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Pinball / Attack from Mars

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Earth will be ours!
"Reports are coming in from all over the world... The Earth is under attack! An attack... from Mars!"

Attack from Mars is a pinball machine released in December of 1995 by Williams Electronics under the Bally label. It was designed by Brian Eddy and illustrated by Doug Watson.

Like most pinball games, there isn't really much in the way of plot: the Earth is under attack by Martians, and you must stop them from kidnapping women and destroying the world's monuments, before ultimately taking the fight to the source on Mars itself and trying to Rule the Universe. The main draw of the machine is the Martian ship toy in the center of the board that actually shakes when the player destroys it in-game.

It got a sequel, Revenge from Mars, in 1999.

A digital version of the game was available as part of FarSight Studios' The Pinball Arcade collection until the WMS license expired on July 1, 2018. Another digital version is currently available for Pinball FX3, along with a remastered version that includes the typical Zen Studios flair.

This pinball machine contains examples of:

  • Alien Invasion: Just in case the name Attack from Mars isn't enough of a clue, the game puts the player in the position of repelling a Martian invasion of Earth.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Martians don't seem to have any reason for attacking Earth.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Apparently the Martians made a point of learning English for their invasion of Earth, as it's the language they use for almost all of their dialogue.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle:
    • Both an art decal and an in-game animation show aliens tractor beaming up a cow.
    • The "Saucer Attack" Video Mode will become "Cow Attack" if the launch button has been pressed while there is a cow on the DMD during the normal game (the Tractor Beam and Big-O-Beam shots can show one). There will be a moo sound when the button is pressed.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: After Strobe Multiball ends, a short ball saver is activated while the player adjusts back to normal gameplay.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "They've got a Big-O-Beam!" As the name implies, it enlarges various objects and animals to giant size.
  • B-Movie: The whole game evokes this, including the garish artwork, hammy dialogue, and goofy little plastic Martians and flying saucers.
  • Cap: The score rolls around at 100 billion points. If you go over that, your score will be displayed with leading zeroes, as if the hundred billions digit is cut off (i.e. 100 billion would be 00,000,000,000), but your score will display fully on the high score table and the game will supposedly keep track of scores up to 1 trillion minus ten. It also caps the bonus multiplier at 250x.
  • Combo Breaker: Shooting an orbit that has only been shot once or not at all for its part of activating Total Annihilation will instantly cut a combo short. Take note of that because you need to make a 5-way combo to get to "Rule the Universe".
  • Combos: Making consecutive ramp/loop shots will award a combo, starting at 25 million for a two-way and adding 5 million to the value for each shot after that. You have to get a 5-Way Combo as one of the requirements to enable "Rule the Universe."
  • Creator Provincialism: The opening narration indicates the entire world is under siege from the Martians, and the Martians themselves say they want to conquer Earth. However, all of their main saucers are located in the United States and the European Union.
  • Deflector Shields: The player has to first disable the Martian ship's force field (by hitting every target in the bank of three blocking the saucer shot) in order to start each attack wave.
    Martian: You cannot defeat our force field!
  • Developer's Foresight: During multiball, it's possible to get a ball trapped behind the raised "forcefield" targets that block the saucer. If you hit the targets hard enough to knock the ball up into the top hole, you get a "Dirty Pool" message on the screen, and the game credits you with completing the next/currently lit attack wave and awards the points for it.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Each of the countries attacked by the Martians is represented by its major landmark: the Eiffel tower in France, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Tower Bridge in England, and the Statue of Liberty in the USA.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: During Strobe Multiball, a strobe light under the saucer flashes after collecting jackpots, making it harder to track the pinballs flying about. Also notable for making this game the first pinball ever to have an epilepsy warning sticker applied to it.
  • Failsafe Failure: Averted. The game's ball save feature is nice enough to pause the timer in single-ball play while the ball is in the jet bumpers. It is still rather short though.
  • Finish Him!: To finish a battle, you must not only deplete the saucer's life bar, but also lock the ball in the central saucer to land the final shot. A citizen from the city you're defending will urge you to finish off the saucer once the life bar reaches zero.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Averted; despite the similarities in design and name, Attack From Mars was not inspired by or a license of Mars Attacks!. According to team member George Gomez, Brian Eddy had the concept prior to the movie, and it is coincidence that the two came out within a year of each other.
  • Life Meter: The saucers have one in bar form, though depleting it will not immediately destroy the saucer. It will instead give access to a hole (behind a drop target which will recede), which when shot will destroy the saucer.
    • The mothership in the Video Mode has a numeric one which shows how many shots must be made to destroy it.
