My overview of "Twilight Zone"

Written by MattRuss, published July 30th, 2008. 8 comment(s).

This is going to be geared towards people looking at the "Twilight Zone" to purchase along with other machines that are out there. These are my thoughts after owning my machine for the last few months, and playing it a lot.

Why do we like pinball (it's obvious you do or else you wouldn't be here). All it really is is an endless battle between you armed with little flippers and a slope which has gravity on it's side. You'll never win, what comes up must come down.

Maybe that's why we like pinball so much. An endless battle, unavoidable doom, short lived glory, only so many chances. Is it just me or has something so incredibly "simple" such as pinball has mirrored something so incredibly "complex" such as life. No matter what happens to pinball in the future the designers, operators, owners, and players need to remember what pinball has that video games never will, it's real.

Keeping that in mind, you're looking for one to buy. Something real to own, put in your gameroom, basement or dining room like I did (They told me to buy a table for the dining room, and I did!). However you can't just fold up a pinball machine, put it under the couch, closet, or where ever you put your old NES. It has to look cool! It has to flash, and buzz, and bing, and pop! It's a marriage of art and engineering and you need it look as though it's been on an extended honeymoon. (not the 25 year old separations that we see). You save up, sell a car, don't eat for a few months and clean out your couch, your ready to buy! But what to buy? What did everyone else buy? Why did they buy it? You look at a few lists and everytime you do you see Twilight Zone! Number one. Why is that? Is that number justified?

This last paragraph is basically what led me up to writing this review. I did eat, but it was a bunch of overtime that helped me put my "Twilight Zone" in my dining room. I first want to say that when you're looking for a machine a good thing to do is to look at yourself first. What do I like? How good am I? How much work am I willing to put in to see that I am going to be a better player? How much work am I willing to put in to understand the rule set? How much do I have to spend? How much work am I willing to put into maintanence? These are pretty important questions, these along with some other questions you may have you should write them down and answer them. One question not here is: Do I really love pinball? If you do not love Twilight Zone that by no means mean you do not love pinball.

Twilight Zone is a game that truly never gets boring. Why is that? Because of it's deep rule set, long learn time, deep stratagy, and complex lay out. For Twilight Zone's rule set visit, download a copy and read through it. It's long. Take a picture of the playfield from the internet pinball database and try to map out the flowpath of the ball. Do you understand the amount of shots you can take at any given time? Do you understand the value of these different shots given a change in mode, multi-ball, or release of the powerball? Have no idea what I'm talking about? It takes a little time. First what you need to do is commit yourself. I'm willing to put up with a little frustration in the beginning in order to fully understand the Twilight Zone. Because trust me, when you first fire it up, it will take a few months before you truly understand it and appretiate it.

No, I'm not willing to put up with the hassle. That's fine! There are lots of great tables out there. Not everyone loves the Twilight Zone. However I do, so lets continue.

Before the understanding of the ruleset you'll need to know what's on the table! I see a gumball machine, a pyramid with an eye, some ramps, a few pop bumpers, and a clock. Like a cluttered playfield? This is the table for you. Think that a cluttered playfield means no shots? Wrong! (At least on this table) Flip through the rule set and look for the dead end, hitchhiker, camera, left orbit, left and right ramp, piano, slot machine, and right orbit. That along with the skill shot and power mini playfield gives you lots to work with. You have four flippers to work with (side flippers, a Pat Lawlor staple). The bottom two (you've seen these before) and one on the right mid playfield. And another on the left top playfield. You have shots up and down, and shots left and right. This is a "wide body" pinball machine and the playfield is maximized for production.

If you have a Twilight Zone or are thinking of buying one it helps to take a section of the playfield per day. Tackle the town square one day and mini playfield the next. Remember to do your homework (more on this later).

The ball doesn't always go where you expect it to go. There are two magnets on the orbits, one for left, one for right. Along with a ball diverter as well. Shoot the right orbit with the camera lit and the magnet stops the ball. That's right, you will not complete that orbit. The ball is released and now you have a taylor made shot for the camera using the upper right flipper. Go up the left and right ramp and now you're ready for the gumball machine. Hit the right orbit and the ball is gobbled up (not really, it's diverted) and is sent to the gumball machine where another ball is dispensed. These gadgets, such as the magnets and the bridge diverter give multiple dimentions to an otherwise single dimention path. Don't have the "power" light lit? Well then you can't go to the power mini playfield. The brige diverter rips your ball off the bridge and spits it out onto the playfield.

Think you've got the playfield, it's toys and ruleset down? Still interested? Great! Now lets talk maintanence. These games aren't new. Manufactured in 1993 they are now 15 years old. And some things might not work. Other things work exactly as they were designed however the design was poor and now you have to think about basic function modifications. All of you owners of Twilight Zones it's time to cringe! The clock usually is cooked. The incedesent lights in the clock casing will fry your clock board and discolor the casing itself. The target left to the slotmachine has a tendency to bend back after many direct hits from the flippers and acts as a ramp. This tends to trash other valuables such as the right mini playfield sign. When you get a machine, do a flipper rebuild. There are fixes for these things and you can easily find them online. This brings me to other mods, and there are a lot out there. Check out ebay for yourself to see all the things you can buy for your machine. This is completely up to you and I won't comment on it other than the mods I've done. Gumball light and gumballs along with a back decal. This is up to you.

Twilight Zone is a game that grows on you. Like a baseball game I never really know how the score is going to look like when I press start. It has been said, and I'll also state it, that Twilight Zone is not a game for new guys. Be prepared to work on your skills along with your strategy to score the big points. There is a lot about this game and it really takes some time to understand it and appretiate it. This game is usually rated number one and that number is justified.


15 years ago

Wow, great story. And so very recognizable for me, owning a TZ for nearly 10 years. It never fails to challenge me and I absolutely consider it one of pinball's finest machines!

15 years ago

Yea, great story, i have owned one for nearly a year and just yesterday, i went in to a mode that i had never seen before. That is how good this machine is, but i need to be in a mood to concentrate, before i play it, because as you would know, it keeps you on your toes.

14 years ago

The best machine

14 years ago

I have got to agree completely with your comments. I have also owned a TZ for a few months and am constantly amazed at the pin. It is compelling and addictive. The learning curve is a bit steep at first, but perserverence is rewarded.
My only suggestion for someone contemplating a purchase is to look for a well maintained version. I paid a premium for a very light use TZ and it shows in the maintenance. Even the clock board had no heat wear evidence. That said, the maintenance is still there, but I find it quite relaxing to take apart and fix things. It would be expensive to have someone else maintain this pin for you.

14 years ago

i am awaiting my tz and hope it lives up to the hype. will get in 2-3 weeks. my first bought pin and not my last!

13 years ago

thankyou for such a great story

13 years ago

I bought this game a couple months ago, I play it at least an hour a day and still have yet to get bored of it, be careful though, this game has basically consumed my life since I purchased it. I finally got the "LITZ" (Lost In The Zone) multiball which immediatly gave me a erection. To do this simply collect all 14 door panels, easy, yeah right. I will never sell this game, it will be a permanent ficture in my basement.

12 years ago

"be careful though, this game has basically consumed my life since I purchased it."
Haaha, Mike seems like most who own TZ would agree with that statement. Reading all these TZ stories makes me want one!

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