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  Machines I Want

On this page I describe and show the machines that are of interest to me. I might have one or a few of those in my collection someday, so once I get a machine from this page, I will add it to the list of my pinball machines and remove it from here.

Space Shuttle

This is the last classic I want to get. I was first introduced to it only virtually when I started looking through the 80s Williams tables on the Internet Pinball Database where I saw Space Shuttle and was amazed by it. At this time I didn't have experience with older games and was just about to find a few games which were of interest to me, some of which I got and sold over the past months. Actually there are only two true classics in the technical sense which I wanted to have, Xenon and Space Shuttle, and I had Xenon by now, so this is the last one left to get. The difference is that Space Shuttle is a game I cannot let go of once I started playing it: I might never have played the real machine, but the simulation I have on my computer is very close to actual machine's physics and gameplay, plus it looks fantastic with pre-rendered playfield graphics and gives a great idea of what the game plays like in reality. Space Shuttle is fast, not too simple (at least more complex than Xenon) and has that classic playfield structure which is almost symmetric on the one hand and yet leaves enough alternatives to make gameplay more interesting on the other.

picture taken from www.ipdb.orgpicture taken from www.ipdb.org

Space Shuttle's theme is the best a pinball game can have, space and the drama around it - I bet nobody has forgotten the scream of the astronaut when the ball drains through the outlane, and generally the voice work and old school audio effects give the game pace and drama. The space shuttle is still a kind of symbol for what NASA has achieved in space population and exploration and although it will soon be replaced by newer (and safer) technologies, it remains a symbol which returns good and tragic memories, all of which are captured in this early electronics pinball game. And that makes Space Shuttle a true classic no matter whether its relative game Space Station (which I once owned) has more objectives, better music and more of the "float in space" atmosphere... gameplay and theme are so well designed on Space Shuttle that it is an eyecatcher and I'm looking forward to the day when I finally have space, money and time to look for one and get it, because I missed about five opportunities to get one when I was already busy with other machines or finan-cially not able to buy a Shuttle.

Johnny Mnemonic

the playfield of Johnny MenmonicThis is a machine I've wanted for one year now, and while there are some JMs in circulation, I never got the timing right with one. Based on the Hollywood flick of the same name which is a pretty average b-movie starring Keanu Reeves, the pinball game looks very cool, has great audio, is zipping fast and has a good flow. Compared to many other Williams games from the 90s, the playfield has a very straight layout without the curviness of other DMD games. Details like green bumper caps and plastics, lots of cyberpunk influence in the artwork and the moveable data glove give this game a unique touch, however it's still similar in design to Terminator 2 or some other earlier WPC machines. Johnny Mnemonic is said to be one of the toughest machines in its league and after playing an average conversion in Visual Pinball for one year, I still haven't made it anywhere near the wizard mode let alone more than one highscore.

The audio in the game features custom music that changes during normal play and sounds very fitting to the futuristic theme. The voice samples were not captured from the movie actors (probably because to keep costs down), but Williams found some good imitators to mimic the film's characters. Lots of cool quotes and jokes are scattered around the game and you will undoubtedly remember some of them after you played for a while. The data glove picks up the ball with a magnet and lets you drop it into the matrix on the top right. Also, JM is one of the fastest games I've ever played; you can shoot repeated loops very easily and get lost in the haze! I have only played the real machine once on location in a café in Berlin, but it was in mint condition and played very well. I'm not completely sure when I'll get this game, but it's clear that after one year it can't be too long from now.

Theatre of Magic

picture taken from www.ipdb.orgThe most recent game I've looked at is one of the most beautiful games I ever saw. If I had the money right now, Theatre of Magic would be my next buy and I'm looking to exchange a machine for one. Unlike Johnny Mnemonic this game is more curved and colourful, comparable to the other designs of John Popadiuk. While I always liked Cirqus Voltaire and Tales of the Arabian Nights, I have only recently played Theatre of Magic and learned that it's not only complex enough to warrant long-time replayability (I think - there are some who think otherwise), but it's also one of the most beautiful pinball games in the world! The playfield is beautifully coloured even though the artwork is a matter of taste, the ramps and loops are quite curvy but not overly confusing, and of course this makes for a very good ball flow. As much as I like straight design over curved playfields, the flow can be so much sexier with games like TOM, but it's not only that I want to get this game for.
The original theme of a magic theater where Copperfield-like tricks are performed is excellently conveyed through the art, the audio and the rules. You really get in the mood of showbusiness and even though I'm more of an "adult" theme fan, it's fascinating. A total of eight missions (illusions), several multiball modes, Midnight Madness, the captive ball and the magnets that grab and lift the ball are amazing. And then there is the magic trunk which can be shot and spins to reveil entrances to start modes. Since you need to do more than only the eight illusions to reach the wizard mode, I would think that this game is even more difficult to complete than Johnny Mnemonic (which has five modes and that's it), and the flow and beauty of Theatre of Magic make it a collector's item to many. Unfortunately this also results in a quite high price between 1300 and 1800 Euros, and I'd have to look for the perfect deal if I wanted one. But like JM, TOM is a game that's high up on my list of wanted machines!

© 2005 Maximilian Schulz - Williams, Bally, Gottlieb and all other names, all pinball games and software mentioned on this site are trademarks of their respective owners.