In the eighties, the pinball game industry faced intense competition when microprocessors made their debut in home computers and video game consoles from Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and others. Despite this, pinball game manufacturers in the 90s defined new standards by producing plenty of popular games.
The 10 Best Pinball Machines Of The 90s
- The Twilight Zone (Bally)
- The Addams Family (Bally)
- Medieval Madness (Williams)
- The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams)
- Theatre Of Magic (Bally)
- Scared Stiff (Bally)
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Williams)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams)
- Tales Of The Arabian Nights (Williams)
- Cirqus Voltaire (Bally)
Though this list is made up of the best 90s games, many of them still hold their ranking to date regardless of competition from currently manufactured games. This speaks volumes about their popularity. Read below to take a detailed look at each of the best pinball machines from the 90s.
The 10 Best Pinball Machines Of The 90s
1. The Twilight Zone (Bally)
Based on the Twilight Zone television series, this pinball machine was released in 1993 with 15,235 units produced. The voice of Rod Serling is by Tim Kitzrow. The game uses four flippers, two ramps, and a rocket kicker. While the cabinet art is simplistic, the playfield is beautifully lit with stunning audio. The gameplay is gripping enough to keep veteran players coming back for more.
This machine boasts some realistic toys including a gumball machine, an analog clock, a Powerball, and a Powerfield. The gumball machine holds three balls and can let out or take in balls as the game progresses. The analog clock displays current time, serving only as an aesthetic function. The Powerball is a non-magnetic ceramic ball that can be hit very hard thanks to its lighter weight.
The Powerfield is a mini playfield above the main playfield. Embedded magnets on the playfield aid the player in hitting the ball toward high-scoring areas. Although, on the mini playfield, the player controls the ball using magnets that replaced flippers. Opinions from players on this are divided, however many consider this to be the best game of all time.
The Twilight Zone has a low difficulty level with the average game lasting just over 15 minutes, leading to a widespread appeal. This also means that the game is considered a family machine, enjoyable for adults as well as small children. The price of a new pinball machine ranges between $5,000 to $9,000, though a Twilight Zone machine in good condition sells for upwards of $13,000.
2. The Addams Family (Bally)
The Addams Family is themed on its empire of comic books, television series, and film in 1991. The pinball game was released in 1992 with 20,270 units manufactured, which broke all sales records and became the best-selling machine of all time. Delighted by its success, Bally restarted production in 1994 manufacturing Gold Edition machines with gold lettering, gold legs, and gold bumper caps.
It is one of the first games to use magnets below the playfield to create amazing visual effects. The ball can quickly stop, jump right or left, and even roll backward. The machine presents excellent artwork on the cabinet and backglass with a brightly colored playfield. Featuring four flippers with two slingshots and two kick out holes, the gameplay is appealing to beginners and veterans alike.
Of the four flippers, one can be controlled by the game. Though this machine was manufactured in 1991, it is one of the few to feature custom speech from the cast of the film it is themed after. The upper playfield also features a plastic hand that emerges out of a box to grab hold of the ball using a magnet and taking it under the playfield.
“The Power” is an outstanding feature of this game thatproduces strange effectswhen it is active. Lights flash to indicate when the feature is on, while magnets spin below the playfield to catch the ball and then throw it in a random direction. Creative features like this one keep players coming back for more exciting gameplay.
3. Medieval Madness (Williams)
Medieval Madness is one of the few pinball games that achieved massive popularity without being propped up by a film or comic book background. Williams released this game in 1997 with 4,016 units produced. Tina Fey is the voice of the cockney princess and the opera singer princess, though actress Andrea Farrell is the voice of the sexy princess and Jewish princess.
Planetary Pinball Supply restarted production of this machine in 2014 under license from Williams with the name, Medieval Madness Remake. The cabinet and backglass artwork is outstanding, easily the best of all the machines on this list. The playfield has excellent art with bright lighting, making it a very attractive machine. The goal of this game is to demolish six castles.
The theme is a castle in the Middle Ages featuring a motorized drawbridge, princess tower, as well as exploding towers. A couple of troll heads pop up from below the playfield for the player to shoot at amidst callouts from the voice of Greg Freres. Another unique feature is the catapult on the left side that sends the ball flying into a ball elevator above the playfield.
Hitting the pinball into the castle entrance triggers an explosion effect that appears on the display with a light show across the playfield. The original Medieval Madness machine currently sells for roughly $17,000 depending on the condition it is in.
4. The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams)
Williams launched The Getaway: High Speed II in 1992 with 13,259 units produced. The machine has three flippers, five stand-up targets, and a ramp that leads to the Supercharger Loop. Even though the artwork on the cabinet and backglass are mediocre, it features a beautiful, brightly lit playfield with an oval Supercharger Loop. The backglass has a red police light on top of it.
The game includes plenty of sound effects like gears shifting, police sirens, engine noises, and even the theme song “La Grange” from ZZ Top. The oval Supercharger Loop is a magnetic accelerator that whizzes the ball around the loop at a phenomenal speed.With the stunning visuals and a fantastic Supercharger engine audio playing, this feature is the most outstanding aspect of the game.
