(Topic ID: 197444)

Williams signature or defining em?


By Mcshaney

2 years ago



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  • 46 posts
  • 27 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by CrazyLevi
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#1 2 years ago

As I ponder about em's I couldn't think of a defining williams em unlike bally's fireball and gottlieb's el dorado . Jive time is on pinball arcades williams collection I guess I would count that if anything comes to your minds put it on .

#2 2 years ago
Quoted from Mcshaney:

As I ponder about em's I couldn't think of a defining williams em unlike bally's fireball and gottlieb's el dorado . Jive time is on pinball arcades williams collection I guess I would count that if anything comes to your minds put it on .

Jive time is a terrible game. No idea why anybody would bother to digitize that one (it's ugly too!).

WIlliams "defining" EM is probably Grand Prix or Space Mission, just because these were their two biggest sellers by far. They never released an EM game that took root in pop culture to the degree of Fireball.

#3 2 years ago

For EMs, I think Space Mission / Space Odyssey stood out as a changing point for Williams sales. The production numbers even show that.

#4 2 years ago

Some of the last few WMS EMs I really like.... ie Grand Prix and Hot Tip.

#5 2 years ago

Thank you guys kinda overlooked grand prix and space mission I guess because it seems like a couple of them are always for sale which is do to high production number for a em

#6 2 years ago

I based my Space Mission opinion on personal observations back then and then IPDB only proved what I remembered. If there was a group of pinball games on location somewhere, there was a space mission or Odyssey in the lineup back then. Out West, I would say Grand Prix showed up about half as much to my memory.

Looking at the Production numbers, Bally didn't hit it big until the release of Wizard! in 75 (Their Iconic Fireball actually had fairly low production numbers like most of their titles). Then, just like for Williams after SM and SO, they never were able to match those sales (except for Bally with Bow and Arrow and again with Capt. Fantastic) until the SS games hit the market. Almost as if they had either over saturated their own sales market, or that the players never found the newer offerings to be as good as the previous hits.

But for Gottlieb, they seemed to have one, if not two Block Buster games each year that neared or topped the 10K units mark. They were obviously the KING when it came to world wide production numbers up to the point where the other manufacturers, with their SS games knocked them off the top.

1972 Jungle
1973 Jack in the Box
1974 Hot Shot (early 74)
1974 Big Indian (late 74)
1975 Fast Draw
1975 Spirit of '76 (late 75)
1976 Royal Flush
1977 Surf Champ

All of those were iconic games for those of us that frequented places with pinball. And none of those 10K numbers even included the 2 Player counter parts (which typically didn't even come close in numbers).

With the legalization of pinball in markets like NY and Los Angeles, there was a huge influx of games being purchased by the operators to fill the needs of the quickly expanding pinball market in the early 70's. And think about it, it wasn't just new games being put on location but the need for filler games to actually fill a new arcade or existing bowling center. So the out of state used equipment had value too which allowed those operators (some of them multi-state businesses) to buy newer games after transferring some older equipment to the big cities.

That was a Great time for pinball for many of us older folks! The distributors probably loved it too.

#7 2 years ago

Foot note: What the Hell were the operators thinking when they bought over 9000 Gottlieb Broncos? LOL.

#8 2 years ago

If you are asking pinside, look no further than the #1 game in the top 100.

https://pinside.com/pinball/top-100/em

Williams made many great games from the mid 50s thru the 60s and during that period I think they dominated the industry as for as gameplay and rules. They also had exciting features like drop targets and swinging targets that the other major manufacturers were not using during this time.

#9 2 years ago

I agree. When I think of an iconic Williams game. Heat Wave always comes to mind.

#10 2 years ago

Travel Time , timed version was different. Did great at my Father's arcade.

LTG : )

#11 2 years ago
Quoted from AlexF:

Heat Wave always comes to mind.

I traded mine for a decent Shangri La over the weekend.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

#12 2 years ago

I'd think you might want to include Aztec in the top 3 Williams EM games 'defining moments' of pinball history.

#13 2 years ago
Quoted from CactusJack:

Foot note: What the Hell were the operators thinking when they bought over 9000 Gottlieb Broncos? LOL.

