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Black Hole

Pinside rating

This game received 247 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.678 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #123 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game design: 7.793

Artwork: 8.15

Sounds/Music: 6.456

Other Aspects: 7.853

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 131 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 131 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
Currently showing results page 1 of 6.

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72 days ago
This pin has a great theme, backlash, layout, and level of difficulty. They made over 8700, so they aren't tough to find either. It is a wonderful example of a pin from its' era.
4 months ago
Gottlieb’s masterpiece. Great theme art and sound. Dual play fields, rotating art and infinity backglass makes this a must have.
6 months ago
The famously difficult multiball, requiring tiered locking and two fairly difficult sequences to even get to the three ball start, as well as the incredible ease of draining if the gates aren't opened after going down to the lower playfield, turns off a lot of casual players, but working a monster score on this machine is one of the most satisfying achievements in pinball. It requires shooting long shots high, holding off on the lower playfield, and then working it for the bonus with all the multipliers going during multiball. It ate a ton of quarters in twos -- the first fifty-cent machine in wide deployment -- but its appeal was in many ways as one of the first mavens' games.

As for that lower level playfield -- while there's been a few dozen later below-level playfields, none have really been done better since. Full two inch flippers with really good action and the unique perspective of playing them "backwards" with the playfield sloping away.

What doesn't work as well is the usual widebody-problem; shots can be slow to return, and not all of the long shot angles work really well since the lower main playfield area had to be set completely open to reveal the below level playfield.

So not to bury the lede, Black Hole's backglass may be the best animated mechanical backbox ever. The infinite spiral effect works really well in lower light environments, and with modern LEDs, the eerie blue space light from the general illumination makes this one of the most outstanding lowlight pins.

It may be a difficulty machine to move, maintain, and master, but as a wizard's machine, I've found few of the era more appealing.
8 months ago
Black Hole is one of my favorite games.

There are some bold design choices made with this title, but they all seem to work really well.

Even to this day, I can't think of another game that has a better back glass or lower playfield.

The main gimmick of this title is the inverted lower playfield. It is the first machine to have a lower playfield and the designers did a great job with it. There is a lot to shoot for on the lower playfield and that keeps it from getting dull.

The game logic is very well done. Too often when you play games with split playfields, the main objective is to get to the safer playfield and stay there. Since, if you loose the ball there, you don't really loose the ball. The reentry gate in black hole was a brilliant way to counter this. You can be punished by both playfields, which is a rarity. I also enjoy the balance of increasing the upper playfield multiplier from the lower playfield, and increasing the lower playfield multiplier from the upper playfield. To get a good score, you have to really use both playfield wisely.

The multiball in this game feels like an accomplishment. It's brutal that you can start two ball multiball in the lower playfield, and fail to complete a drop bank. Just to watch those two balls fail to reenter. To work so hard for something to watch it end in such a pathetic manner is awesome. Although there isn't many clear objectives to shoot for during multiball, keeping three balls going with six flippers on two playfields makes it a blast either way.

The upper playfield is fun, and trying to hit both the drop targets in order is a fun challenge. It's quite open, but the number of accelerators makes the game play fast enough. You will be punished when trying to cradle balls on certain flippers. Although you have plenty of flippers, it is harder than most games to regain control of the ball. That being said, the upper playfield isn't perfect. The 10k shot around the hole targets is harder than it should be, there are a surprisingly little number of lanes to shoot for a wide body, and you do have times where the ball ghosts a little bit on the lower playfield window.