The game has two objectives: to run the red light, and to hit the ball to the outer loops as often as possible. When the ball goes past the outer loops, it triggers the tachometer to go higher in addition to changing the gear to score more points. A traffic light is positioned in the upper right area of the playfield, hitting it three times unlocks a multi-ball mode.
Since the middle and lower playfield in this machine are relatively empty, the ball moves very fast once it passes these areas. Therefore, players must have quick reaction times. Calling for faster reactions and more skill, this game is not for beginners.
5. Theatre Of Magic (Bally)
The inspiration for this game is the legendary magician David Copperfield, whose performances shape the theme of this game. The game developer, John Popadiuk, stated that the game was originally to be named ‘The Magic of David Copperfield’. Due to license issues, the title was changed to Theatre of Magic. The game was launched by Bally in 1995 when 6,600 units were produced.
The cabinet art could be better, however the backglass artwork is breathtaking. The machine has the usual two flippers, two slingshots, Tiger Saw multi-ball, and a magic trunk. Hit the magic trunk three times to make it rotate, then hit a ball into the hole to start a multi-ball mode. The objective of the game is to perform eight different magic tricks.
The upper part of the playfield is slightly dark, but the lower part is brightly illuminated. The must-see effect is when the magic trunk on the playfield levitates the ball in mid-air and disappears to start a multi-ball mode. This is one of the easier pinball machines to play, as a result, this game has universal appeal to players with low or high skill levels.
6. Scared Stiff (Bally)
Scared Stiff is the sequel to Elvira and the Monsters made in 1989. Bally launched this machine in 1996 with 4,028 units produced. This standard machine features two flippers, two pop bumpers, and a mechanical spinning spider animation on the backglass. The objective is to complete the six Tales of Terror. Of all the machines reviewed this far, this machine is likely to be the most attractive.
The sky-blue cabinet sides with black backglass and the brightly colored playfield make for a visually stunning machine. It is one of the easiest pinball games as most players can complete the six tales comfortably. Elvira is voiced by Cassandra Peterson. Elvira’s double entendre callouts are hilarious and entertaining, though many may not appreciate the innuendo.
7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Williams)
Launched by Williams in 1993 when 6,801 units were produced, this game is themed after Bram Stoker’s Dracula film of 1992. The typical blood-red color used in Dracula film posters dominate the backglass with some excellent artwork on the playfield. However, the cabinet sides have less impressive art. The eerie audio ties in with the theme perfectly.
The machine utilizes a magnet below the playfield to produce a marvelous effect wherethe ball rolls across from one side of the playfield to the other, seemingly moving by itself. If the player can hit the ball off its path, a multi-ball mode is triggered. This can be repeated three more times until four multi-ball modes are running simultaneously, which is the exclusive feature of this game.
The lower half of the playfield is devoid of any obstacles. With no deterrents to slow it down, the ball moves very fast after reaching this area. Therefore, this game presents a challenge and is best suited for players of high skill and quick reaction times.
8. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams)
Williams launched this game in 1993 when 11,728 units were produced. Themed after the Star Trek television series, it features voices from the original Star Trek cast with sound effects and music. The machine has three flippers, three ramps, three stand-up targets, and one spinning target. Two cannons are mounted on top of bumpers that shoot balls at the flippers just before a multi-ball starts.
The multi-ball option gives the player the choice of two, three, four, or six balls. After Scared Stiff, this machine is next in line for the best-looking machine. The cabinet sides have excellent art, but the backglass features exquisite artworkthat enhances the matching playfield color scheme. The objective of the game is to complete seven missions before The Final Frontier six ball multi-ball.
This pinball game has a very low difficultly level, therefore most players will find it easy to get to the Final Frontier, completing the objective. Despite the lack of challenge, the gameplay is absorbing and provides plenty of entertainment for the entire family.
9. Tales Of The Arabian Nights (Williams)
In 1993, Williams launched Tales of the Arabian Nights and produced 3,128 units. Tales of the Arabian Nights is based on fables from the Arabic book, One Thousand and One Nights. The cabinet art isn’t much, but the backglass artwork is superb paired with gorgeous playfield art and a matching color scheme. The machine has two flippers, two slingshots, and two spinning posts with lamps on top.
It features beautiful music and great callouts from Dave Zabriskie. This is one of the few games that aggressively attacks the player by using a magnet to grab the ball and throwing it back toward the flippers. Nevertheless, many players will find this game too easy. Its low difficulty has appeal to beginners.
10. Cirqus Voltaire (Bally)
In 1997, Bally released Cirqus Voltaire producing 2,704 units. This machine is a collectible, partly due to the low number of machines produced. It has two flippers, two kick-out holes, and nine stand-up targets. Its best feature is the Ringmaster, a head that rises from under the playfield to heckle the player. The head has a built-in magnet to catch the ball when the player tries to hit it.
Hit the Ringmaster twice to earn the Frenzie Multi-ball and hit the Ringmaster four times to start the Special Multi-ball. The cabinet art is average, but the backglass has wonderful artwork as well as the playfield, though a bit crowded. The circus soundtrack and sound effects create an impressive audio experience.
Facing the intense competition of home computers and video game consoles, pinball machines in the 90s managed to define new standards and provide several timeless games. Each of these machines contributed to a great decade of endless entertainment, with the Twilight Zone, produced by Bally, coming in at the top of our list.