The 50 Best Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide

The 50 Best Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide
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The 50 Best Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide
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The 50 Best Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide
Published on
August 19, 2022
Updated on
February 24, 2023
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If you're a fan of pinball, then you know that there are some pinball machines that are just better than the rest. These machines often have high ratings from fans and collectors alike. In this blog post, we will take a look at the best pinball machines of all time. We'll use a variety of sources to compile a list of the top games, so you can see for yourself what everyone is talking about!

How We Rated Our List of the Best Pinball Machines of All Time

Look, we're not totally re-inventing the wheel here at Kineticist. It doesn't take a whole lot of Internet sleuthing to figure out there are at least a couple of places where you can find very long, very detailed lists of the highest rated pinball machines. Pinside has had its top 100 pinball machines list for years, and the Internet Pinball Database has had theirs even longer.

But what if you want MORE data? That was the question we asked ourselves when we were thinking of a way to more objectively present a list of the best pinball machines.

So we've combined the two major data sources to form our own comprehensive pinball rating score that is totally one hundred percent driven by a proprietary super-secret pin-algorithm (Pingorithm® for short).

Enough preamble, let's break it down and give you the single source of truth, the best, most detailed, objectively accurate, Pingorithm® powered list of...

The 50 Best Pinball Machines Ever

Note: trim lines or remake scores have been consolidated. For example a Stern Pro/Premium/LE is just one model. There's no distinction between a Chicago Gaming Company Medieval Madness or the original Williams table. In the case of remakes, the original manufacturer and year are listed here.

Can't get enough best pinball posts? Here are a few more dialed in guides:

Medieval Madness (Williams, 1997)

In Medieval Madness, your goal as pinball wizard is to destroy the castles of a group of evil feudal overlords. On your way to the big bad, you may start a peasant riot, encounter Merlin, and fight some trolls.

Medieval Madness is often cited as one of the best pinball games ever made. It is a lot of fun to play and has great theme integration. The castle destruction shot is one of the most fun shots in all of pinball, and the rules are straight forward but the game can still be challenging to master. It should surprise no one that Medieval Madness tops our list of the best pinball machines ever made.

Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)

In this game, you are in the Twilight Zone TV show from the 1950s/early 1960s. You will interact with different people and things from the show while trying to get awards. The goal is to complete modes, filling in spaces on the Twilight Zone door in the center of the table in order to reach the final wizard mode.

It is a busy game, and if you like Pat Lawlor tables, it is probably the most complex version of his work that you will find. There is a gumball machine, magnetic flippers on an upper mini-playfield, a working analog clock, and all the weird shot geometry you can handle. Legend says it was the most over-budget machine made at the time, and we believe it.

Monster Bash (Williams, 1998)

In Monster Bash, your goal is to find and collect each of the Universal Monster characters (Dracula, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Bride of Frankenstein) and their instruments so they can jam out while you play a final multiball. Another great table. This one uses artwork and playfield toys to make the game more fun. It has an easy-to-learn ruleset and a layout that is good for players of all skill levels.

Attack from Mars (Bally, 1995)

It's easy to see why Attack from Mars is one of the highest-rated pinball machines of all time. The game is a great shooter, making excellent use of the popular fan playfield layout with one of the best center playfield bash toys in the flying saucer, iconic callouts, and an approachable, easy-to-understand ruleset. Even today, it's a game that a lot of newer pins struggle to live up to. Blowing up a saucer (especially if you have a shaker motor attached) is always exciting.

Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (Williams, 1993)  

Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a popular game for many pinball collectors. It is a wide-body game, which means it is bigger than most other games. Among many other factors, people frequently like it because it doesn't suffer from some of the problems that other wide-body games have, like slow gameplay or shots that are difficult to make. There is a lot to do on the table, and the theme is well integrated with assets from all three of the original movies.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams, 1993)  

Star Trek: The Next Generation is a pinball machine that is based on the TV show of the same name. It is a wide-body machine, which means it is larger than a standard pinball machine. Wide-body pins come with their unique characteristics, which some players enjoy, and others do not.

Although STTNG has some flaws, it is still an enjoyable machine to play. It features mode-based play that is challenging, as well as great callouts and theming. The cannons on each of the slingshots are also a lot of fun to shoot and are rather iconic for this game.

