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  • The Ultimate Roundup of Upcoming Pinball Machines & Rumors

    The Ultimate Roundup of Upcoming Pinball Machines & Rumors

    Pinball rumor roundup from Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, American Pinball, Spooky Pinball & Chicago Gaming Company

    Updated: September 22, 2022

    There’s a lot of exciting news in the world of pinball lately! Several big names in the industry have announced new upcoming pinball machines coming out in 2022, plus a ton of new pinball machine rumors. Here at Game Room Dude, we’re scouring the web and all sorts of digital content for all the juiciest pinball machine rumors and new machine confirmations, and collecting them here for you.

    So far, we’ve confirmed the status of upcoming machines and top pinball machine rumors from Stern, Jersey Jack, American Pinball, Spooky Pinball, Chicago Gaming Company, Haggis Pinball, The Pinball Brothers, and more. Keep checking back for updates, as we’ll be adding new information about the next pinball machines for Stern, Jersey Jack and more as information becomes available!

    Next Stern Pinball Machine Rumors

    upcoming pinball machine rumors stern frasier pinball machine

    What is the next Stern Pinball?

    Update: James Bond is the next cornerstone release from Stern Pinball.

    Current Stern Pinball Machines

    Here’s Stern’s current production list, for refreshers.

    1. James Bond (new!)
    2. Rush
    3. Godzilla
    4. Star Wars the Mandalorian
    5. Led Zeppelin (final runs)
    6. The Avengers Infinity Quest
    7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (final runs)
    8. Elvira’s House of Horrors
    9. Jurassic Park
    10. Deadpool
    11. Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast
    12. Guardians of the Galaxy (final runs)
    13. Star Wars

    Next Stern Pinball Rumors

    Here’s our complete list of rumors for the next Stern pinball. In order to be a rumored game, it must be mentioned by a reputable source, hinted at by the company through official channels or interviews or considered a consensus pick by the larger pinball community.

    1. Venom
    2. Ozzy Osbourne / Black Sabbath
    3. James Bond (confirmed next cornerstone)
    4. Jaws
    5. Back to the Future
    6. Foo Fighters
    7. Harry Potter
    8. Sonic the Hedgehog
    9. Cobra Kai
    10. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
    11. Elf

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes

    These are some of the pinball themes most requested by Stern pinball fans. These may or may not ever make it to production. Think of it as a “wouldn’t it be cool if Stern built this table next” list.

    1. Predator
    2. Marvel – Fantastic Four
    3. Marvel – Punisher
    4. Marvel – Daredevil
    5. Marvel – Moon Knight
    6. Marvel – Zombies
    7. Marvel – X-Men ’97
    8. Spawn
    9. The Matrix
    10. John Wick
    11. Cowboy Bebop
    12. Beetlejuice
    13. Pokemon
    14. The Running Man
    15. Avatar 2
    16. Big Trouble in Little China
    17. Prince
    18. Futurama
    19. Beavis & Butt-head
    20. Rocky
    21. Beastie Boys
    22. Little Shop of Horrors
    23. Escape from New York
    24. Mad Max
    25. Minions
    26. The Warriors
    27. Black Sabbath
    28. G.I. Joe
    29. The Muppets
    30. E.T.
    31. Top Gun
    32. The Boys
    33. Dune
    34. Megadeath
    35. True Lies
    36. Blade Runner
    37. Johnny Quest
    38. Slayer
    39. Cheech & Chong
    40. Archer
    41. Jumanji
    42. True Lies
    43. They Live
    44. Akira
    45. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

    Next Jersey Jack Pinball Machine Rumors

    jersey jack new pinball machine rumors

    Jersey Jack is arguably the number 2 pinball manufacturer in the United States, but they don’t release games nearly as often as Stern does. While Stern will release 3 or more games a year, we’re lucky to see a single Jersey Jack machine in that time period. As such, the rumor mill is much less active then Stern’s, and likely won’t get super active again till they are closer to releasing their next game.

    Current Production Jersey Jack Pinball Machines

    Next Jersey Jack Pinball Rumors

    1. The Godfather
    2. Steve Ritchie music pin (Ideas: Elton John, Van Halen, Journey, Bruce Springsteen)
    3. The Matrix
    4. Top Gun

    Most Wanted Jersey Jack Pinball Themes

    These are some of the pinball themes most requested by Jersey Jack pinball fans. These may or may not ever make it to production. Think of it as a “wouldn’t it be cool if Jersey Jack built this table next” list.

    1. Avatar
    2. World of Warcraft
    3. Star Wars
    4. Super Mario
    5. Legend of Zelda
    6. Back to the Future
    7. The Muppets
    8. Beetlejuice
    9. Evil Dead
    10. Black Sabbath
    11. John Wick
    12. Dungeons & Dragons
    13. Jumanji
    14. Terminator

    Next American Pinball Rumors

    american pinball upcoming pinball machines and rumors

    American Pinball is currently planning for two new game releases a year. They aren’t up to that level yet in 2022, so like Jersey Jack, American Pinball rumors are few and far between. So far the most credible rumors center around a slate of original unlicensed themes, a Sherlock Holmes theme and designer Barry Oursler’s final game.

    Current American Pinball Machines

    1. Hot Wheels
    2. Legends of Valhalla
    3. Oktoberfest

    Rumored American Pinball Machines

    1. Galactic Tank Force / Galactic Star Force
    2. Untitled Barry Oursler game
    3. Wrath of Olympus
    4. Robin Hood
    5. Benny Hill
    6. White Water 2

    Most Wanted American Pinball Themes

    1. Assassins’ Cred
    2. Scooby Doo
    3. The Matrix
    4. The Witcher
    5. Monty Python
    6. Speed Racer
    7. Run DMC
    8. Zombieland
    9. Dragons Lair
    10. Lego
    11. Dune

    Next Spooky Pinball Rumors

    upcoming and new spooky pinball machines

    Spooky releases about a machine a year, so not a ton of rumors to discuss. Because Spooky focuses on horror themed pins, the fan wishes are at least a little more creative! The only known semi-confirmed rumored pinball machine is a new run of Total Nuclear Annihilation games.

    Current Spooky Pinball Machines

    1. Halloween
    2. Ultraman

    Rumored Spooky Pinball Machines

    1. Total Nuclear Annihilation 2.0
    2. Scooby Doo
    3. Evil Dead / Army of Darkness
    4. Drag me to Hell
    5. Killer Klowns from Outer Space

    Most Wanted Spooky Pinball Themes

    1. Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors
    2. Friday the 13th
    3. Nightmare on Elm Street
    4. Willy’s Wonderland
    5. Rocky Horror Picture Show
    6. Phantasm
    7. Predator
    8. Resident Evil
    9. Bioshock
    10. They Live
    11. Spawn
    12. Scream
    13. Tool
    14. GWAR

    Next Chicago Gaming Company Pinball Rumors

    chicago gaming company pinball machine rumors

    Chicago Gaming Company currently specializes in producing remakes of classic Bally/Williams pinball machines, mostly from the 1990s. While there have been rumors for years that Chicago Gaming would release their own original pinball table, including a long rumored Pulp Fiction game, nothing has been officially confirmed to date. In the past, representatives from Chicago Gaming Company have mentioned games like Theater of Magic and Big Bang Bar as future remake candidates.

    Current Chicago Gaming Company Pinball Machines

    1. Cactus Canyon Remake
    2. Attack from Mars Remake
    3. Medieval Madness Remake

    Rumored Chicago Gaming Company Pinball Machines

    1. Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure
    2. White Water
    3. Creature from the Black Lagoon
    4. Tales of the Arabian Nights
    5. The Addams Family
    6. Cirqus Voltaire

    Most Wanted Chicago Gaming Company Pinball Themes

    1. Theater of Magic Remake
    2. Pulp Fiction
    3. Big Bang Bar Remake
    4. Twilight Zone Remake

    Next Pinball Brothers Machine Rumors

    Current Pinball Brothers Pinball Machines

    1. Alien
    2. Queen (now confirmed)

    Rumored Pinball Brothers Pinball Machines

    1. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
    2. Playboy

    Next Haggis Pinball Machine Rumors

    Current Haggis Pinball Machines

    1. Fathom Revisited
    2. Celts

    Rumored Haggis Pinball Machines

    1. War of the Worlds
    2. Centaur
    3. Medusa

    Most Wanted Haggis Pinball Machines

    1. Flash Gordon
    2. Skateball
    3. Eight Ball Deluxe

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • Ranking the 50 Themes Pinball Fans Really Want for Stern’s Next Pinball in 2022

    Ranking the 50 Themes Pinball Fans Really Want for Stern’s Next Pinball in 2022

    There’s no doubt that Stern Pinball is one of the most popular and well-respected pinball manufacturers in the world. Every year, they release a ton of new machines that become instant classics (or sometimes maligned misses) with fans around the globe. With so many amazing titles under their belt, it’s hard to imagine what could be the next Stern pinball for 2022. But that hasn’t stopped pinball fans from speculating! In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most buzzed-about rumors about Stern Pinball’s next machine, as requested by pinball fans themselves.

    When Will Stern Announce their Next Pinball Machine?

    That’s anybodies guess!

    In a normal year, Stern will release several cornerstone games throughout the year plus a few boutiques or smaller specialty releases.

    However, thanks to the pandemic and various supply chain issues, Stern has spent most of 2022 playing catch-up with their orders, and haven’t released a new game since John Borg’s Rush earlier this year.

    Stern has alluded to the possibility of announcing a new cornerstone game sometime in the late summer / early fall time-frame, so internet speculation is buzzing that an announcement will come any day now.

    Most Wanted Next Stern Pinball Themes for 2022

    As the unquestioned leader in the pinball marketplace, Stern could release just about any title they wanted and it would probably sell well. That said, when looking at the themes and intellectual properties that pinball fans are most excited for, a clear trend emerges.

    We have spent considerable time analyzing online conversations about Stern pinball rumors and the next Stern Pinball 2022, and based on that analysis, here’s the list of the top 50 most wanted pinball game themes. Some of these are of course more realistic than others, but the people want what they want!

    Here’s the full list of the most wanted Stern Pinball machines:

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes #1-10

    1. Back to the Future

    The Back to the Future franchise is a time-traveling science fiction comedy series that began in 1985 and spanned three movies. The movies follow Marty McFly, a teenager who accidentally travels back in time to 1955 and has to make sure his parents fall in love so that he can exist in the future. The series is beloved by fans for its humor, clever writing, and nostalgic feel.

    Given the popularity of the Back to the Future franchise, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most requested themes for Stern Pinball’s next game. The movies are filled with exciting action scenes and interesting characters that would translate well into a pinball machine. Plus, who wouldn’t want to travel back in time with Doc Brown and save the world?

    2. Jaws

    The Jaws franchise is a series of American horror-thriller movies that started with the release of the 1975 movie Jaws. The movies follow Amity Police Chief Martin Brody as he tries to stop a giant shark from terrorizing the town’s inhabitants. The series is known for its suspenseful scenes and iconic music score.

    Despite being released over 40 years ago, Jaws is still one of the most popular and successful horror franchises in history. Its mix of action, suspense, and fear make it perfect for a pinball machine, and it would be sure to thrill fans around the world.

    3. James Bond

    James Bond is a character from a long-running movie series about a secret agent who fights bad guys. (I mean, we shouldn’t really have to explain who James Bond is, but just in cases). The possibility of a James Bond pinball machine has captured pinball players imaginations for years, and has been egged on by rumors from Pinball media and those in the know over the last few years. A lot of people really want this theme, and it’d sure to be a huge seller for Stern.

    4. Venom

    Venom is a comic book character and popular movie franchise starring Tom Hardy. The character is a frequently portrayed as a villain or anti-hero, and he often fights Spiderman in the comics universe. Venom has been a popular pick for the next Stern pinball machine for some time. Pinball fans hope for an exciting machine with a fun art package, similar in approach to the Deadpool pinball machine from a few years ago.

    5. Harry Potter

    For a very simplified overview, Harry Potter is a very popular series of books and movies about a boy who goes to wizard school at a place called Hogwarts and learns how to do magic alongside his friends and schoolmates. Along the way, he encounters a series of villains and bad guys, including the evil Lord Voldemort, who he has to defeat to save his friends and the rest of the Wizarding world.

    Harry Potter has long been a heavily wished for Pinball theme, though drama surrounding the character’s creator in recent years may dampen Stern’s appetite for producing this particular title.

    6. Black Sabbath

    Black Sabbath is a British rock band that was formed in 1968. They are considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal music. Some of their most famous songs include “Iron Man” and “Paranoid”. Black Sabbath has long been requested by pinball fans as their music fits alongside other hard rock and metal artists like AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses, Aerosmith and others in recent years.

    7. Ozzy Osbourne

    Ozzy Osbourne is a famous musician and reality TV personality who was in a band called Black Sabbath before embarking on his own solo career. Ozzy is also well-known for his reality TV show, The Osbournes, which he starred in with his family. He is considered the “Prince of Darkness”. Ozzy Osbourne has been frequently requested by fans as a possible next Stern pinball machine, usually alongside his original band, Black Sabbath. Many people hope for an exciting and metal-themed machine that would be perfect for fans of the artist.

    8. Top Gun

    At it’s core, Top Gun is an 80’s action movie about Navy fighter pilots. It’s an extremely popular movie made even more so by the 2022 blockbuster sequel, Top Gun Maverick. Top Gun has been requested by fans for years as a possible next Stern pinball machine, and those requests will likely only pick up in speed thanks to the success latest film in the series.

    9. Foo Fighters

    The Foo Fighters are a popular rock band. They’re known for their catchy songs and exciting live shows. The band has been active since the mid-1990s and has released nine studio albums. The Foo Fighters have been rumored as a possible next Stern pinball machine by fans for some time now, although that was somewhat derailed this year by the untimely death of the Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins. However, there is certainly a contingent of pinball fans who would like to see music themed pins from more modern artists, and the Foo Fighters are high on the list.

    10. The Goonies

    The Goonies is a 1980s movie about a group of kids who go on an adventure to find hidden treasure. It’s an extremely popular and memorable nostalgic franchise that pinball fans have wanted to see in a pinball machine for many many years. At one point, Stern even used the name as a code for its 2020 release of Stranger Things, which is itself loosely based on the story and characters of The Goonies.

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes #11-20

    11. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

    He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a popular 80s cartoon about a man who can transform into a super-powered warrior to fight evil. The show was so popular that it spawned a line of action figures, which are still popular today. A movie based on the characters was released in 1987, and there has been talk of a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie reboot for years, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Fans of the franchise have long hoped for a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe pinball machine, similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine that was released by Stern a few years ago.

    12. Van Halen

    Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. The band consists of brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, singer David Lee Roth, and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen. They are one of the most commercially successful bands of all time.

    Van Halen achieved worldwide fame with their eponymous debut album released in 1978. The album went on to sell over 10 million copies in the United States alone. The following year, Van Halen released their second album, Women and Children First, which became their first platinum album. In 1984, the band released their third album, 1984, which was a commercial success and spawned four hit singles: “Jump”, “Panama”, “I’ll Wait”, and “Hot for Teacher”.

    The band went on to release a number of other successful albums including 5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991). However, tensions mounted between Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth leading to both members’ departures from the group in 1995. Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as the band’s singer and the group continued to enjoy success with albums such as Balance (1995) and Van Halen III (1998).

    Despite all of their success, a Van Halen pinball machine has yet to be made. However, that hasn’t stopped pinball fans from asking for one. While this is a theme that is much demanded, it’s hard to see it coming to life due to the various conflicts original band members had.

    13. Pink Floyd

    Pink Floyd is a British rock band that achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. They are considered one of the most successful and influential rock groups of all time. The band was formed in 1965 by Syd Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass and lead vocals, and Richard Wright on keyboards and vocals.

    With Waters at the helm, Pink Floyd released some of their most popular and critically acclaimed albums including The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979). The Wall is considered one of the most iconic rock albums of all time. It tells the story of a character named Pink who is a thinly veiled stand-in for Roger Waters. The album is a concept album that deals with themes of isolation, mental health, and loss.

    Pink Floyd is often brought up as a desired theme for Stern’s next pinball machine, particularly one themed around their 1979 Album, The Wall.

    14. The Matrix

    The Matrix is a science fiction action film series written and directed by the Wachowskis. The series is about a computer hacker who learns that the world he lives in is actually a simulated reality created by machines in order to pacify and control the human population.

    The first film in the series was released in 1999 and became a massive commercial and critical success. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won four BAFTA Awards. The success of the film led to the release of two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both of which were also commercial and critical successes. The fourth film in the series, The Matrix Resurrections was released in 2021.

