(Topic ID: 172878)

The Best Era of Pinball?


By Danni_NZ

2 years ago



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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by AlexF
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    #1 2 years ago

    I wanted to start a proper thread for this, although I didn't know if one already existed . I've seen so many arguments for why [insert some decade from the 20th century here] was better than today, or vice versa.

    So I want to start a discussion and I want to hear your arguments as to which era is the best era of pinball?

    #2 2 years ago

    Personally I'd say right now, and the reason I say that is because we're in a world where pinball design and the community have become open, accessible, and well shared.

    Sure there've been eras where all sorts of gorgeous games and unique themes had been coming off factory lines which we don't really get so much of now, however during any of those eras everything that was happening seemed to have been just dominated within the walls of the major market players, versus now where we have all sorts of people making projects and sharing them with the community at shows and expos across the world, all just for the love of pinball not necessarily for making a profit.

    #3 2 years ago

    I have been playing pinball for 20 years.. I have owned over 300 machines.... That being said, in the past it was fun but not great. Games were good but really no one to play with.. Now, I have created a league "we meet twice a month", i have friends over all the time, we have a local group starting a "Pinball Co-op", myself and some friends had a "Arcade Night" at a brewery about 2 weeks ago and atleast 500 people showed up. So, to answer your question, I think right NOW, has been the best time for me in 20 YEARS.. I am having a blast..

    #4 2 years ago

    Right now for me. Plenty of old and new games. Tons of information on how to restore games with the top restorers being very generous and sharing tips. Prices are high but if they were not I'm not sure pinball would be where it is. There is something for everyone in this hobby.

    #5 2 years ago

    I'd have to agree with right now but I think we have yet to hit the peak. Technology is bringing some awesome improvements with it.

    The guys who go for nostalgia will likely point to the early 80's Bally's titles.

    #6 2 years ago

    Personally I prefer the flipper era. However I haven't put much time in on non flipper games

    #7 2 years ago

    The 1970s for me, so many games pumped out from the factories and so many to choose from to play on locations unlike today.

    #8 2 years ago
    Quoted from lb1:

    Right now for me. Plenty of old and new games. Tons of information on how to restore games with the top restorers being very generous and sharing tips. Prices are high but if they were not I'm not sure pinball would be where it is. There is something for everyone in this hobby.

    I would have to agree with you about there being something for everybody in this hobby. Seriously, I have never seen in person a pinball machine newer than a 1989 built machine. I don't really even recall ever seeing one since I was about 20 yrs old up until 17 months ago when I ran across one for sale and bought it because I remember playing it many years ago. Within this 17 month period, I have managed to come up with and purchase 13 pinball machines, and haven't paid over $500 for one yet. I can't imagine paying 5 to 10k or even more for a pinball machine, but then again, like I said, I haven't seen or played one newer than a 26 year old machine.
    ....So, my best era of pinball machines would have to be system 11 games. lol

    #9 2 years ago

    When I was about 10, the JM Fields near my house had an EM pinball machine. That was the beat era of pins, because I got to play it. I wish I could remember what game it was... But no matter how many games I look at, I just can't find what it was.

    That, and the late 70s / early 80s. New games came in all the time. Haunted House was practically a religious experience for me when it hit my local arcade. So was Hercules, but it broke down on the second day it was there. But even though it was crap, it was cool. I didn't hear Bout any game until it showed up on the floor. I never criticized code or finish. All I did was try to have enough money to buy a roll of quarters. Fun times.

    #10 2 years ago

    90s. Still heaps of games on location, most of which were DMD A titles, but still a few EMs and older SSs around. No LOTR or TSPP unfortunately, but there are few other modern games that I'd miss.

    #11 2 years ago

    1980-1990

    so much innovation and lots of original themes.

    #12 2 years ago

    Mid 70s, ems are at their peak, so many games continue to be in collectors lists
    1981, Bally hit a great time, most games from this year were big hits
    WPC era, once again, most of these system games are still going strong

    #13 2 years ago

    late 80's, early to mid 90's

    #14 2 years ago
    Quoted from Swainer80:

    late 80's, early to mid 90's

    For me it was the mid 80's to mid 90's. This is when I was growing up and could still find games on location easily.

