Pinball: Safe Cracker

The Age of Change

CANDY 2000: "You are almost out of time."

Safe Cracker is a 1996 pinball machine by Pat Lawlor and Williams Electronics (under the Bally label), with art by John Youssi. The game revolves around a bank heist, where you must avoid guards and sneak into the vault to crack the safe and get rich.

It is very different from most pinball machines — the playfield is noticeably smaller, allowing it to fit in places a conventional pinball machine couldn't go, and the backglass is rather large. Players do not have a finite amount of balls, but instead have a set time limit to get into the Vault, whereupon a board game begins on the backglass. The player (and the computer, playing the police) rolls the dice in hopes of getting a good space. Making it to the safe in the center ends the game, and the player is rewarded with a Magic Token that rolls out of the backglass.

Players could keep playing to collect the twenty different token designs available. Alternately, players could use the tokens to play "Assault on the Vault", where they have 90 seconds and four balls to hit as many targets and shots as possible in order to break into the vault once again. A third use — intended in the design but never actually promoted — was for adult-oriented venues to let players redeem tokens for free drinks or other rewards.

The game was promoted as the first in the new "Token-Pin" series; unfortunately, it failed to catch on and the idea was never expanded upon. Fewer than 1,200 tables were made, and the ones that are still in good condition today are highly sought after by collectors.

Pat Lawlor's later Monopoly pinball would make use out of the board game idea.

The Safe Cracker pinball machine provides examples of:

  • 555: The backglass shows that Bob's Getaway Rental can be reached through 555-FAST.
  • Angry Guard Dog: One of the board game's spaces is a guard dog. Landing on it (without a biscuit) chases the player out of the vault to the playfield, and he has 20 seconds to shoot any entrance to get back in.
  • Appeal to Novelty
  • Bank Robbery: The theme of the game.
  • The Caper
  • Computer Voice/Trope 2000: The CANDY 2000 security system.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Pat Lawlor's trademark red button is on the backglass, held out of Bob's Getaway Rental van. One of the Magic Tokens also has it.
  • Dirty Cop: As noted below, you can bribe the guard with points to get past him.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Donuts can be collected to distract the cops.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The difficulty of the vault board game is affected by how well you play the pinball table.
  • Easter Egg: Booting up a game on October 24th plays a birthday greeting for "Amanda and Ryan".
  • Everything's Better with Cows:
    • One of the "?" awards is a cow head.
    • One of the CANDY 2000 awards is "MOO", which gives you a Vault letter.
    • Entering "MOO" as your high score initials prompts a cow sound effect to play.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The animation for when you enter the board game via the cellar entrance has "BCM" (Brian Morrison's initials) hidden on the far right at the very beginning.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: A Real Life example: this poster advertises the twenty different varieties of Magic Tokens.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • You can bribe the guard with points to get past him... but he'll arrest you if your bribe isn't enough.
      Guard: "You've got to be kidding!"
    • Similarly, the guard dog will chase you out of the vault, unless you have a doggie biscuit to distract him.
  • The Infiltration: Before you can crack the safe, you must get to it first. There are three different ways of doing this: the roof, the cellar, and the front door.
  • New Game+/Post-End Game Content: "Assault On the Vault".
  • No Fair Cheating: Tilting does not drain your current ball - it instead starts Sudden Death regardless of your time. If you're already in Sudden Death, however, it does drain the ball.
  • Safe Cracking: Well, duh.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spelling V-A-U-L-T starts Token Multiball. Have fun playing pinball and catching ejecting tokens at the same time.
  • Spiritual Successor: Pat Lawlor's later Monopoly game uses the same board game format.
  • Timed Mission: Instead of a finite amount of balls, this game instead opts for a time limit and infinite balls.
  • Wizard Mode: "Assault On the Vault" could count. One could also make a case for Token Multiball, given how difficult it is to achieve.
  • Zonk: One of the items the Teller gives you is a blender, which is completely useless.