Pat Lawlor is a foremost designer of arcade Pinball machines. Though he got started in the industry working on video games, he is most famous for his attention-grabbing pinball designs.
A list of Pat Lawlor's games reads like a who's who of popular pinball tables: Banzai Run, Earthshaker!, Whirlwind, FunHouse, Red & Ted's Road Show, and No Good Gofers for Williams Electronics; The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone, and Safe Cracker under the Bally label; and (as Pat Lawlor Design) Monopoly, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, NASCAR, and Family Guy for Stern. He had previously predicted the complete demise of pinball manufacturing, but in 2014 joined Jersey Jack Pinball to work on a new table titled Dialed In!. After its release in 2017, he would continue to design games for the company going into the next decade.
Lawlor's games typically introduce gameplay-altering features that are related to the game's theme, such as the spinning discs in Whirlwind that tossed balls off-course. His pins also have a mix of "vertical" shots (from the bottom of the playfield to the top) and "horizontal" ones (side-to-side, typically with the aid of additional flippers).
His games include:
- Demons and Dragons (Bally/Midway, 1982; unreleased)
- Ten Pin Deluxe (Bally/Midway, 1984)
- Banzai Run (Williams, 1988)
- Earthshaker! (Williams, 1989)
- Whirlwind (Williams, 1990)
- FunHouse (Williams, 1990)
- The Addams Family (Bally, 1992)
- The Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)
- Red & Ted's Road Show (Williams, 1994)
- Safe Cracker (Bally, 1996)
- No Good Gofers (Williams, 1997 - his final table for the company)
- Wizard Blocks (Williams, 1999; unreleased - one of two prototypes intended for the ill-fated Pinball 2000 engine)
- Monopoly (Stern, 2001)
- RollerCoaster Tycoon (Stern, 2002)
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! (Stern, 2004)
- NASCAR (Stern, 2005)
- Grand Prix
- Dale Jr.
- Family Guy (Stern, 2007)
- CSI (Stern, 2008)
- Dialed In! (Jersey Jack, 2017)
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Jersey Jack, 2019)
- Toy Story 4 (Jersey Jack, 2022)
Tropes frequently appearing in Pat Lawlor's pinballs include:
- Author Catchphrase: Nearly all of his pins have some reference to "The Power", either as part of a quote or a playfield element.
- Creator Thumbprint:
- The artwork for Lawlor's games include a joystick with a thumb button. It became the company logo for Pat Lawlor Design.
- Both The Twilight Zone and The Addams Family have references to "greed", though the former (which was released later) seems to be referencing the latter (whose "greed" reference was an allusion to something in the movie it was based on).
- Developers' Foresight: Usually lampshaded with a smart remark.
- Dialog During Gameplay: Whether it's a single Deadpan Snarker (Rudy from FunHouse (1990)), a pair of characters (Red & Ted from Road Show), or an entire cast of commentators, expect lots of chatter during a Lawlor pin.
- Fetch Quest: Certain bonuses are available only after making a certain number of shots or hitting a target a number of times.
- Signature Style:
- The "Bumper Shot", requiring the player to shoot a ball between a set of pop bumpers to hit a crucial target.
- There are at least three flippers on a table, with flippers high on the board positioned to hit high-scoring shots.
- "Soft plunge" Skill Shots.
- Dual inlanes on either side of the playfield, usually located above the lower pop bumpers.
- A "Million Plus" shot that starts at either one or two million points and increases by 1,000,000 each time it's made.
- Spinning discs, flippers, or magnets beneath the board that throw off the ball's trajectory.
- A counter for a specific shot, with various rewards for hitting milestones and large scoring bonuses for making the shot once the counter's maxed out at 99.
- Thematically-related gimmicks, such as the shaker motor in Earthshaker! that made the entire cabinet shake during the game, and Rudy, the talking doll head in FunHouse (1990).
- A "Ripoff" multiball mode made appearances in No Good Gofers, Monopoly, and Ripley's Believe It or Not.