I have one and it's actually a fun game. Definitely not their best, but it's noteworthy. I mean 4X playfield bonus, c'mon, what's not to love about that! And the EB is tied to certain bonus positions which I find interesting and unique...rather than an alternating relay.

#14 2 years ago

I agree with o-din on this one. Early William's games, I think, were superior to their later EMs. I mean, William's was busy churning out turds like Big Ben and Jubilee in the 70s, but back in the 60s, games like Hot Line were being made. Hell, Hot Line has logic built in to spell out letters using the lamps of the rollover buttons. That's pretty cool.

I do think Argosy deserves to have an honorable mention though. That's a great little game.

#15 2 years ago

Although not mentioned as much as some of the others, in my garage Pit Stop is a defining Williams EM. It is where all the elements of what makes a great playing game come together, whether being played by one player or two players as designed.

#16 2 years ago

Gusher, Apollo and Magic City.

#17 2 years ago

Heat Wave gets a lot of love, but I've always felt River Boat was the better game. So many ways to win on that one. Any of the reverse wedgeheads are great, and after you get past the mid 70s, Space Mission/Hot Tip/Grand Prix are hard to beat for just being fast, fun games to play-even if they are multi players.

#18 2 years ago
Quoted from EMsInKC:

Heat Wave gets a lot of love, but I've always felt River Boat was the better game.

I agree. And that's why River Boat stayed.

I didn't get into this hobby looking to buy one brand or another. Just the best playing games with good art work. Just turned out most of my collection is now Williams with their short flipper games dominating the EM line-up. It's not so much one defining game as the collection as a whole.

Single players-

Big Daddy
Trade Winds
River Boat
Rocket
Pinky
Arrow Head
Skill Pool
Beat The Clock
Struggle Buggies
21

Multi players-

Pit Stop
Lady Luck
Serenade
El Toro
Shangri La
A Go Go
Magic Clock
Jolly Roger
Eager Beaver

Others have come and gone, but the ones that keep getting played stay. And most of these get played all the time.

#19 2 years ago
Quoted from EMsInKC:

Heat Wave gets a lot of love, but I've always felt River Boat was the better game. So many ways to win on that one. Any of the reverse wedgeheads are great, and after you get past the mid 70s, Space Mission/Hot Tip/Grand Prix are hard to beat for just being fast, fun games to play-even if they are multi players.

Agreed, and also the same on the previously mentioned Argosy. These are great games that had everything but the kitchen sink and nice speed.

But I really don't think there's a "defining" Williams EM. They simply didn't grab the public's attention like Bally games Captain Fan or Fireball, or Gottlieb's classics like Kings and Queens. These are games that really made it into the public's consciousness. This has really turned into a "what's your favorite Williams EM" thread which is something different.

As an aside since we got all these Williams EM people in one place...why the F do Hot Tip and Grand Prix have a rollover whose sole purpose is to the tilt the game if no other switch has been activated? I can't for the life of me figure out why my Grand Prix has this on the top left.

#20 2 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

But I really don't think there's a "defining" Williams EM. They simply didn't grab the public's attention like Bally games Captain Fan or Fireball, or Gottlieb's classics like Kings and Queens.

Which shows there really isn't "just one" defining game by any of the manufactures.

#21 2 years ago
Quoted from o-din:

Which shows there really isn't "just one" defining game by any of the manufactures.

Don't really agree with your there. Fireball is Bally's defining EM game.

#22 2 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

Fireball is Bally's defining EM game.

You mentioned it yourself Capt Fantastic. Then there's Wizard. And let's not forget...

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#23 2 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

why the F do Hot Tip and Grand Prix have a rollover whose sole purpose is to the tilt the game if no other switch has been activated?

Whatever the reason was, William's thought it was so important that they added the "feature" into the programming of the Solid State version of Hot Tip as well.

#25 2 years ago

The mid to late 60s were a good time for Williams sales wise, where in 1967 alone they sold over 28,000 machines. Over 4000 more than the nearest competitor.