Lord of the Rings (Stern, 2003) 

It's easy to see why Lord of the Rings is one of the top rated pinball machines. Designed by George Gomez with rules by Dwight Sullivan, Lord of the Rings is kind of an ultimate home game.

Known for incredible callouts voiced by actors from the hit film series, Elijah Wood (Frodo), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli the Dwarf), it also does a really good job with theme immersion and incorporating the world of the film series into the pinball realm. There are a ton of different ways to attack this game, and it features pretty deep rules with a good range of achievable goals for all skill sets. The toys and ramps on this table are very well done.

The Addams Family (Bally, 1992)  

The Addams Family pinball machine, released in 1992, was and still is one of the best-selling pinball machines of all time. Designed by the legendary Pat Lawlor, it has some of the best theme integration of any machine ever made. The game is a joy to shoot and is approachable. Touring the mansion is still one of pinball's most talked about achievements. Even today, it's known as a pretty solid earner in an arcade or other public location.

Theatre of Magic (Bally, 1995)  

In Theatre of Magic, you are trying to complete a series of magic tricks before getting to the final wizard mode at the end of the game. This game features great theme integration, callouts, and an iconic magic trunk mech that rotates for different mode shots and has a magnet to start multiballs with. There is a lot of flow to this game and getting a high score is satisfying and can be difficult depending on how the game is set up.

Scared Stiff (Bally, 1996)  

Scared Stiff is the sequel to the classic 1989 game, Elvira and the Party Monsters. The gameplay is simple and easy to understand, but can be hard to master - it can feel like a real achievement to make it to the end game.

What makes this game different from the first one is the quality of callouts by Cassandra Peterson, and the amount of humor in the design. Some of the humor is sexist when viewed critically and may not age well, but it fits with the character and the era.

Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996)  

In Tales of the Arabian Nights, you are trying to complete the 7 different Tales of the Arabian Nights. You also have to battle an evil genie, which makes for a fun bash toy at the center of the table. From a rules and layout perspective, it is very similar to other games from this period by Popadiuk, like Cirqus Voltaire and Theatre of Magic. Strong theme immersion, fun flowy shots, and pretty approachable for most beginners.

Dialed In! (Jersey Jack, 2017)  

Dialed In! is the first game from noted pinball designer Pat Lawlor for Jersey Jack. For this era of pinball, it's a rare original theme, not based on any existing IP or licenses. Somewhat notable for being the first-ever pinball machine to feature Bluetooth, a built-in camera, and additional player capabilities controlled through a smartphone.

The game is a little confusing at first, but it is basically about a phone that creates disasters in the quantum realm. An evil corporation is trying to get the phone back, so you have to shoot an electricity guy to charge the phone and shoot the phone to create a disaster. You also need to shoot the quantum tunnel when you see something strange happening. Simple, right?

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Dialed In! is a bit of a sleeper of a top-rated pinball game. The shots are smooth and the playfield is well-laid out. It's also refreshing to have an original theme in modern pinball.

White Water (Williams, 1993)  

In White Water, you are navigating a river with Wet Willie as your guide. You will encounter whirlpools, secret caves, and navigate river hazards. You will also have run-ins with a large animatronic Big Foot. It's pure 90s pinball, and would be difficult to pull off today.

This table has a lot going on. There are two playfields (upper and lower), three flippers, and a left outlane kicker. It also has multiple ramps that are fun to shoot. It tends to feel cramped and fast, but that really only adds to its appeal. Art package and sound design are especially good for this era.

Cactus Canyon (Bally, 1998) 

It's a little bit interesting that 1998's Cactus Canyon is ranked so highly here, considering they produced less than 1,000 of them, and the original game is notorious for being released with incomplete code. It's sort of the ultimate "rare game with promise". An expensive collector's item and pinball conversation piece until Chicago Gaming Company was able to complete the project and re-release the game in 2022.

Cactus Canyon is meant to be in the same vein as other Bally/Williams games of the era, like Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness. Fan layout, mode-based rules, mostly linear gameplay. It's fun, but were it not in such limited supply, we're not sure it'd be so high on this list!

Metallica (Stern, 2013)  

Stern's Metallica, designed by John Borg with software/rules by the legendary Lyman Sheats has basically become a modern classic of sorts. Beloved by pinball aficionados for its fast, smooth gameplay and deep rules, Metallica is probably a table that deserves to be higher on this list but alas, numbers are numbers and the Pingorithm® never lies.

