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(Topic ID: 274588)

Who were the masters of early solid state (1977-1984)?


By VanishingVision

85 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 28 posts
  • 19 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 41 days ago by gdonovan
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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    Topic poll

    “Which manufacturer made the best pinball games in 1977-1984?”

    • Williams 11 votes
      11%
    • Bally 64 votes
      63%
    • Gottlieb 4 votes
      4%
    • Stern 23 votes
      23%
    • Other 0 votes

    (102 votes)

    Topic Gallery

    There have been 2 images uploaded to this topic. (View topic image gallery).

    pasted_image (resized).png
    20200804_211051 (resized).jpg

    #1 85 days ago

    I've been thinking lately that early solid state might be my favorite era of pinball. Excellent layouts, fun rules that can be surprisingly deep, lots of great sci-fi and fantasy artwork, and fantastic, otherworldly sound design (particularly all the "enemy" games like Gorgar or Black Knight where you face off with a menacing-sounding foe). Now I'm trying to decide who made the best games during that time period. I'm thinking it's either Williams or Bally, I was completely captivated by the Flash Gordon I played today, and it inspired me to make this topic. What do you think?

    #2 85 days ago

    For me the only true battle is Stern & Bally.
    To me William's doesn't even belong in this talk

    I'd probably have to go Bally for numbers...so many good ones. I love classic Sterns, but their run wasnt as long.

    #3 85 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:For me the only true battle is Stern & Bally.
    To me William's doesn't even belong in this talk
    If probably have to go Bally for numbers.

    C'mon!
    You can't possibly be serious, giving the nod to one over another due to numbers?
    How about gameplay, depth, creativity and ingenuity? Bally had some great games during this time but had some very repetitive and flat out boring ones that had nothing going for them but a popular theme.
    STERN!
    Stern machines of this era pushed pinball to new and exciting limits!

    #4 85 days ago
    Quoted from rollitover:

    C'mon!
    You can't possibly be serious, giving the nod to one over another due to numbers?

    Yes, as in more great games head to head that are better.
    I mean I think....may be time to list them out!

    Can we all at least eliminate Gottlieb right now?

    #5 85 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    Yes, as in more great games head to head that are better.
    I mean I think....may be time to list them out!
    Can we all at least eliminate Gottlieb right now?

    We can agree on that!

    #6 85 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    For me the only true battle is Stern & Bally.

    I disagree. The battle is between Bally and Stern.

    #7 85 days ago

    Totally agree.
    But there are exceptions.

    20200804_211051 (resized).jpg
    #8 85 days ago

    If early solid state games are the ones you like to play, I would suggest cherry picking titles from each manufacturer. Also, you might want to narrow your date range down from 1977-84 to just throw out 1983 and '84. Maybe a few decent games, especially Space Shuttle, in those two years but mostly remakes and forgettable titles.

    Williams didn't seem to catch its stride until Flash came out in late '78 and then after that there were some great titles like Black Knight and Firepower, plus some low production titles but not too many mega hits in that time period.

    Gottlieb System 1 has only a couple of titles that appeal to me, Joker Poker and Countdown but overall not a good start in Solid State. Of course, some great titles with System 80 including MGOW, Black Hole, Haunted House and others.

    Bally was the king of production with many games running over 10,000 units. Have owned most of them and played them all. Lots of similar playfield layouts in the early years, though those games were still fun to play. Hard to beat 1981 for a year of greatest hits for any manufacturer: Centaur, Eight Ball Deluxe, Flash Gordon, Fathom and a couple of others.

    Stern suffered from limited distribution in those early years so their numbers are not what they could have been. Not too many cookie cutter designs unlike Bally. Great titles like Quicksilver, Star Gazer, Nine Ball, Seawitch and others.

    Other manufacturers not to be forgotten, Zaccaria and Gameplan. Farfalla, Magic Castle for Zaccaria and two of the better games from 1983-84, and for Gameplan Andromeda and Cyclopes-even though it is a 1985 release it resembles game of the early solid state era.

    Of course, another consideration is how much do you enjoy working on games from the early solid state era. Some are easy to work on, Bally and Stern, some a bit harder--Gottlieb, and I just don't care much for Williams board set and poor diagnostics in those early years.

    #9 85 days ago

    Here is the top 50 from the Big 3 I did about 6 months ago from the Pinside rankings.

    pasted_image (resized).png
    #10 85 days ago
    Quoted from mr9865:

    Here is the top 50 from the Big 3 I did about 6 months ago from the Pinside rankings.