    The Matrix has been praised for its visual effects, action sequences, and philosophical content. The films have been cited as influences on numerous other works of fiction.

    Given the popularity of the films, it’s no surprise that fans have long called for a Matrix pinball machine. With its deep philosophical content and mind-bending action sequences, a Matrix pinball machine would be an interesting title for Stern Pinball.

    15. Pokémon

    Pokémon is a media franchise owned by The Pokémon Company, created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri. It is centered on fictional creatures called Pokémon, which humans, known as Pokémon trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport.

    The franchise began as a pair of video games for the original Nintendo Game Boy handheld system. It now includes trading card games, animated television shows and movies, comic books, and toys. Pokémon has been adapted into a live-action film titled Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, released in 2019 to moderate success.

    The Pokémon video game series is the second best-selling video game franchise of all time, behind only Nintendo’s Mario franchise. In total, the games have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. The anime has been watched by more than 1 billion people worldwide and is the most successful Japanese anime series in history.

    The popularity of the Pokémon franchise is undeniable and it’s no surprise that it’s been brought up as a potential pinball machine for a long time. With its colorful cast of characters, exciting battles, and collecting themed game mechanics, a Pokémon pinball machine would be sure to please fans of all ages.

    16. Beetlejuice

    Beetlejuice is a 1988 American dark comedy fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Catherine O’Hara. The film tells the story of a recently deceased couple who are forced to spend eternity haunting their former home, and hires a mischievous ghost named Beetlejuice to help them scare away the new inhabitants.

    The film was a commercial success, grossing $73 million against its $15 million budget. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised its humor, visuals, and acting. Beetlejuice was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

    Since its release, Beetlejuice has developed a cult following and is often cited as one of Burton’s best films. In 1990, a animated television series based on the film was aired on ABC. Beetlejuice has been a frequently requested pinball machine for Stern to produce, though it’s questionable we’ll ever see it come to light.

    17. Mötley Crüe

    Mötley Crüe was an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1981. The group was founded by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil, and guitarist Mick Mars. Mötley Crüe has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has been credited with popularizing the glam metal genre.

    The band’s first two albums—Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil—were released in the early 1980s and were both critical and commercial successes. Their next two albums, Theatre of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls, were also successful, but by the mid-1990s the band’s popularity began to wane. They reunited in 2000 and have toured regularly since then.

    Mötley Crüe has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, have had seven platinum-certified albums, and have sold more than 22 million singles in the United States. The band was ranked No. 10 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock”.

    Many fans consider Mötley Crüe one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time and it’s no surprise that they are one of the most requested pinball machines for Stern Pinball. With their high energy music and larger-than-life stage persona, a Mötley Crüe pinball machine would be sure to please many pinball fans.

    18. Pulp Fiction

    Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, based on a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. It stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman. The film tells several stories of intertwining characters in Los Angeles.

    Pulp Fiction was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. A tribute to American cinema, it was named the “Greatest Film of the 1990s” by various publications. The film has also been called “the most influential movie of the 1990s.”

    Pulp Fiction is widely considered Tarantino’s masterpiece, and has been credited with revitalizing the independent film movement. It has been cited as an influence on later films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), and Hot Fuzz (2007).

    With its non-linear storytelling, stylized violence, and pop culture references, Pulp Fiction has become one of the most iconic and influential films of its generation. Its influence can be seen in many modern action films, and it is regularly listed as one of the greatest films ever made. As such, it’s frequently referenced as a desired “adult” theme for a pinball machine.

    19. Bill & Ted

    Bill & Ted is a 1989 American comedy film directed by Stephen Herek, written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. It follows the two slacker friends as they are sent back in time to collect historical figures for their high school history presentation.

    The film was a commercial success, grossing $40 million against a budget of $10 million, and has developed a cult following.

    Bill & Ted is often cited as one of the best comedies of the 1980s and one of the most beloved films of its generation. The film’s humor has been praised for its wit and intelligence, with Reeves and Winter’s performances singled out for being “perfectly cast.” Its pop culture references have also been praised, with the film being deemed “a perfect encapsulation of late ’80s zeitgeist.”

    20. John Wick

    John Wick is a 2014 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, written by Derek Kolstad, and starring Keanu Reeves. The film follows John Wick (Reeves), a retired hitman seeking revenge for the theft of his car and the death of his dog, which forces him to return to the criminal underworld.

    The film was released on October 24, 2014, in the United States and received positive reviews from critics. Keanu Reeves’ performance as John Wick was praised, as well as the car chase sequences and choreography. The John Wick franchise has resulted in 3 sequels already, with another on the way.

    The John Wick movie franchise is popular because it features exciting action sequences, intriguing plot-lines, and likable characters. Reeves is perfect in the role of Wick and delivers an excellent performance that fans have come to love. The car chases and fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes #21-30

    21. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo is an American animated franchise, comprising several animated television series and related media. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, the first Scooby-Doo series began airing in 1969. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, ran for two seasons on CBS and has spawned numerous spin-offs and adaptations.

    The Scooby-Doo franchise is a popular target for a new pinball machine because it features lovable characters and exciting adventures. The plots are clever and well-written, and the mysteries are always intriguing. The animation style is iconic, and the Scooby Gang always provides plenty of laughs.

    22. Mortal Kombat

    Mortal Kombat is a video game franchise originally developed by Midway Games. The first game was released in 1992 as an arcade game, and the franchise has spawned many subsequent sequels and spin-offs.

    The Mortal Kombat series is one of the most successful fighting game franchises of all time. It has sold over 35 million units worldwide and has been praised for its intense fighting sequences and dark atmosphere. The games are also known for their use of digitized actors and realistic violence, which has resulted in the series being banned in several countries.

    The Mortal Kombat offers a unique and fun fighting experience. The games are gory and violent, but this only adds to the excitement and appeal. The characters are well-designed and interesting, and the storylines are always exciting, which makes it an interesting choice to base a pinball machine off of.

    23. Blade Runner

    Blade Runner is an American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The film is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies.

    When a group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escapes to Earth, Rick Deckard (Ford) is called out of retirement to track them down and retire them.

    The Blade Runner franchise offers a unique and dark vision of the future. The setting is brilliantly realized and visually stunning, and the story is filled with interesting characters and plot-twists. The films are also praised for their amazing visual effects, which still hold up today.

    24. Beastie Boys

    The Beastie Boys are an American hip hop group from Brooklyn, New York. The band was formed in 1981 by three high school friends, Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), and Adam Yauch (MCA).

    The Beastie Boys are one of the most successful and popular hip hop groups of all time. They have sold over 40 million records worldwide and were the first hip hop group to achieve platinum status. The Beastie Boys are also well-known for their outrageous stage performances and humorous lyrics.

    The Beastie Boys frequently cited as a top choice for the first hip hop focused pinball machine as they offer a unique blend of hip hop, punk, and rock music. Their songs are clever and catchy, and their lyrics are often satirical and funny.

    25. Big Trouble in Little China

    Big Trouble in Little China is a 1986 American fantasy martial arts comedy film directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, James Hong, and Donald Pleasence. The film tells the story of Jack Burton (Russell), who helps his friend Wang Chi (Hong) rescue his fiancee from kidnappers in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

    The film was a commercial failure when it was released, but has since become a cult classic. It has been praised for its humor, action sequences, and visual effects.

    Big Trouble in Little China is a popular choice for a new pinball machine because it offers a fun and unique blend of action, adventure, and comedy. The movie is well-made and entertaining, and it features some amazing action sequences.

    26. Cobra Kai

    A reboot of The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai tells the story of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who reopens the Cobra Kai karate dojo and seeks to train a new generation of students in the ways of combat. He is opposed by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who is now a successful businessman and father.

    The show has been praised for its humor, action, and emotional storytelling. It has been a ratings success for Netflix and has been renewed for several additional seasons.

    Cobra Kai is offers an exciting and fresh take on the Karate Kid story, which makes it an appealing concept for a pinball machine given its nostalgic ties to a beloved childhood movie franchise.

    27. Megadeth

    Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. The band was formed in 1983 by Dave Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson.

    Megadeth is one of the most popular and successful heavy metal bands of all time. They have sold over 38 million records worldwide and were the first heavy metal band to achieve platinum status. Megadeth is also well-known for their aggressive lyrics and dark music videos.

    The band has been cited as a top choice for a new metal-focused pinball machine, as they offer a unique blend of thrash metal and traditional heavy metal. Their songs are catchy and powerful, and their lyrics are often dark and violent.

    28. Dune

    Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, first published in 1965. The novel tells the story of Paul Atreides, a young man who must travel to the planet Arrakis to take control of the family’s fortune and lead the fight against the evil Harkonnen family.

    The novel was well-received by critics and has been praised for its complex story, Herbert’s prose, and its characters. Dune has also been credited with helping to popularize science fiction as a genre and has led to a series of sequels and spin-offs, plus two different film adaptations, most recently in 2020.

    Dune is a popular choice for a new pinball machine because it offers a unique blend of science fiction, adventure, and politics. With the right creative team behind it, the theme could turn into an excellent concept for a pinball machine.

    29. Fast and the Furious

    The Fast and the Furious is a 2001 American action film directed by Rob Cohen and starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster. The film tells the story of Dominic Toretto (Diesel), a street racer who is dragged into a world of crime after his brother is brutally murdered.

    The Fast and the Furious was a box office success and helped to launch the career of Vin Diesel. It spawned a successful franchise with multiple sequels released to date. The films have been praised for their thrilling action sequences, car chases, and stunts.

    The Fast and the Furious offers an adrenaline-pumping blend of action and cars. The films are well-made and entertaining, and they feature some amazing stunts that are sure to thrill audiences.

    30. Slayer

    Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarist Kerry King and drummer Dave Lombardo.

    Slayer is one of the most popular and successful thrash metal bands of all time. They have sold over 30 million records worldwide and were the first thrash metal band to achieve platinum status. Slayer is also well-known for their aggressive lyrics and dark music videos.

    The band has been cited as a top choice for a new metal-focused pinball machine, as they offer a unique blend of thrash metal and traditional heavy metal, and fits alongside other music centric pins from that era.

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes #31-40

    31. Die Hard

    Die Hard is a 1988 American action thriller film directed by John McTiernan and starring Bruce Willis. The film tells the story of John McClane, an NYPD cop who must travel to Los Angeles to save his wife Holly from German terrorist Hans Gruber.

    Die Hard was a commercial and critical success and is often considered one of the best action movies of all time. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has spawned four sequels: Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).

    Die Hard offers an entertaining blend of action, suspense, and humor. The movie is well-made and tightly scripted, and it features some great action set-pieces that are still thrilling today.

    32. Mad Max

    The Mad Max movie franchise is a series of post-apocalyptic action movies set in a world where society has collapsed. The first movie, Mad Max, was released in 1979 and starred Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky, a police officer who becomes a lone wanderer in a lawless society.

    The Mad Max movie franchise is one of the most popular post-apocalyptic movie franchises of all time. The original trilogy, which starred Mel Gibson, is often considered to be one of the best action movie trilogies of all time. The 2015 reboot, Mad Max: Fury Road, was also a critical and commercial success, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards.

    The Mad Max movies are well-made and thrilling, and they offer a unique take on the post-apocalypse genre. They are also visually stunning, with some amazing set-pieces and stunts, which many in the pinball community believe will translate well to a pin.

    33. True Lies

    True Lies is a 1994 American action comedy film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Arnold. The film tells the story of Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), a secret agent who must save his wife from a terrorist organization.

    The True Lies movie was a box office success and received mixed reviews from critics. However, it has since gained a cult following and is now considered to be one of the best action comedies of its generation.

    While it may seem surprising to see such an obscure movie so high on this list, we think it’s ties to other pinball connections like James Cameron (Avatar) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator 2, Terminator 3) help its cause.

    34. Superman

    Superman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, and first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938. Superman is one of the most popular and iconic superheroes of all time, and has been featured in numerous movies, television shows, and video games.

    Superman is often considered to be the archetypal superhero. He is an incredibly powerful and virtuous character who stands for truth, justice, and the American way. He possesses a wide range of superhuman abilities, including flight, super strength, invulnerability, x-ray vision, and super speed.

    Superman is an enduring character who has been popular for over 80 years. Surprisingly, there has only ever been a single Superman themed pinball machine produced, 1979’s Superman table from Atari.

    35. G.I. Joe

    G.I. Joe is a franchise of action figures and media created by Hasbro. The franchise began in 1964 with the release of the toyline G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

    The G.I. Joe franchise is one of the most popular toy franchises of all time. It has spawned numerous action figures, comic books, animated series, and movies. The first live-action movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, was released in 2009 and was a commercial success. A sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, was released in 2013 and was also successful.

    G.I. Joe is frequently mentioned in the same breath as the likes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, other 1980s/1990s era icons with cartoon TV shows that were once popular with kids.

    36. Nirvana

    Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. The band consisted of singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic, and drummer Dave Grohl.

    Nirvana is considered to be one of the most influential and important bands of the 1990s. They were responsible for bringing alternative rock to the mainstream and popularizing the grunge genre. Their album Nevermind, released in 1991, was a massive success and has been certified diamond by the RIAA.

    Nirvana was plagued by personal problems and drug addiction. Cobain committed suicide in 1994. However, their music has continued to be popular and highly influential long after their death.

    37. Red Hot Chili Peppers

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an American funk rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1983. The band has consisted of singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante, and drummer Chad Smith throughout its history.

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most successful and popular bands of all time. They have sold over 80 million albums worldwide and won six Grammy Awards. The band’s music is a fusion of funk, punk rock, and psychedelic rock, and has been described as “danceable party music”.

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a devoted fan base that is known for their extreme dedication to the band.

    38. The Eagles

    The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1971. The band has consisted of singer-songwriter Don Henley, guitarist Glenn Frey, bassist Timothy B. Schmit, and drummer Joe Walsh throughout its history.

    The Eagles are one of the most successful and popular bands of all time. They have sold over 150 million albums worldwide and won six Grammy Awards. The Eagles’ music is a mixture of country, rock, and folk music, and has been described as “classic American rock”.

    The Eagles are known for their great harmonies and tight musicianship. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

    39. Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. He was referred to as the “King of Pop” and is considered one of the most popular and successful entertainers ever.

    Jackson’s career spanned over four decades and he achieved staggering success. He released hit singles such as “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It”. His album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

    Jackson was a controversial figure due to his eccentric lifestyle and alleged sexual abuse of children. In 2009, he was charged with child molestation and acquitted two years later. However, he died in 2009 from an accidental overdose of propofol. Despite his controversies, Jackson’s music continues to be popular and highly influential.

    40. Sonic the Hedgehog

    Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game franchise created by Sega. The franchise centers on a series of speed-based platform games. The protagonist of the series is an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog named Sonic.

    The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is one of the most successful and popular video game franchises of its era. It has sold over 150 million copies worldwide and spawned numerous spin-off games, animated TV series, comics, and several commercially successful movies in recent years.

    The games are noted for their fast-paced gameplay, colorful graphics, and catchy music. The characters of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise have become pop culture icons and are often referenced in other media.

    Most Wanted Stern Pinball Themes #41-50

    41. Judas Priest

    Judas Priest are a British heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969. The band has been one of the most successful and popular metal bands of all time, selling over 50 million albums worldwide.

    Judas Priest are known for their loud and aggressive style of heavy metal music. They are considered one of the pioneers of the genre and they have been cited as an influence by many metal bands. Judas Priest’s songs are often about religion, death, and war.

    The band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Metal Hall of Fame. They have also won two Grammy Awards.

    42. The Muppets

    The Muppets are an American puppet franchise created by Jim Henson. The franchise is based on a series of television shows that aired on ABC from 1955 to 1981.

    The Muppets are one of the most popular and successful puppet franchises of all time. They have spawned numerous TV series, movies, and stage shows. The Muppets characters are often referenced in other media and their merchandise is popular among children and adults.

    The Muppets characters are beloved for their adorable design and clever humor. They have won numerous awards, including five Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award.

    43. Daft Punk

    Daft Punk were a French electronic music duo formed in 1993 by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. The duo is considered one of the most successful and popular electronic music duos of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide.

    Daft Punk are known for their eccentric costumes and elaborate stage shows. They are considered pioneers of the French house movement and their music has been influential on subsequent electronic music genres.

    Daft Punk’s songs are often about love and joyous celebration. Their albums have been praised for their innovative production and catchy melodies. Daft Punk have won four Grammy Awards and been nominated for six others. Their music was featured in the film Tron: Legacy, which also had a pinball machine made for its theme.

