At first, you might not think about the Nintendo Switch as being an ideal platform to play pinball, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a heck of a lot of fun!
What is Stern Pinball?
If you aren’t up on your pinball trivia you might not be familiar with Stern. Stern Pinball, Inc. is the oldest and largest designer and manufacturer of pinball arcade games on the planet. The company dates back to the early 1930s and was founded by Sam Stern. Gary Stern (Sam Stern’s son) is the current owner of the company, and I got a chance to meet Gary and talk with him briefly at CES 2018 in Las Vegas this past January.
What stuck with me the most was just how “geeky” Gary Stern really was. Gary was absolutely thrilled to take some time and talk to me about the latest pinball games from Stern and let me demo their new Guardians Of The Galaxy Pinball games in virtual reality using Oculus Rift.
So why on earth would a company want to even attempt to bring a game that is so tied to physical components to a digital system? For Stern the answer is simple, they want pinball fans to be able to play pinball anywhere and the Nintendo Switch being both a console and a portable gaming system in one is a great way to do just that. When I talked with Gary Stern about the differences between the mechanical pinball machines and the digital versions (Nintendo Switch and Oculus Rift), he admitted that he was a little better at pinball in virtual reality. He suspected the reaction time might be a bit more forgiving in the virtual world. But it isn’t about comparing a physical pinball game with a digital version, it is just about enjoying the game of pinball.
What is Ghostbusters™ Premium for Nintendo Switch?
Ghostbusters™ Premium is just one of many Stern pinball games that are available on the Nintendo Switch. I chose to focus on Ghostbusters because… Ghostbusters! But here is a complete list of Stern pinball games available on the Nintendo Switch:
- Ghostbusters™ Premium
- Star Trek™ Vengeance Premium
- AC/DC® Premium
- Mustang® Premium “Boss”
- Harley-Davidson® / Third Edition
- Last Action Hero™
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein™
- Starship Troopers™
- High Roller Casino™
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not!®
- Phantom of the Opera™
All of the Stern pinball games are accessible through a single Nintendo Switch game called Stern Pinball Arcade. If you buy the physical cartridge edition of the Nintendo Switch game (approximately $20), you get all 11 pinball games included with the game. But you can also download the digital version of the game on Nintendo’s eShop online from the Nintendo Switch itself. If you download the digital version, the game is free and then you can buy single games (for between $4.99 and $9.99 or one of two add-on packs for $19.99 each) as additional purchases in the Nintendo eShop. If you just want one or maybe two of the pinball games, you can probably save a little money and just purchase them individually through the eShop—otherwise you are better off buying the physical game and getting all 11 games at once.
What are the special features of Ghostbusters™ Premium for Nintendo Switch?
As I mentioned earlier, Stern is very aware that there is nothing like playing a physical pinball machine. In fact, Stern even has a stated mission with respect to its pinball games:
But if you are going to bring the game of pinball into digital there are certain aspects of a digital game you might as well take advantage of, and Stern did a good job in this department. Here are just a few of the special features you get with the digital edition of Ghostbusters™ Premium for Nintendo Switch:
- A digital edition of the physical Ghostbusters™ pinball arcade game flyer that you can zoom in on and pan around with using the Switch controller
- An interactive tutorial that walks you through all the special skill shots and bonus features that are available in the game
- There is a special feature in the game menu that explains the history of the original physical arcade machine
- Custom speech/narration by Ghostbusters actor Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore)
- Use of HD Rumble to indicate activation of special features within the game
- Vertical game mode allows you to play with a portrait screen orientation to optimize the view of the game table
- The “Call Attendant” feature in the game is a nice touch, which resets the ball position in the event of a stuck ball within the game (and of course the game makes you wait 15 seconds because those pesky attendants are never there when you need them). Probably not a necessary feature for a digital game but definitely adds to the atmosphere of the gameplay
So how is the gameplay on the Switch?
I am definitely a novice when it comes to pinball, but that doesn’t mean I don’t plunk my quarters into just about any pinball arcade game I walk by anyway. I have to agree with Gary Stern in saying that pinball is ever so slightly easier when playing in virtual reality (Oculus Rift) as compared to the physical or even the Nintendo Switch digital version. But Stern did a good job of porting the mechanics of the game over to the Switch. Pinball is just as challenging on the Nintendo Switch as it is in the real world. The graphics are fluid, which enable realistic fast response gameplay—which, if you think about it, is the foundation of pinball, to begin with. I particularly like the ability to play pinball in the handheld mode with the Switch screen in vertical game mode.
If you are a fan of the classic pinball arcade games like I am, you will really appreciate and enjoy Ghostbusters™ Premium for Nintendo Switch. Being able to play pinball anywhere you go combined with all the special features utilized with the Nintendo Switch platform make this a must-have for Ghostbusters fans. Stern Pinball Arcade for Nintendo Switch is available in physical cartridge form on Amazon and as a digital download from the Nintendo eShop.
Disclaimer: Stern provided me with a digital code/download of Ghostbusters™ Premium for Nintendo Switch for the purpose of this review.