Hey kids! Knock your score off Disco Stu's head for a free game!
A Match Sequence is a Pinball
game mechanic where, at the end of a game, the last two digits of the players' scores (which will always be a multiple of 10) is compared against a random two-digit number (also a multiple of 10). If a player's digits match the game's, a free game is awarded (indicated with the infamous knocker sound
). The match bonus was first introduced in 1957, using the single digit of the scores; score inflation
eventually elevated the match to the last two digits.
Not too surprisingly, matches occur fairly infrequently. Older games had the chance of getting the free game set at around 10%, but newer games will either dynamically adjust the frequency of matches, or follow a level set by the operator, from a standard 7% to a paltry 1%
Back when pinball was a controversial subject, this feature was often banned, as it was considered a form of gambling. While it's probably not that
bad, the feature is specifically designed to get more money out of players: it has a disproportionately higher chance of giving a player a match if two have just played, so the other player will deposit money and they will both play again.
Older electro-mechanical pinballs used either light-up digits (for single-digit matches) or score reels (for two digits). The arrival of alphanumeric LEDs and, later, dot-matrix displays allowed match sequences to become more and more elaborate, often animated or otherwise specialized to the game's theme. Less creative machines simply show the number being generated, a practice that has all but fallen out of grace today.
Notable Match Sequences Using Alphanumeric LED Displays:
- Back to the Future does this rather creatively. It starts with a weatherman reporting a severe thunderstorm headed for Hill Valley, then shows the lightning flying across the digit counters, then finally strikes a number.
- Taxi shows a taxicab zipping across the display, pulling a pair of spinning boxes behind it. The boxes eventually settle down to form a pair of match digits.
- In Space Shuttle, a pair of rapidly-changing digits chase each other across the various score displays, eventually settling down inside the "Match" display field.
- The Simpsons (Data East) brands its Match Sequence as "Homer's Lucky Scratch-N-Match", where several digits are scratched off one by one until two remain.
Notable Match Sequences Using Dot Matrix Displays:
- South Park's match sequence is (unsurprisingly) Toilet Humor-based: Terrance and Phillip fart out several numbers (contained within bubbles... somehow), one eventually popping. On tamer settings, they burp the bubbles instead.
- White Water ends with Bigfoot bowling, with the pins being replaced by digits. When he rolls the ball, he knocks away all but two, which forms the match.
- Big Buck Hunter Pro has one declared to be the "best pinball match screen ever" - a cow excretes twice, with the player shooting the cow pies to reveal the two digits.
- The Simpsons Pinball Party has Disco Stu dancing for a few seconds before the disco ball falls on him, breaking in half to reveal the digits.
- Attack from Mars has several numbers flashing until a Martian ship comes and shoots it with a laser, stopping it on the match.
- Star Wars pinballs:
- Doctor Who has a piston in the TARDIS repeatedly push up a number, eventually settling on one; afterwards, the background dissipates.
- Super Mario Bros. simply has the two digits come together.
- Terminator pinballs:
- In Medieval Madness, a pair of numbers quickly flash by, then an arrow is fired from off-screen, skewering a roasted marshmallow and stopping the numbers.
- Later software revisions of No Fear: Dangerous Sports implement the "dice roll" match feature, in additional to the standard match sequence.
- In The Addams Family, Thing drags a wagon carrying a bag of numbers, and when the wagon hits a bump, two numbers fall off the wagon and form the match.
- In The Twilight Zone, one of the Invaders fires its laser gun to reveal the two numbers, and any non-matching scores instantly vaporize.
- Jurassic Park pinballs:
- Black Rose pulls an interesting twist on this: your score's last two digits will appear... but there are three numbers in all, and they appear on bombs which ignite as soon as all three are shown. One of the fuses is a fake: the other two aren't.
- Monopoly has Uncle Pennybags slamming his fist on the table, causing two nearby dice to pop up and display the number.
- Pinball Magic does a "woman sawed in half" trick . When the halves separated they reveal the number.
- No Good Gofers has Buzz kicking the golf ball down a field where it lands on a yard stick. Interestingly the ball has an odd habit of suddenly rolling away from the intended number.
- Scared Stiff has Elvira flipping through TV channels displaying different numbers (which also doubles as a shout out as the phrases heard are from previous Williams pinball games). After three clicks, if none of the numbers match, she says "Oh, poo" and turns off the TV.
- Theatre of Magic has the magician produce two doves from her hands, which fly together and produce the number.
- Breakshot has a cue ball that bounces off the table, hits a glass, and knocks a lemon that lands between the brunette's breasts to reveal the match number.
- World Cup Soccer has Striker lighting a rocket, which spirals off and explodes, revealing the number.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation has a surprisingly generic one: the number is chosen on a space background.
- TRON: Legacy has a lightcycle drive towards the camera, ending with a flash of light and the number being revealed.
- Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure has Indy walking by several boxes, pushing a cart with more boxes on it, with one of them opening to reveal the number.
- In The Shadow, a flashlight shines on a brick wall, with a match number in the center. As it sweeps left and right, the number changes, and The Shadow appears and laughs if a match occurs.
- The Avengers (Stern) has the Hulk (offscreen) smash the number into some sort of surface.
- The Family Guy sequence has Brian the dog eating from the garbage bin, then blowing a bubble gum bubble from his butt, which pops to reveal the number.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has three regular turtles enter the screen, flipping their shells to reveal a number, changing several times before one eventually reveals the final number.
- Harley Davidson Third Edition has the match number being tattooed on the back of a woman.
- The Wizard of Oz doesn't use the "multiple of 10" number.
- In Cirqus Voltaire, a clown walks across the display and gets knocked down by a pie, with the splatter forming the match digits.
- Big Bang Bar has a drunk martian barfing up the match number.
- In Monster Bash, Dracula plays a guitar riff while it's plugged into a shaking speaker, which eventually explodes to reveal the match number.
- In The Champion Pub, the Kid punches the small bag several times, two changing digits behind it, before knocking it down and revealing the final number.
- Iron Man (Stern) shows Tony Stark landing (and crashing) into his garage, then getting sprayed by one of his household robots. The match number appears in the firefighting foam.
Other Notable Match Sequences:
- The 8-bit version of Sonic Spinball uses a very simple match animation.