Godzilla (Stern, 2021)  

Godzilla is one of Stern's newer pinball games designed by the ever popular Keith Elwin. It has colorful art by Jeremy Packer and rules/software by Brett Z. Rubin, Mike Kyzivat, and Rick Naegele.

This pinball machine is fun because it has great toys (like a bridge that raises and lowers and a Mechagodzilla toy), fast play, and deep rules. The artwork on the machine helps you feel like you're in the world of the game, without distracting you from playing. It's a pretty unique game, as somewhat represented by its use of a single pop bumper, not located at the top or the center of the machine like most other pins of just about any era, but in the middle of the playfield, on the far right side of the table.

The Wizard of Oz (Jersey Jack, 2013)  

Jersey Jack's first release, The Wizard of Oz, is notable for marking the entry of a new pinball manufacturer into the marketplace for the first time since Stern became the primary player in the early 2000s.

It's a high-tech table with a ton of LED lighting, lots of toys and mechs, and a very large LCD screen in the backbox. It sold very well. People absolutely love it. This game is fairly easy to play with longer ball times than most tables. It is considered a great game for families and kids. There are also deep rules that will keep most pinball veterans happy.

Spider-Man (Stern, 2007)   

Spider-Man is a fairly underrated Stern pinball machine from noted designer Steve Ritchie. It was helped a lot by its re-release several years later with a new comic-oriented art package. But, thanks to code and rules by Lyman Sheats, the game is a ton of fun to play. Shots are fun and satisfying, and there are a lot of achievable multiballs that take pages from other historically popular games like Attack from Mars.

Cirqus Voltaire (Bally, 1997)

In Cirqus Voltaire, you enter a world that is like a neon-tinged fantasy carnival. There are different things to do there, and your goal is to complete different tasks (modes) and defeat an evil ringmaster. If you succeed, you will be able to join the circus as a performer (we think).

The game has tons of flow and some really neat toys. Known for its DMD display embedded in the back of the playfield instead of in the backglass like other tables from this era.

AC/DC (Stern, 2012) 

AC/DC is a deceptively simple game by designer Steve Ritchie with code by Lyman Sheats. It's a fan layout, with mostly mode-based play, a center bash toy, and a cannon toy. In a lot of ways, it resembles Ritchie's 1991 effort, Terminator 2 but reskinned for a rock theme. High level of replayability with deep code thanks to Sheats.

Star Trek (Stern, 2013)   

Stern's Star Trek is another Steve Ritchie effort, themed after the 2009 reboot film with Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña, and others. It has 3 flippers, a really fun center bash toy, and ramps that shoot like butter. At times it can feel like a riff on Attack from Mars, but it wouldn't be the first time in pinball that's happened, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing, either.

Foo Fighters (Stern, 2023)

Foo Fighters, released all the way back in 2023 (hah), is the first major release pinball machine (also called a cornerstone game, in Stern lingo) designed by former top pinball Twitch streamer Jack Danger. The game was extremely well received on launch thanks to its unique playfield design, fun code, theme integration and overall creativity. The game, much like Stern's Godzilla is a flow monster, with quite a bit to enjoy for players of all skill levels.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (Bally, 1992) 

Creature from the Black Lagoon is based on the 1954 movie of the same name. However, it is more about the experience of going to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon at a 1950s drive-in theater.

The game-play is just okay. There is not a lot of flow, and some really dangerous shots. It also relies a little too heavily on a few other key shots to be able to progress in the game.

But man, the theme is great - from the art package to the callouts and the mode design, it's got it all.

The Simpsons Pinball Party (Stern, 2006)

The Simpsons Pinball Party is certainly an improvement over the first Simpsons themed table released in 1990 by Data East. Gameplay is somewhat unique with a non-fan layout and a few tricky upper playfield shots. If you're a fan of The Simpsons, and a fan of pinball, this is the game for you!

The Shadow (Bally, 1994) 

The Shadow is a Brian Eddy designed pin that is based on the 1994 movie of the same name. This machine is underrated because it has a lot of flow and is fast to play. It also has some unique features and satisfying shots.

The upper mini playfield is one of the best ever in pinball and the magnetic ball locks and player-controlled diverters are unique and add a new dimension to the game.