    I think now is an exciting time for pinball with new manufactures arriving and development ramping up. However, finding machines on location now days is like trying to find a four leaf clover.

    I truely hope this changes and games start appearing again in public, but I fear those days are long gone with a shift to the collector market.

    Now I just need to make friends with a local collector, or hope someone opens an arcade or arcade bar here....Any local business owner's reading this?...God I hope so....

    #15 2 years ago

    Late 1960s through the 1970s.
    Hundreds of titles that survived into production even though "prohibition" existed.
    That is an accomplishment in itself.
    This includes the earliest of solid state machines.

    The 80s, 90s, 00s, and today are not even close to the variety and features that were developed.
    Two words, "backbox animation", a lost feature in most games, but occasionally still brought back under the simplest of methods.
    Yes, that it correct, short, long, and mini flippers, bumpers, ramps, spinners, spinning disks, captive balls, locks, rollovers, magnets, vari target, roto-target, carousel-target, and shaker motors all existed long before modern games.
    I can give multiple examples of every feature I just listed.
    Some features are now non-existent, or rarely appear like the vari target on RBION.
    Innovation, "zipper flippers", active targets, spinner targets, and a host of other items that were listed above.
    Every time you look at a wedgehead or final runs of EMs you are looking at the grandfathers of modern game innovations.
    If Steve Kordek was still alive, he could explain so much that has already been lost to time.

    Concepts were all reused to the modern games of today, but generally LESS than they were in the 1960s/70s.
    For example, BoP spinning face is a modern modification of the older roto-target concept, it is not a new gadget.
    The primary advancement of more recognizable games people know is in sound, music, ability to development deeper ruleset to tell "stories", and visual scoring with backbox animations. More powerful flipper coils and electrical current conversion allowed more vertical reach on playfields as players wanted "more", and as Roger Sharpe would say players "wanted it all".

    165605_136431419755066_6158972_n.jpg

    #16 2 years ago
    Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

    Late 1960s through the 1970s.
    Hundreds of titles that survived into production even though "prohibition" existed.
    That is an accomplishment in itself.
    The 80s, 90s, 00s, and today are not even close to the variety and features that were developed.
    Most concepts were reused to the modern games of today.

    I'll agree with you regarding the the first part. But come on, all that was done was re-arrange was where the pop bumpers and targets were located (okay and adding flippers all over the place). Ramps, magnets, subways, displays and the toys of the 80's and 90's were worlds apart. Cyclone, HS2, RG, JP, BoP, TZ, T2. Hell even Stern innovated (nothing comes to mind though ).

    #17 2 years ago

    To me it's the Bally Golden age...early 80's: Centaur, Fathom, Medusa, 8BD... not to forget Black Pyramid and even Spectrum !
    ... and a close second is right now. Minus the recent price frenzy.

    #19 2 years ago
    Quoted from Danni_NZ:

    So I want to start a discussion and I want to hear your arguments as to which era is the best era of pinball?

    Any pinball machine is cool.

    rd

    #21 2 years ago

    The early 1970's just because that is when I started playing pinball.

    #22 2 years ago

    70s:The Golden Age

    90s:The Renaissance

    Right now:On life support

    #23 2 years ago

    1993-1997

    The number of quality games that Bally/Williams was producing in a calendar year was astonishing. Lots of talent back in the 90's era.

    #25 2 years ago

    On life support? Now? When there are so many companies making games? Not in 1999 after Williams quit and Sega pulled out leaving SPI as the very last company standing? That wasn't life support but now is?

    #26 2 years ago

    Now is a pretty cool time.

    And Gottlieb 1950 - 1955.

    An era of unprecedented innovation with a whole range of games that were mostly unique with multiple ways to win ( i.e great rulesets ).

    #27 2 years ago
    Quoted from jackofdiamonds:

    Right now:On life support

    Really? I seriously don't understand this pessimistic outlook (which many Pinsiders seem to share). Is nostalgia a significant factor?

    2016 has seen six (SIX!) pinball companies shipping games to customers, and two or three more who seem to be making real progress at getting their games out. This is, objectively speaking, a HUGE improvement over the state of things just a few years ago.

    Stop wringing your hands and get back to ringing some EM chimes, life's good!

