Five Favorite Pinball Games

in #games3 years ago (edited)

Pinball games are physical machines that were popular for decades before the advent of computer games. Because of the design and craftsmanship, the unique quality of each game, and the sheer joy of playing something so substantive (as opposed to programmed video games), several of my previous posts have featured some pinball. In some corners of the world, you can still find machines to play, which are largely maintained by pinball historians and other hands-on enthusiasts. I’ve visited a few pinball museums and other locations with public machines. That has given me the opportunity to play a lot of different pinball games from decades past.

Here are my favorite games. This group of machines begins in the 1960s. While the earlier games evoke the nostalgia of their eras, the 1950s and earlier games were not very controllable. It was largely a game of chance in terms of where the ball would go; skill was barely a factor. While there’s always that element of chance with every pinball game, the later ones allow you to play longer and accumulate more points by playing them well. In addition, there are three 1980s games and one from the 1990s represented here.

Moulin Rouge (1965)

While I’ve played early pinball games from the 1950s and 60s, most are a novelty and not that enjoyable. There isn’t much of a control factor. The ball slips down way too often into that gaping hole between the paddles. And even when the game is on, it’s difficult to get balls back up near the top of the playing area. Entropy reigns.

What a joy it was to discover Moulin Rouge, a 1965 game that plays like it was made a decade later. The theme is self-explanatory, as it carries the name of the famous Parisian cabaret. At first, the design seems a little spare with a large mirror on the backboard that’s held up as some street art. Is the game player supposed to be the star of the show? Interesting. But as I played a few games, the backboard strangely transformed. The Boulevard de Clichy came alive with a beautiful piece of street art showing the cabaret (see picture above).



The outstanding design continues with the game itself. The last time I played this in a pinball museum, I was hooked on it for 45 minutes straight. The flippers give you a lot of control, there are multiple levels of intrigue from top to bottom (and the game gives you a chance to get the ball back up to the top level), there are bulbs that light up, there are holes that shoot the ball out again, and there is a fun A-B-C sequence to complete. Also, the aforementioned picture on the mirror behind the game lights up each part of the image as you complete stages of the game.

Brilliant! I’d buy one of these myself if it came with its own pinball mechanic.

Flash Gordon (1980)

Perhaps you’ve heard of this comic and/or a movie by the same name. It was an old comic and they made this pinball machine around the same time as a movie. Frankly, I’ve never really watched it and have no interest, but Bally made a nice game with this theme.

This game is special in that it was the first to incorporate a squawk box vocalizer for the audio. I did not know this when I was playing it and do not recall hearing much audio; either it was disabled on my machine or the arcade noise around it prevented me from noticing the audio. Also, the game has a split level, giving you two games in one. Here is a picture of the upper section, which has its own flipper. It’s harder than it should be to get the ball back up there, but still plenty entertaining.



This is a fun game. I look forward to playing it again someday.

Seawitch (1980)

Hold on to your seahorses. This one has a live ball. I hit it so hard that the steel ball hit the glass cover a couple of times. And the ball continues to jump through the game. Seawitch has two levels with two sets of paddles. The game supplies lots of action, plenty of light, and all the bulbs and bonus opportunities you could want. There are signal lights to activate when you have scored a bonus, additional points, or a spare ball.



In fact, I’d guess this game has far more components than most games did in 1980. That was a good year for games (well represented on today’s list), but few of the games are nearly this fun to play. Seawitch gives you long plays with a lot of bang for your buck and opportunities to cheat entropy by getting the ball up to the top level again. I love it!

Black Knight 2000 (1989)

I’ve played two versions of Black Knight. The first was made in 1980 and I didn’t really like it much. From that year, give me Seawitch or maybe Flash Gordon instead. But the Black Knight 2000 reboot, released in 1989, is terrific. That year wasn’t quite the millennium yet; why didn’t they call it Black Knight 1989? I guess that name wouldn’t have the same ring to it.


Black Knight 2000 is a multiplayer game that awards extra time to the player with the highest score. This isn’t just a split-level machine where the ball bounces through the top level a couple of times on its initial descent. The top level of this game is there for playing and it’s a thrill. In fact, if this game has a weakness, I’d say it’s the lower half of the playing field, which is somewhat bare. It’s still a nice ride.

Theater of Magic (1995)

This is an incredibly entertaining game, as fun as any pinball machine I’ve ever played on. In keeping with its theme, this game is loaded full of magic tricks and their diversity is stunning. It has a steel frame tunnel for the balls at the top, resembling the marble track on a Rube Goldberg machine. There is a magical box at the top and if you can get the ball in, you can raise it and the ball disappears to activate the multi-ball option.