    • Mars itself will show both the planet with chunks being blown out of it along with the number of hits remaining to destroy it.
  • Little Green Men: The Martians, except they're not "little".
  • Made of Explodium: The saucers, and even the entire planet of Mars will explode when destroyed.
  • Mars Needs Women: The "Capture" shot is based around this trope, with various animations of Martians pursuing Earth women.
  • Match Sequence: Several numbers flash rapidly until a Martian ship comes and shoots it with a laser, stopping it on the match number.
  • Monster Misogyny: As seen on the backbox.
  • Monumental Damage: Each attack wave shows the aliens trying to destroy or alter a monument in the city they're invading (i.e. straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa).
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Martians.
    Woman: "Get your hands off me, all four of them!"
  • My Brain Is Big: The aliens have wrinkly oversized heads.
  • Oh, Crap!: During Martian Attack, if only one Martian is left, the corresponding shaking Martian toy on the table will stop long enough to pause and exclaim "Oh no!" when he realizes his cohorts are down.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: The Martians' reaction after starting Martian Attack after successfully completing it:
    "Not you again?! OHHHHH!"
    • Also, starting a new game immediately after earning a replay:
    "YOU AGAIN?"
  • New Game Plus: The game will continue after Rule the Universe. The Nintendo Hard Conquer Mars is permanently lit for the rest of the game, making it much easier to reach Rule the Universe subsequent times. If the same player Rules the Universe more than once, "Re-Election #x" is shown on the high scores. After Ruling the Universe, Victory Laps can be collected until the end of the ball. These are collected by shooting the ramps and loops. Hitting the saucer re-lights all five shots and increases their value.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The proper response to the Martian invasion is to steal their ships and bomb Mars to hell. And then take over the universe, if you so desire.
  • Pinball Scoring: The Skill Shot at the beginning of the game is worth 10 million points (and increases 10 million each subsequent time). Hitting the saucer in the middle scores 50 million or more a hit (and if you aim the ball right, you can score up to three hits in one shot). In the Wizard Mode, your goal is to earn 5 billion points, at which time you are awarded 5 billion more. This game is notable for being the very last game released during an overall trend of "score inflation". Bally/Williams' very next game, Tales of the Arabian Nights, toned scores down by a factor of 100. Sega - their main competitor at the time - also followed suit with their games.
  • Sequence Breaking: If you destroy a saucer during a multiball and then time another ball such that it is trapped by the rising shield targets, and then hit the shield such that the ball goes into the saucer, you receive a Dirty Pool bonus and instantly destroy the next saucer.
  • Share Phrase: The Attack Phase has a different set of citizen quips for each monument, but all of them can say "Blow the saucer out of the sky!" when you've taken down its shield.
  • Skill Shot: The normal one is worth 10 million (incrementing by 10 million each time) points and adds 5x bonus multiplier by having the ball roll over the lit lane above the bumpers. The Super Skill Shot is worth a flat 50 million and can be made by holding down the left flipper while plunging the ball, which will cause it to go past the bumpers and out the left orbit. Shooting either orbit or ramp will complete all three shots needed for it to start Total Annihilation. Hitting the force field in front of the saucer if it is up will lower it and start the next attack wave. The latter is almost always the better way to use the Super Skill Shot, especially if the ball saver is off (common in tournaments).
  • Smart Bomb: Martian Bombs can be acquired; each one will take out a martian during Martian Attack by hitting the ball launch button. There is also a smart bomb during Video Mode that will blow up all saucers on screen. It can even be used to immediately take out the mothership that normally takes 80 hits if you can hold onto it up to that point.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spell M-A-R-T-I-A-N to enable Martian Attack.
  • Timed Mission: Martian Attack, where the player has 30 seconds (default) to destroy four martians and then start Martian Attack Multiball, which is not timed.
  • Title Drop: The beginning narration quoted at the top of this page.
  • To Serve Man: "Come here, tasty human!" can be heard during the attract mode.
  • Tractor Beam: One of the right ramps activates a tractor beam bonus.
    "Oh no, they got our livestock and treasured historical monuments!"
  • Trash Talk / Developer's Foresight: During Martian Attack, the martian above the "I" target will taunt the player if they shoot the Stroke of Luck scoop instead (which the game can recognize as a near-miss, as the scoop is immediately to the right of said martian).
  • Video Mode: A clone of the Apple II game, Sabotage: aim the rapidly-firing turret at a wave of saucers to destroy them. If one of them lands the ground or collides with the turret, the mode instantly ends. If all of the saucers are destroyed, then the mothership arrives; hit it enough times before it lands to destroy it.
  • Wizard Mode: "Rule the Universe", which is achieved by getting the following at least once: a Super Jackpot during Multiball, a Five-Way Combo, Super Jets, Martian Multiball, Total Annihilation, and Conquering Mars. It's a four-ball multiball with everything lit and a goal of scoring 5 billion points. If you succeed, you get another 5 billion and a chance to enter your initials as the latest ruler of the universe.
  • World of Ham: Martian and Earthling alike, everyone is shouting through the chaos of the invasion.
  • World Tour: The Attack Phase has the player defending various monuments from being damaged by the Martians.