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Pinball: The Who's Tommy
Tommy - A Name That Means Pinball

"See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me."

The Who's Tommy (Full title: The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard) is a 1994 arcade pinball game by Data East. It was designed by Joe Kaminkow, Ed Cebula, Lonnie D. Ropp, and Lyman F. Sheats Jr., and is based on the 1993 award-winning Broadway musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff.

As with the show, the pinball table chronicles the life of Tommy Walker, a child traumatized in his youth into being deaf, blind, and mute. Despite his disabilities, Tommy proves to be an extremely adept Pinball player; he gradually finds himself elevated to the head of a religious movement when his condition is miraculously cured, and must struggle to cope with his newfound fame.

The pinball table recreates the main scenes of the story through a series of "Union Jacks", such as Tommy's traumatic Christmas, Smashing the Mirror, a visit to the Acid Queen, and Tommy's shunned love Sally Simpson. Completing all twelve Jacks starts the "Pinball Wizard", a six-ball multiball mode that is played while the player's view of the flippers is blocked by a pair of opaque blinders.

The Who's Tommy has been widely praised by players for its excellent and balanced use of the entire table. With a mesmerizing light show, over twenty songs from the Broadway show, and lots of fast action and fun shots, it's considered one of Data East's best pinball games, if not their best ever.

A heavily modified (and gold-festooned) version of this game was featured as the "Richie Rich" pinball in the 1994 live-action Richie Rich film.


The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Here, a game mode is called a "Union Jack".
  • The Danza: The "Lyman Bonus" is named after one of the game's programmers, industry veteran Lyman F. Sheats Jr.
  • Heart Symbol: Sally Simpson is shown going to see Tommy in concert, with heart symbols floating above her head.
  • Interface Screw: The Blinders, which fold out from the bottom of the table and completely block the player's view of the flippers. These come out during the main game to represent Tommy's blind phase, though they can also be played with during the entire game if playing in "Tommy Mode". Tommy Mode also makes the blinders cover important ramps and paddles as well!
  • Long Title
  • Machine Empathy: Invoked by the Blinders.
    "Feel all the bumpers, become part of the machine."
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: The playfield depicts the adult Tommy looking into a mirror and seeing his innocent childhood reflection.
  • Nonindicative Name: The "One Way Combo," which isn't a Combo at all — just shoot the Tommy saucer.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Not only does hitting the mirror spots a letter for TOMMY, it is used in the "Smash the Mirror" mode. It is also used in the third phase of Multiball, where it must be shot 5 times to spell T-O-M-M-Y and light the Super Jackpots.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The game includes twenty-one songs from the Broadway show, sung by the original performers.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: It is possible to play the game in "Tommy Mode", where the Blinders open to block the player's view for the entire game.
  • Skill Shot: Up to three shots are available:
    • Soft plunge into the Parachute for a bonus value.
    • Launch counterclockwise to the upper left flipper, then shoot the right ramp for a bonus and advances the mystery award.
    • If Multiball is ready, launch to the upper left flipper, then hit the Tommy saucer for the "One Way Combo" and start multiball.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spelling T-O-M-M-Y enables Tommy Multiball. During "Pinball Wizard," the player must spell W-I-Z-A-R-D to prove his mastery.
  • Title Confusion: The game's official title is often shortened to simply "Tommy" or "The Who's Tommy".
  • Tuckerization: The "Sigma Bonus" is named after rec.games.pinball newsroom poster Kevin "Sigma" Martin.
  • Video Mode: The player controls Captain Walker's bomber to make it shoot various obstacles on the screen.
  • Wizard Mode: "Pinball Wizard", a six-ball multiball mode, which is reached after completing all twelve Union Jacks. Every 25 targets or switches hit awards one letter in WIZARD, a progressive bonus, and launches another ball.
    • "Tommy Mode": a special hard mode where black plastic "blinders" cover the most important ramps and targets as well as the paddles for nearly the entire game. There is no way for them to come down unless you make it to the end of the game. You must be able to play by hearing and touch like Tommy to be able to get there!
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alternative title(s): The Whos Tommy Pinball Wizard
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