Yes, Addams Family is one of the many delisted Pinball Arcade titles. But, it’s not GONE gone. At least if you have $499.99 to spare, plus either a dual-monitor digital pinball table or a relatively beefy PC + two monitors, one of which is a wide-screen. If that’s true, The Addams Family is one of the 76 tables included in Arcooda ‘s digital table software solution, and one of many tables where Arcooda’s version absolutely slays the now-delisted standard version. Even the non-Lawlor-loving curmudgeon Oscar had to concede that Arcooda Addams Family is a masterpiece of digital pinball conversions.
The secret-sauce for Arcooda is having subtle changes to Pinball Arcade’s standard-edition layouts, mostly de-cramping the space. Not even portrait mode versions of the tables (which every PC version of Pinball Arcade has) feature the true-to-life dimensions Arcooda offers. While the physics are still the same as Pinball Arcade, with all foibles that come with that (such as live catches being far too easy to pull-off), the actual gameplay of the tables is SIGNIFICANTLY more accurate than it ever has been just by having the dimensions and geometry be less-relative. If you want an example, look at the two pics above. The layout on the left is Arcooda’s build, while the layout on the right is the dimensions for the normal (well, Gold) version of Addams Family. The standard version, even with the ball size changed to compensate, is going to feel squished. Don’t get me wrong: the standard version plays fine. But, the Arcooda version IS the coin-op done digitally.
In the case of Addams Family, longtime fans of this, the greatest-selling real table of all-time, will find their muscle memory will be accurate. When playing the two versions side-by-side, we found the real big difference was on the center staircase shot and the center multiball-lock shot, and the graveyard bumpers having more breathing-room (just wait until we talk about how fixed Twilight Zone’s bumpers are). Really, every shot is truer to the real deal, so much so that our games of digital Addams play out not-that different-from real Addams. From the maddening lack of ball save, to the joy of stringing together quadruple combos, to the anger-inducing multiball magnets, to the thrill of reaching Tour the Mansion. While I still firmly believe whatever was the best of 1992’s tables was destined to set all the sales records, I also admit that Addams Family’s success is no fluke. It’s table that offers something for fans of every table type. Sharpshooter fans will find some of the most precise target-shooting of any table from this era, not to mention one of the most punishing of bricked shots. Finesse fans will find a table that rewards flexible strategies and a large variety of modes. Fans of kinetic gameplay will love a table that incentivizes ball control and ultra-quick reflexes. Even pick ‘n flick fans can excel at a table where slowing the action down and grinding up extra balls through shot repetition is a viable strategy. A lot of tables desire to be something for everyone. Addams Family truly is.
Addams Family is so popular, so legendary, that many silverball die-hards these days feel obligated to list it as an overrated table. They’ll cite elements like the brutal magnetic field of the multiball experience, or the Seance, which many players choose to just trap the ball and run out the clock on. They might even agree with my hypothesis that arcades were so red-hot in 1992 that whatever was the best table released in the first quarter of that year was fated to be the best-selling ever, and it just happened that Addams Family, releasing in March of 1992, was the lucky one. Exchange Addams for Doctor Who, which released in September of 1992, and Doctor Who eventually claims the record. Exchange Addams for Terminator 2, which released in July of 1991, and Terminator 2 *murders* the record. 1992 was an overall banner year for pinball in general, with FIVE tables selling over ten-thousand units, and it’s not like Addams Family was a box office juggernaut. It did fine, but wasn’t an unfathomable smash-hit.
Be that as it may, the pinball table is that: the biggest hit of the sport’s most popular era. As I write this, I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an arcade goer, circa 1992. I wasn’t even three-years-old when Addams Family released. But, I imagine the familiar toe-tapping theme and gothic look of the table must have been quite the siren call for players. Maybe not creepy in the same way Funhouse’s Rudy was, but instead a more inviting and whimsical party of macabre. And also, let’s face it, Raul Julia’s infectious charisma is on full display. He didn’t phone-in his performance for the pinball machine. He absolutely lets loose and delivers some of the most famous samples in the history of gaming. “It has to warm up.. SO IT CAN KILL YOU!” still sends chills down my spine. “WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU?!” always leaves a smile on my face. Addams Family can be brutal to the point of demoralizing for newcomers, BUT, it really wants you to have fun, even in failure. Hell, even after arcades were dying, Addams Family pinball was considered viable enough that real money was sunk into attempting to develop a port of it for the Nintendo 64. This is six years after it came out. And that project was cancelled because the technology at the time, specifically the N64, couldn’t do it justice. Pinball Arcade came very close, but it’s Arcooda’s software where the digital version lives up to the legend. It’s not the only one. Expect many of their other tables that failed to get perfect scores from us for Pinball Arcade to Mamushka into The Pinball Chick Pantheon of Digital Pinball. Black Hole? It’s making it in. Twilight Zone? Made it. But it’s probably Addams Family that was the most transformed by it. This IS the Addams Family. Well, with easier live catches.
Special Note: YES, Arcooda is still active. Pinball Chick associate Dash, who will be submitting Arcooda scores for our reviews going forward, ordered the $499.99 kit off their website. It arrived just days later. While Farsight is off the grid, Arcooda is active, along with their customer support and service. You can trust them.