Video Game: 3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride

"Ride the—" ...woops, wrong game.

3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride is a Digital Pinball game developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra for Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. Based on the Real Life Hersheypark Theme Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the game requires the player to perform various ride related-tasks to score points, and ultimately try to stay through the night.

Most of the action takes place with the various Fun Zone puzzles on the primary table, but making key shots will open additional areas and events. You play as a guest visiting the park with one goal in mind: Ride every single ride in the park. Go on real-life rides like the Wildcat, the Coal Cracker, and the Wave Swinger, then warp over to the Thrill Zone mini-playfield for additional challenges. Visit the snack shop for bonuses and prizes, clear the rapids, and try to stick around long enough for Lights Out, and a chance to see the Nighttime Fantasy fireworks show.

Unlike earlier games in the series, Thrill Ride edges back to a more conventional pinball feel, de-emphasizing the overall quest in favor of simply getting a high score, making the game more accessible for casual players. The updated graphics engine supported resolutions up to 800 x 600 and High-Color displays, delivering great special effects and realistic graphics. The downside is its replayability; with only one main table and a few mini-games, there isn't much replay value, and most players will see everything the game has to offer in a few hours.

A version of this game was developed for the Nintendo Game Boy Color, but bears no resemblance to the original aside from the name and general premise.


3-D Ultra Pinball: Thrill Ride contains examples of:

  • Amusement Park/Theme Park
  • Everything's Better with Cows: In true pinball fashion, the Hershey Cow can be unlocked as one of the characters in the Hide and Seek mode with a cheat code. Another cheat code can turn the waterfall leading to the Fun Zone into chocolate milk, complete with a mooing sound.
  • Excuse Plot
  • In Name Only: The Game Boy Color version of the game, which is played from a scrolling overhead perspective and changes many of the rules to accommodate the platform. On its own, however, it's regarded as a rather good game despite the lack of semblance to the original.
  • Large Ham Announcer: Whenever the male announcer says THRILL ZONE!
  • Licensed Pinball Table:
    • Technically, Thrill Ride is a licensed game based on Hersheypark, but the connection is heavily downplayed and feels more like Product Placement instead — most references are limited to a few cartoon characters based on Hershey products on the display, and a bonus video in the options menu advertising one of the rides from the park, the Lightning Racer.
    • Product Placement: Played straight with the various rides in the game, which are based on ones at the Real Life Hersheypark.
  • No Fair Cheating: Using a cheat code (skipping to the Wizard Mode, extending the timer on the ball saver, etc.) locks you out of entering your score into the Hall of Fame for that game.
  • Skill Shot: Two, one into the snack shop, the other up the corkscrew coaster.
  • Shout-Out: The way the Hide and Seek Mode is activated, hitting the ball into a scoop a certain amount of times that gives you various bonuses, in this case, the Gift Shop, is similar to the way you activate Lyman's Lament.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spell T-H-R-I-L-L-R-I-D-E to collect enough Thrill Points to start Nighttime Fantasy, which when finished lights up a pinwheel light to go towards Lights Out Mode.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Williams Electronics' "Rollercoaster" trilogy, Comet, Cyclone, and Hurricane.
  • The Theme Park Version: Literally, entire premise of the game.
  • Very Loosely Based On A True Theme Park
  • Video Mode: Sort of. Two rides in the Fun Zone will take you to a separate mini table with its own objective. The River Rapids, where you have to sink boulders to clear a path for the boats, and the Lightning Racer Virtual Coaster, where you hit bumpers build your own virtual roller coaster RollerCoaster Tycoon style. You can even "ride" the coaster after time runs out.
  • Wizard Mode: Available after you complete the game's six trials — finish all five Fun Zone and Thrill Zone rides, spell THRILLRIDE, activate both multiballs, and complete "Nighttime Fantasy," a Sub-Wizard Mode where you shoot every ramp to start a fireworks display. This activates "Lights Out", where the player must hit all the light bulbs on the playfield to put them out, essentially closing the park for the night. Successfully doing so starts a variation of "Nighttime Fantasy", where you try to launch as many fireworks displays as you can.
    Male Park Announcer: All right, let's pack it in and go home.
    Guest: But I don't want to go home!
    Female Park Announcer: Well, why didn't you say so?