Pin my balls, missus

Where by "missus" I mean Mrs Pac-Man, of course.

This is a piece I originally wrote for Retro Gamer, taking a look at some of the curious attempts made by the pinball industry to stay hip and relevant when suddenly faced with the videogame explosion in the early 1980s, by turning some of those videogames into pinball machines.

As you might expect, there were hits and misses, but the former outnumbered the latter by a good distance. These machines showcased some ingenious lateral thinking in order to create gameplay genuinely reminiscent of their video counterparts, and prove just how portable good game design is.

For concerned Christian moralists, the feature also provides the crucial missing nuptial link between Ms Pac-Man and Jr Pac-Man. Don't worry, viewers – they WERE married! The mystery of how Pac-people actually reproduce, thankfully, will be left for another day.

The full feature (previously only available to WoS subscribers) can now be read here, and includes an exciting near-death anecdote in which the lives of an old man and a dog are placed in deadly peril by an dangerously unstable pinball machine causing a car crash. Go!


6 Responses to “Pin my balls, missus”

  1. Captain Caveman Says:

    Great piece there, Stu – most entertaining and informative, as well as being amusing. Mind you, I now want a Defender pinball table nearly as badly as a mint Defender video…

  2. Irish Al Says:

    I miss pinball. Damn you, fickle arcade-going public and your lack of appreciation for subtlety!

  3. lazarou Says:

    Great piece as usual. It got me wondering if anyone had tried emulating those other, pre-videogame, mechanical arcade games. Aside from some crappy flash knockoffs of whack-a-mole and the like, it seems not.

  4. Even though it's barely relevant, being a pinball videogame based on a videogame and not an actual physical table, any excuse to plug Metroid Prime Pinball is a good one.

    Interesting to see the praise for Baby Pac-Man and Street Fighter II. What scant reviews of how they play I've dug up seem to indicate they're playable but nothing special. Then again, the kinds of people writing most of the pinball reviews on the 'net probably have Funhouse and Twilight Zone machines in their bedrooms. I've thought about tracking down SFII someday, as it would satisfy both my pinball lust and my ongoing, half-joking quest to collect as many versions of Street Fighter II as I can.

  5. Shapey Fiend Says:

    I was playing Big Buck Hunter pinball in Goodge Street Casino (only decent arcade left in Europe) yesterday and it's class. The way they've adapted it is cool. A stag gets wheeled out onto the board and you have to shoot it 5 times to activate the multiball. 

  6. Quoting ANC: "Street Fighter II…  playable but nothing special…. Then again, the kinds of people writing most of the pinball reviews on the 'net probably have Funhouse and Twilight Zone machines in their bedrooms."
    Well, I played SF2 pinball on release, and I'd give it a 5 out of 10. The 'spinning kick' thing at the top of the playfield/ramp was annoying, and the 'whack a car' feature was only entertaining for the first few games. I didn't like Premiere's games much, and just having a quick look at the playfield now reminds me of how unattractive it was. 
    Oh – and I don't have any of the 'top 5' pinballs in my bedroom. Just a broken Terminator 2 in my garage.  Just need a spare life in which to fix it.
    BTW….  I enjoyed your feature Stu (I remember it when it appeared in RG) but on the subject of SFII:Pin I shall respectfully disagree.

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