Pinball

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    /wiki/Pinballwork
    Cquote1.svg

    Ever since I was a young boy, I've played the silver ball
    From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all
    But I ain't seen nothing like him in any amusement hall
    That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball

    The Who, Pinball Wizard, from the Rock Opera Tommy
    Cquote2.svg

    Pinball is a type of game that you can find in the arcade. Its name was based on an ancient game that no longer has any relationship to the current game.

    The game is simple: You have a (usually) metal ball in a playfield and you get to bump the table and strike the ball using a plunger and (usually) two moving arms, called flippers.

    Thousands of pinball tables have been created. Most tables have a theme of some kind. Many tables use a license of some kind as the theme. It is not rare for pinball games to have the real actors for the license helping out with voice clips specifically for the game.

    Many people collect pinball machines as a hobby. Similarly, it is common to simulate them with computer programs. Windows XP even included such a game. Electronic Arts' Pinball Construction Set was popular in the days of eight-bit home computers.

    Some notable licensed pinball tables are:

    • The Addams Family: The highest-selling pinball game of all time, with 20,270 units sold.
    • Apollo 13: Famous for having a 13 ball multiball. We wish we were kidding.
    • Batman: Three games. Batman, Batman Forever and Dark Knight.
    • Big Buck Hunter
    • Captain Fantastic
    • Defender: Based on Williams' own video game.
    • Doctor Who
    • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Elvira: Elvira and the Party Monsters and Elvira's Scared Stiff.
    • Evel Knievel
    • Indiana Jones: Two of them: the 1993 Williams game, based on the original trilogy, and the 2008 Stern game, which added Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
    • James Bond: This game has a time limit rather than a limit on the number of balls.
    • Joust: The first pinball machine with two-player simultaneous play, with one player on each end of the machine. It's believed that only 500 were made.
    • Jurassic Park
    • Kiss
    • Lord of the Rings
    • Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man: Followed by Baby Pac-Man, one of only three video game/pinball table hybrids ever created (the others were Caveman and Granny and the Gators).
    • NASCAR
    • NBA
    • Playboy: Three of them, by Bally (one of the best-selling tables of all-time), Data East Pinball and Stern Pinball
    • Rocky and Bullwinkle
    • The Simpsons: Two of them, The Simpsons (by Data East Pinball) and The Simpsons Pinball Party (by Stern Pinball, Data East Pinball's successor).
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Star Wars: Four of them:
      • The Empire Strikes Back: Only released in Australia.
      • Star Wars: The 1993 pinball by Data East Pinball; based on the original trilogy.
      • Star Wars Trilogy: The 1997 pinball by Sega Pinball; based on the Special Edition release of the original trilogy.
      • Star Wars: Episode I: The 1999 pinball/video game hybrid (based on Williams/Midway's Pinball 2000 platform) by Williams; based on The Phantom Menace. Notable for being Williams' last pinball game before they left the pinball business in October 1999.
    • Superman: One of 12 pinball games made by Atari.
    • Super Mario Bros.
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: One of the first games (but not the first game) to feature a dot-matrix display. Also, instead of the traditional plunger for launching the ball, you actually "shoot" the ball using a gun trigger, and sometimes it'll even shoot the ball automatically (if you lose the ball early, or whenever you trigger multiball).
    • Twilight Zone: Famous for including a ceramic "Powerball" which would not be affected by the magnets in the machine and a "Battle The Power" mini-playfield with a "magna-flip" feature, along with being one of the most complex and challenging pinball machines ever built.

    Some notable original pinball tables include:

    • Attack from Mars
      • Revenge from Mars: The first of two games released on Williams/Midway's Pinball 2000 platform.
    • The Bally Game Show
    • Black Knight: The first multi-level pinball game, which also introduced Williams' trademark "magna-save" feature.
    • Champion Pub
    • Cirqus Voltaire
    • Dr. Dude and His Excellent Ray
    • Eight Ball: The second-highest selling pinball of all-time; the game's artwork was based on Fonzie and Pinky.
    • Fish Tales
    • Flash: Steve Ritchie's first game for Williams after leaving Atari, Flash is the third-highest selling pinball game of all time. Notable for introducing the first continuous background sound, as well as the first flash lamps, in a pinball.
    • Firepower: The first electronic pinball game to feature multi-ball
    • FunHouse: Featuring Rudy, the talking doll head
    • Gorgar: The first "talking" pinball machine
    • High Speed: The first game to feature a full song, as well as the first "Jackpot" bonus in a pinball game, that carried over from game-to-game.
    • Medieval Madness: The Spiritual Successor to Attack from Mars, which features Tina Fey (yes, that Tina Fey) as one of the voices.
    • Pin*Bot
    • Red & Ted's Roadshow: The Spiritual Successor to FunHouse, this game featured the voice of Carlene Carter.
    • Theater of Magic

    Of course, there has been a wide collection of simulations as well:

