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Pinball: Theatre of Magic
"You have the magic!"

Announcer: "The Theatre awaits!"

Theatre of Magic is a Physical Pinball Table designed by John Popadiuk with art by Linda Doane. it was released by Williams Electronics under its Bally label in 1995, and went on to become the best-selling pinball machine of the year.

The game casts the player as an aspiring magician performing a show in the theatre. With the help of the spinning Magician's Trunk on the playfield, you must pull rabbits out of hats, escape from a strait jacket, saw assistants in half, instantly transform into various animals, and perform other illusions. Particularly skillful players can enter the basement and invoke Midnight Madness, but only a Master Magician will be able to perform the Grand Finale and leave the audience mesmerized.

Theatre of Magic remains popular with many players today, though some think there's too much emphasis on shooting the Magician's Trunk. Pinball fans often get into heated arguments when comparing it to Pinball Magic; Theatre fans praise its non-linear gameplay, fast action, and player-friendly rules and design.

A digital version of the game is available as part of FarSight Studios' The Pinball Arcade collection.


"The next performance is about to begin!" "Shoot for the magic Tropes!"

  • Absolute Cleavage: Seen by the magician on the backglass.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The "Trunk Escape" illusion, which locks the magician in an underwater trunk, then gives the player a limited air supply (time limit) to complete.
    Announcer: "The air pressure is building!"
  • Animorphism: The "Metamorphosis" illusion, where the magician turns into various animals, such as a dove, a tiger, or a cobra.
    Magician: "I am only an illusion..."
  • Announcer Chatter: Very excited chatter, at that.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: In addition to a ball saver, hitting the "Hocus Pocus" target enables two magnetic ball savers near the outlanes, which catch any wayward balls. They're one-time usage for each drain, but they're easy to relight.
  • Combo: Scoring bigger combos prompts excited exclamations from the Announcer.
    Announcer: "Amazing!... Marvelous!... MAGNIFICENT!"
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Shooting a ball into the inner loop with just enough speed to fall into the back of the trunk will activate a secret lock, locking your first ball and lighting the locks for the other two balls without needing to spell MAGIC.
  • Escape Artist: The "Trunk Escape", "Safe Escape". and "Strait Jacket" illusions.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: See When the Clock Strikes Twelve below. Clock is advanced by shooting the right orbit or as a Skill Shot award.
  • Match Sequence: The magician produces two doves from her hands, which fly off and produce the final number.
  • Pinball Scoring: This table played fast and loose with seven- or even eight-digit rewards. It wouldn't be uncommon to see a Replay at value cross the billion point threshold...or more.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: The "Hat Magic" illusion, which produces rabbits, doves, and a telephone.
  • Random Drop: Occurs when shooting the Secret Basement.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: The "Tiger Saw" illusion, which cuts a woman in half, then a pinball machine in half.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During "Hat Magic", the third item produced is a telephone, and the person on the other end yells, "MOVE YOUR CAR!"
    • The padlocks on the sides of the cabinet are from the "Joos Lock Company", a reference to longtime Williams' mechanical engineer Joe Joos Jr.
  • Signature Style: Theatre has all the hallmarks of a John Popadiuk pin — a magic theme, prominent use of magnets, a captive ball target, out-of-the-way pop bumpers, and a spinning Magician's Trunk toy.
  • Skill Shot: Hit the trunk after launching the ball to receive one of three player-selected rewards.
    Announcer: "Amazing skill!"
    • Other times, when you lock a ball or make a ball vanish, hitting the captive ball after launching the ball will advance the clock.
  • Spelling Bonus: Shoot the ramps to spell MAGIC to enable the multiball locks, and spell THEATRE for a ten-second opportunity to shoot the trunk and collect the Theatre Bonus. The Grand Finale (see Wizard Mode, below) requires spelling MAGIC THEATRE in 90 seconds.
  • Spikes Of Doom/The Walls Are Closing In: During the "Strait Jacket" illusion, the magician must escape while trapped between two spiked walls closing together.
  • Spinning Clock Hands: Midnight Madness has the clock hands moving backwards towards noon.
  • Stage Magician: Unusual for this trope, the player is a female magician, as shown on the backglass and in the video displays.
  • The Place
  • Timed Mission: All of the illusions, the Theatre Hurry-Up, Video Mode, and the Wizard Mode are timed.
  • Video Mode: One of the random options in the Basement is Video Pinball. You play for 30 seconds, trying to hit all six targets for an extra ball.
  • Wall Crawl: One of the sides of the Magic Trunk allows the pinball to cling to it.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Advancing the clock to midnight starts Midnight Madness; the clock goes backwards from midnight, and each shot to the Magician's Trunk scores 2 million times the current hour.
  • Wizard Mode: "Grand Finale", which is only available after performing all eight illusions, spelling THEATRE, advancing the clock to midnight, and performing Theatre Multiball at least once. The Finale itself gives you one ball and 90 seconds to hit all the major loops and ramps to spell MAGIC THEATRE.

Announcer: "That ball is full of magic!"

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alternative title(s): Theater Of Magic
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