But it wasn't one iconic game that put them where they were at. It was a bunch of good playing, eye appealing machines and the history of quality and gameplay they had already laid down.

#26 2 years ago

Interesting. All I can think of is something happened in a test game to make them think it was needed. I guess a gate was stuck open and players were getting a free spinner shot on the launch. (so what?)

#27 2 years ago

And the reverse wedgeheads are great but they all kinda get lumped into one category for me because they all are good games one does not stand out for me .

#28 2 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

Interesting. All I can think of is something happened in a test game to make them think it was needed. I guess a gate was stuck open and players were getting a free spinner shot on the launch. (so what?)

We spent a day or two pondering that. IPDB chimed in later with a little more detail about it.

http://www.ipdb.org/glossary.php#Tilt_Rollover

#29 2 years ago

I'm in on Grand Prix being Williams defining EM although I personally prefer Argosy

#30 2 years ago

I love Shangri-la, Grand Prix, Magic City and Gusher. Eight Ball and King Pin are also pretty sweet. I'd have to say Heat Wave is the one everyone craves, so it's probably the signature game.

#31 2 years ago

I'd go with "Space Mission" because it combines several classic Williams features used on previous machines. They put it all together in a four-player package.

#32 2 years ago

Grand Prix for a spinner game. Dealers Choice for a rollover game. OXO for the pointy people.

#33 2 years ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

I'd go with "Space Mission" because it combines several classic Williams features used on previous machines. They put it all together in a four-player package.

Several classic Steve Kordek features!

#34 2 years ago

I'd have to go with OXO. But I am highly biased since this is my favorite pinball.

OXO was the first truly great Williams EM with DC pop bumpers and sling shots. It was the first pinball machine that I played that had that feel of raw power but quiet at the same time. The pop bumpers are just awesome when working as they should.

It's got an awesome 'around the world shot' too, one of the best in pinball. Shoot the pinball up the left side lane, the pinball hits the 'A' target, flies over to 'B' target and then down the right side lane. It's a very rewarding shot when you accomplish it then hit the middle target to light up the red 'EXTRA BALL & 5000 WHEN LIT' kickout hole inserts.

The neon pink green, pink, red and blue colors are surprisingly pleasing and it's awesome when the marbleized green and blue pop bumpers and then the red inserts are lit. So much very 70's.

Quoted from bonzo71:

OXO for the pointy people.

OXO is the quintessential example of Christian Marche's Pointy People. The Pointy People are a bonus!

OXO has so much going for it - and it's a four player. This, to me, is when Williams put it all together into one package.

#35 2 years ago
Quoted from jrpinball:

I'd go with "Space Mission" because it combines several classic Williams features used on previous machines. They put it all together in a four-player package.

As an owner of a Space Odyssey I would agree! Lots of different features, lots to shoot at.

Olympic Hockey is also a great Williams title but weak as a single player game, Space Mission/Space Odyssey works great either way.

#36 2 years ago

Best Williams games for me are: Apollo; Heatwave; Magic city; Skill pool and Shangri-la. I sold the latter a while back and still regret it

#37 2 years ago

Spanish Eyes.......I've seen more Dealer's Choice than any other Williams machine.

2 weeks later
#38 2 years ago

It's interesting that people are bagging on 70's williams games and finding love for the 60's designs. The 1960's were Gottleib's salad days and while no pinhead would deny that, there are some great tables from Williams and Bally from that time. I love them all. Especially if they have game in them.

