Top 10 Pinball Machines of the 2010s

Top 10 Pinball Machines of the 2010s
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Top 10 Pinball Machines of the 2010s
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Top 10 Pinball Machines of the 2010s
Published on
May 25, 2023
Updated on
May 13, 2024
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We recently left the 1900s in the past when we released our list of the 20 Best Pinball Machines of the 2000s, and while the first decade of our current millennium had a lot to offer, much like internet speeds and smartphones, the pinball machines in the 2010s got even better. 

The 2010s was a really interesting period for modern pinball. There were over 50 pinball games released, and it was during this period that we'd argue Stern found their footing coming out of the previous decade and started defining our current era of pinball. They had a few less-than-stellar efforts in the early 2010s (Transformers, The Avengers, The Rolling Stones), but there were also some gems (Avatar, Tron, Iron Man). Once they came out of the DMD era and into LCDs, they started firing on almost all cylinders. 

During this time, there was also an explosion of new manufacturers entering the scene. This included Jersey Jack Pinball, Spooky Pinball, American Pinball, Multimorphic, Dutch Pinball, and the Chicago Gaming Company, which started producing remakes of classic Bally/Williams games from the 1990s. These manufacturers proved viable competitors to Stern in some fashion, with some of their pins featured below. 

While some of the fads and trends of the period didn’t pan out - The Harlem Shake, Kony 2012, planking, Vine (😭), the end of the world - here are ten of the best pinball machines from the 2010s that will stand the test of time.  

The Walking Dead (2014)

the walking dead best pinball of the 2010s

A tale of survivors making their way through a zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead debuted as a comic book in 2003 and found explosive success when AMC adapted it into a TV show that premiered in 2010. Stern followed suit and released their The Walking Dead pin in 2014. 

The game is tough, and even though the theme integration focuses more on the broad strokes of zombies rather than the characters that bring the comic/show to life, what it does offer is still rather fun. The playfield offers various areas and zones, complete with “walkers” exclusive to them. Cell Block C offers a prison toy that features mechanical target doors. Hit the doors, and they’ll open to reveal a prison walker bash toy, not to mention a super-action playfield magnet. There’s also a horrifying well walker bash toy to defeat, as well as a bicycle girl bash toy. Survivors collect supplies such as first aid, weapons, and food, which can be useful in the blood bath multiball, the only multiball that has an add-a-ball. 

It’s a challenging machine with a distinct set of rules. It thrives in tournament play and competitive play, but players keep coming back for the Lyman Sheats code.  

Total Nuclear Annihilation (2017) 

total nuclear annihilation TNA best pinball of the 2010s

What started as a homebrew project by Scott Danesi, Total Nuclear Annihilation received a production run and was released by Spooky in 2017. This pin stood out when it was released because of its single-level playfield (and a killer soundtrack). That style was more prominent in the ‘70s and ‘80s until ramps became the default. Players love the modernized nostalgia, and what helps make it a nice addition is its fast play and objectives that are easy to understand.  Charge up the reactor by hitting it, start the reactor, overheat the reactor, and then destroy the reactor. Wash, rinse, repeat. See, pretty simple! 

The theme and lastability are top-notch, and the sound is most impressive, complete with a unique soundtrack composed by Danesi, himself. The light show enhances the play and brings the technical side of things home. Again, the simple-yet-fun factor on this one surprises players. It’s rather addictive and immersive and has a high return rate for players who can’t get enough, and it’s also a great modern-day multiplayer pin thanks to its fun co-op modes

Now, we’re seeing manufacturers take more chances on single-level playfield designs (Pulp Fiction, James Bond 60th), something we can attribute to the success of Total Nuclear Annihilation.  

Stranger Things (2019)

stranger things pinball best pinball machines of the 2010s

The 2010s saw Netflix move from a physical media rental service to a dominating streaming service, and they wouldn’t be where they are today without some of their flagship shows that brought in millions of viewers. One such show was Stranger Things, created by the Duffer Brothers - and released in 2016 - that paid tribute to classic horror and coming-of-age movies from the ‘80s. Stern made their trek into the Upside Down and gave fans a Stranger Things pinball machine in 2019.  

