Comparisons with the real table


New member
Oct 16, 2013
I just managed to play, for the first time, a real AFM table. I just wanted to share my impressions on how the table works in real life, how it looks (really good, I should say!) and how it compares to the virtual version of it, on TPA.

First of all, and I don't know if it happens just because my lack of skill, but: it is much more difficult in real life! In TPA, I could rule the universe after a few tries, and could get about 20 billion points. On the real machine, I was struggling to get only 1.6 billion points, which is the minimum score to get a replay. I could get it two or three times (my best score was around 4 billion points), but it is much more punishing, specially when it hits the slingshots or the saucer itself.

I'm not really sure what happens exactly that makes that difference. Maybe the machine I was playing had a different kind of maintenance, with flippers not having the same bounciness or other details. Maybe TPA simulation, although being really, really good, can't replicate the complexity of a real table, with all its minor details. But even with this criticism, I can say the TPA simulation is really good, because in the real table I could do some subtle things that I could do in the virtual machine. When the ball comes out the hole (the stroke of luck hole), it behaves pretty much like the TPA machine, for example, bouncing in the left flipper and landing on the right flipper (it happens just a bit faster on the real table). In general, the table just feels like the virtual machine, I can say that.

I think the problem is: the real table has some minor details which makes it much less predictable, if you compare to a virtual machine, which is pure math. Those minor details are enough to put your ball on the drain. And I played dozens of times the ATM unreal machine, on TPA, and I just started to play the real table on this local bar I went, so well, I'm not used to it (yet).

How do you guys deal with those differences (virtual vs. real tables)? When I got home, I felt like a fraud, getting billions and billions of points on TPA, but not being able to do the same in the real thing :(.

By the way, the strobe multiball is way much cooler in the real thing! It really has the stroboscopic effect, it is hard to see the ball and the visual effects are really really cool. Unfortunately, this effect doesn't happen on TPA. The table had a problem on the launcher (most of the times, it didn't reach the bumbers or couldn't do the super skill shot) and the right flipper is a bit weak (but not much). I think it is charming, though, to deal with those small problems. It shows the authenticity of real tables that I miss so much. It feels wrong, and because of that... it feels right! :D

If you are located in São Paulo, as me, I played the AFM located in the Rock'n Roll Burger, a very pleasent bar located at Rua Augusta. They have TOTAN and MM too, but I didn't try them much, because well, MM is just too similar to AFM (and I wanted to play AFM!), and TOTAN just robbed my coins crazily. They have other tables too, and most of them in good conditions, since the owners are pinball aficionados. It's nice to check it out (good music, cold beer and beautiful girls around too... couldn't be better :cool:).


New member
Sep 27, 2012
if you getting a replay, you are doing fairly well. real machines are sometimes a beast. IMO they all are easier on TPA except for Champion Pub.


Staff member
Mar 14, 2012
There are a couple of factors in play here. First and foremost, TPA is tuned to make you feel like a pinball god. That means whereas in real life your ball might rattle around as you go for a ramp, in TPA it will make a clean entrance more times than not. Balls shooting out of eject holes are predictable in TPA, where the real machine might send it out 5 different directions 5 different times.

Another factor at play is ball spin. There really isn't any in TPA, but on a real machine it's a huge factor. Again it plays into the unpredictability factor. Finally, you are dealing with a machine that can have worn rubber, weak flippers, weak slingshots, dirty playfield, different degree of slope, and different operator settings.

I play in a league where there is an AFM at two different locations. At one of them, it is downright evil. Nobody can put a finger on what is different about it, because operator settings are set the same at both, but scores are waaay lower on the one over the other. So even real tables don't play the same. I do notice that I know what to expect on TPA tables in terms of bounces, and it screws me up royally when I play the real counterpart because I'm expecting the same behavior and not getting it.

Glad you found some tables...enjoy 'em!


New member
Feb 20, 2014
I have a real ATM not too far from me that I play regularly. It's in good condition and plays real nice. IMO this is one of the games that is VASTLY different in real life than it is in the game. The pinball arcade version of this game bricks out a ton and the ramps can be hard as hell to hit (for me at least), and a missed shot leads to that skyrocketting side to side bouncing that pinball arcade tables do a lot. but in the real table I've played it feels much more lightweight which means less bricking out after going halfway up a slide or ramp and there is less bounciness. The real table is hard as hell too, but in an almost totally different way. I think the other poster hit on it that PA physics just don't really account for the randomness that you get on a real table, which is what creates the challenge.

Jungle Runner

New member
Apr 26, 2015
One of the simple things that make a huge difference on real machines is how the feet on the bottom of the legs are set.
It is quite common to find the levelling feet at the back set really high, while the front ones are wound right in low, or even removed. This makes the ball run really fast.
Still, I think you are lucky if you have well maintained real machines near you. So often they fall into disrepair, parts fail, people stop playing them, then the operator gets rid of them because they no longer make any money.

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