EM Williams pins that I like (some are in my collection)
1963 Beat the Clock. Williams' first multiball game that has an interactive BG animation that lights features on the PF table. Absolutely incredible!
1964 Heat Wave.
1965 Luck Strike. If you look at the lower PF it is nearly identical to Space Mission/Odyssey. Not as random with points either. The BG animation is perfect for the theme.
1966 Hot Line. Brutal. Just brutal. It is also the first pinball game with a DMD on it (spell H-O-T L-I-N-E) in the middle of the PF. For real.
1967 Blast off/Apollo. I may not be a big fan of the Bagatelle, but this layout is an absolute winner. The art pax is hot and the space race is ON!
1971 Klondike/Yukon. Random with the center PF reels, but SO MUCH FUN!
1971 Doodlebug/Dipsy-Doodle/LoveBug. An incredible design that will make you consider every shot you are able to get VERY carefully.
1972 Spanish Eyes. Love it or hate it, this game looks and plays like no other. When properly maintained with fresh rubbers, it's amazing!
1973 Oxo. Another sparse looking game that will make you look silly if you take it for granted. DC POPS! A real shooter for sure.
1973 Fun-Fest. Yes I said it. Do not be deceived. This game is all about making the most of the few chances you are given. When you make the most of them, there is almost no way to lose the ball from the PF. Better than most will give it credit for.
1974 Super/Strato Flite. The fastest EM pinball I have ever played. Can be a bit of a luck fest, but if you get to know the game and it's geometry, it sings!
1976 Aztec. A solid game. Good skills and a bonus ladder worth chasing.
1976 Space Mission/Odyssey. Williams' best EM seller ever. I am not a fan of the semi-rendom spinner being lit, but look at the pf of that 1965 Lucky Strike. Centurion K's bag o' tricks runs DEEP!
1976 Grand Prix. The best EM game Williams ever made.
1977 Liberty Bell. Williams tried to cash in on the bi-centennial. A year too late. Decent game though. Rip the spinners and Enjoy!
Special mention must go out to Pat Hand/Satin Doll, Little Chief and games that play really well when they are PROPERLY SET UP AND MAINTAINED.
1977 Wild Card. A single player with great shots and rules. Find one and play it if you can.

Are there games that Williams made in the 70's that were duds. Yes, just like everyone else made. I find it fascinating that these "faster" games are what made Williams lead the pack after SS tech became the norm. Gottlieb games after the SS Era with few exceptions feel slow and floaty. Bally games were somewhere in between, but that company handled the EM-SS transition better than just about anyone else until the speed of Williams designs were just too overpowering to compete with.

Of other interest... 1977 Segasa Monaco. Not Williams, but built with Williams parts and it definitely "feels" like a Williams Deck. Faces and Prospector are great decks and if ANYONE has a line on a Birdman, PM me. Now.

#39 2 years ago

You have all hit my choices already... Spanish Eyes is great game play... just don't look at the back glass and you'll be fine! For the most unique experience, I have to give Travel Time the nod. The timer element puts another dimension into the game that no other has. The thrill of lighting the 'travel' or 'time' spots and getting extra time after the timer hits zero is hard to beat.

#40 2 years ago

While it's not going to be a signature title, Wild Card is an excellent Williams EM. I'd still like to find a Grand Prix, SM or SO someday.

#41 2 years ago

Take your pick. As mentioned earlier, there isn't just one. I'll try any games, but the best playing ones stay.

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And there's more...

#42 2 years ago

A bit sad that no one mentions MARDI GRAS from 1962. maybe because this one is rather unknown in the USA but believe me it was a 'Killer' over here in Germany. It was the first 4-Player with a production-run over 1,000 - of course most of them for Germany and Austria while France was totally dominated by Gottlieb's 4-Players.
But the question goes for the 'signature game' and I think this would be SPACE MISSION / ODYSSEY. Close to 16.000 units speaks for itself. Steve Kordek was very proud of it and had a Backglass hung in his office until he left.

#43 2 years ago

Grand Prix came to mind first when I read the title of the thread, but Space Mission/Odyssey is also up there.

My personal choice is Lady Luck, has it all, dual scoring systems, great bells, and POINTY PEOPLE!!!

2 months later
#44 2 years ago

It's certainly Grand Prix.

I like that game a lot but I believe Argosy (along with other Williams Ems like Space Mission) has a more refined play field design.

#45 2 years ago

Space odyssey, only because it represents 50% of my collection

#46 2 years ago
Quoted from snyper2099:

It's certainly Grand Prix.
I like that game a lot but I believe Argosy (along with other Williams Ems like Space Mission) has a more refined play field design.

Agreed. I've had a grand Prix for several months. It's fun to rip the spinners but the game gets boring because that's really all there is to do. Argosy in particular is a much better game.

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