10 Extremely Nerdy Pinball Games
?Pinball games were once the kings of the nerd pastime world. In a time before Xboxes and PlayStations, knocking a steel ball around to set off lights and buzzers on a specially constructed table was one of the nerdiest ways you could spend an evening. But eventually, arcade videogames such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man usurped the throne, and ever since, pinball games have been desperately trying to wrest away quarters from nerds looking for a bit of electronic entertainment. Like so many things, the way pinball machines tried to drum up interest was through making games based on favorite nerd movies and TV series.
Sometimes, this resulted in awesomeness like the beloved Star Wars pinball game, sometimes, in lesser works like The Addams’ Family movie pinball game. But these licenses did keep pinball machines afloat for several years, at least until bars dumped them all to make room for touch-screen poker. Here are 10 pinball machines that sucked more than a few quarters from nerds, at least while the Mortal Kombat games were occupied.
10) Creature from the Black Lagoon
This pinball game is somewhat misleading, because it doesn’t follow the plot of the movie at all. Then again, the Creature from the Black Lagoon movie is also somewhat misleading because it hardly has a plot. Anyways, this pinball game is not necessarily about fighting off someone in a bad rubber suit but about being at the drive-in watching the movie in the 1950s. It’s very meta as you try to make out with your date and blow up the car blocking the movie screen in front of you with a rocket launcher, as I’m sure we’ve all tried to do at a drive-in. Still, the pinball machine features a hologram of the Creature, which is kinda cool.
9) Independence Day
Well, if you can’t get enough of pinball games featuring movies with Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Randy Quaid (with special guest star Jeff Goldblum!) then here’s one to play. It pretty much follows the “plot” of the 1996 “film” in which aliens attack the planet earth for no good goddamn reason and it’s up to you and pinballs to stop them.
Hell, pinballs make more sense than the alien ships being Mac compatible.
8) Starship Troopers
Oddly, unlike the cult favorite movie, this pinball game is entirely faithful to the Robert Heinlein novel. Just kidding — it’s based of the hilarious movie from 1997, and it’s all about killin’ bugs through gruesome pinball-related deaths. The “Brain Bug” even stops by to remind you that it was basically a giant walking vagina monster.
7) Apollo 13
Built in 1995 to commemorate the tie-in to the movie, Apollo 13 is probably the only pinball game based off a real-life space mission (if someone’s seen a Voyager Space Probe Pinball game or a ISS Truss Assembly Mission Game, please let us know). It features a tiny moon that grabs the ball magnetically and spins it around, as well as an insane 13-ball multiball.
The thing that is perhaps more interesting than this game’s vomit of pinballs, it uses the voice and likeness of Bill Paxton. Not as cool as that Bill Paxton pinball by any means, but pretty Paxtastic.
6) The Twilight Zone
This pinball game is somewhat of a popular collectors item, partially because it’s The Twilight Zone in theme, but also because it’s possibly one of the most complex pinball machines ever made. The playfield is something akin to the control panel for the TARDIS — it includes the usual bumpers and ramps, but also a variety of magnets, a working analog clock, and a gumball machine that deposits pinballs. It’s also pleasantly attached to the original version of the series, so there’s no Forest Whitaker ambling in to announce something mind-numbingly stupid, but instead there’s just cool, collected Rod Serling.
5) Iron Man
As of the time of this writing, this is the brand-spanking newest pinball game of nerdery.
That’s right, the world is finally getting Mickey Rourke in a pinball game. Oh sure, we all thought maybe there would be a pinball game based on The Wrestler with it’s “multi-sad-multiball” but alas, there was none. Yet, here it is! Look at him flail the ball around with his energy whips, a tribute to Wild Orchid.
Oh, right, and there’s some Iron Man stuff there too.
4) Terminator 2
The interesting thing about this game is that they didn’t want to reveal the “big secret” of the T-1000 before Terminator 2 was released in 1991 — obviously, this was before the internet was invented to ruin everything. So there’s only a small little piece of artwork on the game with a likeness of Robert Patrick and nothing else; the rest is all Arnold. The game features some neat stuff, like a gun-shaped plunger you have to “fire” to launch the pinball, a big Terminator head on the playfield and the digitized speech of the future Governor of California.
3) Lord of the Rings
If Lord of the Rings pinball doesn’t say “nerdy” I don’t know what does. Yes, finally you can aid Frodo in his epic quest to consummate his love for Samwi — er, throw the ring into Mt. Doom, of course. It’s got orcs, balrogs, sword fighting, Liv Tyler, everything a nerd could want in a pinball machine.
Also, while not necessarily related to the gameplay itself, the above video of this very pinball machine being assembled is pretty amazing, if only because it demonstrateds that the assembly of one pinball machine is laborious as FUCK and whatever these workers were getting paid, it probably wasn’t nearly enough.
2) Star Trek: The Next Generation
This game puts you through a series of missions using the Next Generation cast; there’s fighting the Borg, there’s dealing with the effeminate John DeLancie as Q, there’s uh, shooting at asteroids. Excitement! It’s also got the ability to promote yourself in Federation ranks as you go, so you can really impress the ladies when you tell them you’re a captain in Star Trek pinball.
Then again, some of the people who play this game are ladies, as evidenced by this awesome series of modifications this woman made to her own table, which includes flipper artwork, working lasers and an anamatronic Tribble.
1) Star Trek: 25th Anniversary
This game should really be called “Scotty Won’t Shut Up.” It’s got a lot of voices to it, but the voice you will hear the most is James Doohan talking about dilithium. The goal is mostly to get enough dilithium so you power up the Enterprise and beam all the crew members to the Enterprise that, ironically, James Doohan hated. Still, the game does feature a few sexy Trek ladies in mini-skirts, making it likely the most palatable pinball machine on this list to non-nerds.