    44. Jimi Hendrix

    Jimi Hendrix was an American rock musician, singer, and songwriter. He is considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in history and one of the greatest musicians of all time.

    Hendrix’s music was heavily inspired by blues, soul, and psychedelic rock. His guitar playing was characterized by his innovative use of feedback and distortion. He was a master of improvisation and often created solos that were unlike anything that had been heard before.

    Hendrix’s stage presence was equally as impressive as his musicianship. He often performed with innovative light shows and wore flamboyant clothing. He is considered one of the most popular rock musicians of all time and has sold over 25 million records.

    45. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse

    Pee-Wee’s Playhouse is an American children’s television series created by Paul Reubens. The show aired on CBS from 1986 to 1991 and was the most popular children’s show of the late 1980s.

    The show was popular for its bright colors, wacky humor, and lovable characters. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was one of the first shows to feature a predominately African-American cast. It also featured a number of well-known guest stars, including Cyndi Lauper, Phil Hartman, Magic Johnson, and Whoopi Goldberg.

    The show has been praised for its positive messages and clever humor. It was nominated for 23 Emmy Awards and won six. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse is considered one of the most influential children’s shows of all time.

    46. Def Leppard

    Def Leppard is a British rock band formed in 1977. The band is considered one of the most successful and popular rock bands of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide.

    The band’s music is characterized by its heavy metal and hard rock sound. They are often cited as an influence by other metal bands and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Metal Hall of Fame.

    Def Leppard is popular for their catchy melodies and powerful guitar solos. They have won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for six others. Their hits include “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Love Bites,” and “Hysteria.”

    47. Pearl Jam

    Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in 1990. The band is considered one of the most successful and popular rock bands of all time, having sold over 83 million records worldwide.

    The band’s music is characterized by its grunge sound and powerful guitar solos. They are often cited as an influence by other grunge bands and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Seattle Music Hall of Fame.

    Pearl Jam is popular for their catchy melodies and emotional lyrics. They have won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for eleven others. Their hits include “Jeremy,” “Alive,” and “Even Flow.”

    48. Mario

    Mario is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Mario franchise. He was created by Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and has appeared in over 200 video games.

    Mario is popular for his appearances in some of the best-selling video games of all time. He is also popular for his portrayals in various cartoons and comics. His trademark red cap, blue overalls, and mustache have become iconic symbols of Nintendo.

    Mario is often cited as one of the most popular video game characters ever. He has been featured in merchandise such as toys, clothing, and even pasta.

    49. Futurama

    Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late-20th century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who is cryogenically frozen on December 31, 1999 and wakes up 1,000 years later in the year 3000.

    The show was popular for its clever humor and fun characters. It was nominated for 17 Emmy Awards and won four.

    50. Rocky Horror Picture Show

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman. The film is based on the 1973 British stage production of the same name, which in turn was based on the 1950 novel The Rocky Horror Picture Show by Richard O’Brien.

    The movie is popular for its over-the-top humor and campy style. It has been screened annually in theaters since its release and has developed a cult following. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been praised for its humor, style, and music. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and won one.

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • The 50 Highest Rated Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide

    The 50 Highest Rated Pinball Machines of All Time: A Comprehensive Guide

    If you’re a fan of pinball, then you know that there are some machines that are just better than the rest. These machines often have high ratings from fans and collectors alike. In this blog post, we will take a look at the highest rated pinball machines of all time. We’ll use a variety of sources to compile a list of the top machines, so you can see for yourself what everyone is talking about!

    How We Rated Our List of the Best Pinball Machines

    Look, we’re not totally re-inventing the wheel here at Game Room Dude. It doesn’t take a whole lot of Internet sleuthing to figure out there are at least a couple of places where you can find very long, very detailed lists of the highest rated pinball machines. Pinside has had its top 100 pinball machines list for years, and the Internet Pinball Database has had theirs even longer.

    But what if you want MORE data? That was the question we asked ourselves at Game Room Dude when we were thinking of a way to more objectively present a list of the highest rated pinball machines.

    So we’ve combined the two major data sources to form our own comprehensive pinball rating score that is totally one hundred percent driven by a proprietary super-secret pin-algorithm (Pingorithm® for short).

    Enough preamble, let’s break it down and give you the single source of truth, the best, most detailed, objectively accurate, Pingorithm® powered list of…

    The 50 Highest Rated Pinball Machines

    Note: trim lines or remake scores have been consolidated. For example a Stern Pro/Premium/LE is just one model. There’s no distinction between a Chicago Gaming Company Medieval Madness or the original Williams table. In the case of remakes, the original manufacturer and year are listed here.

    Here’s the list if you just want to see the rankings, otherwise read on for our expert analysis.

    Ranking the 50 Highest Rated Pinball Machines

    1. Medieval Madness – Pingorithm® Score: 8.613
    2. Twilight Zone – Pingorithm® Score: 8.572
    3. Monster Bash – Pingorithm® Score: 8.513
    4. Attack from Mars – Pingorithm® Score: 8.508
    5. Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure – Pingorithm® Score: 8.459
    6. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Pingorithm® Score: 8.421
    7. Lord of the Rings – Pingorithm® Score: 8.411
    8. The Addams Family – Pingorithm® Score: 8.407
    9. Theater of Magic – Pingorithm® Score: 8.395
    10. Scared Stiff – Pingorithm® Score: 8.371
    11. Tales of the Arabian Nights – Pingorithm® Score: 8.339
    12. Dialed In! – Pingorithm® Score: 8.312
    13. White Water – Pingorithm® Score: 8.308
    14. Cactus Canyon – Pingorithm® Score: 8.296
    15. Metallica – Pingorithm® Score: 8.291
    16. Godzilla – Pingorithm® Score: 8.290
    17. The Wizard of Oz – Pingorithm® Score: 8.276
    18. Spider-Man (Stern) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.263
    19. Cirqus Voltaire – Pingorithm® Score: 8.254
    20. AC/DC – Pingorithm® Score: 8.253
    21. Star Trek (Stern) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.245
    22. Creature from the Black Lagoon – Pingorithm® Score: 8.228
    23. The Simpsons Pinball Party – Pingorithm® Score: 8.214
    24. The Shadow – Pingorithm® Score: 8.208
    25. The Walking Dead – Pingorithm® Score: 8.198
    26. FunHouse – Pingorithm® Score: 8.176
    27. The Hobbit – Pingorithm® Score: 8.157
    28. TRON: Legacy – Pingorithm® Score: 8.150
    29. Jurassic Park (Stern) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.140
    30. Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast – Pingorithm® Score: 8.122
    31. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Pingorithm® Score: 8.116
    32. Ghostbusters – Pingorithm® Score: 8.111
    33. Deadpool – Pingorithm® Score: 8.105
    34. Elvira’s House of Horrors – Pingorithm® Score: 8.088
    35. Pirates of the Caribbean (Jersey Jack) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.085
    36. KISS (Stern) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.084
    37. Iron Man – Pingorithm® Score: 8.073
    38. The Getaway: High Speed II – Pingorithm® Score: 8.067
    39. Fish Tales – Pingorithm® Score: 8.061
    40. Guns n’ Roses (Jersey Jack) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.051
    41. Whirlwind – Pingorithm® Score: 8.049
    42. Revenge from Mars – Pingorithm® Score: 8.044
    43. Guns n’ Roses (Data East) – Pingorithm® Score: 8.040
    44. Centaur – Pingorithm® Score: 8.038
    45. Congo – Pingorithm® Score: 8.036
    46. Avengers: Infinity Quest – Pingorithm® Score: 8.036
    47. The Big Lebowski – Pingorithm® Score: 8.033
    48. X-Men – Pingorithm® Score: 8.025
    49. Stranger Things – Pingorithm® Score: 8.022
    50. No Good Gofers – Pingorithm® Score: 8.016

    Top Rated Pinball Machines – The Full List

    Medieval Madness (Williams, 1997)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.613

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, John Youssi
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
    highest rated pinball machines medieval madness

    In Medieval Madness, your goal as pinball wizard is to destroy the castles of a group of evil feudal overlords. On your way to the big bad, you may start a peasant riot, encounter Merlin, and fight some trolls.

    Medieval Madness is often cited as one of the best pinball games ever made. It is a lot of fun to play and has great theme integration. The castle destruction shot is one of the most fun shots in all of pinball, and the rules are straightforward but the game can still be challenging to master. It should surprise no one that Medieval Madness tops our list of the highest ranted pinball machines ever made.

    Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.572

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Larry DeMar, Ted Estes
    top rated pinball machines twilight zone

    In this game, you are in the Twilight Zone TV show from the 1950s/early 1960s. You will interact with different people and things from the show while trying to get awards. The goal is to complete modes, filling in spaces on the Twilight Zone door in the center of the table in order to reach the final wizard mode.

    It is a busy game, and if you like Pat Lawlor tables, it is probably the most complex version of his work that you will find. There is a gumball machine, magnetic flippers on an upper mini-playfield, a working analog clock, and all the weird shot geometry you can handle. Legend says it was the most over-budget machine made at the time, and we believe it.

    Monster Bash (Williams, 1998)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.513

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
    monster bash

    In Monster Bash, your goal is to find and collect each of the Universal Monster characters (Dracula, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Bride of Frankenstein) and their instruments so they can jam out while you play a final multiball. Another great table. This one uses artwork and playfield toys to make the game more fun. It has an easy-to-learn ruleset and a layout that is good for players of all skill levels.

    Attack from Mars (Bally, 1995)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.508

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
    highest rated pinball machines of all time attack from mars

    It’s easy to see why Attack from Mars is one of the highest-rated pinball machines of all time. The game is a great shooter, making excellent use of the popular fan playfield layout with one of the best center playfield bash toys in the flying saucer, iconic callouts, and an approachable, easy-to-understand ruleset. Even today, it’s a game that a lot of newer pins struggle to live up to. Blowing up a saucer (especially if you have a shaker motor attached) is always exciting.

    Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (Williams, 1993)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.459

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Doug Watson, Mark Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Brian Eddy

    pinball machines ranked indiana jones top pinball machine

    Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a popular game for many pinball collectors. It is a wide-body game, which means it is bigger than most other games. Among many other factors, people frequently like it because it doesn’t suffer from some of the problems that other wide-body games have, like slow gameplay or shots that are difficult to make. There is a lot to do on the table, and the theme is well integrated with assets from all three of the original movies.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams, 1993)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.421

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan, Matt Coriale

    Star Trek: The Next Generation is a pinball machine that is based on the TV show of the same name. It is a wide-body machine, which means it is larger than a standard pinball machine. Wide-body pins come with their unique characteristics, which some players enjoy, and others do not.

    Although STTNG has some flaws, it is still an enjoyable machine to play. It features mode-based play that is challenging, as well as great callouts and theming. The cannons on each of the slingshots are also a lot of fun to shoot and are rather iconic for this game.

    Lord of the Rings (Stern, 2003) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.411

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Jerry Vanderstelt, Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan, Keith P. Johnson

    It’s easy to see why Lord of the Rings is one of the top rated pinball machines. Designed by George Gomez with rules by Dwight Sullivan, Lord of the Rings is kind of an ultimate home game.

    Known for incredible callouts voiced by actors from the hit film series, Elijah Wood (Frodo), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli the Dwarf), it also does a really good job with theme immersion and incorporating the world of the film series into the pinball realm. There are a ton of different ways to attack this game, and it features pretty deep rules with a good range of achievable goals for all skill sets. The toys and ramps on this table are very well done.

    The Addams Family (Bally, 1992)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.407

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Larry DeMar, Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Larry DeMar, Mike Boon

    The Addams Family pinball machine, released in 1992, was and still is the best-selling pinball machine of all time. Designed by the legendary Pat Lawlor, it has some of the best theme integration of any machine ever made. The game is a joy to shoot and is approachable. Touring the mansion is still one of pinball’s most talked about achievements. Even today, it’s known as a pretty solid earner in an arcade or other public location.

    Theatre of Magic  (Bally, 1995)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.395

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Linda Deal
    • Software: Jeff Johnson

    In Theatre of Magic, you are trying to complete a series of magic tricks before getting to the final wizard mode at the end of the game. This game features great theme integration, callouts, and an iconic magic trunk mech that rotates for different mode shots and has a magnet to start multiballs with. There is a lot of flow to this game and getting a high score is satisfying and can be difficult depending on how the game is set up.

    Scared Stiff (Bally, 1996)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.371

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman, Mark Weyna
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Cameron Silver, Mike Boon

    Scared Stiff is the sequel to the classic 1989 game, Elvira and the Party Monsters. The gameplay is simple and easy to understand, but can be hard to master – it can feel like a real achievement to make it to the end game.

    What makes this game different from the first one is the quality of callouts by Cassandra Peterson, and the amount of humor in the design. Some of the humor is sexist when viewed critically and may not age well, but it fits with the character and the era.

    Tales of the Arabian Nights (Williams, 1996)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.339

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Pat McMahon
    • Software: Louis Koziarz

    In Tales of the Arabian Nights, you are trying to complete the 7 different Tales of the Arabian Nights. You also have to battle an evil genie, which makes for a fun bash toy at the center of the table. From a rules and layout perspective, it is very similar to other games from this period by Popadiuk, like Cirqus Voltaire and Theatre of Magic. Strong theme immersion, fun flowy shots, and pretty approachable for most beginners.

    Dialed In! (Jersey Jack, 2017)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.312

    • Manufacturer: Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Game Design: Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Joe Katz, Ted Estes

    Dialed In! is the first game from noted pinball designer Pat Lawlor for Jersey Jack. For this era of pinball, it’s a rare original theme, not based on any existing IP or licenses. Somewhat notable for being the first-ever pinball machine to feature Bluetooth, a built-in camera, and additional player capabilities controlled through a smartphone.

    The game is a little confusing at first, but it is basically about a phone that creates disasters in the quantum realm. An evil corporation is trying to get the phone back, so you have to shoot an electricity guy to charge the phone and shoot the phone to create a disaster. You also need to shoot the quantum tunnel when you see something strange happening. Simple, right?

    Dialed In! is a bit of a sleeper of a top-rated pinball game. The shots are smooth and the playfield is well-laid out. It’s also refreshing to have an original theme in modern pinball.

    White Water (Williams, 1993)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.308

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Mike Boon

    In White Water, you are navigating a river with Wet Willie as your guide. You will encounter whirlpools, secret caves, and navigate river hazards. You will also have run-ins with a large animatronic Big Foot. It’s pure 90s pinball, and would be difficult to pull off today.

    This table has a lot going on. There are two playfields (upper and lower), three flippers, and a left outlane kicker. It also has multiple ramps that are fun to shoot. It tends to feel cramped and fast, but that really only adds to its appeal. Art package and sound design are especially good for this era.

    Cactus Canyon (Bally, 1998) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.296

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Matt Coriale, Tom Kopera
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: *shrug*

    It’s a little bit interesting that 1998’s Cactus Canyon is ranked so highly here, considering they produced less than 1,000 of them, and the original game is notorious for being released with incomplete code. It’s sort of the ultimate “rare game with promise”. An expensive collector’s item and pinball conversation piece until Chicago Gaming Company was able to complete the project and re-release the game in 2022.

    Cactus Canyon is meant to be in the same vein as other Bally/Williams games of the era, like Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness. Fan layout, mode-based rules, mostly linear gameplay. It’s fun, but were it not in such limited supply, we’re not sure it’d be so high on this list!

    Metallica (Stern, 2013)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.291

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: “Dirty” Donny Gillies
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Stern’s Metallica, designed by John Borg with software/rules by the legendary Lyman Sheats has basically become a modern classic of sorts. Beloved by pinball aficionados for its fast, smooth gameplay and deep rules, Metallica is probably a table that deserves to be higher on this list but alas, numbers are numbers and the Pingorithm® never lies.

    Godzilla (Stern, 2021)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.290

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Keith Elwin
    • Artwork: Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti)
    • Software: Brett Z Rubin, Mike Kyzivat, Rick Naegele

    Godzilla is one of Stern’s newer pinball games designed by the ever popular Keith Elwin. It has colorful art by Jeremy Packer and rules/software by Brett Z. Rubin, Mike Kyzivat, and Rick Naegele.

    This pinball machine is fun because it has great toys (like a bridge that raises and lowers and a Mechagodzilla toy), fast play, and deep rules. The artwork on the machine helps you feel like you’re in the world of the game, without distracting you from playing. It’s a pretty unique game, as somewhat represented by its use of a single pop bumper, not located at the top or the center of the machine like most other pins of just about any era, but in the middle of the playfield, on the far right side of the table.