The Walking Dead (Stern, 2014)

The Walking Dead is another game that's helped dramatically by Lyman's deep rules. Tons of different ways to play this game, which rewards explorative play. Some interesting shot geometry mixed with classic bash toys and satisfying ramp shots.

FunHouse (Williams, 1990)

FunHouse is a unique table thanks to being one of two pinball machines with animatronic talking puppet heads in the playfield. Callouts by said talking head, otherwise known as Rudy, are dripping with humor. Theme is done well, almost to the point of being vaguely annoying with a lot of repeat play. Definitely a memorable machine, and probably gets a boost in the ratings from its nostalgia factor.

The Hobbit (Jersey Jack, 2016)  

The Hobbit is Jersey Jack's follow-up release to their first game, The Wizard of Oz. It's another wide-body machine, based off of the film series originally launched in 2012. It follows in the mold of Stern's Lord of the Rings with some pretty memorable theming and callouts. It is also known for providing players with some incredibly long ball times.

TRON: Legacy (Stern, 2011)  

Another Borg/Sheats combo table that's rated highly in our list, 2011's TRON: Legacy has been quietly popular for a long time, thanks in part to its killer soundtrack (hello, Daft Punk machine!), theming and fast flowing gameplay.

Jurassic Park (Stern, 2019)  

Jurassic Park is a great, but often challenging game. It was released in 2019 by Stern Pinball. The game was designed by Keith Elwin with art by Jonathan Bergeron. The rules and software were done by Rick Naegele.

Jurassic Park is a pinball game based on the famous movie franchise of the same name. It is an action-packed and adventure-filled game that is perfect for any casual or hardcore pinball fan. Jurassic Park pinball is a great game for any level of player, with a deep code and lots of different ways to progress through the game, which makes it perfect to add to a home pinball collection.

Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast (Stern, 2018)

Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast is a pinball machine based on the music of heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It features their iconic imagery which makes it unique from a visual perspective.

Keith Elwin's first game,  is accessible and enjoyable for new players while still providing a challenge for more experienced pinball enthusiasts. The Egyptian theme immerses players in the game and fits the style of both the band and the music well. This is an extremely unique shooter that provides an addictive "one more game" feeling.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Williams, 1993) 

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a popular pinball machine that is mostly known for its well-integrated theme, callouts, and unique mist multiball feature where the player has to hit a floating captive ball.

Ghostbusters (Stern, 2016) 

Notorious for its flipper gap almost as much as its gameplay, Ghostbusters is a polarizing table that's a surprise addition to this list. No doubt helped by the nostalgia factor as a tie-in to the hit film franchise from the 80s, it's one of Stern's last dot matrix games. Got a lot better with a code update released several years after initial production.

Deadpool (Stern, 2018)

Deadpool is a fantastic pin designed by George Gomez with art by Jeremy Packer (aka Zombie Yeti). It is packed with exciting features and rules that are both approachable and fun. In the game, the character of Deadpool is voiced by the great Nolan North (Uncharted games) and has high replayability. You will love this game if you can get your hands on it.

Elvira's House of Horrors (Stern, 2019) 

Elvira House of Horrors is one of the best pinball machines made in recent years. This is the 3rd installment in the Elvira pinball franchise, and it has great design by Dennis Nordman and art by Greg Freres. Elvira House of Horrors is also one of the best coded games thanks to the work of Lyman Sheats, with a lot to do in the game.

The shots in this game are smooth and the modes are interesting and varied. This is a pinball machine that will make you want to keep playing.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Jersey Jack, 2018)   

If you are a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, then you will love the Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine from Jersey Jack. This pinball machine is based on the movies and has many features that will keep you entertained for hours.

Pirates of the Caribbean is a great game for many reasons, but one of the standout features is an upper playfield with a replica pirate ship that rocks back and forth. There are also lots of different modes to explore and things to do, and there's some incredibly deep gameplay represented in this machine.

KISS (Stern, 2015)   

KISS themed pinball with a giant Gene Simmons head on the playfield and a song / mode based on the KISS song "Lick it Up" which is definitely without a doubt not a song about male ejaculate.

Iron Man (Stern, 2014)

Iron Man from Stern is based off of the first two Iron Man films in the Marvel MCU trilogy series. Simple game that plays fast and dangerous, which fits the Iron Man character pretty well. Has a lot of staying power in a collection as it entices you to play again and again.