The main play is to complete several different magic tricks. Cards, metamorphosis, straight jacket, a magic hat, and others are nicely built in. Finally, it leads to a grand finale. I cannot even imagine how many pieces and moving parts this machine has; it must have been either a tinkerer’s dream or a complete nightmare to build and maintain the Theatre of Magic game. My only complaint is the audio, which is somewhat over-the-top; I would disable it if I had my own game of this.

You can see a video of someone playing it here:

Finding a Pinball Game

If you’d like to play pinball, here is a map of current public locations. There aren’t many of these games left, but it’s a much different experience than playing on a computer or phone. And if you can find a good selection of old games somewhere, perhaps you’ll look for one of my favorites.
Here’s a map showing North American locations:
This site is a good general resource for pinball games; I consulted it as I was writing the above reviews.

Photos by the author and family members. Yes, the top image is my high score.


I grew up on Pinball and have my favorites. I won't mock yours in any way. First and foremost is Steller Wars. I loved that machine and could never get sick of it. Then I liked Playboy from the 70s and Evil Kinievel from the same time period. Then in 1984 I wont a Harlem Globetrotters machine in my school raffle. Best day of my life lol. I played the hell out of that machine. But, with pinball they are all great unless the flippers stick or have no power. Then it is the worst thing ever.

That's right; they're all good. If I had a few dozen machines, I'd spend most of my time playing these ones, but would love to try others. I've played Evil Knievel before; those others you mentioned I will try to find!

I think the ones in the mid 80s are my favorites. Just enough electronics and tech to make it interesting but not too much like today. If you ever get to Vegas there is a pinball museaum in the arts district downtown. It is amazing and is probably the biggest in the world. You'd love it!!!!!

The only ones I've played were Theatre of Magic and Black Knight 2000. Wish Farsight Studios could have kept their pinball arcade license.

Apparently, Theatre of Magic was supposed to be called David Copperfield but they couldn't get the license from him!

My favourite will always be Doctor Who and Addams Family. Two greats that I loved as a kid and would get again if I ever get the money for it. I know my state had a place selling them, not sure if they are still open or not though.

Yes, I like Dr. Who and played that somewhere within the last few years. I don't remember if I've tried Addams Family, but will look for it if anyone has a machine.

My family always competed on Addams Family and played a lot. The sounds for it are so amazing.

@donkeypong, I remember I followed your last pinball blog also. But this one more addition than before one. I've played some time pinball games through machines of club, laptop and my smart phone. But pinball machine gave me massive experience more than others. It increase my passion of playing. Currently I can't play but hope connect with pinball again very soon. I played before seawitch and Black Knight games. It's really interested to played. But I couldn't play Theater of Magic. I think It's more interesting and if I have chance to play can get incredible experience seriously.
Thank you for posted interesting gaming blog.

Thanks. I'm not quite sure it's "gaming", which is more video game oriented. I decided to use the "games" tag for this post instead. I was thinking of writing a board game post also. There are lots of fun things to do that don't necessarily involve video games. :)

Hey, dude. Have you ever tried Pinball Fantasies for the Amiga? That system is well emulated. Absolutely gorgeous game. Give it a go! I also remember going to a local bar as a kid and playing pinball while my folks got drunk. Thats also where I learned about Asteroids and Space Invaders. Top it all, my NY Isles were dominating the NHL!

Good times. Yes, I remember the Amiga computer and some early games on there, but not sure if I played their pinball.

I loved playing pinball on my computer. It's a shame if you are a pinball lover and are born late. I really do envy oldies for that and your post made me envy them more. God I would love to have a real mechanical feeling of a pinball machine. Computer gaming lacks the feel of arcade.

Probably one of the best machines ever made, I remember my friend had one, especially when he moved house as this was taken off the van, set up and then played until sun down. This game use to be in the Bowling Alley by where I use to live as a kid. I'd always get the free game! Only on the first play, I think I only ever got enough points on the second time like once. Because when you get a free game the amount needed for a free game doubled. At least it was programmed that way at the machine in the bowling alley. Happy days! #pinball

That's very cool. Some of my memories were similar.

Wow, this is some good walking down the memory lane. I actually never had the opportunity to play pin ball. But I could remember when I was young, my mum played it a lot. Though on the computer.

Theatre Of Magic is one of the last pinballs to be produced with Circus Voltaire by Bally and Williams. The Pinball 2000 system was a bitter failure, and rightly so, causing the two largest manufacturers to shut down this sector. That said, a kind of revival has existed for some time and in addition to the manufacturer Stern, other projects have emerged such as Jersey Jack Pinball with his magnificent Wizard Of Oz. There were also new batchs for Medieval Madness and Bride Of Pinbot !

I played pinball, this tradition of playing machine games was lost, due to the modern video games that have appeared over the years, and to be more specific the teenagers prefer a game of Black Knight and play "call of dusty", instead of playing pinball or another machine game.

