Olds go nostalgic for the good old days of pinball

I own a Laser War pinball machine that he references in the video. Mine doesn’t have the topper, though.

Here’s the referenced video that shows it in action:

I suspect one of these could be built today with more full RGB LEDs for ~$20.


we live in the 21st century, we ought to have holographic ones by now

still jealous of your pinball collection


When you can build a POV display for $1 (with the caveat that this doesn’t include the motor), $20 might even be a high estimate. I would think the main cost is going to be the LEDs and whatever you’re using for the audio filtering…


Thank you(?) I’m not sure quite how to respond to that.

As a quick recap, I own three pinball machines:

All of them are in working order (as far as I know), and all of them are player-grade, meaning that they have been repaired to the point of working, but are not fancy by any measure. Space Gambler might be my favorite, just because it’s such a weird and rare machine, but both Black Knight and Laser War play better by far. The reality of owning pinball machines is that they spend most of the time off. I don’t play them nearly as often as I’d like to, for various reasons. In fact, I haven’t had possession of Space Gambler since before the Pandemic began. It’s at my Brother-in-law’s where it was receiving repairs. I also don’t have room in their current location for all three, so the plan is to move them into the basement, which first requires making room in the basement, and so on… I also have a replacement ION cannon toy to replace the existing one that is more glue than plastic at this point. My Father-in-law learned how to model a new one and then had it 3D printed in resin. When I get around to doing the replacement, I’ll be sure to get some pictures and post them.


Cool pin. I’d love to see the game play. I like the sounds and art on it.

Yes, I think having a membership to the pinball museum is more fun than owning a table bc I get to play without dealing with repairs and every so often a new table rotates in. We are very excited that Stargate is now operational and out on the floor for play.


Here you go:

This is my machine, and my Brother-in-law.

Bonus video of Space Gambler:

Weirdly, he never recorded video of my Black Knight, but it’s not hard to find footage of that one.

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One more bonus:

This is my daughter singing the song that plays during game over.


We have Black Knight at the Pinball Museum.

That laser war looks amazing. I like the Data East machines a lot.


That’s adorable

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Which museum?

There’s another Data East pin from around that time, Time Machine, that is similarly good. I don’t know of a pinball museum nearby, but I was fortunate enough to be invited to a house that has 50+ pins in the basement a few times, and that’s a great way to get to play a wide variety of games. The best experience, by far, is the the few times I’ve been able to go to the Texas Pinball Festival, where there are upwards of 400 games available to play over a weekend. If you have the opportunity to make it out there (and feel safe doing so), I highly recommend it.


I had two favorite pinball machines at the bar my 1st-ex-hubby and I used to frequent in the early 1980s, but I can only remember the name of one - Blades of Steel. The other one was themed around an amusement park like Coney Island.

I remember (amazing, considering how long ago it was and how much I used to drink!) that the unknown game had a voice that said “A million!” with some reverence when that number of points was achieved via certain maneuver, but I can’t remember what it was! I know that rollercoasters figured prominently in the theme, though; and that there was a wire tunnel that was important (maybe in getting the 1M points?).

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I was able to find a Kings of Steel, but not a Blades of Steel. I’ve never played that one.

The other one is probably Comet. It forms a sort of trilogy with Cyclone and Hurricane.


Thanks for the correction on that.

Comet looks as though it was the one.

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I’m jealous of anyone who owns a pinball machine, let alone multiple tables. I don’t know the first two but they sound cool, but I love Black Knight. I only played it once as a kid and I still remember that it was really fun and was the first machine I ever got multi ball on.


Chattanooga Classic Arcade Pinball Museum.

My daughter works there so I’m there all the time.

I heard the Texas event is really good. We went to Atlanta for the Southern Fried Gaming Expo and that was so much fun.

We’re visiting Game Galaxy in Smyrna, TN next week.


I mostly missed the pinball and arcade era. I remember as a kid seeing big ‘VIDEO’ signs and asking my parents to stop thinking it would be one of those video game arcades I’d heard about, but instead they were always just VCR movie rental places.

One year recently on vacation we went to the American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot. It was a lot of fun. My wife got high score on one of the machines and was ecstatic. They have a couple of walls of pinball machines, and I ended up spending more quarters/tokens on them than the video games.

(site doesn’t onebox for some reason)


Not exactly pinball, but he does reference it.

