King Pin

Pinside rating

This game received 27 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.873 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #108 in the Pinside EM Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game Design: 7.808

Artwork: 7.919

Sounds/Music: 2.285

Other Aspects: 7.919

Pinside staff rating

None of the staff have rated this game. Sorry, no rating from us.

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Found 24 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 24 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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1 year ago
Just couldn't connect with this EM.
1 year ago
My daughter and I play this game all the time. It's a classic pinball machine and we love to play it.
1 year ago
Excellent drop target game and a challenging player.
1 year ago
Good game to play.
2 years ago
This game is fun once one learns to be judicious with the upper flippers. They're useful, but can be dangerous if one isn't careful.
2 years ago
King Pin is a very straight forward machine. Not hard to understand the theme or figure out. Artwork is fantastic all the way around. Bowling theme that ties in nicely through the artwork. Fun and very fast. Wish the outlanes were a bit more player friendly, but otherwise a great machine to learn to play pinball on and improve your basic flipper passing, timing and nudging skills.
2 years ago
The one that started it all for me... still play it every time I see it. Merges my love of bowling and pinball... great memories on a classic machine!
3 years ago
A simple but punishing game, connected to its bowling theme by way of ten drop targets arrayed left to right. Knock them all down, in any order, then, on the second go, hit the lit one. Then hit the next lit one, and so on. It's a wonderful challenge, and awesome when you can get the red one multiple times. The central rollover adds another element to your shot planning. But plan you must. Having said that, you can bat the ball around up top with the upper flippers, but even then, you must judge your angles. But before you can do all of this, you must tune up King Pin, because even when it was brand new it was set up to take your money. So...

Rebuild all four flippers, and note that the flipper brackets, under the playfield, came from the factory with the shortest (i.e., weakest) possible setup. Fix that. Get your EOS switches perfect. Also: it's probably already on the high tap, but check. You need all the help you can get on this machine. Make sure everything else is in excellent working order. Get fresh rubbers, new balls, etc.

Now, after all of that work, you may begin to enjoy King Pin. But unless you reconfigure the outlanes and posts, no matter how awesome your flippers are, you are still going to have a brutal game, where nearly every ball will end via the outlanes. The outlanes are so greedy and so unavoidable that, in my opinion, they ruin the game.
4 years ago
Gottlieb's King Pin is yet another example of Ed Krynski's understanding of the importance of geometry to a basic design. For a game with no spinners and pops placed where they aren't the usual factor in a game it's easy to see wasted space on the table. However, once you've got the flippers nice and snappy and playing like new this game is a shooter's delight.

I've wanted a Jack-In-The-Box/Jumping Jack for a while but I think I'll be quite okay with King Pin. Why? Same ten target goal but with the narrow opening to the top and the pops placed low it's a bit more challenge to get every pin than you'd think.

On those upper flippers. I've found that when Caucasian2Step writes a review I'm usually right in line, maybe 95+% of the time but I'd have to disagree that the upper flippers on this game are useless. Quite to the contrary - they're often the best way to complete several of the drops and the good shooter on a machine that plays properly will find all kinds of angles to use to keep the ball up between those flippers - longer than you'd imagine. Not only can you whip the ball back up to the top saucer arc from the bottom but proper flips from the upper flippers will go right back to the top and might grab you an extra 5000 points.

My takeaway is that I've rarely played an Ed Krynski machine that didn't have great geometries and tough shots. King Pin is yet another basic, but great design from Ed. The art package is fun and fits. Though I expected to sell this once I got it working, it's still around. The only thing I did wish it had was a bonus but in that way it fits the bowling theme better - no spinners or return lanes, just a challenging shooter's game looking to test your aim.
5 years ago
King Pin - the Pre-Make!

No, not *that* Kingpin, the infamous low production DMD machine that is now rumored to be in the process of a remake/rerelease. And not the occasionally rumored home brew based on the Woody Harrelson movie. And not the eponymous Williams game from a decade earlier. Nope, another bowling-themed game from Gottlieb.

I am occasionally mystified why there were so many bowling titles issued over the heydey years of pinball, given that half the time the games were in the bowling alley to begin with. "Hey, when we're done with bowling, let's go play a pinball version of bowling" - did people do that?

Yes, it's tempting to try to get the single silver ball and use it to knock over ten targets, but this particular King Pin shows the dangers in taking that too literally. There are two outhold bonuses from the plunger lane that can be shot with sort of bank-orbit shots, but it's almost pure luck/nudge when the ball goes in on top, particularly if you've got a tight tilt. Otherwise there's a lot of shooting across an open playfield at the drop down targets/pins, and you'll be left with one in the middle which if you hit it head on, you're sure to drain SDTM.