You've really educated me today. I've heard of pinball but didn't know how it even looked like. I have seen this game electronically embedded into the application softwares of some windows, like the windows xp and some old versions of windows has this pinball.

Wow really its looking enjoyable ,interesting and funny game, i didn't play it before, now i wish and definitely i will play because i love games. Thanks to share and give an idea and give the location , lots of new things learning from your post that hadn't any idea that I'm feeling proud of you to follow of you sir.

As much as I have always enjoyed playing pinball, for some reason I absolutely suck at it. I have decided that I just have bad luck and that there is really no way the ball can come straight down the center and miss both of my paddles that much. I used to go to the arcade a lot when I was a kid and I would see the crowds around the pinball machines. My favourites were always the Flash Gordon machine and the Back to the Future machine but it was hard to get on them and even when I put my quarter up It was a quick loss and on my way LOL. I ended up spending more time the playing Gauntlet and WonderBoy arcade games instead. I got really good at those!! hehe

There are plenty of other great arcade games too!

Pinball brings me exceptionally pleasant recollections of my youth, yet I am sufficiently youthful not to have possessed the capacity to play physically. I recall that with my first PC the Windows 98 pinball game was extraordinary, I was rivaling my companions to accomplish the best score. It hurt a bit when they expelled it in the accompanying Windows refreshes.

That's right. I remember that early Windows version also. Next best thing to a physical game!

Pinball is a good games, I played it often, I started playing it a decade back. Just like you have said, the control wasn't that good since the ball could just slip through the paddle and sometimes I find it difficult to shoot the ball to hit the desirable ends i wanted but it is still enjoyable and a good game I have played. Your experience was far more than mine. Thanks for reminding me of my old favorites game.

Some of the games are more controllable than others. Glad you've had a chance to play the real thing!

It is a good memories, I like the fact that you shared it on here and I'm happy, the game is available on play store and some android device.

This is awesome:)

@donkeypong loved the Black Knight pinball machine and Star Trek as well.

At some point you should make your way to Manitou Springs here in Colorado - just outside of Colorado Springs. There is a penny arcade there with collections of all sorts of games from the early 1900’s forward - and all the games cost the same to play as they did back when they debuted (Donkey Kong, Asteriods, Defender, etc., are still $0.25 per play). The arcade itself is about three blocks of both interior and exterior space. I wrote a post about it ages ago, but I’m hoping you get a chance to check it out yourself sometime.

That sounds like fun. Will check it out some day.

I love your posts, they are so nostalgic and sweet charm of the past. It touches my heart. For a few minutes I go to visit my childhood. And I am more and more convinced that despite the different countries, we are all people like and have common main feelings. It pleases me.

I love this community. People are so caring no matter the race and background:)

I must admit that these machines are amazing and very entertaining to play, I would have loved to see one in person and live that experience of playing in them, however I am a little young and only know the Pinball 3D computer that is certainly a very entertaining game when he spent hours and hours trying to beat the records that had been stored in the scoreboard! The fun was to complete the quests and increase the target score level by making them change color :)

Pinball is a very interesting game, its main objective is to score as many points as possible.
Its a lovely game, full of manipulation. hehehe

Game of history
Thanks for the educative post
#more strength and power

@donkeypong hello 👋 sir, I like this pinball game, my favorite. I will not laugh at you in any way. First and greatest stellar war. We do not like that machine and it can get sick. I used to have a Harlem Globetrotters machine in my college ruffle. The best day of my life lol I have played with the machine that is all great with pinball, unless flippers have no stick or power. Then it is the most popular games,, upvote, comments, follow up please

I remember how me and my brother used to take chances and compete with each other on who gets the highest score haha
Fun times they were.

Good morning Dear Donkeypong
This post reminds me of my first childhood days on computer. As pinball was the first game i played on a computer and it was always FUN!

Though i have never played the "Moulin Rouge" which looks romantic and the "Flash Gordon" that seems extremely complicated.

I loved playing pinball game.

Pinballs are quite a very interesting games as it will surely test you physically and mentally,From the day our Williams Firepower pinball machine arrived, we've been brainstorming ways to make it more more engaging. Pinball is fun to play, but it's not so fun to watch for me.Nevertheless the game became very sensational nowadays and many version has come from it. I like the choices you made the top 5 , interesting

pinball game is not here yet you are interested in playing pinball game. In fact, I liked my very choice of doing a different job in your writing.

I will try one of the video games to check it out. Thanks for the update

I also like to play different game.
I am also interested to it.

nicely present it.
I appreciate it.👍👍👍👍

It's a nice & interesting game.
like it dear. 👌👌👌👌👌👏

Wow this pinball game really unique.It's so much fun to play.