The theme is great and they did an awesome job incorporating the theme into the design.
8 months ago
I have never really had a good experience with this game I have played it at shows & on location etc.... but I have always found it difficult to keep ball in play if I go for any of the fun looking shots .... too bad the back glass is stunning & the lower playfield looks cool but the game leaves me feeling underwhelmed
9 months ago
This is a very influential pin as I believe it was the first lower playfield game and while its not a perfect game, its certainly a good one. And it's a looker to boot.
The backglass with the rotating black hole effect is really neat and makes the pin stand out. So I would for that effect alone say this is one of the top all time pinball backglasses, sure no sex appeal, but it looks cool. The cab art is basic only some speckling and 3 color tones, but that was common for this era. However, it has a nice design that also fits and enhances the theme of hte pinball. So all in all, this machine is a looker. The playfield art isn't cluttered and is a bit basic, but works with building the theme of the blackhole. Also one really cool feature of the playfield art, the action lines. That really helps gives the playfield energy and adds to the whole being sucked into the black hole vortex vibe. Not a lot of complicated busy art, but methodical and well thought out. So very nice art design.
The music and speech. It's limited. But, it has all that you need, and it fits the theme. I like it.
The layout is very unique and groundbreaking. However, the upper playfield at times can feel a bit too wide open. That's because of the need to have the window for the lower playfield. Still all in all its a unique layout and can be fun to shoot. What I don't like though is the rules. Don't compete the tasks for re-entry while on the lower playfield and it results in an insta drain once you drain out of the lower. That is a bit harsh and can be off putting for any player. Its one of the reasons why I ding the code how I did. To me its the games biggest flaw. I can understand why they wanted the achievement. And I think it totally should be something that you should trigger on the 2nd time you go down into the black hole. That would to me seem fair. But, I also know this is 1980s, so that kind of detail might not have been possible. But, the roll over tech was... So they could have had a flipper button change the roll overs.
I do like that it does have mb. And so while this game might be a bit tough and unforgiving at times. Its certainly worth playing a few times.
As for fun and replay-ability. I like and enjoy this game. I don't love it. Once again it doesn't have any shots that make me go WOW! Because of that. I play a few games on it, and I have my fill. Would I ever want to own one... If I have a collection of 40-50 games. Sure possibly. But, there are many other games I like the look of, and excite me more personally that I'd rather own.
However, I still enjoy this game. And I enjoy playing one whenever I can find one. The trick though is finding one that is in good working order. But, if you do find one that is playing well, give it a few games and enjoy it.
10 months ago
This is one of Gottlieb’s greatest pins. This and Haunted House are what all lower playfields should be. It is hard to find one working 100% but when you do it is outstanding. A very unique and fun pin.
11 months ago
Black Hole was no doubt a highly innovative game in its day. In 1981, electronic speech synthesizers were still quite primitive, and while not the first to feature speech, it offered a few phrases and a soundtrack that helped the mood of the game. The obvious gimmick or unique feature is the lower playfield, and it works quit well. Having to play backwards with the lower playfield inverted was clever. It’s not an easy game either, despite the floaty feel. Locking balls on the upper and lower playfield to start multiball is quite a challenge. Like Haunted House, some playfield design features feel a little arbitrary, like the single lower left pop bumper. The rules are pretty good, if simple. Scoring is tight, it’s hard to get a high score. This game is easily recognized for its unique, 3-D, rotating backglass. For 1981, this was a nice early solid state pin that looked cool, featured an innovative lower playfield and decent rules. It’s obviously a different game than those produced in the 1990s hayday of pinball and since, but for its time, this was a special game.
11 months ago
Own this one for only a few weeks and here is my impression- Played several at shows and they were always slow and ponderous, not at all fun to play so I had a less than favorable impression. Owning a unit and tuning it to my taste the machine is VERY fast, much faster than I thought a widebody could be. Balls fly across the playfield in the wink of an eye and will catch you napping at the most inopportune moment. The upper playfield feels sparse and the real scoring action is downstairs.. if you can make the shot down the gravity well which is a bitch. There you make the choice of hitting the drop targets so you can win re-entry when you drain, shooting for bonus multipliers or locking a ball up for multiball. Multiball feels short and generally wasted on this title, getting to that mode is a reward in itself... but then what do you do with it? Only other gripe is no lane shift for the upper roll overs, which had been innovated by Firepower in 1979. The lighting is good, backglass with chaser lamps gorgeous, and sound with voice very good for the period.
1 year ago
Several original concepts. Played above its weight class. Looks great fully shopped and working, but it had many engineering bugs.
1 year ago
This game is a blast! Played one on location a few years ago and never got into it. But my daughter loved it and when a project one showed up for sale, I grabbed it. Now it is fixed up and is amazing. I never realized how deep, yet simple the rules are. With the back legs up and rebuilt pops, this game plays fast. Getting the multiball going is a real challenge and I only get to it every 10 or so games. But when I do, it is magic. I love that if you don't fully qualify the multiball, you have to sit and watch your locked balls drain. So cruel. The backglass (with motor running) is stunning...just stunning. The artwork on the playfield and cabinet are functional and work with the theme. Music, sounds, and callouts are typical 80's and work well. But the rules and lower playfield are what make this game shine. I love the two ways to qualify an extra ball. G-force multipliers and regular bonus multipliers are available. But the best rule is that the bonus is earned solely from the lower playfield. Total risk vs reward, because if you don't complete one of the two target banks, you won't be coming back alive and will just watch your ball drain. Don't understand what I'm talking about, then drop a couple of quarters and find out. One of the most fun, yet frustratingly cruel games out there...makes you hit start over and over. Pure it!
1 year ago
I've always enjoyed pinball, but I've never enjoyed this game.
1 year ago
A legendary game. Hard to find working back in the day, but modified grounds make it super reliable and quite amazing game to play. To me the best early 1980's game without peer.
1 year ago
Black Hole is simply one of the top of the 80's, much more fun, original than today's stern and so on with no personality at all, Gottlieb was the best pinball maker at that period
1 year ago
For me, the best game of the 80 era. Fun and with leds, a beauty.
1 year ago
OK, this is the game that got me hooked in 1981 as a Junior in High school. I slammed more quarters in this than any other. Now I own a collection and I must say, this is my Number 2 all time fav behind Funhouse.