    The Wizard of Oz (Jersey Jack, 2013)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.276

    • Manufacturer: Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Game Design: Joe Balcer
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Jerry Vanderstelt
    • Software: Keith P. Johnson, Ted Estes

    Jersey Jack’s first release is notable for marking the entry of a new pinball manufacturer into the marketplace for the first time since Stern became the primary player in the early 2000s.

    It’s a high-tech table with a ton of LED lighting, lots of toys and mechs, and a very large LCD screen in the backbox. It sold very well. People absolutly love it. This game is fairly easy to play with longer ball times than most tables. It is considered a great game for families and kids. There are also deep rules that will keep most pinball veterans happy.

    Spider-Man (Stern, 2007)   

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.263

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson, Mark Galvez
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Spider-Man is a fairly underrated Stern pinball machine from noted designer Steve Ritchie. It was helped a lot by its re-release several years later with a new comic-oriented art package. But, thanks to code and rules by Lyman Sheats, the game is a ton of fun to play. Shots are fun and satisfying, and there are a lot of achievable multiballs that take pages from other historically popular games like Attack from Mars.

    Cirqus Voltaire  (Bally, 1997)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.254

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Cameron Silver, John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Linda Deal
    • Software: Cameron Silver

    In Cirqus Voltaire, you enter a world that is like a neon-tinged fantasy carnival. There are different things to do there, and your goal is to complete different tasks (modes) and defeat an evil ringmaster. If you succeed, you will be able to join the circus as a performer (we think).

    The game has tons of flow and some really neat toys. Known for its DMD display embedded in the back of the playfield instead of in the backglass like other tables from this era.

    AC/DC  (Stern, 2012) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.253

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: *shrug*
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    AC/DC is a deceptively simple game by designer Steve Ritchie with code by Lyman Sheats. It’s a fan layout, with mostly mode-based play, a center bash toy, and a cannon toy. In a lot of ways, it resembles Ritchie’s 1991 effort, Terminator 2 but reskinned for a rock theme. High level of replayability with deep code thanks to Sheats.

    Star Trek (Stern, 2013)   

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.245

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: *shrug*
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Tanio Klyce, Waison Cheng

    Stern’s Star Trek is another Steve Ritchie effort, themed after the 2009 reboot film with Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña, and others. It has 3 flippers, a really fun center bash toy, and ramps that shoot like butter. At times it can feel like a riff on Attack from Mars, but it wouldn’t be the first time in pinball that’s happened, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.

    Creature from the Black Lagoon  (Bally, 1992) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.228

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Jeff Johnson

    Creature from the Black Lagoon is based on the 1954 movie of the same name. However, it is more about the experience of going to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon at a 1950s drive-in theater.

    The game-play is just okay. There is not a lot of flow, and some really dangerous shots. It also relies a little too heavily on a few other key shots to be able to progress in the game.

    But man, the theme is great – from the art package to the callouts and the mode design, it’s got it all.

    The Simpsons Pinball Party (Stern, 2006)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.214

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Balcer, Keith P. Johnson
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan, Keith P. Johnson

    The Simpsons Pinball Party is certianly an improvement over the first Simpsons themed table released in 1990 by Data East. Gameplay is somewhat unique with a non-fan layout and a few tricky upper playfield shots. If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, and a fan of pinball, this is the game for you!

    The Shadow (Bally, 1994) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.208

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Mike Boon

    The Shadow is a Brian Eddy designed pinball machine that is based on the 1994 movie. This machine is underrated because it has a lot of flow and is fast to play. It also has some unique features and satisfying shots.

    The upper mini playfield is one of the best ever in pinball and the magnetic ball locks and player-controlled diverters are unique and add a new dimension to the game.

    The Walking Dead (Stern, 2014)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.198

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: *shrug*
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Another game that’s helepd dramaticly by Lyman’s deep rules. Tons of different ways to play this game, which rewards explorative play. Some intersting shot geometry mixed with classic bash toys and satisfying ramp shots.

    FunHouse (Williams, 1990)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.176

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Larry DeMar, Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Larry DeMar

    FunHouse is a unique table thanks to being one of two pinball machines with animatronic talking puppet heads in the playfield. Callouts by said talking head, otherwise known as Rudy, are dripping with humor. Theme is done well, almost to the point of being vaguely annoying with a lot of repeat play. Definitly a memorable machine, and probably gets a boost in the ratings from its nostalgia factor.

    The Hobbit (Jersey Jack, 2016)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.157

    • Manufacturer: Jersey Jack Pinpall
    • Game Design: Joe Balcer
    • Artwork: Jean-Paul de Win
    • Software: Joe Katz, Keith P. Johnson, Ted Estes

    The Hobbit is Jersey Jack’s follow-up release to their first game, The Wizard of Oz. It’s another wide-body machine, based off of the film series originally launched in 2012. It follows in the mold of Stern’s Lord of the Rings with some pretty memorable theming and callouts. It is also known for providing players with some incredibly long ball times.

    TRON: Legacy (Stern, 2011)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.150

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Another Borg/Sheats combo table that’s rated highly in our list, 2011’s TRON: Legacy has been quietly popular for a long time, thanks in part to its killer soundtrack (hello, Daft Punk machine!), theming and fast flowing gameplay.

    Jurassic Park (Stern, 2019)  

    Pingorithm® Score:  8.140

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Keith Elwin
    • Artwork: Jonathan Bergeron
    • Software: Rick Naegele

    Jurassic Park is one of the best pinball machines on the market. It was released in 2019 by Stern Pinball. The game was designed by Keith Elwin with art by Jonathan Bergeron. The rules and software were done by Rick Naegele.

    Jurassic Park is a Pinball game based on the famous movie franchise of the same name. It is an action-packed and adventure-filled game that is perfect for any casual or hardcore Pinball fan. Jurassic Park pinball is a great game for any level of player, with a deep code and lots of different ways to progress through the game, which makes it perfect to add to a home Pinball collection.

    Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast  (Stern, 2018)

    Pingorithm® Score:  8.122

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Keith Elwin
    • Artwork: Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti)
    • Software: Rick Naegele

    Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast is a pinball machine based on the music of heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It features their iconic imagery which makes it unique from a visual perspective.

    Keith Elwin’s first game, Iron Maiden is accessible and enjoyable for new players while still providing a challenge for more experienced pinball enthusiasts. The Egyptian theme immerses players in the game and fits the style of both the band and the music well. This is an extremely unique shooter that provides an addictive “one more game” feeling.

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula  (Williams, 1993) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.116

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler, Mark Sprenger
    • Artwork: Mark Sprenger
    • Software: Bill Pfutzenreuter

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a popular pinball machine that is mostly known for its well-integrated theme, callouts, and unique mist multiball feature where the player has to hit a floating captive ball.

    Ghostbusters (Stern, 2016) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.111

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Zombie Yeti
    • Software: Corey Stup, Dwight Sullivan, Tanio Klyce

    Notorious for its flipper gap almost as much as its gameplay, Ghostbusters is a polarizing table that’s a surprise addition to this list. No doubt helped by the nostalgia factor as a tie-in to the hit film franchise from the 80s, it’s one of Stern’s last dot matrix games. Got a lot better with a code update released several years after initial production.

    Deadpool  (Stern, 2018)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.105

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti)
    • Software: Mike Kyzivat, Tanio Klyce, Tim Sexton, Waison Cheng

    Deadpool is a fantastic pin designed by George Gomez with art by Zombie Yeti. It is packed with exciting features and rules that are both approachable and fun. In the game, the character of Deadpool is voiced by the great Nolan North (Uncharted games) and has high replayability. You will love this game if you can get your hands on it.

    Elvira’s House of Horrors (Stern, 2019) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.088

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Elvira House of Horrors is one of the best pinball machines made in recent years. This is the 3rd installment in the Elvira pinball franchise, and it has great design by Dennis Nordman and art by Greg Freres. Elvira House of Horrors is also one of the best coded games thanks to the work of Lyman Sheats, with a lot to do in the game.

    The shots in this game are smooth and the modes are interesting and varied. This is a pinball machine that will make you want to keep playing.

    Pirates of the Caribbean (Jersey Jack, 2018)   

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.085

    • Manufacturer: Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Game Design: Eric Meunier
    • Artwork: J Zielinski
    • Software: Joe Katz, JT Harkey, Keith P. Johnson

    If you are a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, then you will love the Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine from Jersey Jack. This pinball machine is based on the movies and has many features that will keep you entertained for hours.

    Pirates of the Carribean is a great game for many reasons, but one of the standout features is an upper playfield with a replica pirate ship that rocks back and forth. There are also lots of different modes to explore and things to do, and there’s some incredibly deep gameplay represented in this machine.

    KISS (Stern, 2015)   

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.084

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Mike Kyzivat, Tanio Klyce, Waison Cheng

    KISS themed pinball with a giant Gene Simmons head on the playfield and a song / mode based on the KISS song “Lick it Up” which is definitly without a doubt not a song about male ejaculate.

    Iron Man (Stern, 2014)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.073

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    Iron Man from Stern is based off of the first two Iron Man films in the Marvel MCU trilogy series. Simple game that plays fast and dangerous, which fits the Iron Man character pretty well. Has a lot of staying power in a collection as it entices you to play again and again.

    The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.067

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson, Mark Sprenger
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan

    The sequel to Steve Ritchie’s game from 1986, High Speed II, is similar to the original game. In both games, you drive your car as fast as you can and avoid the cops.

    But the execution on this one is just amazing. Right off the bat you’ll notice the supercharger feature at the center of the playfield, which when activated, triggers a magnetic ball accelerator which whips your ball around the metal track quickly for a large point payout.

    This game is fast-paced, like most Ritchie games. It also has a lot of flow and is easy to learn and play multiple times. If you’re a fan of High Speed, you’ll love this game too.

    Fish Tales (Williams, 1992) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.061

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Mark Ritchie
    • Artwork: Pat McMahon
    • Software: Mark Penacho

    It’s a fishing themed game! What more do you need to know?!! We kid, Fish Tales has flowing, satisfying gameplay with a bit of risk/reward involved. Theme integration is well done as evidenced by the fishing pole themed multiball lock. Memorable, if maybe slightly annoying, sound design.

    Guns n’ Roses (Jersey Jack, 2021)   

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.051

    • Manufacturer: Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Game Design: Eric Meunier, Slash
    • Artwork: Arian Buhler, Dayne Henry Jr., Jesper Abels
    • Software: Keith P. Johnson, Joe Katz, Bill Grupp, Duncan Brown, Ted Estes, JT Harkey

    With dynamic design elements and an immersive gameplay experience with a ton of multiballs, this game is certain to provide hours of fun, particularly for fans of Guns N’ Roses. Guns N’ Roses is ideal for use at home since it encourages players to spend a substantial amount of time developing strategies to maximize their point totals, and ball times can run longer than most games.

    Whirlwind (Williams, 1990)

    Pingorithm® Score:  8.049

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Bill Pfutzenreuter

    Really great and fun game. The sounds are wonderful, with some very catchy music and callouts. Classic Pat Lawlor design. Arguably, its “toy” (a fan!) is still the most well integrated device in a game ever seen in pinball. You’ll never get tired of it. “Looks like rain” will be forever stuck in your head after playing this game.

    Revenge from Mars (Bally, 1999) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.044

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, John Youssi
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan, Graham West, Keith P. Johnson, Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    There’s so much to say about this game that’s better saved for another article. It’s the game that almost killed pinball, and also a near 1:1 copy of the original Attack from Mars, but with the added gimmick of a small TV monitor built into the backbox.

    Guns n’ Roses (Data East, 1994) 

    Pingorithm® Score:  8.040

    • Manufacturer: Data East USA, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Kaminkow, John Borg, Lyman F. Sheats Jr., Slash
    • Artwork: Markus Rothkranz
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Lyman F. Sheats Jr., Orin Day

    Data East’s Guns n’ Roses machine is one of the best Data East tables ever made, as well as one of the top wide-body machines of all time. Lots of fun shots and modes to cycle through, some fun, achievable multiballs, and a dynamic mix of start / stop and flow play.

    Centaur (Bally, 1981)  

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.038

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Paul Faris

    Centaur is a popular, highly rated pinball machine. It has a striking black and white design, with red, orange, and green accents. This makes it stand out. The playfield is also designed well, and the sounds and music are impressive. Plus, there’s an extremely satisfying bonus countdown sound. This machine is fair because it offers a lot of shot variation, which helps keep players interested. Some people love it while others hate it – but that’s what makes pinball interesting!

    Congo (Williams, 1995)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.036

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Bill Grupp

    Congo is part of a grand tradition of terrible movies that turned out to be great pinball machines, and is just a fun game to shoot. The 3 flippers and varied shot layout make this game more interesting to play than many others of its era. Playing it feels like you’re on a jungle adventure, which makes the game more fun.

    Avengers: Infinity Quest (Stern, 2020)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.036

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Keith Elwin
    • Artwork: Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti)
    • Software: Brett Z Rubin, Mike Kyzivat, Raymond Davidson, Rick Naegele

    Avengers: Infinity Quest from Stern is a recent pinball machine designed by Keith Elwin with art by Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti). This game is all about making shots. If you want to win, you’ll need to know the rules and make precise shots. This game can help you improve your skills at other pinball games. Spend enough time playing this game and you’ll get better at them all. Fun art package that’s similar in style to Deadpool.

    The Big Lebowski (Dutch Pinball, 2016)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.033

    • Manufacturer: Dutch Pinball
    • Game Design: Barry Driessen, Koen Heltzel
    • Artwork: Freek van Haagen, Jean-Paul de Win
    • Software: Koen Heltzel

    A game that almost didn’t see the light of day. Pumped up in the rankings by it’s rare status, no doubt, though folks who’ve played it seem to enjoy it.

    X-Men (Stern, 2012)

    Pingorithm® Score:  8.025

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Borg
    • Artwork: *shrug*
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Waison Cheng

    Standard but well done fan layout. The game rules are interesting, and the default settings are good way to play the game. However, there are plenty of changes that can be to make the game more newbie-friendly or tougher for more veteran players. Game play is fast and fun, lots of rewarding shots and some tough ones too. The playfield is clear and colorful with shots being well defined. The DMD animations are stellar for this generation of game.

    Stranger Things (Stern, 2019) 

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.022

    • Manufacturer: Stern Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Bob Stevlic
    • Software: Brian Eddy, Lonnie D. Ropp, Mike Vinikour

    If you like the Netflix series Stranger Things, you will love the Stranger Things pinball machine from Stern. It was designed by Brian Eddy and has art by Bob Stevlic. The game is based on classic machines like Attack from Mars, which Brian Eddy was also involved in designing.

    Stranger Things features a player-friendly fan layout and easy-to-understand rules. The projection system on premium trim lines is especially neat, as is the UV lighting kit sold as an official game mod.

    No Good Gofers  (Williams, 1997)

    Pingorithm® Score: 8.016

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronics Inc.
    • Game Design: Louis Koziarz, Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Louis Koziarz

    And with Pat Lawlor’s No Good Gofers, we’ve hit the end of our top rated pinball machines list! We made it, together, friend.

    So No Good Gofers is basically a Caddyshack machine without the Caddyshack licenese. It’s golf themed, there are some mean gofers you have to mess up, and you gotta try not to drain while hitting some crazy shots, including one that launches off a ramp. Cool! A lot of folks love this game due to its humor and interseting shots/rules.

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • Ranking the 33 Best Pinball Machines from the 1990s

    Ranking the 33 Best Pinball Machines from the 1990s

    Was there a better decade for pinball and all time great pinball machines than the 1990s? It feels like almost every year, particularly early and midway through the decade, has multiple total bangers that would be the jewel of a game room collection even today.

    Bally/Williams in particularly seemed to be firing on all cylinders, which makes what happened later in the decade (pinball almost going out of business entirely) all the more tragic.

    It feels like the designers and the manufacturers had finally gotten to a point in the evolution of pinball where it was possible to create fully featured, highly theme integrated “worlds under glass” (to borrow a popular phrase from Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast). Deeper rules, voice acting, callouts, artwork, game design, ramps, multiballs, it was all coming together.

    Some of the machines on this particular list include some of the best selling pinball games of all time, or just themes that we think are a lot of fun for the era.

    We’ve also included a list of notable titles that you may expect to be on a list like this one, but for various reasons, didn’t make it into our top 33. Of course you may disagree with our rankings, but that’s one of the best parts of pinball appreciation – everyone can have their own subjective opinion!

    The 33 Greatest 90s Pinball Machines, Ranked

    Attack from Mars (1995)

    attack from mars best 90s pinball machine
    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    In Attack from Mars, the objective is to defend the world from an onslaught of attacking, slightly funny but still totally murderous aliens. You do this primarily by blowing up their flying saucers before they have the chance to destroy historically important cities and monuments. Mayhem ensues along the way.

