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(Chicago.CityRegions.Com, June 04, 2020 ) IN THE NEW AGE
During the mid to late 1990’s the pinball market was on a steady decline. Several, well at that time almost all the pinball manufacturers stopped producing pinball machines. However, they made a comeback like never, and one reason being today, in 2020 and beyond, we have new pinball technology known as virtual pinball, video pinball. And what this means is you can now purchase 1 pinball machine with several pinball games that are inside one full-size pinball cabinet, with a a large LCD screen and with several origin pinball machine games converted to the exact specifications including game play, rules, targets, flippers, images as the original solid state and electromechanical. And perhaps the most sought-after virtual pinball machine is the Vpin pinball machines. The Vpin includes over 1,000 pinball games, and 1,000 video arcade games. Additionally, every pinball machine listed in the article in already included with the Vpin pinball game pack. So now, for the start of the 10 most innovative pinball machines of all time!
First with Flippers
1. Humpty Dumpty-1947-D. Gottlieb & Co.
Beginning in the early 1940s, a large anti-pinball movement gained steam across the country, resulting in its banning in several locations, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago (where most of the machines were manufactured). Much of the opposition to pinball stemmed from the belief that it was a game of chance, and thus a form of gambling. The introduction of the flipper in the late 1940s was important not just as a key component of what people today think of as pinball, but also because it brought a new level of control and skill to pinball. (Although it would be another three decades before most of the pinball bans were lifted).
Humpty Dumpty had six flippers--all facing outward, away from the center of the playing field. It was not until a 1950 game called Spot Bowler that the key hardware for game play took on its now common incarnation at the bottom of the playing field, facing inward.
First Licensed Movie Theme
Today, Illinois-based Stern Pinball is the only company in the world still making pinball machines, and every single one of its new games is based on a licensed theme (recent games include The Family Guy and NASCAR). But it was not until a movie about pinball was released that a game took its theme from a film.
Wizard was based on the 1975 movie version of The Who's Tommy rock opera (which was, of course, about that "deaf, dumb and blind kid" who sure played a mean pinball). The game, which featured depictions of Roger Daltry and Ann-Margret on its back glass, proved a hit, and another Tommy-based game came out the following year (Captain Fantastic, which featured Elton John in full pinball-wizard garb). Today's pinball designers use themes to give their games a narrative and structure, and to bring in a built-in customer base.
First Solid-State Pinball
3. Hot Tip-1977-Williams
4. Spirit of 76-1975-Micro Games
Until the 1970s, no pinball machine had any sort of computerization. Instead, the electromechanical games ran on a precarious balance of moving parts, with their guts resembling giant Rube Goldberg machines.
But beginning in 1977, manufacturers began running their games off computer chips, and the machines became far less prone to mechanical failure. (Engineers could also take advantage of the chips to put in more intelligent and complex features.) Oddly, when the first so-called solid-state pinball machines came out, Williams was worried that customers used to the familiar feel of churning gears and ringing bells would be scared away by the high-tech new machines. To protect against this, the company filled the games with spinning gears that did nothing except make familiar noise.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Hot Tip as the first solid-state pinball machine. It was the first solid-state machine manufactured by Williams, but not the first in the industry.
First Dot-Matrix Display
5. Checkpoint-1991-Data East
In many ways, the early 90s were the last and greatest golden age of pinball. Even though video games were wildly popular by that point, pinball machines saw their best sales ever--and some of their best and most creative incarnations. This was the direct result of a single innovation: the dot-matrix display.
Before the dot-matrix display, pinball machines showed their scores on spinning reels and, later, simple digital displays. But the dot-matrix display was flexible enough to show more than mere numbers--they could display animations. As a result, programmers could add an unparalleled number of new features and new game modes (such as mini video games that took place entirely on the tiny screens), and even immerse the player in a narrative of sorts.
Checkpoint used a so-called "half-height" dot-matrix display, as opposed to the full-size one used in later machines. It was also the first game to allow a player to select the music they wanted to listen to during their game, with six different musical genres on the menu.
6. The Addams Family-1992-Bally
After the advent of dot-matrix display, pinball saw a rush of now classic games. But the Addams Family is perhaps the era's most iconic. It also sold more than 20,000 units, making it the best-selling pinball game of all time.
The game featured plenty of next-gen features, such as a moving mechanical hand (Thing) that picked up balls, an enormous number of scoring modes and new dialogue recorded by the film's stars specifically for the game. But the real reason for its success was that it had great game play. With well-placed ramps and shots leading into each other naturally, The Addams Family avoided some of the all-too-common pratfalls of the pinball machine. This game nailed the simple things, and virtually every game since has taken design cues from it.
7. The Twilight Zone-1993-Bally
Following the success of The Addams Family, designer Pat Lawlor was given carte blanche to make the game of his dreams. The result: The Twilight Zone, a messy, complex, frustrating, and immensely enjoyable machine. Never had a designer attempted to stuff so many toys and features into a single game. Some of Twilight's wilder features included a working gum-ball machine that would spit balls onto the playing field, a miniature upper play field with invisible magnetic flippers, and a working clock that would count down the time of different game modes. The game was so ambitious that it had to be built as a "wide-body" machine to fit all its features onto the playing field.