    • Atari's Video Pinball Arcade Game was the first pinball simulation. The limitations of mid-1970s graphics limited the video display to moving parts, with the background painted on an overlay. An odd-looking Atari 2600 port was later released.
    • 3D Ultra Pinball, a PC pinball series by Sierra that eschewed realism in favor of creating a unique PC pinball experience.
    • Epic Games produced Silverball, Epic Pinball, and Extreme Pinball,
    • Eager Young Space Cadet, the best known simulation since it was distributed with Microsoft Windows 95 through XP. Also included as part of Full Tilt Pinball! along with two other tables, Dragon's Keep and Skulduggery.
    • Kirby's Pinball Land
    • Mario Pinball Land
    • Metroid Prime Pinball
    • Pokémon Pinball, original and Ruby/Sapphire editions
    • Pro Pinball by Cunning Developments (now Steelball Studios), quite possibly the greatest series of pinball simulations ever made. Currently sold on Good Old Games.
    • Sonic Spinball
    • FarSight Studios' Pinball Hall of Fame series (with The Gottlieb Collection and The Williams Collection), and its successor series, The Pinball Arcade.
    • Zen Studios' two pinball simulation series, Pinball FX and Zen Pinball, as well as their licensed game/add-on Marvel Pinball. Interestingly, all three of these very similar playing series were released in the same console generation on various platforms. Pinball FX was originally released for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade while Zen Pinball made its initial debut on Apple's iOS before later being released on Sony's Play Station 3. The games are actually application shells which players could download the full virtual pinball tables for free in time-limited trial form and can be purchased at any time for unlimited play. Pinball FX would later have all its content imported to its sequel, Pinball FX 2, and be delisted from the Xbox Live Marketplace. Marvel Pinball was later released for both the PS3 and the 360, but the former platform got it as a standalone game while the latter received it as downloadable content for Pinball FX 2. Also interestingly, both Zen Pinball and the Pinball FX series would share some of the same tables. Three Pinball FX tables would later be released on Zen Pinball, then later on three Zen Pinball tables would be available for Pinball FX 2. Even more interestingly, Pinball FX will see release on the PlayStation Vita and iOS for the first time, and both series will see release on the Nintendo 3DS and Google's Android very soon. That's right, both series will be sharing some of the same platforms.

    Notable pinball designers and programmers:

    • Steve Ritchie
    • Mark Ritchie (Steve Ritchie's younger brother)
    • Pat Lawlor
    • Barry Oursler
    • Brian Eddy
    • John Trudeau
    • Joe Kaminkow
    • Eugene Jarvis
    • Larry DeMar ("L.E.D.")
    • Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
    • Keith P. Johnson ("Keefer")

    Terminology note: A pinball board is the internal computer board that operates the machine. A pinball table is an individual layout of ramps, targets, and flippers that make up a particular game. Several different tables may all be running the same board.