    Attack from Mars is easily one of the top pinball machines of all time, not just of the 1990s. The game is a great shooter, making excellent use of the popular fan playfield layout with one of the best center playfield bash toys in the flying saucer, iconic callouts, and an approachable, easy to understand ruleset. Even today, its a game that a lot of newer pins struggle to live up to. Blowing up a saucer (especially if you have a shaker motor attached) is a shot that never, ever gets old.

    This machine proved popular enough to get remade by Chicago Gaming Company in 2017, so today you can find classic Attack from Mars tables from 1995 in the used market, as well as newer production versions produced only a few years ago.

    Medieval Madness (1997)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, John Youssi
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    In Medieval Madness, your objective (similar to Attack from Mars) is to destroy the castles of a group of evil feudal overlords on the way to the big bad of the land. Along the way you my start a peasent riot, encounter Merlin, and fight some trolls. Totally normal stuff for the time if you ask us.

    Medieval Madness frequently goes head-to-head with Attack from Mars for best pinball game of all time. Medieval Madness, Attack from Mars, and Monster Bash are all considered to be the insta-classics of this generation. Attack from Mars holds the one spot in our list purely due to a preference for the theme, but we wouldn’t fault anyone for ranking Medieval Madness above AFM.

    Medieval Madness is one of the best examples in all of pinball of theme integration between the artwork, hilarious callouts, and playfield toys. The castle destruction shot is one of the most fun shots to hit in all of pinball. The way the castle shakes and trembles after destruction has really yet to be repeated.

    Rules are straightforward, but the game can still be challenging to master as you generally pay for missing shots. Medieval Madness is another game that was remade by Chicago Gaming Company in recent years.

    Monster Bash (1998)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr.

    In Monster Bash, your goal is essentially to collect each of the Universal Monster characters (Dracula, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Bride of Frankenstein) and their instruments so they can jam out together while you play a final multiball.

    Another all-time classic table, eclipsed only slightly by Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness. Excellent use of artwork and playfield toys with another approachable ruleset and player friendly fan layout. Very similar in approach and play style as Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness, which is partly why the three are often grouped together. That and Lyman Sheats being on code for all three games.

    If there’s anything that brings this game down compared to the others, its that it can be a little easy to play, and because of that can get somewhat more repetitive to play over a longer period of time.

    Also remade by Chicago Gaming company in recent years.

    World Cup Soccer (1994)

    world cup soccer 94 1990s pinball machine
    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: John Popadiuk, Larry DeMar
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Larry DeMar, Matt Coriale

    Look, we’ll level with you. Most pinball people wouldn’t have 1994’s World Cup Soccer (or more affectionately known as “dog soccer”) anywhere near their top 10 of the era, let alone solidly within the top 5. But it’s our list, and we love this game.

    The game holds a certain nostalgic factor for at least this writer, as at the time of its release, he was a six year old kid, just getting into soccer for the first time. And it just so happened the World Cup was hosted in the United States that year and he may or may not have gone to a game and Alexi Lalas with his crazy red hair may have been a hero type to said writer.

    Anyway World Cup Soccer is a fun theme released as an officially licensed tie-in to 1994’s World Cup football competition. The objective is exactly what you think it should be – traveling around the United States and qualifying to take on international teams like Russia, Germany and Saudi Arabia in matches (done during multiballs). Along the way, you shoot against a live, moving goalie, collect fans, awards, and more. All in all, a hell of a time.

    Lots of fun to shoot, the multiball can be difficult to qualify depending on how hard the scoop is to hit, theming and sounds are top notch, and additional features like a magna-save and spinning soccer ball add an extra special touch. Everything feels super achievable but still sometimes just a little out of reach.

    White Water (1993)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Mike Boon

    White Water is one of those totally original themes that really only could have come out in the 90s. There’s no way it works in today’s license dependent market.

    Essentially, as a player, you’re navigating a zany river with river guide Wet Willie on the way to his ranch. Along the way, you’ll encounter whirlpools, secret caves, navigate river hazards, and have run-ins with a large animatronic Big Foot.

    There’s a lot going on in this table with upper and lower playfields, 3 flippers, a left outlane kickback, multiple creatively designed ramps (insanity falls is particularly fun to shoot). It feels cramped and fast, but with still quite a bit to explore and achieve at the same time. Getting to multiball and timing the jackpot shot is one of the greatest feelings in pinball. Doing it with a 5x playfield bonus running is just a thing of beauty.

    Art package and sound design are particularly good for this era. Easily in the running for the best Dennis Nordman game of all time, but that’s an article for another day.

    The Addams Family (1992)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Larry DeMar, Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Larry DeMar, Mike Boon

    Today, The Addams Family pinball probably enjoys a legacy reputation that now kind of outshines its actual legacy as a playable and lasting game that you want as a bolted down part of your home pinball collection.

    Addams Family, released in 1992, was, and still is, the best selling pinball machine of all time. To equate it to the world of movies and box office returns, it’d sort of be like if Titanic, released in 1997, was still the top grossing movie of all time today, in 2022, with no hopes of any modern movie overtaking it in the near future.

    Addams Family, designed by the legendary Pat Lawlor, has some of the best theme integration of almost any machine ever made. The art from the movie was in the game, sounds and songs were in the game, characters were in the game (complete with the likeness of their live action counterparts), voice callouts were provided by lead actors Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, and its The Thing toy is iconic.

    The game is a joy to shoot, approachable, and touring the mansion is still one of pinball’s most talked about achievements. Even today, it’s known as a pretty solid owner in an arcade or other location.

    But, in a home environment, it can get a little old. After repeated plays, it may not be the machine you come back to over and over again, particularly once you beat it. This is why it falls on our list. Its reputation is timeless, but its gameplay perhaps isn’t.

    Twilight Zone (1993)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Larry DeMar, Ted Estes

    Twilight Zone is another of those 1990s games that fairly or unfairly, is put on a pedestal by some in the community. And don’t get us wrong, it’s a great game. There’s so much to shoot for, the theme integration is top notch, and even measured against modern tables, it’s a super creative game.

    In this game, you’re thrown into the world of the hit TV show from the late 1950s / early 1960s where you interact with various elements, characters and other references to the show while collecting a series of awards on your way to the final wizard mode.

    It’s a packed game, and if you like your Pat Lawlor tables, it’s probably the most maximalist version of his work you’re going to get. There’s a gumball machine, magnetic flippers on an upper mini playfield, a working analog clock, and all the weird shot geometry you can handle. Legend says it was the most over cost budget machine made at the time, and we believe it.

    But there’s something that doesn’t totally click for us on this game. It can be hard to get into a flow, not all the shots work, and especially for new players, the rules can be a little opaque. But overall it is quite fun to play, and it has some very ardent fans in the community, so your mileage with this title may vary.

    The Getaway: High Speed II (1992)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson, Mark Sprenger
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan

    The sequel to Steve Ritchie’s 1986 game, High Speed. The Getaway: High Speed II has pretty much the same general concept as High Speed – drive your car as fast as you can and avoid the cops whenever you encounter them.

    But the execution on this one is just on a completely different level. Right off the bat you’ll notice the supercharger feature at the center of the playfield, which when activated, triggers a magnetic ball accelerator which whips your ball at super speed around the metal track for a large point payout.

    You’ll probably also notice the physical gear shift mechanism on the coin door, another piece of the machine that helps with the “I’m driving a fast car” immersive feeling.

    The game plays fast as a Ritchie game tends to do, has oodles of flow, and the rules are both accessible and exciting for multiple plays. Think of it as an upgraded High Speed, if you’re a fan of that table.

    Creature from the Black Lagoon (1992)

    creature from the black lagoon best 90s pinball machine
    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Jeff Johnson

    At Game Room Dude, we’re also big film buffs, so Creature from the Black Lagoon (themed loosely after the 1954 movie of the same name, but really more about the experience of going to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon at a 1950s drive-in theater, which is why we love it) gets a bump on our list.

    The game-play if we’re honest is just so-so. There’s not a ton of flow, some really dangerous shots, and relies a little too heavily on a few other key shots to really be able to progress in the game.

    But man, the theme is a joy – from the art package to the callouts and the mode design, it’s got it all.

    For serious players, it’s probably a lower tier game for a collection, as people frequently tire of this title after a little while, but for collectors and film fans, it’s kind of a must have.

    Cirqus Voltaire (1997)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Cameron Silver, John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Linda Deal
    • Software: Cameron Silver

    For a short period of time in basically the mid-90s, John Popadiuk was on a roll. He was the real-life, pinball equivalent of the “he’s on fire!” mode in NBA Jam. From World Cup Soccer (1994) through Cirqus Voltaire (1997), Popadiuk was behind some of the most innovative and interesting machines in pinball, which also includes Theater of Magic (1995) and Tales of the Arabian Nights (1996).

    Unfortunately he’d never really come back to these heights (more on that another time) and is now basically blacklisted from the industry.

    In Cirqus Voltaire, you enter a fantastical neon tinged carnival world where your core objectives are to complete marvels (modes) and defeat an evil ringmaster (similar to destroying a saucer in Attack from Mars) on your way to joining the circus.

    Tons of flow and some really neat toys. Known for its DMD display embedded in the back of the playfield instead of in the backglass like other tables from this era.

    Scared Stiff (1996)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman, Mark Weyna
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Cameron Silver, Mike Boon

    Scared Stiff is the sequel to the 1989 classic, Elvira and the Party Monsters. Much like Getaway: High Speed II, this iteration eclipses the first in almost every way. The gameplay is simple and approachable, but can be hard to master – getting to the end game can feel like a major achievement.

    Not as much innovation on this table as others on this list, though the crate lock is extremely satisfying to hit and the spinning spider wheel in the backglass is a nice touch.

    What really sets this game apart from the first version, and lots of other games on this list, is the quality of the callouts by Cassandra Peterson herself, and the overall level of humor present in the games design. Sure, if we’re getting granular, some of the humor is a little sexist and may not age as well as was intended, but it fits with the character and the era.

    Tales of the Arabian Nights (1996)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Pat McMahon
    • Software: Louis Koziarz

    TOTAN, as it goes by in most competitive pinball circles, is another Popadiuk classic. In this game, you’re completing the 7 Tales of the Arabian Nights and battling an evil genie. From a rules and shot layout perspective it’s very very similar to his other games from this period. Popadiuk as a designer kinda has one note, but he knows how to play that note better then just about anyone else.

    Theme integration is generally top notch, and it probably holds up in collections more for this aspect then a lot of the gameplay. The spinning lamp shot can be fun – sort of like a juiced spinner when it’s dialed in right, but otherwise most of the mechs are pretty generic.

    Congo (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Bill Grupp

    Congo is part of a grand tradition of terrible movies that turned out to be great pinball machines (see Johnny Mnemonic and The Shadow, below). This is just a fun game to shoot, with a strong dose of creativity displayed on the playfield between the lower playfield with a Gorrilla toy that doubles as an extra set of flippers, and the volcano multiball shot. Its 3 flippers and varied shot layout adds a lot of diversity to a typical playthrough.

    Makes you feel like you’re on a jungle adventure, which adds to the fun of this game.

    Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: John Youssi
    • Software: Tom Uban

    Just like Congo, Johnny Mnemonic is a card-carrying member of the terrible movie but pretty good pinball machine club. Designed by George Gomez, Johnny Mnemonic is a fast playing flow crazy shooter with arguably one of the all time great mechs in the form of the magnetic data glove and CyberMatrix ball lock.

    For this writer, Johnny Mnemonic evokes feelings of one of Gomez’s more recent works, that of Stern’s Deadpool, released in 2018.

    This game also has a uniquely frustrating video mode and artificially high scoring, which makes it an very satisfying machine to blow up. One of the few 90’s era Williams games where its possible to still get a deal on.

    The Shadow (1994)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Brian Eddy
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Mike Boon

    The Shadow is an underrated Brian Eddy designed pinball machine based on the 1994 movie by the same name featuring none other than the likes of Alec Baldwin, Tim Curry, and Ian McKellen. Like others on this list, The Shadow is full of flow, plays fast, and has some really unique features and satisfying shots to hit. The upper mini playfield is one of the best ever done in pinball, and the magnetic ball locks and player controlled diverters are unique and add a new dimension to the game.

    Besides being a ton of fun to play, The Shadow is also notable for not having any pop bumpers!

    Theater of Magic (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: John Popadiuk
    • Artwork: Linda Deal
    • Software: Jeff Johnson

    The last of the Popadiuk games on this particular list, in Theater of Magic you’re working to complete a series of magic tricks before a grand finale of sorts (small wizard mode). Theater of Magic is notable for its theme integration, callouts, and its magic trunk mech. The magic trunk breaks allll the time. But when it works it’s really neat. On one side is magnet grab, which you shoot to start one of the game’s multiballs. On another side is a scoop, which is used for starting modes. The trunk rotates to different sides depending on where you are in the game.

    Besides that, there’s a lot of flow to this game and getting a high score is very satisfying and also a little difficult depending on how the game is set up. If you played Theater of Magic in a lineup next to Cirqus Voltaire, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and World Cup Soccer, you’d definitely start to see some of the similarities. Magnets, crazy ramps, center bash toys, and mode based play.

    Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (1993)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Doug Watson, Mark Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Brian Eddy

    Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure is highly sought after by pinball collectors, and frequently requested as a remake candidate for Chicago Gaming Company’s Bally/Williams remakes.

    It’s a wide-body, but surprisingly, doesn’t suffer from a lot of the same problems that other wide-bodies tend to – like slow gameplay, clunky shots, or a wide-open playfield. It shares some similarities to Star Trek The Next Generation in that regard.

    There’s a ton to shoot for on this table and theme integration is incredibly well done across all three original movies. Compared to modern pins with all their licensing issues, it feels like a unique treat to have accurate representations of most of the main characters from the movie on the playfield and the backglass art.

    This is a rare pinball machine to see these days outside of home collections, though fortunately there have been several virtual versions created, including on the latest version of Zen Studios PinballFX series.

    Breakshot (1996)

    • Manufacturer: Capcom Coin-Op, Inc.
    • Game Design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Hugh van Zanten, Paul Mazur, Stan Fukuoka
    • Software: Bill Pfutzenreuter

    Breakshot is a severely underrated (and under-produced with only about 1,000 copies ever made) pool-themed pinball machine from Capcom. The layout is inspired by classic EM era tables with no ramps and digital sounds that mimic EM machines.

    Breakshot also features a unique center playfield toy with three saucers behind a metal pop-up insert which functions like a newton ball when raised and you’re ready to start multiball. Hitting the newton ball feels almost like you’re hitting the break in a game of pool (hence the name!).

    Lots of fun to play in competitions as there’s some good risk/reward decision-making involved, plus lock stealing which always adds an interesting dynamic.

    Has lots of replay value, so it’s a good game for a home collection among some longer playing options.

    Royal Rumble WWF (1994)

    90s pinball machines wwf royal rumble
    • Manufacturer: Data East USA, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Kaminkow, Tim Seckel
    • Artwork: Markus Rothkranz, Paul Faris
    • Software: Lyman F. Sheats Jr., Neil Falconer, Orin Day

    As a recently converted wrestling fan, I have a bit of a soft spot for Data East’s Royal Rumble. This pinball machine ranks near the top of Data East’s game output, alongside Guns n’ Roses. The rules aren’t super complicated – essentially you’re collecting wrestlers and completing modes on your way to multiballs and the wizard mode.

    Royal Rumble is a wide-body pin, and some feel it would have been better off as a regular sized pinball machine as the sides of the playfield, particularly the lower third, are a little empty.

    If you grew up in this era, even as a non-wrestling fan, you’ll probably recognize a lot of the wrestlers, their callouts, and some of the artwork. It can be a pretty big nostalgia trip! And if you didn’t, well, we still think it’s a lot of fun to shoot and there’s enough diversity in the gameplay to keep a home owner interested for long stretches of time.

    Baywatch (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Sega Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Balcer, Joe Kaminkow
    • Artwork: Jeff Busch, Markus Rothkranz
    • Software: John Carpenter, Lonnie D. Ropp, Neil Falconer, Orin Day

    Is Baywatch a great game? Debatable. Is Baywatch a great theme for a 90s kid who grew up watching show reruns on cable TV. Absolutely. Few things in pinball beat hearing that iconic theme song play when you step up to the machine. It’s peak 90s cable TV.

