Special Force

Pinside rating

This game received 33 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 6.953 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #286 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game Design: 7.365

Artwork: 6.29

Sounds/Music: 6.199

Other Aspects: 7.238

Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) Pinside.com staff & moderators rate this game. 1 of us has rated this game.


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Found 19 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 19 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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16 days ago
I picked up this machine as a package deal, and thought I'd sell it within a month or so (figuring it wouldn't be much fun). Man was I wrong!

When the game starts you just hear crickets in the night (the playfield is mostly dark). On a full plunge your ball (soldier) drops into the enemy village huts (the pops) which light up etc. as the fighting begins. Your soldiers are captured (ball locks) and eventually you have to try to escape with all of your soldiers (the goal of multi-ball and main objective of the game). You hit targets to build up rockets which are fired using additional buttons near the flipper buttons. You also pick up bombs through targets, and drop them by the helicopter ramp. The sounds are excellent in the whole experience -- either eerie and quite, or loud machine gun fire, bombs, rockets, helicopters, etc. The graphics, sounds, ramps, bumper caps (huts) etc. all work together perfectly to create a really immersive and fun experience, especially for this era of pinball machine.

If you find one for a reasonable price, it's a great game to own. It is a crowd favorite in my collection, so I'd tick off a a few people if I were to ever sell it, but I don't see that happening for a very long time.
1 year ago
When i bought this game after my data east time machine i thought this is the cheapest looking pin
ever made.
But ok i took it home gave it a little love and some strong green LED lights under the trees and there
the crickets where all comes to live.
The playfield is looking good and the trees with the vietnam huts are nicely done.
Also the gameplay is not boring at all specialy when you drop the bombs and the huts are rattling like a machine gun.
If you don,t go for the looks but for a good war theme game than you have lots of fun with this one.
1 year ago
Dennis Nordman's first game is very underrated with a great ruleset for the era. The only real knock I have with this machine is a few of the cost cutting measures that Bally took on the 6803 series like particle board construction and a single light for the backglass.

The strategy on this game is somewhat deep though simple, and can be played several ways. Easiest is just work on the multiball and let the rest happen randomly. But the better and way to score more points is to use the ruleset to work on three sub-objectives. The three sub-objectives are 1. Build the bonus multiplier, 2. Increase the weapons bonus, and 3. Increase the pop bumper hut value. After building these, the primary objective of multiball can then be sought. Lock the ball "hostages" and obtain multiball and score the very difficult and very satisfying escape bonus. There is also an extra ball that can be earned, though odd in that you can only achieve it once during a game.

One other great feature is the outlane save gate. When the ball goes down the outlane, there's a bumper post that often deflects the ball back into an inlane gate. Bottom line is that both outlanes are only outlanes some of the time, adding an element of luck and skill. Guessing that Bally must've done some research at the time with respect to arcade machine lastability and popularity. Not as good as Black Knight's Magnasave or Hardbody's Flex-save, but nevertheless way better than a normal outlane.

Special Force is highly underrated, well underpriced, and so highly recommended.
3 years ago
This game is really fun and unique
3 years ago
I really like this game. I think it gets a bad wrap because it is unfortunately attributed to the 6803 class. The cabinet art work is horrible and no fancy light shows I. The back box, but Bally midday put it where it really counts in this game and that is on the playfield! Game plays great and has unique rocket fire to knock down inline drops! I really like the theme and sound effects. Getting the pop bumpers to fire off by collecting three bombs then hitting the big ramp with the toilet bowl helicopter drain is a cliche attributed to the 1980s. Great game, highly under rated.
4 years ago
Special Forces is a fun pin that was probably quite cool at the time. Unfortunately, it hasn't aged well and outside of a large collection, I wouldn't recommend it.

