Black Hole (Gottlieb, 1981)

Black Hole

Pinside rating

This game received 220 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.641 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #102 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game design: 7.782

Artwork: 8.155

Sounds/Music: 6.322

Other Aspects: 7.777

Rating comments

There are 110 rating comments for this game.

Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) staff & moderators rate this game. 6 of us have rated this game.


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Ranking history

An overview of this machine's ranking over the last years. Lower is better.

Rating history

An overview of this machine's rating over the last years. Higher is better.

Found 110 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 110 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
Currently showing results page 1 of 5.

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21 days ago
Classic machine that is very challenging. Overall a fun and difficult game to master. Descending into the lower level via the gravity tunnel is always fun. Shots on the lower level are tough and unforgiving. My only complaint about this game is difficulty in repairs and keeping it running but once all the recommended ground mods are done along with the addition of the pull-up resistors, particularly on the lower level, the game can be made to be rock solid.
26 days ago
Some might think it's only about the lower playfield but actually it has a lot more going for it than just that. One of the best pins of its era. Really fun and challenging.
73 days ago
Love this game. It's always a challenge to enter the black hole (descend to the lower playfield). Once you are here, there is no other solution than to succes with targets, or you will loose the ball. Getting a "Re-Enter Success" is always stressing, but also stimulating. The switch at the outlet of the tube has something diabolic.
3 months ago
Excellent machine. Very, very challenging. Hard to get Multiball.
3 months ago
Total classic and among the best of it's era. Black Hole with that subterranean level that obsessively must be gotten to. The speech sounds like a garbled Stephen Hawking but then again that's fitting given the nature of the theme. I could play this for days. Great to practice on Pinball Arcade virtual recreations because you can get plenty of practice in on the lower level playfield so that you aren't thrown off when you get it on the real machine.
4 months ago
One of the most difficult games to consistently master. Very decent player with surprising varied tasks to complete. With refurbished boards or Pascal's or perhaps other aftermarket replacements, a solid and challenging pin.
5 months ago
Black Hole was another machine I discovered playing virtual pinball and had the pleasure of finally playing in real life at last year's California Extreme. The game is deceptive in that it feels simple but takes skill to truly master. It has a really cool retro space theme that reminds one of Disneyland's Space Mountain (and even has this cool "humming" soundtrack, reminiscent of the main loading room at Space Mountain, that plays as you play) and a really deep blue color scheme which looks even cooler in a dark room. The main gimmick is the upside-down mini-playfield below the main table where you accumulate points in the "black hole". Very cool idea that inspired several modern tables including "The Twilight Zone" and "Congo". The only con I can think of is that the ball feels like it moves too slowly even when you give it a good whack with the flippers. The main bumpers and pins are also stretched out too far on the board so there's a distinct lack of targets to hit. No ramps, either, but that's not really much of a complaint. The table is very fun to play. This is far better than "Haunted House" because it keeps things simple. I will probably take some heat for that but it's true.
6 months ago
I have only played this on location, and never in tournament, but I love how challenging it is and how often I end up swearing and berating the machine with insults. ( I would never hit a pinball table...) But I keep coming back for more abuse from this difficult machine.
7 months ago
This is my #4 Favorite game, I am trying to find one of these at a reasonable cost. I am having lots of fun with this on Pinball Arcade. I would like to find one near San Jose to play...
9 months ago
One of the best early 80s games.
9 months ago
Classic Gotlieb...The Black Hole!!
A great game, I am constantly challenged at trying to achieve multiball at this game.
Sometimes it can be tough, but also very rewarding! Definitely this game was ahead of its time with the lower playfield when it was released. Very unique, very cool. If you are into the older classic games of the early 80's this game is a must have.
1 year ago
This table is just to bare for my tastes, the secondary reverse table is neat but everything is a long shot on top. One of those tables that I never see anyone play on league night.
1 year ago
A classic gottlieb pin. The animated backglass is stunning, and the crude sounds are great. The game is built around the under playfield gimmick and it serves to keep you coming back to it well enough. Although it's big brother Haunted House is a much better overall game. Black Hole feels like a warm-up for HH.
1 year ago
For early SS pins, this one knocked it out of the park for me. Do ground mods if not done! Very hard to get multiball. Mine is on 5 ball play and will hand most folks their tail! Set pops to sneeze sensitive and it gets the ball flying with the asymmetrical layout of the game. Artwork fits well. Better than HH for me.
1 year ago
my only gottlieb but the best for me !a really good multiball with a huge atmosphère!
I'm fond of's a drug captive ball...
1 year ago
I really don't care for the early solid state pinball era much at all. It's my least favorite pinball time period for pinball, where the layouts were largely uninspired, the rules just slightly better than EM's, and the sounds were really bad...

The guys who did Black Hole got it right, however. It is wide open, but really fast, there is a lot of sling and pop bumper action along with pretty clear objectives that are pretty hard to complete. The lower playfied just pushes the whole package over the top, and makes it one of the best solid state games ever made.

I'll expand on this review at a later date...
1 year ago
Very interesting lower playfield to play. Backglass is fantastic to look at. Widebody is not crowded and has fun shots. overall a great game from the early eighties.
1 year ago
"Re-entry attempt has FAILED".