    To be fair, the game is also pretty fun to play and has a unique shot layout from Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow with a ton of flow and high scoring. This game is part of Sega’s run of games with larger than normal DMD displays, so the animations have some draw to them as well. If you’re not a fan of the theme, this may not be a great choice for your home collection.

    Demolition Man (1994)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman
    • Artwork: Doug Watson, Linda Deal
    • Software: Bill Grupp, Ted Estes

    Another underrated wide-body on this list. Demo Man gets a bit of a bad rap for the theme and for being a little ramp heavy (and thus one-note) in its gameplay.

    But if you overlook some of that and just focus on how fast and fun it can be to play, then you’ll see why we ranked it where we did on this list. Oodles of flow and hitting lots of combo shots is very satisfying. The game is focused around achieving a series of multiballs, which is a bit unique for the time and adds an appreciated element of exicetment to a typical game. The claw mech is neat, and the trigger handles can be an interesting way to experience the game.

    Can be easier and less expensive then other pinball machines on this list to track down, which aids its cause.

    Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan

    Look Terminator 2: Judgement Day is mostly here for the callouts and general theme integration. Not Steve Ritchie’s best game (he has a lot of those, so even a middling game from him is often superior to most other designers’ best).

    Fun to look at, fun to experience, but gets a bit tiring to play frequently. The cannon shot (later revisited in Stern’s AC/DC) is one of the most unique (and fun) components of this particular pinball machine.

    If it wasn’t for the Arnold callouts, this game may have wound up lower on this list. So if you’re not an Arnold or T2 fan, your mileage may vary on this pin.

    Jack*Bot (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler, Larry DeMar
    • Artwork: Doug Watson, Greg Freres, John Youssi, Paul Barker
    • Software: Louis Koziarz

    The last in the line of Pin-Bot machines, Jack*Bot is essentially a reskin of the original PinBot from 1986, but with an added casino/gambling component and an excellent mini-wizard mode, Casino Run.

    Like in Pin-Bot, most of the gameplay is focused on getting multiball by opening up the visor at the top of the playfield, and hitting the eject hole for various awards. In Pin*Bot, however, hitting the eject hole means you complete a mini casino game (like Keno, Dice, Slots, and Poker) for a random allotment of points. Completing all of the casino games qualifies you for Casino Run, a 1 ball timed mode with unlimited ball save, where the objective is to build your bank and cash out before time runs out or you lose the slots-like game on the display.

    Could be one of the best risk/reward games in all of pinball and has pretty high replay value overall.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan, Matt Coriale

    Star Trek: The Next Generation is a Williams wide-body pin that is not without its flaws. For one, it’s notoriously difficult to keep running, so if you have this at home or on location at an arcade, you’ll probably be spending a lot of extra time in repair mode.

    But when it’s working, it does such an amazing job of throwing you into the world of the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show. It’s fun to shoot, has some challenging mode based play, and great callouts/theming. The cannons on each of the slingshots are so much fun to shoot and rather iconic for this table.

    Can be a bit of a drain monster, so rewards good nudging skills, shot accuracy, or knowing how to set up your pinball machine so that it’s easier to play.

    Who Dunnit (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler, Dwight Sullivan
    • Artwork: Linda Deal, Paul Barker
    • Software: Dwight Sullivan

    Who Dunnit is a 1995 Barry Oursler and Dwight Sullvan game themed around a noir style murder mystery. In the game, you play as the detective, collecting clues, questioning suspects, and figuring out who committed the crime. Along the way you may get in a car chase and engage in some light gambling. All in a days work.

    Gameplay is a little meh at times, but the theming and highly original approach to the game puts it on this list.

    Guns n’ Roses (1994)

    • Manufacturer: Data East USA, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Kaminkow, John Borg, Lyman F. Sheats Jr., Slash
    • Artwork: Markus Rothkranz
    • Software: Lonnie D. Ropp, Lyman F. Sheats Jr., Orin Day

    Most people in the pinball hobby will call Guns n’ Roses Data East’s best game. And it’s certainly up there, especially for a wide body machine.

    There’s a lot to shoot for on this pinball machine and some really fun ways to attack it. But, like some of the other games on this list, I think you really have to be a fan of Guns n’ Roses the band to be a huge fan of this table. And if you’re not, like this writer, then it gets a little lost on you.

    Depending on how well the game is set up and dialed in, hitting the ramp shots can be a difficult proposition, which considering how important they are to gameplay, kinda brings this table down a few notches.

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1993)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler, Mark Sprenger
    • Artwork: Mark Sprenger
    • Software: Bill Pfutzenreuter

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula mostly makes the list for theme integration, callouts, and its unique mist multiball feature, where the player has to hit a floating captive ball as it moves across the playfield with the help of some fancy under playfield magnet work. Otherwise gameplay and rules are a little shallow, and it doesn’t have as much replay value as some of the other pinball machines on this list.

    Starship Troopers (1997)

    • Manufacturer: Sega Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Balcer, Joe Kaminkow
    • Artwork: Morgan Weistling
    • Software: Neil Falconer, Orin Day

    I wouldn’t call Starship Troopers top tier 90s Sega, but its close. Great theme integration and some fun toys and mechs like the Brain Bug bash toy popup. Plays fast but can get a little grindy at times, and there isn’t a ton of depth. If you enjoyed the movie Starship Troopers, you’ll probably enjoy having this game in your collection for at least a short stint, if not longer.

    NBA Fastbreak (1997)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: George Gomez
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    • Software: Tom Uban

    Unique game for its basket based points system. Lots of fun to shoot and the basket shot and backbox mech add a different level of gameplay to this machine. Excellent callouts and theme integration. Elevates itself just beyond novelty status thanks to the fast and flowy playfied design by George Gomez.

    No Fear: Dangerous Sports (1995)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Dwight Sullican, Greg Freres, Matt Coriale, Pete Piotrowski, Scott Slomiany, Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    • Software: Matt Coriale

    Could be Steve Ritchie’s most flow-heavy game as you’re rewarded for hitting a lot of ramp and orbit shots, and there’s not a lot of danger on the playfield that will end a ball faster than normal. Usually on the B or C tier of 90s Williams games, but we think it’s a lot of fun to play.

    Rollergames (1990)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Pat McMahon
    • Software: Mark Penacho

    If this had been released in the 1980s it probably would have made our 80s list intead as this is almost the employment of 80s pop culture cheese. Not the deepest game, but we love the theme, artwork, and sounds.

    The X-Files (1997)

    • Manufacturer: Sega Pinball, Inc.
    • Game Design: Bob Hurtado
    • Artwork: Dave Link, Morgan Weistling
    • Software: John Norris, Lonnie D. Ropp, Neil Falconer, Orin Day

    Kind of a basic Sega table, but it’s a fun play. The file cabinet bash toy with hidden trap door for final ball capture before multiball is basically what puts this game on this list.

    Flipper Football (1996)

    • Manufacturer: Capcom Coin-Op, Inc.
    • Game Design: Bryan Hansen, Python Anghelo
    • Artwork: Hugh van Zanten, Paul Mazur

    This game is 100% just for me. They produced like 5 of them (that’s sarcasm, they actually produced 750), and I’ve only ever seen it on location once while traveling in Europe. The art is cringe, and gameplay is shallow compared to just about any other game, but something about it kept me coming back for more, even among a pretty deep lineup of games. Would be a pretty unique piece of a pinball collection, even if it mostly served as a conversation starter.

    Notable Omissions – The Second Class of the 1990s Era Pinball Machines

    Notable games left off this list for various reasons (I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date)!

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • In Defense of Kaneda Pinball Podcast – Or Why Pinball Needs a Good Heel

    In Defense of Kaneda Pinball Podcast – Or Why Pinball Needs a Good Heel

    For those of you who are familiar with the world of pro wrestling (and I know a lot of you are, otherwise we wouldn’t have several wrestling-themed pins to enjoy), you’re probably already aware of the concept of faces and heels.

    For those less familiar, let us educate you.

    A face, or babyface, is the good guy in the match. They are the character the audience cheers for, and who usually (but not always) wins.

    The heel, on the other hand, is the villain in the match and is designed specifically to draw heat (boos) from the audience and generally get the audience invested in both the larger storyline at play and openly rooting for the opposing face.

    Historically, most faces were nothing without their opposing heels, and as Mike Edison explains in, The Art of the Heel,

    “It’s a truism of the sport that the heels sell tickets. Without the Iron Sheik, Roddy Piper, or a raft of other talented villains, the Hulkamania formula was worth nothing. The heel makes the face. Without a good villain, all you’ve got is a public service announcement.”

    -Mike Edison, The Art of the Heel
    kaneda new world order wrestling
    Kaneda as Hollywood Hulk Hogan, one of wrestling’s best heel turns of all time

    And this isn’t a dynamic that’s unique to wrestling either! Most good narrative stories that follow traditional structures will have some kind of protagonist vs antagonist dynamic to them. In those stories, you usually need the antagonist as a plot device that sets up conflict and challenges for the protagonist, and generally helps move the plot forward.

    Master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock once explained this dynamic perfectly.

    “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.”

    -Alfred Hitchcock

    In other words, having a well-defined villain, with clear motivations, and behaviors, and that the audience can identify with on some level, is good for the larger story.

    This brings us back to Chris Kaneda and the Kaneda Pinball Podcast, the creator of “The World’s Most Provocative Pinball Podcast” (his words, not ours, though we tend to agree).

    kaneda 2 backstory
    kaneda pinside 1

    For all of the hate and derision Kaneda receives within the pinball community (particularly on Pinside) when viewed through the lens of a heel vs face wrestling match, or a good guy vs evil villain story, Kaneda Pinball Podcast is an essential piece of the pinball community writ large, and without him, the story of pinball would be much more boring to follow.

    Pinball is a close-knit, small community. It attracts a lot of outsiders and lovable weirdos (like your author), and most of us tie it closely to our individual personalities. Plus, most of us have first-hand experience with the scene very nearly ceasing to exist. Because of this, it can be pretty easy (and rewarding) to get caught up in being a cheerleader for the industry and those who work in it and support it.

    It’s the pinball manufacturers like Stern and Spooky and Jersey Jack, and the large majority of the pinball media, that become the faces of the industry. We root for them, we want them to succeed, and we want them to win.

    But without someone like Kaneda, who can push, who can needle, draw an audience, who says things other people won’t say, and whose greatest skill set is “pissing people off” (again, his words, Episode 700 of his Patreon podcast feed), there would be no drama.

    kenda conversation
    Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast really drives the conversation

    And in a hobby that doesn’t always have a ton of news to discuss, and needs to manufacture a lot of its own talking points and storylines (see, for example, our list of pinball theme rumors), the drama is essential for keeping the plot moving and for keeping fans cheering for the faces of the industry.

    In wrestling, a top heel has no reservations about doing or saying whatever it takes to make the audience absolutely hate them – sometimes to the point of getting verbally or physically attacked by those same audience members. Heels certainly have their own fans and contingencies, but that’s not always the intended outcome.

    And whether it’s truly intentional or not (I suspect a lot of it is more character than substance, it’s clear he truly cares about pinball, but the shtick does sell, and he’d be a terrible marketer if he didn’t realize that and push the edge), Kaneda is that person in spades, and we have little doubt that he knows it.

    kaneda banned pinside silverball swag
    Kaneda playing into the heel role

    He’s pinball’s greatest heel, and probably always will be. People just love to hate the guy (they love to love him too, as evidenced by all his TWIPY wins) . A lot of you probably want to see him “defeated”, but we would see that as a mistake. The dog who caught the car, as it were. At the end of the day, Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast, and Kaneda himself, is an essential part of the pinball community and we would not be surprised if a lot of people secretly missed him were he to one day walk away.

    So take a step back, subscribe to his Patreon feed, and take his content for what it’s worth – pure heel-driven pinball entertainment, and appreciate that we have someone willing to put in the time and the effort to play that role in the pinball community.

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • The 27 Best Pinball Machines from the 1980s: A Great Era for Pinball

    The 27 Best Pinball Machines from the 1980s: A Great Era for Pinball

    The 1980s were a great time for pinball. Manufacturers continued the switch from electromechanical (EM) style machines to computerized solid state machines, and as a result, some of the best pinball machines ever made or played were produced during that decade. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the best pinball machines from the 1980s.

    This list isn’t ranked in any particular order, as frankly all of the games are fun to play and are worth seeking out either in a home collection or at the local arcade. We’ll explain in more detail below each listed game, but we wanted to include games that were both fun to play or just plain unique for the era.

    Note, if you’re new the world of pinball, you may be expecting to find such classic tables as Addams Family or Twilight Zone on this list, but alas, those will come in the next decade! Will be a topic for a future post, for sure.

    (Like list posts? Be sure to check out our roundup of the Best 1970s Bally Pinball Machines)

    Now that is out of the way, here you have it!

    The 27 Greatest Popular 80s Pinball Machines

    Fathom (1981)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Ward Pemberton
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor
    popular 80s pinball machines bally fathom

    Ahhhh, yes.

    Fathom is one of the all time popular 80s pinball machines ever made by Bally. Produced in 1981, Fathom is part of a legendary trio of 80s pinball machines, all produced by Bally in the same year which includes Centaur and Medusa (coincidentally both on this list). For an early 1980s game, this table is packed with features including inline drops and a multiball.

    The sound effects and callouts were also pretty immersive and innovative for its time. Not hard to learn, but plays fast and can be difficult to master. One of the great art packages of all time, which helps make Fathom one of the greatest 80s pinball machines.

    Centaur (1981)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Paul Faris
    bally centaur pinball

    Another all-time classic from Bally and one of the most popular 80s pinball machines even today, produced in the same year as Fathom and Medusa. Centaur has one of the most striking art packages of all time, with a mostly black and white motif, with red, orange, and green accents for the playfield lights and plastics. Rewards skilled, accurate play.

    Very impressive sounds and music, and an extremely satisfying bonus countdown sound up draining. Fairly wide shot variation for the time, which helps with replay value. Can be a bit polarizing as most pinheads either love it or they hate it!

    Elvira and the Party Monsters (1989)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Dennis Nordman, Jim Patla, Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    best 80s pinball elvira and the party monsters bally

    The first game of what would become a trilogy of games for the Elvira franchise over the next 30+ years. This Bally game is a lot of fun to shoot, and has some very unique, humorous theming that fits perfectly with the overall Elvira vibe and aesthetic. Speech, sound, and lights all stand out on this particular machine, which helps make it one of the most popular 80s pinball machines.

    Rules can be a little shallow for extended home play, but the game’s other features more than make up for that. Very approachable for new players. It’s one of those 80s pinball machines that will make you want to hit the start button over and over and over again.

    Eight Ball Deluxe (1981)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: George Christian
    • Artwork: Margaret Hudson
    most popular 80s pinball bally eight ball deluxe

    Eight Ball Deluxe is an all-time Bally classic, selling well over 8,000 machines upon its release in 1981, which definitely makes it one of the most popular 80s pinball machines ever sold. You’re very likely to find this or its LE version in arcades and home collections. It’s a simple, pool themed game, but can be hard to master is it rewards accurate shooting and completing shots in a certain order for maximum point values. Rarely gets old even with repeated play.

    Has some exceptionally satisfying shots – the left orbit, eight ball shot, and any of the in-line drops that give you bonus x. Great theme integration, and extremely approachable for new players. Really a classic example of 80s pinball machines.

    High Speed (1986)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Mark Sprenger, Python Anghelo
    best 80s pinball williams high speed game

    Although High Speed would eventually be dwarfed in just about every respect by its successor, 1992’s The Getaway: High Speed II, the first High Speed is still quite a notable entry for 80s pinball machines. Its simple, approachable rules and satisfying shooting is enhanced by one of the best pinball soundtracks of the time.

    Plays fast as most Steve Ritchie games do, and features a lot of top notch sound and callout work alongside the music. Helped revitalize the pinball industry in the mid 1980s as they faced steep competition from video games.

    Ali (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Stern Electronics, Inc.
    • Game Design: Harry Williams
    • Artwork: Bob Timm
    80s pinball machine ali stern electronics

    Ali probably doesn’t get as much love as it should as one of the greatest 80s pinball machines, as outside of the tournament scene, it can be hard to find out in the wild. Not only is it a lot of fun to shoot, with a strong focus on flow and a diversity of satisfying shots, but it’s notable as one of the few major pinball releases of that era (or any other time, frankly) to celebrate an African American hero like Ali.

    Artwork is hokey and certainly dated but nevertheless extremely enjoyable to look at.