This game is brutal however, Its the most difficult game I have ever played. The left gutter is a killer and the middle drain-o seems to happen way to often. The right gate screws you as it lets a hard hit ball right through and out. The 4 yellow stand up targets are critical to the game and must be gotten in 1 ball or they reset. its difficult to get them in one ball. I consider myself an average to above average player and have only been able to achieve Multi-ball a few times since I bought it 4 months ago. That being said, I love that its so challenging, unlike Firepower which I get Multiball everytime, sometimes 2 or even 3 times a game. When you do get Multiball, you really feel like you accomplished something. I love the speed of the game, at times lightening fast, but usually a medium tempo game. I added LED's to mine, Purple and Blue, and it looks amazing. (And I usually prefer traditional lighting) Note: There are 24 volt lights in the lower PF! I learned the hard way and smoked 8 white LED's. I then re-wired it to the 6 volt circuit to accept the normal LED's. I was very pleased with the lighting on the lower PF, not so much with the top. I hung a Blue LED floodlight over the game and it made a huge difference in being able to clearly see the ball.
I have learned that this game is about survival. I play a lot of defense, I try and let the ball hit the flippers to slow it down and gain some control. Then I switch to offense and focus on those right yellow targets to light the captive hole. I do tjhis by hitting the captive hole repeatedly (IMO the easiest shot of the game) when the ball ejects, a skillfully (Hard to do...) shot can hit those yellow targets.

So I will wind this up by saying if you get the chance, at (almost) any price, I recommend buying this one!
1 year ago
Black Hole is one of my favorite early solid state games. Not only is it one of the most beautiful pins ever made, but it's also a lot of fun to shoot and very challenging. The multiball is quite difficult to achieve, and very rewarding when you can pull it off. I love how you can play both the upper and lower playfields at the same time, each one going in the opposite direction. Speaking of which, the lower playfield is awesome and very well designed. Whenever you go down there, your heart starts pumping because you know it's do or die time. If you fail to complete the target bank, your ball gets sucked into the Black Hole forever.

The backglass on this game is absolutely stunning! Between the infinity mirror effect and the motorized spinning black hole artwork, it's just gorgeous to look at. The motor can be a bit loud, but there are aftermarket ones available that are much more quiet.

The sounds can be a bit annoying at first, but they definitely have a certain charm. I even really like the speech. It can be somewhat repetitive, but every time the game talks, it immediately takes me back to my youth ... "Re-entry attempt has failed!" Simply awesome!!!!
1 year ago
Best part is 3-ball multiball with the lower playfield lit, and it is rare to get it. Not my fave game by a longshot but the thought of losing that experience keeps me from ever parting with it after all these years. No cinch flipper shots on this game, they are all of moderate or high difficulty. Even the easiest shots are not "I can hit that with my eyes shut" stuff.
1 year ago
The best System 80 game and I put this as my favourite game of the early 80's. My favourite lower playfield out of any machine. I just wish someone could update the code on this way before the time to make it more current.
2 years ago
A legend. Con Delcos Perth
2 years ago
Black Hole is as unique today as it was in 1981. Very innovative and eye catching, the backglass of this one is outstanding. Lower playfield, instantly recognized early digitaized voice, multiball, and even though it isn't directly related to the creepy Disney film of 1979, it has a similar "feel" to it. Fun, enjoyable and I like it!
2 years ago
This is a classic solid state game. Everything coincides with the theme: voice, background sound, cabinet, backglass. Good shots, only wish there was a ramp added just to the right of the black hole entry shot. Actually, I purchased a vivak playfield protector for one of my black holes and installed a ramp glued to the protector and I have a switch mounted to it that is wired to the left ball lock for crazy ramp points. With the ramp it's a 10, but without it it's still an amazing piece of pinball history.
2 years ago
Very interesting layout ,love the 3-d type animation of the back glass. Very hard to get multiball but this game is so different from a flat table game that it’s worth the investment...would love to have seen a topper for this game and more appealing cabinet art....
2 years ago
Love the three level aspect, but the bottom PF is tough to see if you're not 6ft tall. I like the "black hole" element... hit the drop targets or lose the ball coming out. A good add to the collection. Love the infinity BG.
2 years ago
Very difficult machine. Slower upper pf feels 70s and fast lower pf feels 90s. A good one to own due to its difficulty, will improve any player. Great for both smaller and larger collection.
There are 131 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 6.

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