Games I play: Zaccaria Pinball

I really like pinball video games. In fact, I have probably liked pinball video games ever since my family inherited a shitty Toshiba laptop from my cousin. It had a monochrome orange screen that weighed a metric fuckton. It also had the MS-DOS version of Pinball Fantasies on it, and that game was fantastic.

Fast-forward to present day and I’m still playing pinball video games. One of those is Zaccaria Pinball, a game that started with simulations of machines from the now lesser known Italian manufacturer Zaccaria.

Zaccaria Pinball is the underdog in a market that’s pretty much dominated by Pinball FX (especially since The Pinball Arcade seized being in active development and lost the license to Williams / Bally tables). It’s a bit more indie, but it’s a lot more charming. Like most modern pinball games, the base game is free and tables are sold as DLC both separately and in bundles. I’ve played it primarily on Nintendo Switch, but also on my Mac via Steam.

The original tables are split into eras: electromechanical and solid state. The early tables are just what you’d expect from early pinball. Simple scoring, no rules to speak of, pleasant plings and plongs. I actually quite enjoy old school pinball and have played a lot of these tables. There are many of them, but I can particularly recommend Nautilus, Cinestar, and Moonflight.

Solid State tables are a bit more complex due to being built with digital control. The “golden era” of pinball tends to start here for most people, and so too for Zaccaria. While they never reached the incredibly rewarding complex rule sets of Williams and Stern, they’re a bit more pure pinball as a result. I particularly enjoyed Shooting the Rapids, Fire Mountain, Pinball Champ, and Black Belt.

When the developer ran out of Zaccaria tables to recreate they actually didn’t stop. Instead, they started creating Retro, Remake, and Deluxe tables. Basically re-imagining what the old Zaccaria tables would have been in different eras. The Retro tables are perhaps too retro for their own good, so only play them if you really like old school pinball. The Remake tables, on the other hand, feels very realistic and fun to play. They often feature modes and busier playfields than the originals. For my recommendations, try the Nautilus, Star God, Fire Mountain, or Pinball Champ Remake tables.

Deluxe tends to be a bit too crowded for my taste, but definitely worth trying out. Much later they also tried doing other licensed table, starting with Postal. That, to me, is a very questionable choice since Postal is a game both known for not being good and for being incredibly provocative. Still, the tables are actually real good.

I’m quite impressed with both the quality and quantity in Zaccaria Pinball, especially considering it’s a very small team to my understanding. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing on Steam or Switch (I do both), they all look and perform really well too.

Things I liked:

  • Pinball is hella fun
  • Huge library of tables
  • One of the few ways to experience these tables that are very hard to find in the wild
  • Great value for money
  • Charmingly indie, yet solid
  • The Steam version runs on Mac (!!!)

Things I didn’t like:

  • The Switch version is more or less on hiatus now. It’s not getting new tables or bug fixes as Magic Pixel is focused on other projects. Understandable, but disappointing.
  • Online leaderboards are very, very spotty on Nintendo Switch
  • Deluxe tables are a bit over the top and does perform quite as well on Switch
  • Postal is a yucky license that makes me feel bad
  • The music is… something
  • The art on the non-original tables is… also something

All in all, it might sound like I had a lot of negative things to say about Zaccaria Pinball. However, none of that takes away from the core of the game: real good pinball. If you enjoy flipping the silver ball around, you’ll absolutely enjoy Zaccaria Pinball. Grab the base game and play the free table—you really can’t go wrong.