Basically a reskin of Brian Eddy’s ‘90s classic, Medieval Madness, Stranger Things shares a similar shot layout and ruleset, and it shoots incredibly well. It’s also extremely approachable to new players. The theme is on point, immersing players in Hawkins National Laboratory to unravel government secrets and fight the evil that lies within. A custom-sculpted Demogorgon awaits a shot straight into the mouth to destroy it and its lair in the back of the playfield it’s protecting. Thematic multiballs include Telekinesis, Demogorgon Battle, Send it Back, Light the Fire, and Final Showdown. Clips from the show and the popular synthy theme song complement the machine. 

The only setback with this machine is that it was released right before the pandemic, so the code was incomplete and didn’t have a chance to develop in the market like other titles. But once the code was closer to complete and more people got their hands on it, they realized how fun it was, leading to it being more in demand today. Stern may do a rerun of it, given the demand plus the thriving popularity of the show.

Metallica (2012)

metallica best pinball machines of the 2010s

One of the “big four” founding bands of thrash metal, Metallica formed in ‘81 in Los Angeles and became one of the most successful heavy metal bands. Stern embraced their legacy and said, “Enter Sandman,” er- “Enter Metallica pinball machine” in 2012. The pin features 12 of Metallica’s songs and a playfield chock-full of nods to their music, such as an electric chair with a writhing “Sparky” figurine, a ball-eating snake with a ball eject mechanism, an illuminated grave marker, and custom callouts from band members. 

The theme integration, fun shots, and the great code from Sheats make this one a highlight of its time, and some even claim it is one of the best Sterns in the last decade. The play starts straightforwardly, but then mini-wizard modes keep the gameplay fresh. Once four “Crank it Up” modes have been played, an “End of the Line” wizard mode gives players all eight minutes of that song and the chance to score big. It’s fast, brutal, and super fun, and the playfield is spacious and stimulating. “Nothing Else Matters” when playing Metallica. 

Batman ‘66 (2016)

batman 66 best pinball of the 2010s

“Holy nostalgic Batman pinball machine, Batman!” Stern focused on Christopher Nolan’s Batman in 2008, and then eight years later, they mostly reskinned that machine and took players back to the campier days of Batman when Adam West dominated the caped crusader role in 1966. The machine features callouts from Adam West and Burt Ward - Batman and Robin, respectively - and video footage from the iconic series and an interactive “villain vision TV set.” 

Ramps and toys include an interactive crane toy, a batphone target that includes an illuminating batphone, a batcomputer and bat analyzer target, a batcave nuclear reactor with target and flasher, a spinning batmobile target, a diverter device, an electronic control gate, plus steel ramps with wireform ball returns. It’s truly a field day for any Batman fan. There’s also an action turntable mini playfield that allows access to alternating shots and targets. 

Batman ‘66 is a great example of a game built to live in a home environment. The code is insanely deep (thanks again, to Sheats), allowing players an incredible amount of playtime without the risk of getting bored, not to mention it’s rather forgiving on less advanced players. The art package is so fun, and the cherry on top is the onomatopoeias (THWACK! POW!) from the original series. 

Pirates of the Caribbean (2018)

best pinball of the 2010s pirates of the caribbean jersey jack

Similar to Batman in having two releases within a decade(ish), Stern first debuted a Pirates of the Caribbean in 2006, and then Jersey Jack tried their hand at the theme when they released their Pirates of the Caribbean in 2018. They delivered a super packed table with so much going on, and they tout 3.25 sextillion gameplay variations, so players will never play the same game twice. The machine showcases memorable scenes and environments from all five movies. It’s a killer example of “world under glass” in that it nails the theme integration. Players can play as one of 22 characters, and the gameplay allows them to fire a pinball-loaded cannon from the Black Pearl ship on the upper playfield. A mechanical spinning disc map offers animated award combos. 

The artwork and sounds are stunning, and the animations are some of the best in pinball. The code is so deep that it sometimes teeters on unapproachable, but that doesn’t stop players from taking in everything this pin has to offer, or at least trying. 

It didn’t initially sell well, so it wasn’t produced for very long, but with time and word of mouth, it’s become more popular over the last few years. It’s quite an expensive pin to track down on the secondary market, but players would agree it’s worth the money and then some. 

Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast (2018)

iron maiden legacy of the beast best pinball of the 2010s

Slightly ahead of Metallica in the music-inspired pins category is Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden is a heavy metal band formed in East London in 1975. They were pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal and have since sold 130 million copies of their albums worldwide. Stern released Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast in 2018, based on the band’s epic action RPG. The game features 12 Iron Maiden hit songs, including Aces High, Number of the Beast, and Fear of the Dark. The machine works its hardest to match the experience of being at a show, and the game immerses players into the Iron Maiden universe through various versions of Eddie, the band’s legendary mascot. The goal is simple: defeat the Beast and his minions. 