Very very interesting post...
This brought me to a nostalgic past, when i was still very young...
I dont remember clearly which pinball i have played...but i think it was the Moulin Rouge one...
I still remember I used to bet it with my friends who will get the highest score...😀☕❤

Thanks for this nostalgic post & have a lovely day, dear friend @donkeypong...😀

Whao, what an interested game so loving, but never have the chance to play it .
I will love to know how to play pinball game.

For some reason I always loved pinball games. A game I'd like to recommend is Galactic Pinball for the Virtual Boy. It's quite overlooked because it was released on the least succesful Nintendo console, but it's a really really good pinball game with great music and nice 3D effects(which makes it probably the most unique pinball game). It's quite cheap, so if you have a few bucks to spare, I recommend picking it up. You'll love it.

@donkeypong is the game also designed on computer 💻 and laptops ?

Fantastic. I've dreamed of owning an Addams Family machine and I will play it any time I come across one. It's too bad these are getting harder to find. I did make it out to the Texas Pinball Festival a couple of years back. $30 to get in and hundreds of machines to play until you drop.

@donkeypong this pinball game is awesome.I love this game so much.I'm also interested this game.

I like to play games. Especially pinball. It gives me so enjoy. I play his type of games on mobile. I have informed some new pinball games here. I definitely try to play. Thanks for your valuable post.

Whoaaaa, this is my favorite game too. But, i play it in PC. I want to play this game with the real console someday 😂😂😂

I have never played pinball on a physical machine but they definitely look great and it seems like a lot of fun.

pinball game is one of the most popular game.
Many people play such game.
I also like it.

If it were solely about the money then we certainly would do something a lot simpler and cheaper. I do love pinball and are horribly addicted to it but the reality is that things cost money. On my way to downloading an android version hope these that you selected are in the play store.

Much love.


Damn pinball needs to make a comeback somehow.

@donkeypong I have been playing pinball all of my life. I was a Kid in the 60's so I know the machines over the years. I still play a lot today when I get the chance. One of my Favorite Pins in the 90's was Creature from the Black Lagoon...............

the old black knight is really hard,it looks cool though

I really like this style of play.

Wow you must be a really big fan of pinball.
I haven't played them all but can't remember which ones I played.
But as far as I remember, I think it was seawitch that I loved , sort of was addicted to it but sure that was a long time before.

I think most of gamers are intelligent and the game creator will be a genious

Wow amazing post. Yes pinball is a amazing game and i had been seeing it but haven't played till now. Playing pinball is really fun and enjoyable. Pinball is also one of most popular as i know from post as it was made decade before foundation of computer.All the images are good and the design of the pinball are amazing with beautiful pictures on it.Hope i can play it someday as it is not found in my country much.Thanks for sharing it with us.It was great reading it. @donkeypong

I know how to play the Moulin Rouge not in actual gaming box.. I downloaded a game like that before in my android intense game that rush you adrenaline hoping for higher scores every time you hit the flipper to push and keep the ball from falling...

I like to feel the sensation of playing Pinball though only digital. My old phone still able to playing Pinball Games.

Thanks for sharing you, sir @donkeypong

Looks like I have to leave the android version of the game and switch to pin ball game

@donkeypong you were flagged by a worthless gang of trolls, so, I gave you an upvote to counteract it! Enjoy!!

this game is passionate and addictive. very obsessed..

in the company I work for we are building some play room, and today they are bringing a pinball we rented.. Pirates of the carrabian..

I love the black knights 2000 and it is my favourite.
This game has made me so addicted but at the same time challenged @donkeypong

It's amazing how time passes but there are still these games that are considered relics for the fans of pinball especially for how fun these machines are! It is clear that many years will pass but remain remembered by many people

@donkeypong, great to know that you are Pinball Enthusiast and all these experiences with pinball is reflecting that for sure you are one of the greatest explorer of all, and also truly great to read these words.

And in my opinion there would be very less people who never played Pinball and i still remember some of my friends who are pinball Enthusiasts and in my opinion they were addicted to it.

And I've also played so much sessions of pinball but on my smartphone, and for sure i can say that Pinball is one of the greatest entertainment ever.

But I've never played Physical Pinball game and i hope that you had great fun to explore it, and i am just imagining how it would feel if we play **Pinball in physical form.

Wishing you an great day and stay blessed. 🙂

really a game that can keep us entertained, I love the game you play, maybe I will try it

It's a Awesome and Lovely Game

your post is very great friend. my upvote.

I enjoyed watching the video of that someone playing " The Theater of Magic", I haven't tried any physical pinball in my life, but I'd tried it in computer, it was then exciting , how much more if it's a real pinball machine! Thanks sir @donkeypong for sharing your experiences in playing different era of pinballs. How I wish I could try one someday...!

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