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Pinball / Apollo 13

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"Apollo 13 is Go For Launch!"

Backbox topper

Apollo 13 is a 1995 pinball game designed by Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow, released by Sega Pinball, based on the film of the same name. Kevin Bacon (Jack Swigert), Bill Paxton (Fred Haise), and Gary Sinise (Ken Mattingly) provided custom speech for this game.

This is a very dense pinball table; playfield toys include an elevating Saturn V rocket, a lunar LEM module, a countdown LED, and a rotating Moon. Collect orbits around the table to Advance the Spacecraft around the Moon and return to Earth, and perform various Apollo Missions along the way — perform a manual burn to straighten the orbiter, fix the Life Support systems, fix the CO2 scrubbers, and take care of the Master Alarm. For more points, shoot the Saturn and load up for multiball, or use gravitynote  to slingshot pinballs over the Moon. Even with all these features, the biggest appeal of the game is its 13 Ball Blastoff Multiball, where thirteen balls are unloaded onto the playfield. Up to six people can play at once, either individually or in teams, and the game offers "Novice" and "Wizard" difficulty settings for players.

Not surprisingly, Apollo 13 is considered a gimmick table, with the Saturn V rocket, pinball-grabbing Moon, and thirteen-ball multiball entertaining for the first few times. Afterwards, players tend to be divided, with supporters who find it a well-balanced game for beginners and novices, and detractors who bemoan the lack of satisfying shots or a deeper challenge. If nothing else, it's worth a few plays just for the experience.

The Apollo 13 pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Despite being the star of the film, Tom Hanks is nowhere to be seen, due to licensing issues.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: The "CO2" Mission.
  • Appeal to Novelty
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted.
  • One-Way Visor: The astronaut on the backglass.
  • Painting the Medium: The ball plunger is a Saturn launch handle.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: The "Moon's Gravity" Mission, where shooting the right ramp three times will allow the Moon to carry pinballs up and over it.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spell B-L-A-S-T-O-F-F to start 13 Ball Blastoff Multiball (which carries over from game-to-game), and D-O-C-K to light Mystery.
  • Timed Mission: Several of the Missions.
    "The clock is running..."
  • Video Mode: Similar to Lunar Lander, carefully land the Landing Module on the Moon for bonus points.
  • Wizard Mode: Two of them:
    • "Master Alarm", which is available after completing all missions. This is a 40-second frenzy, where every target scores one million points and adds an additional million to the Jackpot at the Blastoff ramp.
    • The second Wizard Mode is the infamous "13 Ball Blastoff Multiball", which is available after spelling BLASTOFF. A post between the flippers rises up, four more balls are launched onto the playfield, and then eight more balls in the playfield holder are released all at once. Shooting the rocket collects the Jackpot and retracts the post; after five Jackpots have been collected, the Super Thirteen Ball Jackpot is available for several seconds.
    Jack Swigert: Houston, we're surrounded by pinballs!