    #28 2 years ago

    For me it would be late 70s and early 80s. Lots of games everywhere............before the video games took completely over..........

    #29 2 years ago

    The 1990s, obviously.

    I remember in college playing Addams family with a creature and theatre of magic right next to it, and thinking "wow! These are the coolest games ever made and probably that will ever be made!"

    I was right of course.

    But I'm pretty happy the way things are now, cause I own a bunch of pinball machines.

    #30 2 years ago
    Quoted from DaveH:

    When I was about 10, the JM Fields near my house had an EM pinball machine. That was the beat era of pins, because I got to play it. I wish I could remember what game it was... But no matter how many games I look at, I just can't find what it was.
    That, and the late 70s / early 80s. New games came in all the time. Haunted House was practically a religious experience for me when it hit my local arcade. So was Hercules, but it broke down on the second day it was there. But even though it was crap, it was cool. I didn't hear Bout any game until it showed up on the floor. I never criticized code or finish. All I did was try to have enough money to buy a roll of quarters. Fun times.

    So what happened between then and now? This isn't meant as a nasty remark. Just curious what changed.

    #31 2 years ago

    The best era of pinball? 90's..
    Most any other answer is probably someone's personal favorite era. Mine happens to be system 11 era.

    #32 2 years ago

    I think the greatest era of pinball machines produced was the 90s. I think the best era to be a player is now because we get to enjoy all the modern titles and all the old machines from the past.

    #33 2 years ago

    I thought that I should add my 10 cents. (And yes, you may have seen it in a different thread )

    "Adding my 10 cents again, I think that games from all eras are good. Harlem Globetrotters (1978, Bally) is one of my favourites.
    But, I still respect all of the games made today. I think that the way the rule sets have developed has allowed for more intriguing games where you can take way longer to try and process how the game works and how to get to a top score (oooh Top Score is a good game too )! The art has changed because obviously technology has changed too. I think that some of the modern art is way better than the older games, e.g. I do actually think that Ghostbusters has one of the best art packages ever - however looking at the older games has its value. I love Bally's Firecracker. Especially the cabinet. That kind of art, although it looks weird and not realistic and cartoonish, is SO COOL. Look at the moustache on the cabinet. You don't get that with modern machines."

    So I like everything. I change my opinion all the time on what my absolute favourite is, but for the moment I'm definitely enjoying playing some old SS games and EMs.

    #34 2 years ago
    Quoted from Danni_NZ:

    I love Bally's Firecracker. Especially the cabinet. That kind of art, although it looks weird and not realistic and cartoonish, is SO COOL

    Pointy men for the win!

    Fun game too.

    rd

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    #35 2 years ago

    1960-1967
    GTB and WMS were at their best then.
    Relatively simple but fun games
    Lots of variety
    Where nudging is a much needed skill, as well as an art.
    The artwork in most every case drew you in, and
    nearly every game had that got so close,
    one just had to drop in another dime.
    It was also a more social time then
    where one could play a game and still carry on a conversation
    without being drowned out by all the noise
    found in later arcade eras.

    #36 2 years ago

    Best era? Now....because we can play any game from the past and keep getting new ones!!!!

    #37 2 years ago

    In the 70s it was common to go into a arcade and find a bank of 20+ pinball machines with several rifle games and unique 60s EM arcade games. Pinball machines were all over the place.
    The 80s was the emergence of Video games and arcades maybe had 3-4 pins when they could make more money on Pac Man. I remember watching a operator opening the coin door on a Pac Man and was amazed as the quarters were overflowing out of the box.
    90s-2000s great games but as arcades closed I would only see a few of these in bars 1 or 2 at a time, no where near the volume of games pumped out in the 70s. If you grew up in the 70s you know what I'm talking about.

    #38 2 years ago

    I have had most of the new games from the last few years, but am now going back and getting great 90s dmds. They seem so much more innovative back then whereas now it seems no one is taking chances, unless you call flipping with your phone innovative. Shadows diverter ramps, dr whos raising playfields, ij path of adventure, all of TZ, indy 500 turbo mutliball, etc etc etc. Today we think the slimer moving up and down is innovative. Color changing leds have been in 10 dollar toys for years. So for me personally 90s s the way to go.

