables with visual animations, the ones found in this pack consist of authentic recreations of actual physical pinball tables. The Gottlieb EM Pack brings five of the older pinball machines from Gottlieb's library of pinball tables. Whether for historically significant purposes, or because they are fun tables that still stand up today, how does Cubed3 grade the Gottlieb EM Pack for The Pinball Arcade on Switch?

The EM in Gottlieb EM Pack stands for 'Electrical Mechanical,' referring to the mechanised score reels and bell sounds for points scoring that are characteristics of the older pinball machines. Following EM tables was the 'Solid State' era, which introduced newer pinball tables that had microchips and digitised game mechanics. This add-on pack consists of five tables spanning from 1966 to 1977 - before the Solid State tables changed the future of pinball from the late '70s to today. Pinball legend Ed Krynski stars with four pinball tables on this pack that were designed or co-designed by him.

The first table of the pack worth checking out is Central Park, one of the four tables designed by Ed Krynski. Created in 1966, this table is one of the hardest tables to master. The digital recreation is a superb effort by the developer, as they have done the table great justice. Regarded as one of the best classical pinball tables, Central Park is an excruciatingly difficult table to master. Becoming an expert in 'nudging' is the key to dominating the high scores in this table, as the flippers have a larger gap in between them then what is expected from modern tables. Making things more difficult are the double Outlanes on either side of the flippers, meaning there are four laneways for the ball to sink to the bottom of the table. Another awesome quirk with this table is that it actually has five balls, or 'lives' as opposed to the more modernised three ball-standard seen in most tables.

Ed Krynski's second table was designed in 1973, and it is a billiards-themed table that is modelled of his previous Hot Shot table. This is aptly named Big Shot, and it features 15 billiard light balls which must be lit by hitting the corresponding drop targets, with the 8-ball having its own middle gate to activate the light. This is one of the more fun tables included in this pack, and that is because it is simple to learn, but incredibly hard to master. The skill required to hit the 14 drops targets and light up the 8 ball with one ball makes this quite a popular table for pinball fans. Its simplicity makes this an addicting table that rarely seems to get old.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Gottlieb EM Pack on Nintendo Switch

Jumping to 1975 is the third table, El Dorado, also designed by Ed Krynski. For those who have played many different pinball tables, they may find this table familiar to play. That is simply because this table's playfield was also used for later tables, such as Gold Strike, Lucky Strike, Target Alpha, Canada Dry, Solar City, and a table that will feature in another DLC pack, El Dorado City of Gold. All those tables listed simply just reskinned this table's playfield but are otherwise the same. It's a straight-forward nature with a bit of a gameplay twist; unlike the previous table which encourages it, 'nudging' in El Dorado will instantly "kill" the ball and end the game right then and there. While the cultural significance of this table shows why it got included in this DLC pack, the fact is that El Dorado does not seem to be much fun to play on the digital spectrum.

Ed Krynski's fourth and final table for this pack is Jacks Open, which was released in 1977, and it was co-created with Gordon Morrison. Jacks Open is a card-based pinball table that is easily the best table included in this pack. The aim of this game is to build card hands by hitting the corresponding cards on the table. Begin with a Pair, then working through a 3-of-a-Kind, Full House and finishing with the Royal Flush. The cards are on the table as drop-targets, and the dazzling lights and casino sounds makes this a hugely memorable experience. FarSight Studios excelled in bringing this table to life and giving it the digital makeover.

Gordon Morrison and Allen Edwall created the final table in this pack, also in 1977, with a major twist. Centigrade 37 is a unique table because it was fitted with a thermometer on the backboard. Hitting specific targets on the table would cause the thermometer to gradually fill up, which when full, will light up the specials to earn the big points. For its time period in the '70s, this table had one of the best science-fiction art packs. Following in line with an earlier table, El Dorado, 'nudging' this table will reset the thermometer meaning that this move cannot be part of the skillset. With an electromechanical wedgehead and double in-lanes with switching lights, this is a truly unique experience that is heaps of fun to play for many hours.

Screenshot for The Pinball Arcade: Gottlieb EM Pack on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

FarSight Studios has excelled in bringing to digital life five of the classic pinball tables. In their own way, each of the five tables break against the modern interpretation of the pinball tables. From playing with five "lives" or balls, instead of the more popular three or widening the gap between flippers and having four outlanes, to punishing the use of 'nudging' the table. These tables are fun to play, and they are great inclusions to the library of the The Pinball Arcade. However, as products of its time, these five tables don't include the modern-day tech or glamour that some fans will be interested in, and these tables instead serve the purpose of containing historical significance.






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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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