While the angles are unusual in this game as a result of that flat layout, I can't say this works particularly well for the type of Newtonian arcs pinballs tend to take (see also the dreadful Toledo). The flat center target bank has been done OK on occasion, but this isn't one of them.
5 years ago
Easily one of my favorite pins in my collection. The drop targets are incredibly satisfying to knock down, the 4 flippers are a nice touch to help keep the ball up on the playfield and it's one of those games that keeps drawing you back for another round!
6 years ago
Another Krynski gem. I love his artwork as much as I love drop target games. I think this is one of the best drop target games. Right up there with El Dorado, Sure Shot, Sky Jump, and Royal Flush for me.
6 years ago
The first time I played this game, I was drawn in because of the backglass. I love bowling and the backglass is is my favorite on any pinball. The play field isn't typical, which makes it interesting. I prefer an asymmetrical design, but this works. If I owned the game, I would probably play my Top Score and Atlantis more, but for me this game has extreme head-turner appeal. The perfect backglass.
7 years ago
A fun bowling themed EM. Good challenge to hit down all the pin drop targets up the middle of the playfield and use the upper flippers to keep the ball up there. No problems with this game in the collection if found for a reasonable price.
8 years ago
So far, my favorite of all the EMs I've owned. It represents what I think Gottlieb did best, creating the 'just one more game' feeling. How many times did I get soooooooo close to dropping all the targets only to have the ball drain. You walk up to this game thinking 'Where's the challenge, this will be easy!' only to be humbled again and again. If I find another, it won't ever leave the gameroom.
9 years ago
I always saw King Pin (and it's AAB cousing Pin Up) as a poor man's El Dorado.
4 flippers gives you a lot to do and tons of drop targets are great, but the layout is just wide open and a bit boring for me. It does a great job of capturing the bowling alley theme however. I still enjoy playing it when I come accross one, but not for my home collection.
9 years ago
I have owned this game for a number of years, and it a definite keeper. Looks easy with those 10 drops at the top, but oh, this game will challenge you. Back in the day, this game was popular in the arcades because once you got the special lit, it stayed lit for the rest of the game (replays, baby!). Because of the popularity, it is difficult to find one where the play field is not worn down. (I was blessed to trade a Jet Spin for one in immaculate condition!)

This game can be a drain monster at the out-lanes, so keeping the ball in the center is key. The upper flipper skill is often developing a "bank shot" off the opposite rubber. The 5k kick outs at the top are also rewarding, yet difficult to hit. There will be many a game where you will get 9 targets down and fight for the rest of the game to get that last darn target! Hard to get high scores (this is truly a "specials" wedge head game), but it will bring you back for more.

One of the best 70's wedge heads from Gottlieb. I like it better than Jumping Jack because of the save lanes (though they are not that friendly), and would rank it only behind my "Volley" in wedge heads I own.
9 years ago
King Pin is another classic 70's game from Master K and the team at Gottlieb.

The Pros:
Long shots mean that this game requires pin-sniper accuracy. Large open metal outlanes gobble pinballs like few others, so you'd better be able to control the ball when you can. Standups stashed under the upper flippers require you to plan your cross PF shots and deal with the pops just under them. Gits your skill shot down as 5k is quite a bit on this table. Shooting those lanes from flippers are still your best bank for the buck and it requires more skill than the inverted lanes at the top of Jumping Jack (and Jack in the Box). Hitting the lit drop target always is satisfying!

The Cons:
Personally, I don't ever really use the upper flippers. Does this game really need them? The standups under the upper flippers really aren't worth the risk of shooting for considering the trouble the pops put your ball into... darn!

The Takeaway:
I prefer Jumping Jack (and Jack in the Box) to this design almost solely on the scoring ruleset. Still this is a fun game that will keep you coming back if tuned properly.
10 years ago
Played this at a show last year and left really wanting one for my collection. It looks easy, but is surprisingly challenging and keeps you wanting to come back for more.
10 years ago
Just like it's bowling theme, it has a nice wide, open, alley. It would be a great game for a beginner IF you didn't have those upper flippers. As an earlier rater stated, you really need to use them, because just like it's bowling theme, you'll knock some pins down that way! As open as it is, and even with the upper flippers, getting all ten targets down with one ball is not as easy as it would appear.
11 years ago
Extremely easy to understand rules, but the targets are not that easy! Using the small upper flippers is a must, but they are frustrating in a fun way. The second round scores big for the spotted target (which you can change by shooting over the centre rollover), and special on the spot after that (although only got that high once). A very good game, well laid out, easy to understand and fun to play.
11 years ago
Played this with slightly mushy flippers and it was still very fun. Good EM
11 years ago
Bowling was popular when this was out, great theme at the time. 10 drop targets as bowling pin right up the center.
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