-the sniper shots that you use the lower flipper buttons on are super cool. Neat idea that implements well to the theme. You have to knock those guys down before you can access other shots.
-generic Bally fun

-cheaply made Bally from that era
-just hasn't aged well
4 years ago
This game is one of the few great 6803 games to come from the Bally Midway lifeline from '83-'88. The game has a grea set of rules and there are many shots to make. You don't always have to go for the same rule set to get points. Obviously the easiest way to get a high score is to go for multiball (2 or 3 ball) and get your jackpot. But you can also earn points by going for your multipliers and getting a huge bonus, collecting your weapons bonus, or dropping bombs to light the pop bumpers for 1000 and then 3000 points a hit (high action and close quaters pops). Ball locks also allow you to collect your bonus. So getting your 5x multiplier, filling your bonus (63k) and locking your first and second ball can be extremely rewarding.


This game has a couple great and unique features. The first one is dropping the bombs. When you collect your bombs by spelling out the word bomb (hit the B-O-M-B targets), you can then load them up to 3 at a time. Shoot the helicopter to drop the bombs over the pops. The pops make a great flashing animation and fire multiple times in a row making a great racket. Each time you drop a bomb it adds point values to the pop bumpers. the first 3 you drop light the 3 pops for 1000 and then for 3000 the second time.

The second great feature is the rockets feature. There are an additional two buttons near the flipper buttons that allow you to fire rockets which then take out single drop targets. This can be used as a great strategy in starting multiball as without the rockets it is difficult to light the release target to start multiball. A great addition that wasn't seen frequently.

The final great addition is the gated outlanes. Like centaur, this game has outlanes that you can save with some skillfull nudging. Usually it will cost you a tilt warning to save the ball, but it is a great way to keep your ball time going and get some great saving skills. A true risk versus reward feature if you have the game set up properly.


This game has such bad sound its great. The theme music is awesome, but it would be even more awesome if it was longer than 30 seconds before going back to the crickets chirping sound. The sound quality is quite poor and the sound effects are so low quality 80's it just puts a smile on your face when your playing.


The theme is incorperated into the gameplay quite well. The backglass is a nice piece of handrawn art although most people probably wont like the Rambo style artwork. The playfield is also nicely layed out and not hard on the eyes. The lighting is so great on this game anyway that you rarely are even paying attention to the art. Unfortunately though, this game received the poor old 6803 cabinet art. Its not pretty, but its better than nothing I guess.

Overall this is a great game from the mid 80's that is really looked over due to what else was coming from other companies at the time. This means you can get it for a decent price and its a great game to have in a collection where someone doesn't have a huge budget, but wants a game with a decently deep ruleset, balanced scoring and competitive play that genuinely makes you a better pinball player. Hard shots, good rules and effective nudging can make this a great long lasting game. It's a keeper for me.
6 years ago
Decent game, the music and art are pretty good on it, the shots are ok but pretty easy to hit the goals. The seperate buttons to launch rockets at the targets is a nice feature
6 years ago
Good variety of satisfying shots. Never feels like you are stuck working toward a single goal. The rules are deep enough to let you make choices, which is good enough for a game of this era. My only real beef is that the layout doesn't have much flow. The way mine is set up presently, it is also too easy to control the ball.

The rockets are a bit of a gimmick here. Rockets (fired by secondary buttons on either side of the cabinet) can be used to drop in line drop targets on either side of the playfield. The problem is, you usually have enough rockets. In the off chance you don't, it would usually just make more sense to hit your drop targets the old fashioned way than to try to earn more rockets by completing the "ROC" and "KET" stand up target banks on either side. Rockets gained from these stand ups are mostly a consolation prize for when you miss a shot or are struggling to gain control over the ball---they don't seem to be a credible shot by themselves, but I need to take a closer look at how they score.

The outlane save gates are unique and an absolute blast. It is surprising they haven't been implemented elsewhere.

Lighting and sound are used for excellent dramatic effect. The BGM is good, but there isn't enough of it.
6 years ago
Special Force was a game that I had looked for, for a long time. Thanks to Mr. Ron Schuster in PA, I finally got my hands on a copy.