One of the best known Gottlieb System 80 machines for a number of reasons.
Absolutely the "Number One" of all the Gottlieb System 80 machines of the entire series.
Set the new standard for cost per play, which was 50 cents at the beginning.
The game before "bulletproofing" was a real PITA for operators, which is the other reason for it being notorious.
The tube kicker was poorly designed, and the improper grounding on all System 80 machines caused coil shorts.
It can be a hard machine to work on as well in regards to lower playfield, as the it is not operator friendly, and the lower playfield essentially has to be removed from the cabinet to be properly worked on, trying to "flip it up" does not work out real well...
It is a tight fit into the cabinet either way, and alignment is very important, or the ball is not going to make it back up to the top playfield.
Owners you probably already understand.
If you do not, there is your simple technical tip for the day.

Very challenging to maximize score multipliers.
Very challenging game for high scores.
Very challenging to achieve proper multiball.
The shot to the lower playfield through the spinner is always satisfying.
The game as large as it is is very fast especially with the rebound kickers and seemingly overpowered pop bumpers on "super power" voltage setting.
If you rate this game less than 6.5, it probably because you just completely terrible at playing pinball.
Improve your skills, and give it a try in a few years, you will find you were mistaken.
If you cannot find a real machine, use Pinball Arcade, it is $5 title.
This will increase your "pinball IQ" for next to nothing in cost.
Most new players have a love or hate relationship with this machine, mostly because they do not understand the ruleset.
The flipper on the upper left side is IMPORTANT to scoring and multiball.
Learn how to USE IT.

Artwork for all areas is superb (backglass, playfield, and cabinet).
Rotating disk in the backbox with double mirrored backglass and lighting is hypnotic.
Ruleset is SOLID for the era.
The reverse flipper lower playfield design was innovative as used, it was not just a "gimmick", it set new standards.
Contender for many modern machines even today.
Better than 80% of all modern Sterns.
A "keeper" for every collection, as long as it maintained, corrected and if you like the era.
1 year ago
want to be a better player? black hole is a game that will challenge you. you will become a better player just by spending time on this game. its fun and not the usual layout for its time.
1 year ago
Another impressive looking Gottlieb machine of that era which wasn't all that much fun to play. The double flipper on the right doesn't do it for me. If you lose the ball on the lower PF it drains into the right outlane. WTF?? Other than that you have a 2 target banks in the upper PF to aim for plenty of pop bumpers and a captive ball. Poor flow and a poor layout just didn't do it for me, sorry.
2 years ago
This game is tough! You have to hit standups to light the locks, then lock a ball on both playfields, if I drain I lose my upper lock, if I drain out of the lower playfield without re-entry I lose my ball, then if I finally achieve multiball it lasts all of 8 seconds! And in those 8 seconds, what do I score!? Jackpots? PF Multiplier? No. NOTHING! This game is not for babies who want easy scoring!

This game is more about the G-Force Accelerators, where your goal is (again a TOUGH goal) to hit the black hole drop targets in order, which multiplies your lower playfield. At that point I think the score is all lower playfield. The bummer of black hole is an uninteresting upper playfield. Are there any scoring opportunities up here? Did I miss something? There's widebody's worth of space which mostly amounts to the upper ball lock and the G-Force drop targets.

The game is one of the best lookers around, the backglass is all the way iconic and seeing the lower playfield is cool. It's a just OK player I think though.
2 years ago
Another difficult table, I nearly scored this one a little higher. Black Hole is a table that was a first for many things, including being the first fifty cent pinball machine, and the first with an inverted table within the table. With Black Hole, like many older machines, there isn't any type of story line. This table has a lot going on. Not only because it has a second table that can be played on (and, needs to be played on), but because it's just a very, very fast table. When you get the ball shot up and bouncing off the side panels and bumpers, the ball moves really fast, and you really need to be alert to prevent the ball from shooting itself right out of play. This table took me a little while to get used to, and I'm still not completely comfortable with it, as it's a bit intimidating. Your best bet at getting a high score is to, simply and probably stupidly put, fling the ball towards the top of the table and let it bounce around to trigger multipliers and the like. After that, it'd be wise to try locking balls, and taking the ball to the second table to work on what ends up being your bonus, as there's no other bonus applied after your ball's lost. Black Hole is an intriguing table due to the added inverted playing field, and super fast game play, both of which also make the table more difficult and more fun to play.
2 years ago
This is a very fun a fast widebody game! The 3 multi-ball is one of the hardest accomplishments in pinball; and very exciting when it happens.
What I gathered from this game is that you need to wrack up multipliers and open the drain gate before entering the black hole. Then just stay in there as long as you can.
The downside is that the system 80 Gottlieb games need a lot more attention to get everything working right or you need to buy expensive aftermarket boards to fix issues. Either way, it is time consuming and can be expensive. I do not recommend this game to anyone new to pinball, unless all of the bulletproofing has already been done.
Overall, its a great game and I'll be keeping it around for a while.
2 years ago
I borrowed one of these in really nice condition from a fellow pinhead. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. The game is such an incredible bore. I don't get what people see in it. I tend to like all eras of games, especially early SS, but this title didn't click with me.

One of the most amazing backglass art packages. Absolutely gorgeous.
The layout is really cool and really flings the ball wildly around the playfield.
Love the double flipper layout at the bottom
Sounds are really well done and match the theme very well
The multiball is so hard to get and when you do it tends to drain super quick
I hate how you lose your ball if you don't drop the targets on the lower PF. I think this is just super cheap.

Overall I just find the game to be like a hot girl with no personality. It looks really pretty but deep inside it's just an empty box.
2 years ago
This is the first game that I have purchased. Purchased from Dr. Scott in 2011. This is the first game with a basement sub-level. Activating the multi-ball function is one of the hardest systems I have ever played. Fun wide body five ball game, and, owning a Gottlieb feels like owning a Rickenbacker; it's just cool.”
There are 110 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 5.

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