Earthshaker (Williams, 1989)


Pinside rating

This game received 240 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.800 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #65 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game design: 7.947

Artwork: 7.781

Sounds/Music: 6.95

Other Aspects: 8.02

Rating comments

There are 106 rating comments for this game.

Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) staff & moderators rate this game. 8 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 106 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 106 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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83 days ago
So I'm a bit biased, but ES is my favorite pin from BITD. I looked for one for many years, and finally managed to snag one.

Sure, there's not a TON of depth, but what there is makes up for that -- it's fast, it's fun, you can literally play it all day and not get bored. There's something magical about the cabinet shaking and the callout, "EARTHSHAKER!!!". Makes me happy.

I was lucky enough to get one with a sinking institute (just like the one I remember playing on), so that definitely adds another dimension to it aesthetically. If you can't find one of those early 200, then get a sinking kit. Either way, it's great fun.

Just about the best back glass in pinball, I'm sorry, it's awesome.

I'll agree with others that there are a few deeper and more "powerful" sys11 games out there (this one's cousin Whirlwind comes to mind), but for my money ES is still the best.
84 days ago
Earthshaker is surprisingly agile considering its crowded playfield and numerous loops and ramps. The skill shot is fun (like PIN*BOT), but it might take up too much room. The VUK is a nice touch to change momentum and, of course, the shaker motor fires up for multiball, which adds to the thrill of the game. If it weren't for some of those little touches, the game would fall flat and be a run-of-the-mill late SS, but there's enough going on to keep me wanting to shoot a few more balls. Not addictive, but not repulsive.
3 months ago
This is one of my favorite pinball machines of the late 80s. I actually enjoy this one a little bit more than some of Pat Lawlor's other more famous titles of the same era. I like the layout of this playfield and really enjoy how the ball flows. Basic but fun.
4 months ago
This machine really makes me feel happy when i play it. I suppose its more of a nostalgia thing. I find myself humming the music from time to time. It's a very straight forward game, which makes it easy to understand for beginners.
7 months ago
"Earthshaker!!!" (Screaming LOUD voice)

One of the pinnacles of the System 11 machines of the era.
Outstanding artwork package by Tim Elliot.
Strong gameplay and ruleset design by Pat Lawlor.
Chris Granner masterpiece on the music.
If you own a Whirlwind, you have to partner it up with its sibling here, Earthshaker.
The shaker motor used long before it was popular today.
Backglass is an ACTUAL backglass with FULL mirroring, which was becoming more uncommon at this point in pinball history.
If you are going to buy an Earthshaker, make sure you go find one with a prototype sinking Earthshaker institute (or kit from Mark Davidson) and the proper Nevada/California split assembly feature.

An example of a machine that holds up well against most modern games of today.
You do not need fancy "doohickeys" to make a great game, just a great design.

Pay attention Pat Lawlor fans to my statement here.
The final trifecta of disaster pinball machines is coming soon!
7 months ago
Nice original theme
Good shaker integration

My main beef with Earthshaker is that I do not any satisfying shot. The clunky right ramp is the worst. The playfield is cramped. The center ramp is repetitive and seems to be the most valuable shot in tournament mode. Skill shot is not interesting. Not a big fan of artwork…
9 months ago
Fun game, great action on the playfield and the shaker is fun. I could play this game all day.
1 year ago
Part one of the Lawlor natural disaster series.

The theme is great.
A really cool skill shot.
The through-the-pops orbit loop is fast!
The rules are the standard system11 fare - which I enjoy.
A fault line toy that directs the ball to lock when the quake is active.

Not as good:
The right ramp is really, really clunky. It's nearly a right angle, and there isn't much satisfaction in hitting the shot.
The center ramp is easy to hit over and over again, if you choose to.
The playfield is a bit cramped, because of all the area the skill shot needs up top.
1 year ago
another great williams classic easy game play nice flow,shaker is sweet ,califonia and nevada breaks apart on the upper playfield is classic one of a kind..upper left flipper to side center ramp not the smoothest but ok... i like this game..keeper in a bigger collection
1 year ago
I really like system 11's like Funhouse, Whirlwind, and Earthshaker. These games are just pure fun with fast flow. Love the shaker motor in this theme it's a perfect reason to have a shaker. Classic game by Pat Lawlor.
1 year ago
Overall a very strong game. Some call this game a one shot wonder for the sole reason that the center ramp can rack up points. The ball diverter and shaker motor make this a favorite among many. Light shows are plentiful, action is fast, and the gameplay is intense.