The Pros:
A great layout with lots to shoot for. The classic Bally build/collect bonus scoring scheme is well implemented here and is part of the multiball qualification process. Multiball rerquires shots to be made all over the PF and when collected builds the "escape" bonus during multiball. Using the rockets to drop the drop targets on the respective sides of the PF adds to the strategy of the game. Do you want to use the rockets? Do you want to save the rockets? Decisions, decisions... The helicopter ramp is a great idea that uses the saucer as a randomizer for the ball's path as it drops back onto the PF. It's a really cool idea that I don't recall ever seeing in any other game. The layered plastics of the jungle make for an amazing effect and the vacuum formed ramps give us an idea of things to come with Blackwater 100. The Centaur outlane gates mean that nudging is still in fashion in late 1986. I heartily approve! The rules on this game are what will keep you coming back. Considering this is Nordman's first design, I am thoroughly impressed with it.

The Cons:
The cheapo black bally cabinet blows. I'm not a big fan of the theme and while I like the effect of dropping bombs on the thatch roofed huts... it bums me out. What can I say, I don't like the smell of napalm in the morning. Other than the helicopter blades, the sounds on this game are super cheesy. The BG is not my favorite, but then again it could be worse. It could be Special Teeny Weenie Bikini Force. I mean, Special Force Girls. Yes... that game exists.

The Takeaway:
A much better game than most would give it credit for. Not the best looking or sounding table, but this game has it where it counts: IN THE GAME! They can still be found for cheap and when set up properly, offers challenging and strategic play. I may have to put this one on the want list!

This game has flashbacks. It's been into the heart of darkness and seen some eyeball deep shit. The rules on this game are better than most will ever find out and despite what many will say for it's vintage, is quite the player. I like how the helicopter ramp drops the ball randomly at the entrance of the ramp. in fact, this may be one the the best randomizers from a successful shot, ever. Using the rockets to drop the controllable targets is a great way to add strategy to gameplay. Multiball is awesome (and short) and when you give this game some time, it will show it's gameplay quality to you. I still gotta find one of these things for the collection.
7 years ago
I wouldn't have known what this game is, but for the fact that a local league buddy has had one for the past couple years. I found Special Force to be a very pleasant surprise. This game is hard as balls, frequently frustrating, but also quite a bit of fun. The Centaur-esque outlanes and ramps that don't feed flippers add the sort of risky random ball movement that I miss in more modern games. The 'launch rocket' to lower drop targets is a cool, novel feature. Ramp shots feel good. I love the multi-layer plastics and grass hut pop bumpers. The backglass and playfield art are decent in my mind, though the girlfriend thinks it's hideous, so your mileage may vary.

Woefully underrated, like pretty much all Bally 6803 games. One of the best value-for-money titles in this range. Frustrating and fun.
7 years ago
This is a great players game, lots of objectives and highly complex. The drawback is it's complexity as it takes a few games to really figure out what's going on and just pounding away won't yield results like picking your shots. Capturing prisoners and then freeing them, setting the bombs and escaping is a good objective for the multiball, and a progressive jackpot for escape makes scoring high.
8 years ago
What a blast to play... no pun intended ;)
Although the theme may seem pretty severe, this early Nordman gem showed a lot of the genius that was to come. The 6803 Bally platform was a joke and so unreliable, but what the designer was able to do with it was awesome.
A great storyline that rivals one of its contemporaries... High Speed.

Basically, you run through the jungle collecting weapons and earning rockets and bombs... Which you can use to knock down targets (via a second set of buttons) and advance pop bumper values. The pops are a village of huts. You collect and load 3 bombs and then hit the helicopter (whirlpool) ramp and drop the bombs as each pop starts to rattle off like a machine gun.

Knock down the center drop target to reveal the hostage lock. Then, take two hostages (locked balls) and reach the 'lite release hostages" target way at the back behind the 3 in-line standup targets... time to use those rockets!
Then shoot the right ramp to release hostages and start multibal. Set your explosives and light the escape up the helicopter ramp. Get to the choppa!