    Quicksilver (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Stern Electronics, Inc.
    • Game Design: Joe Joos Jr.
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    1980s pinball stern electronics quicksilver

    One of the many Stern Electronics games that grew in popularity and appreciation over time. Currently seen as one of the best classic Stern games ever made and certainly one of the greatest 80s pinball machines. Original, creative theme and artwork with well done sounds and some kinetically pleasing shots to hit.

    Fast gameplay, two spinners, sweepable drop target banks, and simple rules with a ton of replayability. Can be hard to find, so it’s pricing on the used market tends to reflect that.

    Banzai Run (1988)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Pat Lawlor
    • Artwork: Mark Sprenger
    best 1980s pinball banzai run williams

    Extremely innovative game from the legendary designer Pat Lawlor. Essentially includes a whole secondary pinball game built into the backbox of the game, that’s accessible by hitting a certain shot after qualifying the mode on the regular playfield.

    Not a ton of depth and may not hold up as well today, but it’s one of those games you need to play at least a handful of times in your life. Music and callouts are both well done, and the shots are all fun to hit.

    Medusa (1981)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Wally Welch
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    best 1980s pinball machine bally medusa

    Part of the 1981 Bally trio alongside Fathom and Centaur. Probably the lesser known table of the three, but arguably the most innovative, particularly for 80s pinball machines. Includes an upper playfield with zipper flippers, digital displays in the playfield, red translucent lit flippers, and a player controlled rubber post between the flippers to keep the ball in play.

    So much in this game to shoot for, but can be a drain monster so rewards accurate, controlled play. One of those games that keeps you coming back for more and more and more.

    Seawitch (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Stern Electronics, Inc.
    • Game Design: Mike Kubin
    • Artwork: Bob Timm
    80s pinball machines stern seawitch

    Another early Stern Electronics classic. Would later be rebooted by George Gomez in 2018 as The Beatles with only minor playfield changes and a whole new set of rules. Plays super fast and requires a mix of precision and flow play between shooting for drop targets and orbits and loops. The game’s 4 flippers introduce a wide variety of shots and play strategies into the mix.

    Rare to see, but can experience the gameplay in the aforementioned Beatles from Stern, or, some people are able to build a fresh game from scratch, using donor parts from other similar era games. Without a doubt one of the greatest 80s pinball machines ever made.

    Black Knight (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Tony Ramunni
    1980s pinball machines williams black knight

    A historically notable game for being the first to introduce the Magna-Save feature into pinball games (where a player can press a secondary button on the cabinet to activate a magnet that can help save a ball from an outlane drain). Would also kickstart another pinball franchise being followed by Black Knight 2000 in 1989 and Black Knight Sword of Rage in 2019.

    Plays fast with a really fun multiball feature. Has a 2nd level playfield, and some of the best callouts (voiced by the designer, Steve Ritchie) of the era.

    Xenon (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Paul Faris
    80s pinball machine bally xenon

    Iconic game from Bally for the art package and voice callouts, and was also the first “talking” game to be produced by Bally, and one of the first with voice acting generally. The tube shot is really fun to hit repeatedly, and the game has an achievable multiball and a great spinner shot that’s important for scoring.

    Not the deepest game on this list from a rules perspective, but the artwork and callouts make up for that. Fun to own in a larger collection.

    Cyclone (1988)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler
    • Artwork: Python Anghelo
    popular 80s pinball cyclone williams

    Notable mostly for its callouts, toys, and general theme immersion. Part of a trio of carnival themed games for Williams (the other two being Comet and Hurricane). No multiball, which is somewhat rare even for this time period, but the other gameplay elements make up for it.

    For a lot of players who grew up with this game, there’s a high nostalgia factor at play with Cyclone. Bonus for Cyclone is that today, it can be a mostly affordable game to purchase on the secondary market.

    TX-Sector (1988)

    • Manufacturer: D. Gottlieb & Co.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Constantino Mitchell, Jeanine Mitchell
    popular 80s pinball machines tx-sector gottlieb

    Excellent sci-fi theming and soundtrack, two spinner shots that when lit for points can make for some of the most satisfying shots of any game from this era. Interesting layout, but can feel like chopping wood at times.

    Three flippers, so there’s decent shot variety. Compared to other games on this list, may feel tired faster in a smaller home collection.

    F-14 Tomcat (1987)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Steve Ritchie
    • Artwork: Doug Watson
    popular 1980s pinball f-14 tomcat pinball

    Gets a bit of a mixed reputation among serious pinball players due to this game’s comparative lack of depth and complexity. Known for extremely fast gameplay that’s also brutally unforgiving on a well tuned machine. Ball times are often short because of this, which means it also has that “one more game” feeling in spades.

    Sounds and light show are typically top notch for a Ritchie game of this era. One of those games that can help make you a better pinball player if you play it enough.

    Embryon (1981)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Claude Fernandez
    • Artwork: Tony Ramunni
    best 80s pinball games bally embryon

    Typically underrated widebody pin from Bally that gets lost among some of its contemporaries like Future Spa and Paragon. Embryon also has the pleasure of being the last widebody pinball machine that Bally would produce before they were acquired by Williams.

    Kind of oddball sci-fi theming if we’re being completely honest, but we see that as part of it’s appeal. Tons of variety in the shots, with 4 flippers on the game (technically, one flipper is just used as a unique outlane ball saver, but we’ll still count it). Has a multiball that can be a little difficult to achieve.

    Torpedo Alley (1988)

    • Manufacturer: Data East USA, Inc.
    • Game Design: Claude Fernandez
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson
    80s pinball machines data east torpedo alley

    Torpedo Alley is not a classically great game by any measure, yet there’s just something about this game that keeps people coming back. The rules are pretty straightforward and it can be both challenging and unforgiving to play as it needs accurate shooting and doesn’t have a ton of flow.

    But it’s such an oddball example of pure 80s cheese that it makes this particular “best of the 80s pinball machines” list. I mean just look at the backglass! Who are those people? What are they wearing? Sound and callouts are just entertaining enough to keep you coming back. Not as expensive as others on this list, so can be a great example of a good bang for your buck game.

    Big Game (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Stern Electronics, Inc.
    • Game Design: Harry Williams
    • Artwork: Doug Watson, Gerry Simkus
    top 1980s pinball machines stern big game

    A classic Stern Electronics game that’s really just a lot of fun to play with some good artwork for its time. Plays faster then a widebody should, and it’s unique bingo card scoring system makes it stand out from others in a collection.

    Lots of fun drop target and spinner shots to hit. Designed by Harry Williams, often known as the “Father of Pinball” for founding Williams Manufacturing Co. in 1944.

    Frontier (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: George Christian
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson
    bally frontier 80s pinball machine

    Extremely classic and typical example of an early 1980s Bally solid state pin. Inline drops, sweeping orbits, three pops at the top of the playfield and lots of dangerous target shots.

    Big time bonus and lit spinner game for scoring large point values. Known in pinball circles for the sound, particularly the crickets, which may or may not be grating to players who play during certain 24-hour marathon tournaments.

    Alien Star (1984)

    • Manufacturer: D. Gottlieb & Co.
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Larry Day
    gottlieb alien star pinball 1908s pinball game

    Alien Star is in the running for one of the best spinner focused games of all time. If you catch it just right when it’s been built up to 50k per spin, look out!

    Extremely simple rules and a pretty bare layout compared to other games in this period, but it just works. Very addictive, and can be difficult to master if you’re going for max points each time.

    Silverball Mania (1980)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    bally silverball mania 80s pinball machine

    Silverball Mania has an impressive art package for this period, and some really unique and notable playfield features, like a mid-playfield horseshoe shot that lights a center drain kickback that helps keep your ball in play. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple ruleset that relies on accurate shooting, control, and ability to maximize those horseshoe shots for drain protection.

    A bit underrated for this period, but there are a lot of great games on this list!

    Heavy Metal Meltdown (1987)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Dan Langlois
    • Artwork: Tony Ramunni
    80s pinball machine bally heavy metal meltdown

    Heavy Metal Meltdown is an extremely rare, underrated pinball from Bally, produced in 1987. It’s themed after 1980s hair metal bands. Cheesy fun with a very fun to achieve multiball, and a challenging lock stealing mechanic that’s fun when playing with a group of friends.

    Night Moves (1989)

    • Manufacturer: International Concepts
    • Game Design: John Trudeau
    • Artwork: Constantino Mitchell, David Moore, Jeanine Mitchell
    best 80s pinball night moves international concepts

    The only cocktail pinball machine to make this list, Night Moves is a 1989 pin produced by International Concepts, though in practice and parts it’s basically a Gottlieb machine. Not a particularly deep game and known for being mechanically troublesome. But it makes the list for its art package and sounds, which are both uniquely 80s – sorta like Miami Vice in a pin.

    Also has multiball, which for a cocktail pin is a nice surprise. Definitely a conversation piece in any medium or large sized collection.

    Time Fantasy (1983)

    • Manufacturer: Williams Electronic Games, Inc.
    • Game Design: Barry Oursler
    • Artwork: Seamus McLaughlin
    popular 1980s pinball machines time fantasy williams

    AKA – The LSD Snail Game! Time Fantasy is another pretty rare 80s pin (only about 600 were produced). Unique for its colors and art package, which seem to be straight out of a strong psychedelics trip. Has a good mix of flow and precision play components. Snail Time – a timed mode with unlimited ballsave is a particularly fun part of the game.

    The Amazing Spiderman (1980)

    • Manufacturer: D. Gottlieb & Co.
    • Game Design: Ed Krynski
    • Artwork: Gordon Morison
    80s pinball machine gottlieb the amazing spiderman

    Timeless theme on a widebody that can play faster then it should. Lots to shoot for on the playfield even though it can feel a bit open. Simple game but usually a joy to play. Sounds can be on the charming if slightly repetitive side. Great game to have in a family environment, but can be problematic to maintain, as many Gottlieb’s from this time period are.

    Hardbody (1987)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Ward Pemberton
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    popular 80s pinball machines bally hardbody game

    Another game that sort of makes the list for its extreme 1980s cheese artwork package, though admittedly the gameplay can be pretty fun. Features an upper playfield and two player controlled “flex lanes” that the player must trigger at the right time in order to close inlane ramps and prevent a quick drain. Super fast player that requires quick reflexes and timing.

    BMX (1982)

    • Manufacturer: Bally Manufacturing Co.
    • Game Design: Ward Pemberton
    • Artwork: Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor, Margaret Hudson, Pat McMahon
    top 80s pinball machines bally bmx

    After putting Hardbody on this list, I felt compelled to also list its sister game, BMX from a few years prior. Both games have remarkably similar layouts, down to the same flex lane gimmick and upper playfield focused design. But you’re much less likely to find this one in almost any collection as only about 400 were ever produced.

    Notable Omissions

    Notable games left off this list for various reasons (I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date)!

    • Firepower, Williams (1980)
    • Skateball, Bally (1980)
    • Flash Gordon, Bally (1981)
    • Barracora, Williams (1981)
    • Black Hole, D. Gotlieb & Co. (1981)
    • Haunted House, D. Gottlieb & Co. (1982)
    • Sorcerer, Williams (1985)
    • Grand Lizard, Williams (1986)
    • Pinbot, Williams (1986)
    • Swords of Fury, Williams (1988)
    • Taxi, Williams (1988)
    • Earthshaker, Williams (1989)
    • Black Knight 2000, Williams (1989)
    • Robocop, Data East (1989)

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • Ranking The Best Bally Pinball Machines from the 1970s: A Roundup for Arcade and Pinball Fans

    Ranking The Best Bally Pinball Machines from the 1970s: A Roundup for Arcade and Pinball Fans

    When you were growing up, do you remember the hours spent at the local arcade playing your favorite pinball machines? If that’s you, and you’ve still got an eye for the legendary silverball, then you’ll love this roundup of the best vintage Bally pinball machines from the 1970s.

    For a quick refresher on Bally, they were a legendary pinball manufacturer, founded in 1932 and producing pinball and other arcade machines until about 1988, when rival manufacturer Williams took over their pinball division. Even today, Bally pinball games are considered some of the best ever produced, occupying prized slots in many a pinball owners collection.

    What was the Bally Manufacturing Company?

    Bally Manufacturing / Bally Entertainment had a legendary pinball output in the 1970s, and some of their best games of all time were created during this period. The 70s was a transition period for Bally and pinball alike, as you’ll see the slow transition from Electro-Mechanical machines controlled by electronics and machine parts (EM) to Solid State machines (SS) controlled primary by computer chips and other computer-style machinery.

    Bally competed with the likes of Gottlieb, Stern Electronics, Williams, and others for pinball supremacy in their time.

    The 12 Best Classic Bally Pinball Machines from the 1970s

    Future Spa (1979)

    • Game design: George Christian
    • Artwork: Dave Christensen, Paul Faris
    future spa bally 1970s pinball machine

    Look, as far as gameplay is concerned this probably isn’t the best 1970s Bally machine on this list. It’s a widebody, which for a lot of people already puts it close to the bottom. The rules aren’t super deep, and as far as shot layout, Paragon does a lot of the same stuff better.

    But lordy the art package is everything in this game! It’s pure 70s/80s era cheese that revolves around the concept of a gym and health spa sometime in the not-too-distant future. There are so many weird details to fixate over.

    Like who influences fashion in this hypothetical future? Is any of it comfortable?

    bally future spa pinball backglass art

    Is it really a good idea to do cable curls and cable scissor kicks at the same time?

    bally future spa pinball playfield

    Is the gym of the future topless?

    future spa pinball topless woman

    I don’t know that we’ll ever get the answers to these questions, but the game sure is fun to play and a conversation piece in your collection.

    Old Chicago (1976)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Dave Christensen, John Youssi
    bally old chicago 1976 pinball flyer

    Old Chicago is a highly unique EM machine from Bally for it’s lower third playfield design with two pop bumpers in the corners directly above two inlane drains. Can make the game feel way more dangerous and out of control then it actually is. Very satisfying spinner shot. Plays fast and can be really challenging to master.

    bally old chicago pinball 1970s playfield

    Art package by Dave Christensen and John Youssi is unique and stands out in this era with its pastel colors and art deco styling.

    Playboy (1978)

    • Game design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Paul Faris
    bally playboy pinball flyer

    No, it’s not the most family friendly pinball theme out there, so if that’s an important factor to you then you can probably move on now.

    If you’re otherwise unbothered by a little 1970s mass market softcore-porno chic, then read on!

    bally playboy 1978 pinball playfield

    Low key, this is one of my favorite players of the bunch. The rules are super simple – collect Playboy house keys, collect Playboy playmates, shoot for the Grotto, rack up bonus points, rinse and repeat. Sometimes harder said then done, but when you get that bonus maxed out and carrying over to your other balls, it’s one of the most satisfying gameplay experiences of the era.

    Paragon (1975)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Paul Faris
    bally paragon pinball flyer 1970s

    Can be a brutal drain monster to play for a lot of people, and is subsequently known for its often short ball times. But there’s so much to do on this table and a lot of ways to attack it. Plus it’s one of those games that forces you to learn tap passing if you really want to master it. Extremely satisfying to get to a bonus carryover if you hit the 20k, 30k or 40k thresholds.

    bally paragon pinball playfield 1975

    Could be one of the best wide body games ever made, and the artwork by Paul Faris is immersive and top notch, particuarly if you’re a fantasy or D&D nerd.

    Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy (1976)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Dave Christensen
    bally vintage pinball capt. fantastic flyer

    Simply one of the iconic Bally vintage pinball machines, and one of the best selling EM machines of all time. This game was inspired by Elton John’s character from the movie Tommy as well as his 1975 album by the same name. One of the early examples of a licensed theme driving the sales performance of a fairly standard pinball game.

    elton john captain fantastic pinball machine playfield

    Like Paragon, Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy rewards tap passing and the ability to master playing with double flippers on one side. Can be a one-note shooter once you dial it in, but always challenging to go for a high score.

    Mata Hari (1978)

    • Game design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Dave Christensen
    bally mata hari pinball machine flyer

    Simple game with a symmetrical layout, two drop target banks, a loop shot and a top playfield saucer shot. When you hit your shots in the right order and start maxing out bonus collects and specials it gets super rewarding to play.

    best bally 1970s pinball mata hari playfield

    Art package is immersive for the time. Based on the legend of Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod (aka Mata Hari), a Dutch exotic dancer convicted of spying for Germany during World War 1 and later executed by a firing squad in France (light theme for an arcade game, we know!).

