Long before the current obsession with console processing power and how many billions of polygons can be display onscreen at the same time, the only way to get your game on was via pinball machines. There have been tons of scifi pinball machines, with some amazingly garish artwork. Besides all of the Star Trek, Star Wars, and other licensed games, take a look at some of the forgotten scifi pinball machines of yesteryear. We'd give our eyeteeth for one of those The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot games.
- Rocket Ship (Gottlieb, 1958): One of the first true science fiction themed pinball machines was this beauty where you had to spell out R-O-C-K-E-T-S-H-I-P during gameplay and blast off into outer space.
- Egg Head (Gottlieb, 1961): A wacky mad scientist and his robotic pal use their wiles to play tic-tac-toe with a bevy of buxom beauties. The actual playfield had a tic-tac-toe setup made up of bumpers, and you had to try and light them up in a row based on the random bouncings of your ball.
- Pinball Pool (Gottlieb, 1978): Dark-haired pool sharks with ample bosoms spar against a gleaming chrome robot. Just check out the closeup of the lower half of the playfield that shows them glaring at each other.
- Apollo, Blast Off, and Lunar Shot (Williams, 1967): Hoping to cash in on the race for the moon, Williams released not one but three pinball machines, all with identical artwork and slightly modified playfields, that played on America's race for the moon.
- Star-Jet (Bally, 1963): Bally's outer space fantasy game was one of the first to feature extra balls in play, which was called the "Blast Off Extra Balls" feature. The term multiball hadn't come into play yet. Pretty amazing back art showed a group of attractive young men and women heading for space.
- Time Tunnel (Bally, 1971): Time Tunnel was a simple pinball game featuring mod-style artwork of teenagers who were probably supposed to be traveling through time. However, CBS sued Bally over the copyright to the name due to their Time Tunnel television show and Bally stopped producing this game.
- Space Mission (Williams, 1976): Inspired by the space exploration of 1970s-era NASA, Space Mission featured artwork that looked like Spacelab above a playfield filled with outer-space docking targets. They also released a two-player version that was virtually identical called Space Odyssey.
- Tri Zone (Williams, 1979): Tri Zone looked a bit like Logan's Run meets THX-1138, with vapid people standing around in some sort of a utopian future where they're forced to compete in the Tri Zone competition. Don't ask me to explain it.
- Alien Poker (Williams, 1980): Yes, you've seen dogs playing poker on countless oil paintings, now it's aliens playing poker. You know, when interstellar travel and exploration get boring, it's time to bust out a deck and play a little five card stud. Check out the playfield, where it looks like ROM the Space Knight also plays poker.
- Fireball (Bally, 1971): A giant space vampire hurling fireballs at you? Sign us up. The actual game was about releasing Odin and Wotan (the German version of Odin), and having them square off against each other, but we're holding onto our fantasy of a space vampire who wants to kick some ass. He even came back for vengeance in Fireball II in 1980.
- Laser Ball (Williams, 1979): This game featured a buxom redhead (who looks a lot like Jean Grey) firing... er, laser balls at you. She sure was hell-bent on keeping you beat down for some reason.
- Vector (Bally, 1982): This was a science fiction sports fantasy game, where it looked like players were combining jai alai with some sort of bizarre Discs of Tron hockey mashup. Still, they got to don cool Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-esque costumes and hurl things around, sounds like fun.
- Embryon (Bally, 1981): This game featured some of the most graphic pinball art we've ever seen, featuring a half-naked bald alien woman writhing around in some sort of a birth-chamber-sac. There's a human figure who looks a lot like Adam Strange watching over everything... did he somehow impregnate her? Maybe that was the goal of the game.
- World Defender (Nuova Bell Games, 1985): Boy, does the guy on the backart for this game look familiar or what? Plus, we can't recall a time when the Terminator went toe-to-toe with fighter jets. Holy ripoff, Batman.
- Pin-Bot (Williams, 1986): The first in a series of three robot pinball-themed games from Williams featured a Pinball robot in outer space, forcing you to do his interstellar bidding and attempting to score points.
- Strange Science (Bally, 1986): A truly bizarre pinball game that featured a mad scientist trying to swap a monkey's brain with that of a hot girl's. You had to facilitate the transfer by lighting up bonuses and making things happen. Much like Igor.
- The Machine: Bride of Pinbot (Williams, 1991): Probably one of the coolest and most bizarre pinball machines was this early 90s model Pin-Bot sequel from Williams, which featured a robotic woman with light-up nipples, and an extreme bonus field right where her vagina would be. Overt sexuality in games? Shocking.
- Jack-Bot (Williams, 1995): Jack-Bot was the third in a series of games featuring "bots" in pinball, and of course used the Pin-Bot babe yet again. The game features a jackpot robot (the Jack-Bot), and a jackpot-style playfield.
If you're heading to Vegas anytime soon, check out the Pinball Hall of Fame, where you'll be able to actually see and play some of these games. Also, for a real trip down the halls of nostalgia, take a spin through the Internet Pinball Machine Database, without whom this triviagasm would have been nigh impossible to complete.