Pinball Wizard

Hello pinball fans and fellas, here comes the pinball wizardry with modern and vintage retro atmosphere back to your Windows PC.

Listen to Pinball Wizard from “The Who” while reading this post!

About

The famous Gottlieb, Williams and Bally arcade game creators ring a bell? And you spent some time with pinball games on Amiga/PC or the real deal in the past?

I discovered a really neat possibility to “emulate” real pinball tables on Windows. As I don’t really know a decent pinball game recently released for any non-console system, I crawled the web for any news on this kind of games.

The results are, there are two decent pinball emulators which you can load a helluva lotsa real tables in and play them in decent smooth speed.

I’ll give you a shot on one of them and how you could install and use it.

Visual Pinball

Also VP for short it is a decent editor, emulator and display tool/manager for any imaginable pinball table.

First of all get some files:

  • Visual Pinball – The main “emulator” program install package
  • Update v9.03 – Updated .exe
  • VPinMAME Binary v2.2 – The LCD display emulator
  • A demo table – used in my example table installation below

If you want a sneak peek what awaits you resp. what tables VP could run (besides many more), click on the screenshot below:

Installation

It’s a bit tricky to get this bitch running, so I tried to figure out how it’s the best way to get it installed with the right directory structures and registry setups.

  1. Download & install the “Visual_Install_Pack_8.1_2.1+NT_3C.exe” file to any folder. Prefer a folder on any partition on top of their root: f.e. “E:\vpinball”, not “C:\Programs (x86)”.
  2. Download & unzip “VP903.zip” package to a temporary folder. Pay attention on that all new files have to be in the root of the in 1.) created new directory!
    This is not the default in the .zip archive! And don’t overwrite “VPinball.exe”, rename the new/old one to their respective version e.g. “VPinball 9.03.exe” resp. “VPinball 8.1.exe”.
  3. Download & unzip “vpinmame_22.zip” to a temporary directory and run its setup, click install. That should be all. Keep the files/archive for later troubleshooting.
  4. Go to the install-dir selected in 1.) and set run as admin in properties menu for the vpinball*.exe files.

Usage & Troubleshooting

First of all ATI videocards do have issues of incompatibility to Visual Pinball. There’s not (yet) a fix or workaround for that. Main bugs are strange looking transparencies, dithers, jerky pinball and some glitches with gfx overlays. So if you got an nvidia gfx card you’re lucky!

Fellow sys2074 from H1DD3N.R350URC3 tested it on nvidia board and reported smooth gameplay along no glitches. Thx for testing!

If all is setup correctly you have to simply start VPinball.exe (i’d always recommend v9.0.3!), load a table, and “PRESS PLAY ON TAPE”.

Running the right .exe depends on the requirements of the chosen table, v9.0.3 is always slower but with fewer bugs.

Example Table installation

I highly recommend it, as I describe it step by step HOW TO SETUP this table with table-data and ROMs:

Twilight Zone (Bally/Midway 1993)

  • Get the table here: SCAPINOSVPINS Twilight Zone
  • Put the .vpt into the PROGDIR:/Tables folder, the other files where you want or trash.
  • Run VP, press play
  • You’ll get errors, if VPinMAME is installed correctly it displays what’s missing

  • Now guess what we’re doing: The ROMs are on ipdb.org. Go there and have a look what’s missing!
  • You’ll need the tz_94h.zip ROM set and put it into PROGDIR:/ROMs
  • I did not find any documentation who says tz_92.zip is also needed for music, extended sounds AND smoother gameplay. So also get this and put the .zip into PROGDIR:/ROMs
  • Regarding to ipdb.org and VPinMAME Game Info you’ll need the Revision L-2 Sound ROMs. Since its not “ROM set conform naming” you have to EXTRACT this to PROGDIR:/ROMs
  • Start VP over. Should run now. If not repeat the above steps.

I like it! Where to get more stuff?

Main

Help

  • Very good help forum, table downloads, tutorials (also for creating own tables!) – Great related site

Some table creators

Other download pages

Essential ROMs (IMPORTANT!)

Installing new tables

The rules for getting new tables to run are:

  1. Get the table package, mostly a .zip file and extract it to a temporary folder.
  2. Copy the .vpt and .vps (if any) files to PROGDIR:/tables
  3. Copy any fonts to SYS:/Windows/Fonts. Backup any existing fonts!!
  4. Check if there are ROMs for this table on the internet pinball machine database
    VP table = no ROMs; VPM table = needs ROMs
    Download the PinMAME ROMs and maybe samples (if any), leave them zipped and put them into PROGDIR:/ROMs resp. PROGDIR:/samples
  5. Startup VP, load table, check ROMs, play.

Troubleshooting

If any errors, check what error is displayed?

Be sure to run “VPinball.exe” as Administrator!

If it’s VPinMAME related you might not have got every needed rom in the ROMs dir, go back to step 4.) of “Installing new tables” and check what’s missing, maybe you have to extract the sound ROMs or downloading some more .zip ROMs for the same table, it is a little bit fiddling around and not much documented.

Second common error: VPinMAME isn’t setup properly, repeat the installation as described above in the installation topic. It runs properly if you can see the “Game Info” screen after pressing play in VP and an LCD scoreboard etc. on the table ingame.

Always leave ROM SETS ZIPPED! Sound ROMs may need to be extracted. Documentation needed!

You can also try to extract the VPinMAME  .zip archive to the root VP directory and integrate its folders, overwrite existing files etc.

Don’t see the LCD score/FX table ingame? Press Alt-Tab to switch windows to get it to front/overlay.

Feedback

… is appreciated. Feel free to comment and tell me your problems with installing/running this. I’ll try to keep it up to date and helpful for users installing/using this from scratch. I might upload a complete working set with one table (the one described in the “example installation”) if it won’t work at all.

HAVE FUN!

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  1. It’s even the official forum for VPinMAME…

    http://pinmame.retrogames.com/forums.html

    I don’t understand why that Noah guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves whenever “official” is brought into it. Seems official to me.

  2. Actually, it IS the official site for Visual Pinball. Look in Nanotech’s PDF for Visual Pinball 9 release notes…

    http://vpforums.org/upload/VP9.0.3%20Release%20Notes.pdf

  3. Great article.

    Why is there no mention of the official Visual Pinball/PinMAME website, VPForums.org?

    It’s by far the most complete site on pinball emulation on the web.

    • thx!
      well there IS a link to that site under the “Help” topic. is it the official site? it’s a main site for all informations and forums, tutorials etc. but not an official site. i can’t recognize it as that.

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