    Using this doll, please show us where Harlem Globetrotters hurt you.

    #11 85 days ago
    Quoted from stevevt:

    Using this doll, please show us where Harlem Globetrotters hurt you.

    I like Harlem Globetrotters! This data was pulled from Pinside, apparently not everyone agrees with its greatness.

    #12 85 days ago

    Bally, no question.

    #13 85 days ago

    I think Centaur and Fathom push Bally to the front, although great games in there from all of them. definitely my favorite era as well.

    1 month later
    #14 41 days ago

    Really tough to say: hands down my favorite era...after this everything gets...rampy.
    Williams titles: Firepower, Blackout, Alien Poker, Black Knight, Space Shuttle...
    Stern titles: Meteor, Stars and Nine Ball...
    Bally titles: Flash Gordon and Eight Ball Deluxe...

    I've never seen or played a Joker Poker, but it is on my list.

    I mean how could anyone choose?

    #15 41 days ago

    Bally is the easy answer here.
    All of them made a few very good pins in that era, but Bally put out TONS of top pins.

    #16 41 days ago
    Quoted from Daditude:

    Bally is the easy answer here.
    All of them made a few very good pins in that era, but Bally put out TONS of top pins.

    I understand and agree (sort of) but, but....the others.

    #17 41 days ago
    Quoted from ss-pinball:

    I understand and agree (sort of) but, but....the others.

    Stern has a couple of good ones as does Williams. Here's only "part" of Bally's great games:
    Paragon, Fathom, Medusa, Centaur, Flash Gordon, EBD, Xenon, Embryon, Frontier, etc.

    #18 41 days ago

    Come on, Bally. I do love the classic Sterns and there are some great Williams SS but Bally was king.

    #19 41 days ago

    I don't know...I mean Mata Hari, Embryon, Space Invaders, Medusa and Xenon can be slow...

    Bally DID sell a TON of these for sure, but Williams also sold a ton of Flash, Firepower and Black Knight...

    And then there's Stern...some fun pins...

    By volume Bally was king but playability, "one more game" and fun?

    I know I couldn't choose between Blackout and Flash Gordon or Firepower, Black Knight and Nine Ball.

    #20 41 days ago

    Most of my collection consists of a mix of early SS pins and IMO by far the
    best were Gottlieb sys 1 and sys 80 pins. Great graphics and
    game play. My faves;
    Spiderman
    Black Hole
    Sinbad
    Circus
    Genie
    Haunted House
    MARS:GOW

    There were certainly some nice Bally, Stern and Williams pins but not
    as many great ones as Gtb.
    Steve

    #21 41 days ago
    Quoted from mr9865:

    Here is the top 50 from the Big 3 I did about 6 months ago from the Pinside rankings. [quoted image]

    The fact that Flight 2000 didn’t make the top 50 is criminal to me...

    I’m gonna have to go with Bally on this one for sure! Stern is right there too with some really cool titles as well

    -1
    #22 41 days ago
    Quoted from Joey_Bada_Bing:

    The fact that Flight 2000 didn’t make the top 50 is criminal to me...
    I’m gonna have to go with Bally on this one for sure! Stern is right there too with some really cool titles as well

    Ballys are too repetitive and I don't know how anyone can say that Fathom or Centaur is better than Quicksilver or StarGazer. I own them all, but there isn't any comparison. Stern had some duds as well, but the best Sterns are superior to the best Ballys. I agree to cherry pick from them all.

    #23 41 days ago
    Quoted from Methos:

    Ballys are too repetitive and I don't know how anyone can say that Fathom or Centaur is better than Quicksilver or StarGazer. I own them all, but there isn't any comparison. Stern had some duds as well, but the best Sterns are superior to the best Ballys. I agree to cherry pick from them all.

    Dude, Flash Gordon CRUSHES any Stern. Facts are facts.

    #24 41 days ago

    The masters of early solid state were me and my brother. Kickin' ass at arcades all over the place in the 70s!

    oh...you meant....never mind.

    #25 41 days ago

    Dragonfist and Frontier get the most play at my house

    #26 41 days ago
    Quoted from ss-pinball:

    Dude, Flash Gordon CRUSHES any Stern. Facts are facts.

    Not in my book. Had one and sold it pretty quick. I wouldn't even rate it in the top tier of Ballys.

    #27 41 days ago

    Williams for me as that was what mainly filled locations by me.

    #28 41 days ago

    Bally.

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