Special Force was created during the height of Rambo mania, but this game will not disappoint. For $400-$600, it's some of the best bang for buck in my lineup.
8 years ago
I always wonder whether you should rate a machine in relation to the time period it was made or compared to all other machines overall. I choose the latter, which is one of the reasons why my score is a bit low on what is a fun pin for the time. There are some cool effects, such as the use of the pop bumpers to make the sound of bombs dropping. The game is simple to understand, but getting and cashing in on multiball and some of the other high scoring awards is quite difficult. Overall, a fun pin to play.
8 years ago
Where to start. Its not a bad game at all. I just did a rubber kit and it plays well waxed. This is my second Dennis Nordman title. The backglass is lackluster with one bulb lighting the backbox and it does not flash, but the light show when in attract mode and while playing makes up for this. The odd theme of war would stem from the arcades game of the time as I remember there being alot of war games and shooters in arcades. The sound is ok not the best. Be prepared to not be able to find parts as I am having trouble finding displays. I am not sure if I want to LED this pin out with all the lights and the movement of them. The price of this pin reflects it popularity as I have seen working ones going for $450. I can recommend this pin as a great starter into the world of pinball since its resale value leaves room for some basic maintince costs. If you see one give it a try.
9 years ago
I think this is a very underrated game. Played it a bunch at conventions, then picked one up. The shots are satisfying, it's simple enough for a novice to have fun, and complex enough for lasting appeal with more seasoned players. The artwork is decent, but the plastics and hut pop bumper caps really add to the feel. Multiball is tough to get, but satisfying once achieved. The rockets and bombs are a cool touch as well. My only gripe with the game is that the music only plays for a short amount of time and then stops. It gets triggered again, but it's odd that it stops at all. Apart from that, it's a very fun game, with enough cool shots, features, and rules to be enjoyable for awhile.
9 years ago
Having owned it for awhile now I think I have formed as solid of an opinion as I'm going to. Nordman's first has a lot of familiar playfield layout features. There's some shots here that feel very similar to other games of his. This is, I think, a good thing. The shots all feel nice and the all seem to work. Pretty impressive for his first time out, I think. This is definately the best part of the game. Multiball is fairly tricky to get on a regular basis and scoring a jackpot is had enough the be satisfying when you nail it.

The artwork is not quite as polished. It works in a sort of comic book way. I kinda like it but it's pretty generic not being terrible in the most awesome way possible (like a Gottlieb of this time period) or actually awesome. Kinda middle of the road. Certainly nothing to write home to the folks about.

I had to dock some serious points for sound and music. I do love the crickets but that's all there is to love. A fairly non-bogus synth riff for music but it only plays thirty seconds before stopping. Maybe that's a bug on just mine since it seems weird.

The light show is pretty great and the rocket shooting effect is well done. So, there's that going for it. Over all, it's a fun game. Maybe not a keeper but it's an interesting piece of pinball history with a lot to recommend it. For the money these go for it's definitely worth spending some time with.
9 years ago
Pretty fun, particle board cab that feels cheap and freakishly heavy, love the turret bumpers and the bombs, not a top 100 but pretty fun for cheap..
10 years ago
An average Dennis Nordman game, usually available very cheap and can be a good value if you are looking for a starter pin. It features, a second set of buttons to fire rockets, which can be gained via targets banks on the left/right of the play field. The rockets can knock down the 4 drop down targets, 3 of which blocks a target which can be used to enable multi-ball. It has a gimmick helicopter ramp, and a large mountain structure with many ramps on the right. Play is decent, with most of the action happening in the bumpers and open mid/lower playfield. The village consists of 3 pop bumpers on the upper left, under the helicopter spiral ramp. Drains via the outlanes can be saved by built-in gates and judicious nudging, and multi-ball can be triggered with 2 or 3 balls. The real downfall of this game is the sound and backglass, both are kind of clunky. But if you get beyond that there is a decent game there. Probably the most un-PC pin I've played but that makes me like it even more :)
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