Eddie spinners, an Egyptian temple back panel decal, and a clairvoyant mystery orb stand-up target are thematic features in the game, and the hand-drawn artwork by Zombie Yeti is beautiful. This is also Keith Elwin’s first game, based on his Archer-themed homebrew table. A lot of concepts he introduced here have gone on to be Keith Elwin staples, including heavy use of the upper flipper, risk versus reward shots, loops, combos, and so on. 

The rules run deeper than they appear, offering endless replayability. It plays fast and fun, and even non-heavy metal fans will find themselves headbanging to the music.  

Jurassic Park (2019)

jurassic park pinball machine best pinball of the 2010s

Spielberg’s Jurassic Park may have been one of the defining movies of the ‘90s, so it’s only appropriate that Stern’s Jurassic Park pin was an equally defining pinball machine of the 2010s. Transporting players to Isla Nublar, the goal is to rescue park staff and recapture the escaped dinosaurs before they take over the park. It delivers on its promise of dinosaurs with the animatronic T-Rex that moves, eats/throws the ball. There’s also a raptor target and a raptor tower half-pipe. An up/down target guards the raptor pen and the playfield paddock map, and inserts culminate in mini jackpots and a super jackpot. There’s also a spinning Jungle Explorer Vehicle and a wire heliport ramp. 

This is Keith Elwin’s second game, and even though the rules are deep and challenging, and it can feel extra hard for new players, it’s a beast of a game that commands respect from any player. The depth of the game is impressive, as is the diversity of its shots, and its innovation lies in the fact that it uses the Jurassic Park license, but isn’t based on the movie, so don’t expect movie clips and photoshopped artwork. It doesn’t stop it from being a fast and rewarding adventure, though. 

Deadpool (2018)

deadpool pinball machine stern best pinball of the 2010s

Another comic-turned-successful-live-action-adaptation on our list is Stern’s 2018 release of Deadpool. The character literally came to life when Ryan Reynolds infused his charm and humor into the darkly comedic superhero in the 2016 movie and its 2018 sequel, and Stern was smart to give it a pin. The machine features an original gameplay experience that pits players against Deadpool’s enemies. There’s also his X-Men buddies to work together with - Wolverine makes an appearance as a spinner and Colossus waits in an inner loop shot - and time travel quests to conquer. A katana sword ramp return looks sleek and shiny on the playfield. 

A Lil’ Deadpool bash toy target is adorable, and there are some smooth wireform ramps and drop targets to aim for. It shoots like a dream and is one of George Gomez’s best layouts, and Zombie Yeti’s artwork is alluring. The ruleset is approachable and works nicely for beginners, but there’s depth for more advanced players. 

There are fun mini-games on the display, as well as battle scenes that appear as you start and complete modes. There are hilarious shots that accent the great theme integration, and the replay value is one reason fans call this machine the total package. Deadpool's voice callouts by Nolan North are a particular highlight in this game.

Elvira’s House of Horrors (2019)

top pinball machines of the 2010s elvira's house of horrors

Elvira's House of Horrors is third in the trilogy of Elvira games and first on our list of the top 10 pinball machines of the 2010s. The titular house of horrors features characters from 26 of the most famous horror b-movies, and it’s up to the player/Elvira, to stop them. The house sits at the top of the playfield, and entering it triggers the haunts. There are six main haunts in the game for players to complete, and all ripped straight from actual movies: Night of the Living Dead, Teenagers from Outer Space, The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, The Manster, Manos: The Hands of Fate, and The Werewolf of Washington. Bonus haunts include The Giant Gila Monster, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. 

If that doesn’t sound thematic enough, there are jumping Gar-Goil targets to hit, a spinning turret on the house, a three-stage family crypt ball lock, and a trunk lock that opens to capture the ball. There’s also an organ-cued House Party to celebrate making it halfway through the game, and multiballs named Wild Women, Add-A-Zombie, and Attic Attack.

The tons of modes and campy fun from the theme integration keep Elvira’s House of Horrors high on best-of lists, and there’s enough code to keep players coming back for more. It’s a blast to shoot, and there are interesting mechanics and clear objectives. It plays fast and smooth, and it’s really hard to find complaints about this one. This is also Lyman Sheats’ last game for Stern, and he left us a masterpiece.