    Tropes used in Pinball include:
    • Attract Mode
    • Announcer Chatter
      • Capcom's Flipper Football also has an Adult Mode, where the referee uses very colorful language and a number of four-letter words. "Hey! Let's talk about your sister!" It only gets better from there...
    • Anti-Frustration Features: Much more common in modern tables is called a "ball saver"--an extra chance on that ball if you manage to lose the ball immediately after launching it.
      • A less common variant is the "Consolation Extra Ball" (a.k.a. "Pity Extra Ball"), where if you lose your first two balls quickly and/or without scoring much, the game simply lights the Extra Ball at the start of your third ball. You usually still have to make the shot to get it, though.
    • All There in the Manual
    • Battle Theme Music
    • Boss Banter
      • A lot of the post-1995 Williams/Bally games also have a Midnight Madness mode if you start a game at midnight.
    • Cap: Long before dot-matrix displays became commonplace, many tables had score displays that were limited to a set number of digits.
      • Even with modern dot-matrix displays, the score displays on some games will usually roll back to 0 if they go over the maximum number of digits that can be displayed. Most dot-matrix games will roll over at 10 billion points; Who Dunnit and Dirty Harry are examples of games where this is not very hard to do. The high score tables usually can display the full scores though.
    • Combos, which usually involve completing a specific sequence of shots.
    • Continuing Is Painful: Bonuses, missions, combos, multipliers, and such reset if you lose a ball, unless the table has a "multipliers held" or similar function you can enable to preserve them for your next ball.
      • However, there are pinball tables in which any increased bonuses and multipliers that are earned stick around until a player's game ends. (Or, in some tables, some bonuses are held but others aren't.)
    • Cutscene: Games with dot-matrix displays will stop the action for a movement to show one.
    • Dynamic Difficulty: The replay value on modern machines is adjusted every so often based on recent scores gotten on the machine so that a certain percentage of scores will get a replay. Obviously, these tend to be much higher on privately-owned machines than public machines.
      • Some tables will award a pity extra ball if the player did badly on their first (or first and second) ball(s).
    • Easter Egg
    • Event Flag
    • Every Ten Thousand Points: Virtually any pinball machine will give you a "replay" (or sometimes an extra ball) for reaching a certain score, known on most games as the "replay value". Older pins usually have several of these.
    • Everything's Better with Spinning: There are squares that you spin to score. They are called, appropriately, 'spinners'.
      • Some tables also include spinning wheels on them that can alter a ball's trajectory.
    • Excuse Plot: You are smashing a ball around; it's hard to write a story about that.
    • Extra Balls: These are usually rewarded for completing specific goals on any given table. However, some tables reward extra balls after reaching specified scoring plateaus.
    • Fan Service: Though it depended on the subject matter, many machines featured artwork of scantily clad females for no other reason than to have scantily clad females all over the machine.
    • Final Boss: In pinball, it's called the "Wizard Mode". Introduced in 1989's Black Knight 2000.
    • Genius Programming: In an interview, Steve Ritchie called Larry DeMar, the main programmer of Williams' pinball operating systems, "the most powerful programmer in pinball".
    • Have a Nice Death: Expect the Celebrity Star to pity you if you lose the ball.
    • High Scores
    • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt - Averted, because somebody has to maintain the game.
    • Kobayashi Mario
    • Mad Scientist: Multiple tables have this theme.
    • Mini Game: "Video Mode", a basic Video Game controlled with the flipper and plunger buttons. Smaller playfields within the overall playfield (such as The Twilight Zone's "Battle The Power" section) also count, in a sense.
    • Nintendo Hard: Controlling the ball is easier said than done, and some table layouts are infamous for easily sending the ball toward the outlanes or straight down the center drain. Even then, pulling off some required shots can be tough, especially toward the lower part of the table.
      • Rareware makes the NES adaptation of PIN*BOT even more difficult than the real table (already a notorious drain monster, and this version is no different) by adding monsters that will eat your ball, missiles that will permanently destroy your flippers after two hits until you lose the ball, and other such nasties!
    • No Fair Cheating: Overdo the nudges and the game TILTs, which locks off the paddles until you lose your ball and negated any end-of-ball bonuses. Older electro-mechanical pinball machines had no end-of-ball bonuses, so they would outright end the game then and there, regardless of whether or not you have any balls remaining.
      • Then there's the Slam Tilt to detect people trying to cheat the machine out of money, either by trying to trick the coin mechanism into thinking it accepted a coin when it hasn't, or outright trying to steal the coin box. It triggers a Nonstandard Game Over for all players and voids all credits in the machine.
      • Some computer pinball games (including Pokémon Pinball) limit how hard the table can be pushed and have no penalty for nudging too often.
    • Pinball Scoring: The Trope Namer. This generally applies, but is not exclusive to, newer tables.
      • As an early example of score inflation, Gottlieb's Ace High (1957) has a minimum scoring increment of 10,000 points.
    • Plot Coupon
    • Pressure Plate: When you aren't hitting stuff, you are rolling over it.
    • Promoted Fanboy: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
    • Ragdoll Physics: Kinda the point.
    • Real Song Theme Tune: Usually done with licensed tables, but are occasionally thrown in to non-licensed tables. Examples include:
      • The Twilight Zone uses, appropriately enough, the guitar solo and the main chorus from Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone".
      • Party Zone features The Who's "Pinball Wizard" which is selectable as a request.
      • The Getaway: High Speed II includes ZZ Top's "La Grange" as the main music.
      • Red & Ted's Roadshow has Carlene Carter (Red's voice) perform her song, "Every Little Thing", for the following: the jackpot tune, the "Super Payday" wizard mode, and during the high score name entry.
    • Score Multiplier
      • Bonus multipliers
      • Some games, such as Black Knight and Pin*Bot multiplied playfield values by the number of balls in play.
    • Sidequest
    • Signature Style: Each pinball designer has the following signature:
      • Steve Ritchie's "Picard Maneuver" combo shot (left loop shot to upper right flipper shot to the upper loop or side ramp)
      • Pat Lawlor's "bumper shot", where the player has to shoot the ball between the pop bumpers
      • Mark Ritchie's timed jackpot shots, where the player has to first light the jackpot and must shoot the jackpot shot within a couple of seconds
    • Sliding Scale of Video Game Objectives
    • Space Compression
    • Spelling Bonus: The purpose of "spot letter" targets.
    • Timed Mission: A favorite of the genre.
    • Trope 2000: Black Knight 2000 (the sequel to 1980's Black Knight), and Williams' "Pinball 2000" platform.
    • Wacky Racing: Been there, designed a table about that.
    • What Could Have Been: Two Pinball 2000 tables, Wizard Blocks and Playboy, were in the prototype stage when Williams went out of business.
    • Wide Open Sandbox: You are free to hit anything for points. Of course, there are usually missions.

    See also Pinball Gag, for when someone acts like a ball in a pinball machine. Pinball Protagonist is not directly related to this trope. Pinball Zone is what you get when you make a pinball machine the setting instead of the game.