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 pinballs reads like a Who's Who of Popular Pinballs: Banzai Run, Earthshaker!, Whirlwind, Fun House, 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, which was eventually released in 2017.
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)
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:
- Developers' Foresight: Usually lampshaded with a smart remark.
- Dialog During Gameplay: Whether it's a single Deadpan Snarker (Rudy from FunHouse), 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.
- A "Ripoff" multiball mode made appearances in No Good Gofers, Monopoly, and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
- Something Completely Different: 2005's NASCAR was a break from Lawlor's designs, with a more conventional two-flipper "fan layout."
- Similarly, Safe Cracker lacked many of his signature features and featured several unusual gameplay mechanics.