The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992)  

The sequel to Steve Ritchie's game from 1986, The Getaway: High Speed II, is similar to the original game. In both games, you drive your car as fast as you can and avoid the cops.

But the execution on this one is just amazing. Right off the bat you'll notice the supercharger feature at the center of the playfield, which when activated, triggers a magnetic ball accelerator which whips your ball around the metal track quickly for a large point payout.

This game is fast-paced, like most Ritchie games. It also has a lot of flow and is easy to learn and play multiple times. If you're a fan of High Speed, you'll love this game too.

Fish Tales (Williams, 1992) 

It's a fishing themed game! What more do you need to know?!! We kid, Fish Tales has flowing, satisfying gameplay with a bit of risk/reward involved. Theme integration is well done as evidenced by the fishing pole themed multiball lock. Memorable, if maybe slightly annoying, sound design.

Guns n' Roses (Jersey Jack, 2021)   

With dynamic design elements and an immersive gameplay experience with a ton of multiballs, this game is certain to provide hours of fun, particularly for fans of Guns N' Roses. Guns N' Roses is ideal for use at home since it encourages players to spend a substantial amount of time developing strategies to maximize their point totals, and ball times can run longer than most games.

Whirlwind (Williams, 1990)

Whirlwhind is a really great and fun game. The sounds are wonderful, with some very catchy music and callouts. Classic Pat Lawlor design. Arguably, its "toy" (a fan!) is still the most well integrated device in a game ever seen in pinball. You'll never get tired of it. “Looks like rain” will be forever stuck in your head after playing this game.

Revenge from Mars (Bally, 1999) 

There's so much to say about Revenge from Mars that's better saved for another article. It's the game that almost killed pinball, and also a near 1:1 copy of the original Attack from Mars, but with the added gimmick of a small TV monitor built into the backbox.

Guns n' Roses (Data East, 1994) 

Data East's Guns n' Roses machine is one of the best Data East tables ever made, as well as one of the top wide-body machines of all time. Lots of fun shots and modes to cycle through, some fun, achievable multiballs, and a dynamic mix of start / stop and flow play.

Centaur (Bally, 1981)  

Centaur is a popular, highly rated pinball machine. It has a striking black and white design, with red, orange, and green accents. This makes it stand out. The playfield is also designed well, and the sounds and music are impressive. Plus, there's an extremely satisfying bonus countdown sound. This machine is fair because it offers a lot of shot variation, which helps keep players interested. Some people love it while others hate it - but that's what makes pinball interesting!

Congo (Williams, 1995)

Congo is part of a grand tradition of terrible movies that turned out to be great pinball machines, and is just a fun game to shoot. The 3 flippers and varied shot layout make this game more interesting to play than many others of its era. Playing it feels like you're on a jungle adventure, which makes the game more fun.

Avengers: Infinity Quest (Stern, 2020)

Avengers: Infinity Quest from Stern is a recent pinball machine designed by Keith Elwin with art by Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti). This game is all about making shots. If you want to win, you'll need to know the rules and make precise shots. This game can help you improve your skills at other pinball games. Spend enough time playing this game and you'll get better at them all. Fun art package that's similar in style to Deadpool.

The Big Lebowski (Dutch Pinball, 2016)

The Big Lebowski is a game that almost didn't see the light of day! But the pinball universe is a better place for it getting out into the wild. The Big Lebowski pinball is a fun shooter with really incredible theme integration that harkens back to some of the golden-era games of the 1990s. It's packed with fun shots, mechs, and more.

X-Men (Stern, 2012)

Standard but well done fan layout. X-Men game rules are interesting, and the default settings are good way to play the game. However, there are plenty of changes that can be made to make the game more newbie-friendly or tougher for more veteran players. Game play is fast and fun, lots of rewarding shots and some tough ones too. The playfield is clear and colorful with shots being well defined. The DMD animations are stellar for this generation of game.

Stranger Things (Stern, 2019) 

If you like the Netflix series Stranger Things, you will love the Stranger Things pinball machine from Stern. It was designed by Brian Eddy and has art by Bob Stevlic. The game is based on classic machines like Attack from Mars, which Brian Eddy was also involved in designing.

Stranger Things features a player-friendly fan layout and easy-to-understand rules. The projection system on premium trim lines is especially neat, as is the UV lighting kit sold as an official game mod.