There are only two major flaws in the game, in my opinion: 1) The scoop shot it a tough shot to make and poorly labeled, and 2) After the jackpot has been awarded, there is nothing left to do in multiball.
1 year ago
Earthshaker is an ok game the rules and artwork are pretty good and the theme is ok but not many toys in the game.
1 year ago
I have many "A" list games , ES gets more play than any other ( especially by my wife) ES is a keeper for sure. I finally did a strip down , clearcoat, replaced everything shop out recently and it plays AWESOME! Its a great game where you could have only this one. Not too complicated, and just plain fun. TZ is a game that needs something fun beside it ,for your friends that don't play pinball often, so get an ES to put beside it for them. The right ramp is easy enough with the kick out beside it to make it fun for an intermediate player. Backglass art is great, playfield is very colorful and looks great, and nice open shots. It has the "through the pop bumpers" shot Pat Lawlor is famous for, for the spinner points.
For a game that is still reasonably affordable, its a deal. I like it better than Whirlwind, and play it 3 times more often. When buying one, check that the Cal/Nev divide works like it is supposed to when you lock your first ball up the right ramp, it should open up and stay open until the ball goes into the celler.
20 + years and still play it more than any other, says something about it. just my 2cents :-)
1 year ago
Bad game for tournaments because of shoot centre ramp all day strategy - after 99 miles it is worth 250K per shot.
1 year ago
Love Earthshaker. It has some really fun toys and gimmicks. the shaker motor and earthquake feel is classic. I have the sinking building mod like the prototype machines, but the whole feel of the game is just fun. The music might get a little old someday, but after 3 years of owning it, it is still a favorite.
1 year ago
Not my favourite Pat Lawlor has an incredibly original layout and a good theme with the shaker and such, but gameplay is very repetitive.
1 year ago
I owned an earth shaker. Fun for awhile at first and the shaker motor is cool but I soon got bored. Just not a lot to do. Disaster theme is good. Callouts too repetitive. Not a keeper for me.
2 years ago
I had the option to pick up a nice Earthshaker a while back at a fair price. I had never played one so I went over to the owner's house for a few games. For whatever reason I just couldn't get into the game so I passed on the deal. Fast forward a few months and I end up taking in a project ES in a trade. I got it playing and low and behold I loved the gameplay, to the point where I really wish I would have picked up the original game. The layout is great and the shots are very satisfying. The shaker motor fits the game perfectly. The only real con I see is that once you collect the jackpot in multiball there is no other clear objective. Also, the sinking building should never have been removed, it would have been the icing on the cake.

Bottom line: If you're a sucker for a 3 flipper design (like I am) give this game a fair chance. It's a great way to get into a relatively affordable title and a gateway drug to other great Pat Lawlor games! I ended up trading mine but only for a Whirlwind due to their similarities.
2 years ago
I like the numbered shots ES makes you shoot before you can start mutliball. Sometimes a game might have a ton of shots and only two thirds of them will really matter for gameplay. The center ramp is the easiest/safest scoring mechanism, but if you shoot that all day instead of playing the game you're lame. Interesting layout with a bunch of good, challenging shots (plus a hard jackpot). I don't normally like games with obvious balance or risk/reward issues but ES is one that I always play how you're "supposed" to rather than the safe strategy.
2 years ago
Personally I hate the artwork on this game. It is naff. The sounds are naff. In an arcade scenario it would be one of the last games I tried.

BUT the game itself is a peach. It gave a flavour of how talented Lawlor was as a designer and look at the games that followed - Addams Family and Twilight Zone.

Earthshaker rewards you for accurate shooting and has a great array of shots. The fault line is a great feature and it has the best use of a shaker motor in any pinball machine made.

One of the best, if not the best, alpha numerical games around - if you can live with the artwork
2 years ago
Fun game. Shaker really adds to it. Great theme.
2 years ago
One of Lawlor's best. Took me forever to find one-but definitely worth the wait!
2 years ago
"Oh, bitchin'!" I LOVE Earthshaker for many reasons. The shaker motor, the game design, the game play, etc. This game is on my wish list. Soon I am going to the best pinball museum in the USA (and most likely the entire world) to play this game again!
2 years ago
A great system 11 that I owned for awhile. I can only have so many games so had to make the hard decision and trade this one out.
2 years ago
Earthshaker is often the forgotten Lawlor Williams game. Not a lot were made, and outside the PAPA facility, I've never seen one on location. And such a shame, because Earthshaker not only represents the best of Pat Lawlor, but of the entire System 11 era.

As a prelude to Whirlwind, Earthshaker is another disaster theme pin based upon chasing earthquakes. The shots are fast and flowing, and the setup is a bit unusual, with the weighting of the playfield reversed from typical Lawlor designs. That is to say, the upper ramp and jackpot shot is a left-to-right shot from an upper flipper.

The premise is pretty easy to grasp: the skill shot is a fun plunge into a winding ramp. There are bonuses to be had from hitting the scoop in the right of the playfield, and you can rack up miles by hitting the easy shot up the center ramp. There's a nice loop that is tough to hit from either side, and a weird little saucer that feeds the upper left flipper. The bank of drops in the center gives you a way to backhand a ball to bank a shot to the upper flipper. All in all, it's a great design that just shows you the command over geometry that Pat Lawlor has.

To get to multiball, you light a certain number of zones with clearly-marked shots to light the lock, then bang the ball up the side ramp or into a very tight scoop to lock the ball.

As will all Lawlor multiballs, Earthshaker's jackpot is not a free ride. You have to hit the center ramp to light the jackpot and then hit the side ramp to collect. It's deceptively difficult since the ramps favor the left flipper, but feeding the upper flipper is easier from the right, requiring you to either juggle the balls like a pro, or become very facile at feeding the upper flipper with a backhanded bank shot while cradling the other balls on the right.

If there were any complaints to be made, it's that there isn't an additional jackpot, and that the center ramp is a very easy scorefest that you can chop wood on all day. As such, it's a great machine to play for fun, but not great for competition.

The artwork and toys are great. The ramps and habitrails are winding, the art is classic 80's and the music, while not incredibly varied, is really great. The shaker motor and the moving fault line are super cool, though it's a shame that the sinking building was removed from the production run.

All in all, Earthshaker is a winner and a keeper in my collection. It's not the deepest game out there, but it is incredibly fun, and a very engaging game!
There are 106 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 5.

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