But because the machine was so mechanically complex and filled with so many moving parts, it was also extremely prone to mechanical problems. The clock would frequently break down, and machines still in perfect working order are exceedingly rare and remain sought after by collectors.
Recently, The Twilight Zone has developed a reputation as the most-modded machine, with collectors using the Internet to buy and sell even more toys for the game's already crowded playing field. Common mods include filling the gum-ball machine with colorful plastic gum balls, hacking the game to play updated firmware that adds more game features, and even surgically installing magnets to the playing field to make game play more exciting.
8. Most High-Tech
Revenge from Mars-1999-Bally
Williams Electronics was perhaps history's most legendary pinball manufacturer. By the late 1990s, it had gobbled up the pinball operations of Bally and Midway to make itself one of only two pinball companies left on the planet (and by far the larger of the two, accounting for more than 80 percent of the market). But Williams's pinball operation was also just one small division of what was then a large, publicly traded corporation, WMS Gaming, that saw greater profits from slot-machine sales than from complex, low-volume pinball games. The company had made moves to shut down the pinball operation, but not before giving its engineers one last-ditch effort to redefine the game for a new millennium--and save their jobs.
The result: Pinball 2000, a high-tech pinball/video-game hybrid in which players would aim the ball at projected holographic targets (click here to see the game in action). Because much of the playing field was built from projected video, the games for Pinball 2000 were designed to be easily converted between themes as future games were released. But that never happened. Only two Pinball 2000 games were ever produced: Revenge from Mars and the not-quite-as-fun Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Although the new games sold moderately well, it was not enough for WMS, which closed the door on its entire pinball operation in 1999, leaving the much-smaller Stern Pinball as the world's sole manufacturer of pinball machines.
9. PINBOT PINBALL (1986)
Pinbot is a favorite in the family and for good reason. The background music, the call outs and theme, along with the integrated topper, all combine for a classic pinball experience. Only three drops but a great mech with the visor. Tough out lanes make it hard to keep the ball in play.
A special note from J.M. Bolin, CEO of IN THE NEW AGE!
I could not help but mention the PINBOT pinball machine as part of the "Most High-Tech picks!" Reason being, when those pinball machine first came out in 1986, there was no other pinball machine like it. And what I mean is. the entire coin operated game industry started buying these pinballs as fast as they could make them. Additionally, when I placed these pinball games in our various locations in Chicago, the cases boxes filled up with quarters so fast sometimes we had to make weekly collection twice a week. Now, of course the cash box was plenty big enough to hold several hundred dollars in quarters, however, some of the neighborhoods were not the best, therefore, we didn’t want anyone breaking in the pinball machine and stealing the money. However, there was one BIG PROBLEM! Maintenance!
Because the Pinbot pinball machine was so new and so different that the current pinball technologies, all the pinball machine did was break down. Fortunately, now the IN THE NEW AGE sells the Vpin virtual pinball machine, the PINBOT pinball game as well as 1,000's of other pinball games are included in the Vpin video pinball machine, thus, virtually maintenance free!
10. Baby Pac-man Bally 1982
A special note from J.M. Bolin, CEO of IN THE NEW AGE!
Baby pac-man was possibly the LEAST favorite of all Pac-Pan arcade games. Additionally, it was not extremely popular as a pinball machine either. However, it was one of the first half pinball and half video arcade games. Also, when I first started my coin-op arcade game rout in 1984, I started out with an arcade game called Scramble, made by Sterne, a Donkey Kong Jr. made by Nintendo, and a Baby Pacman. Therefore, I would have to say Baby Pac-man is probably my favorite arcade game and pinball machine of all time. I mean, after all, this is how I git my start. Forts, with the coin operated game business, now, with the pioneer of arcade game companies, we have today, IN THE NEW AGE!
Baby Pac-Man is a hybrid maze and pinball game released in arcades by Bally Midway on October 11, 1982. The cabinet consists of a 13-inch video screen seated above a shortened, horizontal pinball table. The combination fits into roughly the same size space as an upright arcade machine.
The development of Baby Pac-Man was not authorized by Namco. It was designed and released entirely by Bally-Midway (as were Pac-Man Plus, Jr. Pac-Man, and Professor Pac-Man), which eventually led to Namco canceling its relationship with Bally-Midway.7,000 units were produced.
Play begins on the video screen, where the player controls Baby Pac-Man through a maze. Play mechanics are like Pac-Man in that the object is to navigate the maze while gobbling dots and avoiding ghosts. In contrast to earlier games in the series, Baby Pac-Man's maze starts with no energizers, which allow Baby Pac-Man to eat the ghosts. Instead, there are two vertical chutes at the bottom edge of the screen, which suspend video play and transfer the game to the pinball table when the player travels down either of them.
The mechanical pinball section operates as a traditional, though smaller, pinball table. The player hits target with a metal ball using two button-operated flippers. The player may earn energizers, gain new fruit bonuses, and increase tunnel speed, all of which are used in the video mode. After losing a ball, the game resumes on the video screen, but with the chutes closed. The player must clear the maze or lose a life to reopen the chutes. The game ends when the player runs out of lives.
All game room products we sell:
Pinball machines – Virtual Pinball machine (2,000 pinball games in one) Slot machines – Arcade machines (4,000+ games in one) - Jukeboxes
IN THE NEW AGE
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