    #39 2 years ago

    1975 was the peak for pinball

    #40 2 years ago
    Quoted from forensicd:

    I have had most of the new games from the last few years, but am now going back and getting great 90s dmds. They seem so much more innovative back then whereas now it seems no one is taking chances, unless you call flipping with your phone innovative. Shadows diverter ramps, dr whos raising playfields, ij path of adventure, all of TZ, indy 500 turbo mutliball, etc etc etc. Today we think the slimer moving up and down is innovative. Color changing leds have been in 10 dollar toys for years. So for me personally 90s s the way to go.

    You are now becoming a true collector, and moving beyond "what you know."
    Eventually, you will expand to even EMs, wedgeheads, and wood rails exploring the full world of pinball.
    The simple statement I hear most is "I never knew they already did that."

    #41 2 years ago
    Quoted from Blitzburgh99:

    Best era? Now....because we can play any game from the past and keep getting new ones!!!!

    I wish I could upvote this more than once!

    This is the absolute objective truth, and the best possible answer to the original question. You might as well drop the mic now!

    #42 2 years ago

    Shows, leagues, tournaments, parts availability, multiple manufacturers, games old and new, this forum (and others)...

    These are the good old days!

    #43 2 years ago
    Quoted from DanQverymuch:

    Shows, leagues, tournaments, parts availability, multiple manufacturers, games old and new, this forum (and others)...
    These are the good old days!

    So true.

    When I got my first pin (1989ish) you were on your own. No internet. No parts. NZ was a pinball wasteland.

    My first pin was a Solar City EM. It didn't work and how I got it going I have no idea. Just buggered around with it until it worked. These days, you can order schematics or simply ask on Pinside or RGP and you'll have answers within an hour.

    Good times!

    rd

    #44 2 years ago
    Quoted from Dooskie:

    So what happened between then and now? This isn't meant as a nasty remark. Just curious what changed.

    Everything? Yeah, everything.

    #45 2 years ago

    1977 to 1982

    EM's transitioning to SS...magical times!

    I still remember looking in awe at Eight ball when it first arrived at my local arcade, closely followed by Evel Knieval, Power Play, Cleopatra.

    And then there was the pinball perfection of Black Hole and Barracora.....

    -1
    #46 2 years ago
    Quoted from Thermionic:

    Really? I seriously don't understand this pessimistic outlook (which many Pinsiders seem to share). Is nostalgia a significant factor?
    2016 has seen six (SIX!) pinball companies shipping games to customers, and two or three more who seem to be making real progress at getting their games out. This is, objectively speaking, a HUGE improvement over the state of things just a few years ago.
    Stop wringing your hands and get back to ringing some EM chimes, life's good!

    I applaud your dead cat bounce optimism.

    The days of half a dozen or more companies producing 100,000 plus machines a year between them are unfortunately a distant memory.

    Best era from a personal perspective - early 90's just before the decline.

    #48 2 years ago

    mid 80's to mid 90's for me, being a kid helps but Sys 11's and Sys 80's and early DMDs which I prefer was greatness.

    #49 2 years ago

    Best, in my opinion... 1977-1989. In that period of 12 years, so much was accomplished. The manufacturers finally "got it" right. So many things were changed and created in this period that would help to solidify solid state pinball's place in history for the next 39 years to come! Every few years you could compare notes across manufacturers and see the progress. Rules, combo shots, 2 level play fields, ramps, the wireform, dot matrix animations, on location technical tests/diagnostics, ball search, multiple tilt warnings, auto replay, jackpots, movie licenses, the list just goes on forever in this period of pinball.

    Since 1989, what has really been added or improved upon in pinball? Color DMD, progressive combo, super jackpots, extended multiball (add-a-ball during MB), wizard modes, solid-state flipper design? Still some awesome progress but I feel that since Stern was really the on company in the game from 2001-2012(13), it really made them lazy and they just made what was safe and just minor improvements regarding pinball technology were made.

    So that's my reasoning/explanation as to why the games from 77-89 are my favorite.

    #50 2 years ago

    I'm finding I really love the sys 11s. Easier to maintain than earlier machines due to built in test functions, and easier than later machines because of simpler design. Just enough gadgetry and innovation to make the games really fun. Early WPC as well, even though things got a little more complicated to maintain and to play.

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