Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pinball Oddities...

A Pinball Aficionado at Play

While exploring the deep and rich world of pinball, I've seen many things. When you're a pinball aficionado and you love a hobby like this, you naturally immerse yourself and tend to notice stuff. Items like common and popular themes, or playfield elements, designer traits, sales trends etc. This also gets one thinking of stuff that's absent, or hasn't been done often, and I'd love to know WHY that is!

Let's look at some....

1. Right Outlane Kickback.

Yep, you heard that right. Why is it that pinball designers never deploy a coil powered kickback in the RIGHT outlane of the playfield? If they do it, and they've done it a lot over the last 40 years, it's ALWAYS on the left! 

Kickback....On the Left!

I don't get it. I've looked, there's room under the apron for a kickback on the right, but nobody has ever (to my knowledge) ever designed a modern game with that. Back in the earlier EM period of the 70's through the 80's you did occasionally see a ball saver gate on the right to send the ball back to the plunger, but never a full kickback. Why? 

2. Why didn't Gottlieb get those juicy Tommy tie in games?

Tommy, the Rock Opera starring The Who, or more specifically, that awesome scene in the movie where Roger Daltrey and Elton John have a pin duel and Elton is singing Pinball Wizard is absolutely epic, no question. If you watch the scene, they're playing on two Gottlieb games. Elton is on Buckaroo and Roger (or Tommy) is on Kings and Queens. It seems so wrong to me that around the time of the film's release, Bally, not Gottlieb ended up releasing Wizard and Captain Fantastic, two games that launched Bally's meteoric rise in the 70's (and then coincidentally Data East ended up releasing their own Tommy game years later in the 90's). Jeez! if I had been Gottlieb, I'd have been bummed! Talk about a lost marketing tie in opportunity! So I'd love to know the story here, was Bally's head of marketing Tom Nieman just THAT good? If so, why didn't they use Bally games in the film scene? Really would love to know the answer to this one...

3. Why didn't Data East Pinball ever use any of the existing properties that Data East Japan owned? 

Granted I understand, both DE Pinball and Data East Japan were not under the same roof, but they were definitely in bed together. And I always found it so hard to believe that Joe Kaminkow and Gary Stern never mined any of the vast DE properties for use or tie ins or easter eggs in their pinball games (like Karnov or The Bad Dudes), seems like a wasted opportunity to me. This question also applies to SEGA Pinball and to Capcom Pinball. You're telling me Sega Pinball couldn't do a Sonic The Hedgehog Pin? Or Mark Ritchie and the Capcom crew couldn't do a newer AND BETTER Street Fighter pin (as opposed to the Premier one) or even an Aliens vs Predator Pin?!? Would love to know what happened there!

On that note I go to my next question...

4. Why was there never a Mortal Kombat Pin???


Seriously! Think about this, Ed Boon, head creator of the video game, was a serious pinball programmer before MK came out (having worked on several pinball games including F-14 Tomcat and Taxi) working for Steve Ritchie on the former. Steve also contributed to MK's development, having named the game and also providing the voice work for mega villain Shao Khan throughout much of the game series. Why is it that Williams/Bally/Midway (who produced MK and made all those great pinball games) never went and made a pin tie in for such a successful in-house franchise?!? They did it before with Defender, they could have done it here! It could have been huge! Oh well, mysteries like this may never be solved, but if anyone does know why, do tell!

Lastly, one final thing I've noticed when it comes to pinball, is that there is a theme that has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. 

And so this leads me to point 5.

5. Why has there never been a pizza parlor/delivery pin???!?!

Many thanks to the fine folks at Giordano's Pizza for this fine and tasty image!

Think about this. Pizza and pinball go hand in hand, it IS the pinball food. Many high end pizzerias serve beer, a popular pinball beverage. Pizzas are round, whirlwind playfield spinners are round, etc. There is so much you could do with a pizza theme and pinball, seriously! I was shocked to learn pizza never became an original pinball theme back in the day. Seemed like a no brainer to me.

If any designer would care to comment on number 5, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

So there you go, random questions I've thought about during my time in pinball. If anyone reading this blog would care to chime in, discuss, answer, and commentate I would greatly appreciate it! Do any of you fine folks out there have similar questions on stuff you've noticed in pinball? Do tell! COMMENT BELOW!!! :D

Till next time!

1 comment:

George Gomez said...

Its a space issue- the hood on the main through is right there- not to say that we couldn't design something but its just a lot easier on the left.