Calling all the pinball wizards…

This morning, as I was working on a possible blog topic, I visited my Facebook page for some ideas.  And sure enough, my friend Bill Winans posted this video of what looks like the way-coolest pinball machine ever.

Ho kee smokes. That is just awesome on twenty levels.

I love pinball machines. Have loved them since I was able to drop a quarter into a coin slot.

Back in ancient times (okay, the 1970’s), I would go to various places after school that might have a pinball machine available. Sometimes that included bars and taverns, and I would get in at least two games of pinball before the owner chased me out for being underage in a bar.

Back then, the games were completely analogue. Scoring was kept by ratcheted dials on the front of the machine, and you could hear how much you scored with every bell and click and snap on the playing field. Sort of like this game from 1972.

Now around 1979, I came across this pinball machine. It was called “Gorgar,” and it was the first pinball machine that, to my knowledge, had a speech synthesizer. That’s right, Gorgar could talk smack to you as you played the game.

Another game I used to love playing was Space Invaders. In fact, I became proficient on the pinball version of Space Invaders before I even knew there was a video game of the same title. And as you can tell, this game also has the same sound effects as does the video game.

In “Pinbot,” you had to clear a 25-light “colored field” to get into the bonus play area. Definitely a waycool machine.

“Funhouse” was another talking game, but this one had a little ventriloquist’s dummy in the playing field. The dummy would taunt and tease you, but you could shut him up by jamming the ball in his little mouth.

Of course there were licensed pinball machines out there, and one of the most desirable pinball machines today is a clean “KISS” pinball game. Yep, you drop a quarter in the slot and it immediately plays a 4-bit version of “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

Remember when South Park used to have merchandising of anything and everything? Yep, they had a pinball machine as well, and I remember playing this game over at Jillian’s – back in the day when Jillian’s had a game room.

Oh, and I can’t finish this blog post without showing at least one fragment of the only game show I’ve ever seen to involve a ginormous pinball machine, the 1975 classic “The Magnificent Marble Machine.”

Oh, and one more thing. You know the most famous movie to include a pinball machine in its motif, right?

Well, not only was there a pinball machine featuring Elton John as “Captain Fantastic” …

… I should also mention that someone created a “Tommy” pinball machine, complete with a “blackout” feature that would block your view of the flippers. Yeah, you could be the deaf, dumb and blind kid if you wanted to.

So all you video gamers and PlayStation aficionados…  You need to find a classic pinball game, drop a quarter in the slot, and play that thing like it’s the most fun you will ever have.

Because it will be.


4 thoughts on “Calling all the pinball wizards…”

  1. Chuck, I hate to do this to you, because I know you’ll become addicted as I have. Download the app “The Pinball Arcade” from Farsight Studios. The app is free and one free table is included. Additional tables (including most of the ones above) are a few dollars each. It is the most accurate emulation of pinball.


  2. My favorite pinball game was a game called Taxi. You had to pick up characters like the Werewolf, Dracula, Frankenstein. You also had to pick up Gorbachev. (Hey, this was the late 80’s). When you ahd them all you also had to pick up Pinbot. They were all hard to get though. But hey, I did it quite a few times. Ever since I was a young boy….


  3. One of these days (read: probably never) I’d like to build a virtual pinball machine. Simply put, it’s an app like the one potrzebie mentions writ large. You take a PC, load some virtual pinball software onto it (and as many tables as you want), hook it up to two or three TVs/monitors (one for the playfield, one for the backglass, and optionally one for the DMD [dot matrix display]), add some controls, maybe components like a shaker and a sound system to make it feel even more like the real thing, and stuff the whole kit and kaboodle into either an actual pinball cabinet or one that you’ve built yourself. It can get expensive (hundreds of dollars, maybe even a thousand or more), but it’s a lot cheaper than tracking down a physical pinball machine. The genuine article will easily cost you a few thousand dollars.

    Here’s an example of one such homemade virtual pinball machine (not mine, just one I came across on the Internet):


  4. A machine I put whole paychecks into in the 1980s was Williams “The Black Knight.” Gorgar was the first table to include synthesized speech. Black Knight came shortly after, was the first table with two levels & ramps and was also an early multi-ball table. It also had two additional flipper buttons that activated strong electromagnets under the playfield called “Magna Save” which saved the ball from going down the outlane drains. It is perfectly emulated in “The Pinball Arcade” app.


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