CATEGORIES CinematicalThe bad news is that the heyday of pinball has passed. The 1990s saw the market go from record-breaking sales (like 'The Addams Family,' which sold over 20,000 machines), to the present day, where only one original pinball machine manufacturer still exists. That company is Stern, and they keep the game alive through popular modern licenses like 'Iron Man' and their 'Batman' game, modeled after the hit film 'The Dark Knight.' Pinball may not be dead, but, much like drive-in theaters, it's on life support.
The good news is that there are still plenty of existing machines out there right now, ready to be played. It may take a little effort to track them down, but places like Pinballz Arcade in Austin, Texas are doing their part to gather as many titles under one roof as possible. What's startling about Pinballz's collection is how many movie-themed cabinets exist -- dating back all the way to a brightly colored 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' table from the 1970s.
Check out our exclusive gallery of movie-themed pinball machines! Do you spot any of your old favorites?
The '90s seem to be the decade that took advantage of movie (and TV) licenses the most -- creating tables for a diverse array of films, both from the popular blockbusters of the time ('Twister,' 'Lethal Weapon 3') as well as older properties like Indiana Jones and the Universal Monsters ('Monster Bash,' 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'). The art on the tables eschewed traditional promotional photos and movie posters, with the manufacturers creating their own eye-popping original artwork for the game.
Because pinball is such a tactile experience, it's not easily replicated in a video game (though many have tried). Leaning over the machine, cradling the ball, timing your shots, and listening to satisfying cha-ching as the silver ball careens around the bumpers is a truly zen experience. You become one with the table. As long as pinball can't be replaced by a digital experience, it will never be truly dead.