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Pinball: Whirlwind
Feel The Power of the Wind!
Announcer: "The storm is coming — return to your homes!"

Whirlwind is a pinball machine designed by Pat Lawlor with art by John Youssi. it was released by Williams Electronics in 1990.

The game is themed around a rampaging tornado, which the player ultimately must guide to their area by shooting certain shots. Along the way, you'll collect Skyway Tolls (eventually paying them off entirely), raise the atmospheric pressure, and visit the cellar for random awards. Hitting the proper targets to direct the storm will enable the ball locks; lock two balls, then unleash The Power of the multiball.

The game is rather notable for two of its gadgets: spinning discs on the playfield that screw with the ball's travel, and a fan on the top of the backbox that blows at the player. Both activate when a lock is lit and during multiball.

Not to be confused with Cyclone or Hurricane.

A digital version of Whirlwind (without the fan) is available for The Pinball Arcade.


This pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Anti-Frustration Feature: If a launched ball drains without scoring any points, it will be re-served for another go.
  • Blow You Away: The storm elemental on the sides of the cabinet and fan, who blows the winds and sends down tornados and lightning. It's probably more for the Rule of Cool than anything else, though.
  • Combo: Going between the Lo Pressure Jets to the upper right flipper, around the Hi Pressure Jets to the upper-right flipper, and up the 3-Toll Ramp scores a 3-Way Combo, accompanied by a really awesome siren sound.
  • Creator Cameo: The man driving the Storm Blasters van on the backglass is Pat Lawlor himself.
  • Creator Thumbprint: "The Power", used here as dropdown targets.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud
  • Elemental Embodiment: The storm elemental featured throughout the game, who apparently creates whirlwinds and thunderstorms simply because it can.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Both the Spinner and the rotating discs, though the latter screws with the ball.
  • Feelies: Subverted. There's a fan on the top of the machine that, when a whirlwind picks up, will blow on the players and cool them off. Helpful for more intense or competitive games. Sadly, the digital versions don't do this.
    Man: "Here it comes!"
  • Painting the Medium: The fan could be considered a way to get players "into" the game's theme.
  • Product Displacement: Originally, the boy on the backglass was drawn wearing a blue baseball cap with the Chicago Cubs' "C" logo on it. Soon after production started, however, Williams was informed that they could not use the logo. In response, stickers with the Williams' "W" were used to cover up the letter "C"; the artwork was later modified to use the Williams' "W" instead.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Whirlwind pinball could be seen as a Shout Out to Bally's classic Fireball, which was renown for having a spinning disc in the middle of the playfield, called the "Whirlwind Spinner".
    • Under the ramp in the upper-left corner of the playfield is a road sign reading "Visit the Fault", a reference to Pat Lawlor's Earthshaker!.
  • Signature Style: The fan and rotating discs, and the "bumper shot" through the Lo Pressure bumpers.
  • Skill Shot: Hitting the "Feel", "The", and "Power" drop targets nets 300K, 200K, and 100K points, respectively. Hitting more than one adds their values together.
  • Super Mode: Some of the Super Cellar Door's rewards can feel like this, as they raise their value much higher than usual.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Exactly why are you moving the storm to your area?

Woman: "Uh-oh, looks like rain!"
VarkonCreator/Williams ElectronicsWhite Water
VictoryVideoGame/The Pinball ArcadeWHO Dunnit
The Twilight ZoneThe NinetiesWhite Water
The Walking DeadPhysical Pinball TablesWhite Water

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