Apparently recorded in 1982, but not released until now.


oh man, I’m crying

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Reporting back from Smyrna, TN’s Game Galaxy:

This place is a pinball fan’s dream palace. It’s stuffed to the gills with games, games, games. In the 2 main rooms there’s a mix of arcade games, console games, band and dance games, and the more modern and popular pin tables: the modern Sterns, Toy Story 4, Jurassic Park, etc., and things like Cirque Voltaire and Theater of Magic. Plus the Spooky machines, Jersey Jacks, and Pinball Bros.

Here I found a new obsession, Spooky Pinball’s Total Nuclear Annihilation. Holy Smokes is this a good game! The board looks like a really old game - no toys, just targets and bumpers - arranged in a classic pattern. Looking at the layout, it could be a game from the 1960s. But then the way the balls shoot, the sequence of shots, the shots themselves - and the turbo charged bumpers - it completely upends the normal pinball game play. Obsessed.

Total Nuclear Annihilation Pinball! - YouTube

I also enjoyed Alien from Pinball Bros. Toy Story 4 was fun but I was just too tired to figure it all out. Jersey Jack games are a lot of bells and whistles and I just couldn’t deal with that much complexity.

Then there is the 3rd room. It is rows and rows and rows of pinballs all crammed as close together as you can get them. They have so many classic Williams games. It was heaven.

They didn’t keep all the games turned on, which was great! We could turn off machines as we went along and only hear the tables we were playing. There were very few other people in this room - maybe 2 other people beside my daughter and me.

We started with Banzai Run - the only pinball table with a fully functioning pinball game in the back glass as well as the main table. It was pretty cool except the sound design was not as good as I would wish. I got into the upper glass game. It was fun. I’d love to play it more.

I finally played Bad Cats. Talk about amazing sound. What a great table.

My daughter fell in love with the rainbow themed Spectrum.

I really liked the F-14 Tomcat game though I can see why people playing with quarters would hate the fast game play. I like machines that use the playfield design to evoke the theme. I got how it was like handing a fast plane.

I spent a lot of time on Pinbot. I love that game so hard. I’ve played it before and it’s addictive. I was quite tired so the more simple game play appealed to me.

Medusa was a huge surprise to us - an old game with flippers in the upper part of the table that would sometimes move and knit together to stop the ball from dropping to the lower part of the table. I’d never heard of it or seen any other machine with flippers that moved. (Flipper zippers)

No one has ever beat Williams games. They are so goofy and fun. They have such heart. I enjoyed playing so many of them.

We also played many, many variations of Black Knight and the many pretenders. The Pharaoh was a good one I hadn’t heard of. Black Knight 2000 is so good.

So that’s my report.


I was lucky enough to get to play this as a homebrew/prototype at TPF. The gameplay was essentially the same, but with an essentially empty backglass and hand-drawn sharpie art on the playfield. It was still a blast to play and a testament that a good design and fun gameplay are far more important than gimmicks or theme. The ball lock on this game is legitimately cool. The music, which was composed by the game’s creator, is fantastic. One small point of clarification: The retail game is produced and distributed by Spooky Pinball, but was designed almost entirely by one person, Scott Danesi. He went on to design the Rick and Morty game for Spooky, which I haven’t had a chance to play yet.

I though I had posted about it before. It took a little digging, but here’s what I said back then:

I found the pictures of the whitewood too:

I haven’t played Toy Story 4, Guns 'n Roses, or Wonka yet, but I highly recommend Dialed In! which was designed by Pat Lawlor (The Addams Family, Funhouse, Banzai Run). It’s not licensed, and one of their lower sellers as a result (probably), but I think it’s one of their best playing games.

It’s a pretty memorable gimmick, but I could never get much ball time in the backbox, what with gravity and all.

Same. :wink: Pinbot and Safe Cracker are the two machines I would probably most want to own. Neither are difficult to find, but they are also not cheap. I’ll probably never get a Pinbot via windfall, since my Brother-in-law also wants one, and the chances of finding two are low.

I like Bride of Pinbot, but not as much. Jackbot is also good and more technically advanced, but I think that the original is the best of the three. Also worth mentioning is the Doctor Who table, which has a similar upper playfield toy.

According to IPDB, there were 31 games that used Zipper Flippers, most produced between 1966 and 1970. Medusa, in 1981, is one of the latest games with that feature, although I don’t think I’ve seen it in the upper playfield on others. I was going to say that I haven’t played Medusa, but after looking at it, I’m not sure any more. I can’t find any photos to back up my fuzzy memory. Notable tables with that feature that I’ve definitely played are Fireball, Four Million B.C., and The Wiggler.

I still haven’t played the most recent one. It’s a rare unlicensed game from the modern-day Stern. I have a soft spot for games that don’t lean on known quantities, you might have noticed.