Pinball / Defender

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Defender is a Physical Pinball Table designed by Barry Oursler and Joe Kaminkow, and illustrated by Constantino and Jeanine Mitchell. It was released in 1982 by Williams Electronics as a Pinball Spinoff of their popular Defender arcade game.

While other Licensed Pinball Tables of the time simply themed a generic table with the licensee's images and ideas, Defender attempted to replicate the video game's rules and structures into a pinball paradigm. In each wave, the player must protect ten Humanoids from being abducted by Landers and turned into Mutants; take too long to destroy the Landers, and Baiters will pop up from the playfield to thwart your shots. Hit the Pods to access the Warp target, then shoot down the Swarmers to open the Stargate. Skillful players will judiciously use Smart Bombs to destroy all enemies, while a well-timed press of the Reverse button will save wayward balls from draining down the left outlane.

Defender was released at a time when pinball games were on the decline, and Williams only managed to sell an anemic 369 tables. Players who've take the time to learn its unorthodox gameplay praise it for its fast speed and unconventional challenges, making this a game that fetches high prices in a niche collectors' market.


The Defender pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Alien Invasion
  • Asteroids Monster: The Pods, which unleash Swarmers when hit.
  • Door to Before: The Stargate returns balls from draining down the right outlane and returns it to the plunger.
  • Mooks but No Bosses: As with the video game, you fight against Mooks of all sorts, but there is nothing resembling a Boss to be seen.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Defender pin can be this to some players, especially if they are not aware of its wave-based level gameplay or the manually-activated Reverse kickback. If an operator removes the center post between the flippers, the game becomes even harder as a result.
  • Planet Looters: The Landers.
  • Smart Bomb: Activated by pressing a second button on the right side of the cabinet, it destroys all enemies currently on the playfield.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted; unlike other pinball games of the era, Defender does not include any background sound effects, to emulate its Video Game source. Some players found the silence mildly unnerving.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Like its video game namesake, Baiters will appear to interfere with the player if he takes too long to destroy the Landers.
  • Warp Zone: Hitting the Warp target takes the player ahead three levels.
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