From Monday, July 22, through Friday, July 26, we will be running articles about pinball in the lead-up to Santa Clara, California’s “California Extreme” video game and pinball expo.
For the next five days, we will take a look at the history of pinball, the resurgence of its popularity, we’ll count down the 60 best machines of all-time and we’ll take a look at pinball games you can play on your computer, game system, or mobile device so you don’t have to venture to an arcade to get the experience.
We will also feature thoughts from various people in the world of video games and pinballs which range from owners to hobbyists to the gamers themselves.
We hope you enjoy it!
In the next few days, we’ll counting down the Top 60 Pinball Tables of All-Time. We will be doing 20 tables at a time and this countdown will take place today, Wednesday, and Friday.
If you’re a pinball veteran, your list might be close to ours. If not, feel free to sound off in the comments about what you believe to be the greatest game you’ve ever played! If you’re a novice to the game and have never played pinball before, welcome!
We hope this list gets you into your local pinball arcade and gets you playing!
60) Total Nuclear Annihilation (2017, Spooky Pinball)
I had heard so many great things about this pin and, while the audio and music is top-notch, I feel like maybe I’m missing something. It’s obviously a homage to the EM games of yore and it has a great 80’s theme with a throbbing 80’s dance beat. The shots are extremely limited and the ramps (all two of them) are difficult to hit. Getting into the middle upper playfield is an exercise in frustration and, when you finally get there, have fun keeping the ball inside there when it ALMOST ALWAYS bounces away from the upper left flipper into the drain and out to the main playfield again. Still, the co-op feature is a great idea here and the presentation is key, with some awesome color (this machine looks killer in a dark room), a nice 80’s theme and music that will have you groovin’ as you play.
59) CLASS OF 1812 (Gottlieb, 1991)
“Class of 1812” is the answer to “What if Gottlieb made their own really crappy version of Williams’ ‘Monster Bash’?” Here, we have Gottlieb upping their game a bit and presenting us with a pinball game where you need to collect “stiffs”, such as zombies and vampires, in order to score points. The other objective is to light high-scoring ramps and targets by hitting drop targets which, like the main objective as well as the multi-ball functions, is far more simple than it should be. If anything, it’s the toys that steal the show: a severed hand, a set of chattering vampire teeth that serves to mock you much like the head in “Funhouse” and a cool “beating” heart. The problem is that none of it really amounts to much and they don’t really have a place in the game. They’re just there to be there. Yay for Gottlieb putting some thought into this one…too bad it wasn’t more fleshed out.
58) Black Knight 2000 (1989)
This is a bit of a remix of the original “Black Knight”, a game you’ll see later on this list, but the game doesn’t play better or sound better then its predecessor. The theming is somewhat futuristic so that the game feels less like facing off against a Knight and more like you’re playing a weird version of Pinbot. The center “sword” has been replaced with a weird light “disc” that lights up in a “spinning” manner as you play. Once again, the upper playfield is back — with one freakin’ flipper which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and makes the upper playfield borderline pointless since there’s no opposing flipper to keep anything in play for long. Once the ball goes downstairs, good luck getting it back up to the top again. The light show, however, is beautiful and it might be rewarding for players better than I. I, however, am not that player. Black Knight is beautiful to look at but feels cluttered and uneven.
57) BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT (Stern, 2008)
You haven’t truly laughed until you hear some voice actor hack yell “JACKPOT! YEAH!!!” in Christian Bale’s insane Cookie Monster Batman voice. It takes you right out of the game…which, to be honest, isn’t much. It’s Stern at its worst: amateurish voice work, sloppy PF layout (with another goofy bunch of faces pasted into multi-colored triangles, reminiscent of those themed Monopoly game boards), crappy, generic music that doesn’t even come close to matching the booming, epic tone witnessed in Christopher Nolan’s three films. The shots aren’t really satisfying and the DMD animations leave much to be desired. I understand that there’s a different audio pack which “fixes” the audio heard here. I have not yet heard this audio. Hopefully, those who swear it makes things ten times better are right.
56) HAUNTED HOUSE (Gottlieb, 1982)
In 1982, we got “Haunted House” from Gottlieb. I…