Pinball: Doctor Who

The Doctor Is In...note 
It's About Time

Doctor Who is a pinball game released in 1992, designed by Bill "Pfutz" Pfutzenreuter and Barry Oursler, and released by Williams Electronics (under the Bally label), unsurprisingly based off of Doctor Who. Unlike most pinball games, this table had rather complex rules and a plot that was not an excuse to show off the gameplay. Sadly, this was the game's downfall, as casual players were put off by the amount of effort it took to properly understand everything. On a lighter note, however, pinball aficionados have taken to the game in later years for this exact same thing.

Sylvester McCoy (the incumbent Doctor at the time of its release) and Anthony Ainley (the incumbent Master at the time of its release) provided custom speech for this game.

The plot is as follows: The Master, desperate to get rid of the Doctor, teams up with Davros and the few Daleks he has left to destroy their shared nemesis once and for all. His plan is to use the "Time Expander", which can manipulate space and time events to interact with an entirely new time stream, to expand the Doctor's time stream to kill him. The main hurdle is trying to track down all of the Doctors.

Fortunately for him, the key is Earth. The Doctor likes to hang around Earth, and every incarnation of him has, is, or will stay there. With this, The Master aims to expand Earth's time and push them all into the sun.

Things don't go to plan, however, as the Doctors escape, but most of them end up trapped in certain places. Fortunately, the Seventh Doctor remains unharmed and has found the Time Expander. Now, he must reunite his past selves, return Earth's time to normal and confront the villains, ending with a final battle with Davros...

The game itself has you trying to collect the seven Doctors through a series of steps: first locking them, then accessing the Video Mode (where you have to hop over objects to reach the TARDIS) by spelling E-S-C-A-P-E. Doing this three times awards that particular Doctor's bonus (i.e. the Third helps you get extra balls by lengthening the time needed to shoot W-H-O).

Every machine comes with a Dalek topper, and the first 100 units had one that moved during certain points in the game. This proved to be too costly to keep up, hence its discontinuation.

Oh, and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill once filmed an interview while playing the game. The world is a funny place sometimes.


This pinball machine contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The game's flyer and promotional video are the only ways of knowing the plot.
  • Author Appeal: Both Bill Pfutzenreuter and Barry Oursler were big Doctor Who fans.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: The Video Mode.
  • Badass Beard: The Master.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Master and Davros (and by extension, a few Daleks).
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Tying into the theme, each ball is labeled "Part 1/2/3" at the beginning, a la the classic serials. When you get an extra ball, the next ball reads "Part 1/2/3 Continued".
  • Combos: The W-H-O combo shot.
  • Consolation Prize: The Master's Bonus, obtained by draining the ball in a specific place.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A message during the Attract Mode.
  • Easter Egg: See Everything's Better with Cows below.
  • Excuse Plot/No Plot? No Problem!: Averted.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The transmat target may yield an animation of a cow in the Doctor's attire if it's not sufficiently charged. The 4th Doctor is a frequent victim of this.
  • Evil Laugh: The Master does one if you collect his bonus while draining the ball.
  • Flying Car: The Whomobile, used by the third Doctor in the original series.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The seven Doctors must be obtained to progress, either through powering up the Transmat and hitting the Transmat target, or via completing Video Mode with the active Doctor.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: The Master's ultimate plan for the Doctors.
  • Iconic Item:
    • The Third Doctor's Whomobile.
    • The Fourth Doctor's scarf.
    • The Seventh Doctor's straw hat.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The first 100 units had a moving Dalek topper. This proved to be too costly to keep up, thus its discontinuation.
  • Match Sequence: A piston in the TARDIS repeatedly pushes up a number, eventually settling on one; afterwards, the background dissipates.
  • Nice Hat: The Fourth and Seventh Doctors have their own.
  • The Nth Doctor: A major gameplay mechanic.
  • Off Model: On the part of the backglass that counts the Doctors (the art from which is reused in the lower-left corner here), the first one looks a little... off.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Each of the Doctors changes the rules for part of the game.
  • Rule of Seven: The seven Doctors.
  • Sidekick: Ace, the Seventh Doctor's companion.
  • Score Multiplier: Aside from the bonus multiplier, there is the Playfield Multiplier, which allows you to multiply any scoring (including Multiball jackpots and video modes) up to 4x its value. Lighting the Sixth Doctor extends the Playfield Multiplier timer, as well as increasing the shot number for the Cliffhanger ramp (i.e., it will increase by one instead of by 0.5 increments).
  • Spelling Bonus: Getting W-H-O lets you earn extra balls, R-E-P-A-I-R enables Unlimited Millions, and E-S-C-A-P-E lights the TARDIS for Video Mode.
  • Timed Power-Up: The playfield multiplier gradually decays with time. The Sixth Doctor slows the rate of decay.
  • Video Mode: The chosen Doctor runs right from a Dalek, jumping over obstacles and eventually arriving at his TARDIS. One flipper button does a short jump, the other does a higher one. Certain obstacles cannot be cleared by shorter jumps.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The tilt screen displays the test pattern for (the fictional) WBL-TV, as if the station was knocked off the air.
  • Wizard Mode: Not an actual Wizard Mode, but the Davros Multiball fits the criteria - it's the final objective that awards quite a large amount of points.
  • You Have Failed Me: After the Last Wave Bonus is awarded (for clearing all the waves in a Video Mode set), an animation plays where the Supreme Dalek chasing the Doctor reports his failure to the Emperor Dalek, who exterminates it in response. Get another Last Wave Bonus and it's inverted - the Supreme Dalek shoots the Emperor in self-defense.

Doctor Who: "I do not mind the brisk pace or a Dalek or two — It's the obstacles that I hate!"