    Harlem Globetrotters On Tour (1979)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Greg Freres
    bally best 1970s pinball harlem globetrotters flyer

    The theme is probably a miss for anyone born after 1990 or so, but putting that aside for a second, this machine is a whole lot of fun to play. The playfield is pretty packed for this era, with three spinner shots, inline drops, double flippers and a saucer at the top of the table. Almost every shot on the table feels just a tad dangerous, which makes it even more rewarding when you have that perfect game.

    harlem globetrotters pinball playfield

    Flip Flop (1976)

    • Game design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Dick White
    bally pinball machines 1970s flip flop

    Another symmetrical layout game but really unique pinball machine for the 1970s and for an EM. Features 4 flippers, two pop bumpers, mushroom bumpers, two kickout holes and one of the few games with a “flip flag” bank (Wizard! being another).

    A Flip Flag is a tiny, domino-shaped device that is hinged at one end and flips on its hinge to indicate whether a particular feature has been earned by the player.

    bally 1970s vintage pinball flip flop playfield

    Can be a great game for those new to pinball and enjoying vintage Bally machines.

    Wizard! (1975)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Dave Christensen
    bally wizard pinball flyer 1975

    Another game based around the 1976 film Tommy, this incredibly well selling game is considered one of the first licensed themes of all time, with iconic representations of Ann Margret and Roger Daltrey on the backglass. Like Flip Flop, also features the Flip Flag mech, as well as a super enjoyable spinner shot. Takes a lot of work to master but once you do it’s a lot of fun to play over and over and over again.

    bally 1970s best pinball machines

    Evel Knievel (1977)

    • Game design: Gary Gayton
    • Artwork: Paul Faris
    bally evel knievel 1970s pinball machine flyer

    This game has a little bit of everything in it, so it’s a ton of fun to shoot if you like the theme or not. Two spinners that can be lit for sweet points, three regular pop bumpers, two passive bumpers, a drop target bank, a stand up target bank, and a saucer at the top of the playfield.

    bally vintage pinball machines evel knievel

    The rules, like most games from this era, are pretty simple, but there’s a high replayability factor. Outlanes can be ball hungry sometimes, so good nudging skills can really help with this table. Like many of the other games on this list, the art package is also a particular highlight on the machine.

    Hokus Pokus (1975)

    • Game design: Greg Kmiec
    • Artwork: Christian Marche
    bally hokus pokus best 1970s pinball machine

    Hokus Pokus is a spinner lover’s dream game. It has not one, not two, but three spinner shots on the playfield. Rules are straightforward – hit A B C D targets, rip spinners, repeat.

    bally hokus pokus pinball machine playfield

    If you’ve never enjoyed the sounds of an EM scoring on a juiced spinner shot, then you need to make it a point to play this game!

    KISS (1978)

    • Game design: Jim Patla
    • Artwork: Kevin O’Connor
    bally kiss pinball flyer

    KISS is last on this list as it’s another example of a game where it’s more about the theme then the gameplay. Sure, KISS can be fun to shoot but it’s oftentimes just an unforgiving challenge. Spinner shots (which are key to the game) are tight and far from the flipper, and shooting just about anything else on the playfield feels extra dangerous.

    bally pinball machines 1970s kiss

    But, people love the theme and it has a crazy amount of nostalgic love for that reason. If you grew up listening to KISS music and have a certain soft spot for the famous makeup band, then this pin belongs in your collection.

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • The Ins and Outs of Coin Pusher Arcade Machines: How to Buy One for Your Home Game Room

    The Ins and Outs of Coin Pusher Arcade Machines: How to Buy One for Your Home Game Room

    If you’ve ever found yourself at the local arcade (or frankly, probably a Dave & Busters location) and found yourself drawn in by the lights, sounds, and motion of a coin pusher machine, you’re not alone. It can be quite captivating watching the machine’s parts push coins and tokens around the cabinet, just waiting for that illusive jackpot moment where hundreds of tokens all fall into the machine at once.

    It’s a fun, mostly passive game to play and can be popular with both casual and experienced arcade game players. If you’ve found your way to this article, then you probably want a coin pusher machine for your home game room. But how do you go about buying an arcade coin pusher machine? What should you be looking for?

    In this article, we will give you a complete guide to coin pusher arcade machines. We’ll tell you what they are, how they work, where to buy coin pusher machines, and why you should get a coin pusher machine for your home game room. So read on – it’s time to learn everything there is to know about coin pusher machines!

    What is a coin pusher machine?

    dave and busters coin pusher machine
    It’s basically arcade sanctioned gambling.

    Simply put, an arcade style coin pusher machine is primarily a redemption based coin operated arcade game, and it is probably the closet to gambling that you’ll ever see at an arcade, as some machines can be set to play with real money instead of tokens or tickets.

    There are a lot of different variations on this type of arcade game in the market today, but at its core, a coin pusher machine features a coin bed, where a large number of coins or tokens rest. Behind the coin bed, some kind of pushing mechanism moves front to back across the coin bed, pushing the resting coins closer to the edge of the machine.

    Players add coins or tokens to the machine through a drop slot. These coins cascade down the machine and rest on top of the pusher mechanism. Eventually, those coins are pushed off the top of the pushing mech and land in the coin bed. As the coin bed starts to over flow, coins and tokens fall off the front of the bed and are collected by the player in the form of additional coins or tickets.

    Coin pushers are mostly a luck based game, however, there can be a timing and skill element for experienced players, who look to maximize the amount of push each subsequent coin drop provides to the coin pile on the coin bed in order to maximize winnings.

    How do you play and win a coin pusher machine?

    winning a coin pusher machine jackpot

    Playing a coin pusher machine is pretty easy, but winning one is a much harder feat to achieve!

    In order to play, all you really have to do is insert a new coin into the slot at the top of the machine, and watch to see if it has any impact on the coins in the coin bed. If all works according to plan, the coin you inserted will trigger a chain reaction where a lot of other coins fall off the edge of the machine and straight into your pockets (or ticket collect, depending on how the game is set up).

    Of course, there can be a pretty big timing element to the game. Pros will all look to maximize the amount of coin push generated from each drop. Each game will be a little bit different in terms of the path the coin takes on its way to the coin pile, but if you time it right, you’ll wind up with a flat coin on the back edge of the first coin shelf, creating a solid push motion that drops several coins onto the main coin bed, triggering coins at the front of the machine to drop off the edge.

    Different machines will have different bonus or skill mechanisms at play too, like the ability to use a skill stop when dropping your coins, or something that triggers some bonus coin drops to give you a better chance at a successful push.

    Where can I find a coin pusher machine near me?

    The most common place to find a coin pusher machine on location is at your local arcade or family entertainment center.

    For a lot of people this will likely be your closest chain arcade, like a Dave & Busters or Main Event or Chuck E. Cheese’s.

    You may also find them at a place like your local bowling alley if they have an arcade or gaming space. Really any arcade style location that has coin operated or redemption focused games is likely to have one or more of these coin pusher machines.

    So, arcades will be your best bet, but a quick Google search for “arcade games near me” or “coin pushers near me” may also do the trick.

    Where can I buy a coin pusher machine?

    If you’re interested in buying a coin pusher machine for your home game room, your best bet is finding your local redemption game distributor, likely the same type of place that you might buy a pinball machine or a skee ball machine from.

    For more nationally focused distributors with a decent online presence, you can look at the likes of Betson Enterprises, Game Room Guys or PrimeTime Amusements.

    You can also look on eBay or on your local second hand marketplace like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for any previously used models, or something from a local arcade that may have closed down or recently upgraded their game stock. If you’re not looking to pay retail price or to put the machine on location to earn a return, this is probably your best option for buying a game.

    What are some of the best coin pusher machines for a home game room?

    For a home game room, you’ll probably want a coin pusher that’s set up mostly for single player play, and not one of the larger machines meant for arcades that support multiple players at the same time.

    Of course — if you have the space and the budget to procure the LAI Games Angry Birds Coin Crash Coin Pusher, who are we to stop you?

    For a new model, Andamiro’s Single-Player Marvel Avengers Coin Pusher could be a good starting point, though could easily set you back $10,000-$15,000.

    A few other good options to consider, but slightly more basic then Andamiro’s Avengers include:

    How much does a coin pusher machine cost?

    Most quality, arcade style coin pusher machines will probably cost a lot more than you’re expecting if you’re used to buying pinball machines or 1up Arcades. A newer model machine with flair and special features could set you back $10,000-$30,000+. Just remember that for the most part, coin pushers are geared towards arcade and route operators, so they are designed to earn a return, meaning the upfront investment is many times above what one would pay for a home use only machine.

    That said, some of the more plain single player models (like the aforementioned Silver Falls Bonus Hole and McGregor Enterprises Tropical Treasure Coin Pusher) will run you about $2,000-$4,000. You can find models that look similar to these versions but a bit more plain on Facebook Marketplace and eBay for less than $2,000.

    Generally speaking, as with most home arcade purchase, stay away from the super cheap models (particularly those under $500 that can be found on sites like Amazon or really anything from Alibaba, as your mileage may vary).

    Author

    • grd

      Lifetime gamer. Avid pinhead, video game player, and tabletop gaming enthusiast. Play competitive pinball and run pinball tournaments. Loves all things gaming!

  • The Best New Pinball Machines of 2019: Retrospective and Rankings

    The Best New Pinball Machines of 2019: Retrospective and Rankings
    the best pinball machines released in 2019 tier list

    2019 was a year. The last of our “normal” years, you could even argue, and one of the last years of normal production cycles for pinball machine manufacturers. That year alone, Stern released a full set of cornerstone games, PLUS an impressive reskin of a somewhat maligned 2017 release (Star Wars), a boutique Pin Franchise legacy machine (Elvira 3) AND a new home style pin (also Star Wars). Plus we had a new release and a vault edition from Jersey Jack, a re-release of a 90s classic from Chicago Gaming, a release from Multimorphic for it’s P3 platform, and a brand new drop from a new manufacturer to the market (more on that later).

    As with most things, there’s a rush to rank and make sense of the new in the moment, but it’s usually better to address these things a few years later as the hype cycle dies out and the substance of the subject becomes more clear. This is particularly true in the world of pinball, where games are frequently released with unfinished code, and it’s never totally clear how mechanical parts will hold up until they get beat on by Joe Q. Public for months on end.

    So, in the year 2022, what were the best new pinball machines released in 2019?

    Note – for the sake of brevity and everyone’s sanity, we will not be breaking out all the various trim models of each machine. If you’re looking for that kind of guidance, just know that generally speaking, the Premium tier, or middle model for non Sterns, are usually the best representation of the machine. But lots of people enjoy the base models plenty!

    Contenders for the best new pinball machines of 2019

    • Stranger Things – Stern Pinball
    • Medieval Madness Remake – Chicago Gaming Company
    • Star Wars Comic Art Edition – Stern Pinball
    • Elvira’s House of Horrors – Stern Pinball
    • Jurassic Park – Stern Pinball
    • Star Wars Home Edition – Stern Pinball
    • Cosmic Carnival – Suncoast Pinball
    • Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Black Knight Sword of Rage – Stern Pinball
    • Wizard of Oz Yellow Brick Road Edition – Jersey Jack Pinball
    • Munsters – Stern Pinball
    • Heads Up! – Multimorphic

    What was the consensus best new pinball machines in 2019?

    In 2019, despite a ton of new pinball machine releases on the calendar, pretty much everything was blown out of the water by Stern’s Jurassic Park machine. This particular release was Keith Elwin’s 2nd game and follow-up to the much loved Iron Maiden. Players (particularly on the competitive side of the hobby) were blown away by the rules, theme integration, toys, artwork, and overall game play.

    It even took home the coveted Twipy award for Game of the Year, and remains popular today (though arguably now Elwin’s 3rd best game after Godzilla and Iron Maiden).

    Other contenders like Stranger Things, Black Knight Sword of Rage, the Munsters and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory were mostly panned for various reasons by the pinball community, but how much of that holds up now that games are mostly code complete?

    Ranking the Best New Pinball Machines of 2019

    Rather than a standard numbered list, let’s borrow from the popular tier list format, starting from the bottom (D tier) and moving up to the top (S tier).

    The D Tier 2019 Pinball Machines

    The Munsters – Stern Pinball

    the munsters 2019

    Even though some people seem to be slightly nostalgic for this pin today, it certainly wasn’t very well received on release and has a general reputation of being a poor seller, with weak secondary market demand. While the artwork and general theme integration is quite good, the rules are thin and game play can be brutally unforgiving for all but the most accurate of shooters. And despite several code updates in 2022, it’s just not at the same level of some other Stern machines on this list. There’s a good reason why Stern ended their production run of this model relatively quickly.

    Cosmic Carnival – Suncoast Pinball

    cosmic carnival 2019

    Well, the effort was sort of there at least. It takes a lot of work to get a pinball company, let alone a working machine, off the ground, and Suncoast Pinball did that. Unfortunately that’s about all they did. While the artwork and theming received positive reviews, due mostly to the work of veteran pinball artist Dirty Donny Gilles, not much else with the machine worked – and we mean that both figuratively and literally.

    Suncoast only ever got about 25 of these machines out the door, and they were plagued by poor build quality, buggy code, and mechanical issues. The rules and game play were considered thin at best.

    Soon after release, Suncoast Pinball’s parent company, Suncoast Arcade, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, effectively ending the nascent pinball startup before it ever truly got started.

    Heads Up! – Multimorphic

    heads up pinball multimorphic 2019

    Admittedly it’s somewhat unfair to put Heads Up! in the D tier as it technically wasn’t a wide release model. Heads Up! was an add-on game for the P3 Multimorphic system that was essentially built for a Texas area Dave and Busters location to add a couple machines to their floor. Heads Up! enabled a game play mode where two players could play against each other on connected (side-by-side) machines. Not many people got a chance to play it.

    The C Tier 2019 Pinball Machines

    Wizard of Oz Yellow Brick Road Edition – Jersey Jack Pinball

    wizard of oz yellow brick road pinball 2019 jersey jack

    The Wizard of Oz machine put Jersey Jack on the map, as it was their first official release back in 2013, and was well loved by collectors and players everywhere. It was loved so much that they produced several more versions of the machine in the coming years. However by 2019, the title was feeling a bit tired, and the community was ready for a new experience. While we don’t fault Jersey Jack for going back to a (likely profitable) well, it would be hard for us to truly rank this game above mid-tier, since it wasn’t bringing a whole lot of new material to the arcade.

    Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – Jersey Jack Pinball

    willy wonka and the chocolate factory pinball jersey jack 2019

    Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory showed a lot of promise on its initial release as Jersey Jack had supposedly secured a number of assets and authentic voice talent to use in the game, and legendary pinball designer Pat Lawlor was behind the design. And even though most could agree it was fun to shoot, made for a good family pinball machine, and had a unique layout, it still didn’t fully come together as much as many were hoping it would, as it never seemed to rise to the popularity and acclaim of other Jersey Jack titles past and present.

    Black Knight Sword of Rage – Stern Pinball

    black knight sword of rage pinball stern 2019

    It pains me to put a Steve Ritchie game so low on this list, particularly given the history behind this particular pinball franchise. Given pinball’s focus on licensed themes of late, it felt refreshing to have an original theme (even if it is the third machine in the line of Black Knight tables) out in the market. Plus, with a killer custom soundtrack by guitarist Scott Ian (Anthrax), it seemed like it was going to be a surefire hit.

    However, it just didn’t land right. Game features and code were quite lacking, and many felt the play field was a bit too on the underpopulated side. Plus game play was frequently brutal, even for a Steve Ritchie game. Spending a lot of time on a Black Knight Sword of Rage machine meant getting comfortable with extra short ball times and lots of drains. This is another title that was short lived on Stern’s production line.

    Star Wars Home Edition – Stern Pinball

    Star Wars home edition pinball stern 2019

    It’s a home edition pinball machine, so game features were already pretty lean and it wasn’t really geared towards the most passionate pinball fans in the market. But, those who did get a chance to play it were somewhat surprised by the amount of fun they had, talking positively about the flow, shot satisfaction and enjoyable game play. But it’s still a home pin, so really hard to rank it much more than mid-tier, which already feels generous.

    The B Tier 2019 Pinball Machines

    Star Wars Comic Art Edition – Stern Pinball

    star wars comic art pinball stern 2019

    Steve Ritchie’s original Star Wars pinball machine by Stern pinball was already a touch polarizing for pinball fans. While some love the fast game play and rule depth, there are just as many people frustrated by those same things, plus a fairly lackluster job on theme integration and artwork.

    And you wouldn’t think so without seeing it in person, but the 2019 artwork refresh of this title makes a world of difference. Even though the game play remains unchanged, it feels like an entirely new experience complete with new pinball energy. Collectors must have had the same kind of reaction, as it’s a machine that enjoys more solid demand on the secondary market than the original theme.

    The A Tier 2019 Pinball Machines

    Stranger Things – Stern