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Pinball / Back to the Future

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The Other Marty, and it's not Eric Stoltz this time.

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need...roads."

Back To The Future is an arcade pinball game designed by Ed Cebula and Joe Kaminkow. it was released in 1990 by Data East Pinball, and is based on the Back to the Future film trilogy.

The Back To The Future playfield is divided chronologically, with Hill Valley of 1885 on the left and the Hill Valley of 2015 on the right. While the player tries to raise his score by going between the past, the future, Biff's casino, and the clock tower, caught in the middle are the DeLorean, Doc Brown, and someone who should be but doesn't quite look like Marty...

Unfortunately, most pinball players consider BTTF to be fairly forgettable, a somewhat simple game that fails to do anything interesting with the premise. As with most pins by Data East, only the graphics and sound tied the game to the license, and its appeal is primarily with nostalgia-seeking movie fans.


The Data East physical version demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Creator Cameo: Paul Faris and Brian Schmidt, who did the game's art and music, appear on the right side of the playfield.
  • Match Sequence: It starts with a weatherman reporting a severe thunderstorm headed for Hill Valley, then shows lightning flying across the alphanumeric display, finally striking a match number.
  • Not Quite Starring/The Other Darrin:
    • Invoked, as Michael J. Fox did not allow his likeness to be used for the game.
    • Also, Fred Young was Doc Brown's voice (when the clip wasn't directly taken from the films, anyway).
    • Artist Paul Faris' son plays Marty on the playfield and the backglass.
    • It's unclear who voiced "Marty", but everyone agrees the voice doesn't even come close to sounding like Michael J. Fox.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: To hide the fact that "Marty" isn't Michael J. Fox (see The Other Darrin, above), he is drawn on the backglass with his face covered by a pair of large dark sunglasses. This only served to draw more attention to his non-resemblance to Fox.
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  • Skill Shot: Shoot the left ramp after launch for one of several random bonuses.
  • Spelling Bonus: The predominant scoring mechanism in the game — M-C-F-L-Y increases the casino spinner value, D-O-C increases the bonus multiplier, D-M-C lights the multiball lock, and D-E-L-O-R-E-A-N starts the Million round.
  • Timed Mission: The DeLorean Million round, which lasts 12 seconds and gives the player 1 million points for each ramp shot.
  • Title: The Adaptation
  • Vanity License Plate: Oddly enough, the DeLorean has FUSION plates instead of the movie's signature OUTATIME.

"Your future is whatever you make it! So make it a good one!"
"You're telling me you built a time machine... out of a pinball table?"
Many months after the first film's 30th anniversary, Zen Studios designed a Digital Pinball Table based on the films, which is available as an add-on to Pinball FX 3. This table boasts a stronger fidelity to the source material with a full dot matrix display, a variety of more advanced table mechanics (including a slew of various targets and toys that best capture the atmosphere of each major time setting visited and the integration of the machine's iconic flux capacitator), full voice acting and the ability to "time-travel" to each major time setting, which is a "mission" in of itself.

The Pinball FX 3 digital version of the table features the following tropes:

  • Anti-Frustration Feature:
    • At the start of each ball, you are given a 30-second ball saver. The ball saver also activates when a multiball begins. Plus, the table will prevent unfair drains from hitting drop targets crucial for missions, so if you bounce the ball into the outlane off of one and have no kickbacks available, the ball saver will activate immediately.
    • Draining the ball during a main mission will not cancel it, unlike most tables. In fact, you can't fail a mission at all. You can pick up right where you last left off when you shoot the next ball in play.
  • Burning Rubber: Balls can catch on fire and leave behind iconic burning tire trails, just like the ones the DeLorean leaves when it time-travels.
  • Power Up Let Down: For those of you who care about getting to the wizard mode, whatever you do, think carefully about when you want to activate a multiball mode. You certainly won't want to activate one when you're almost finished with a mission (or when you're trying to start the next one), because any active multiball modes, once started, will block you from continuing to the next one if you just finished a mission.
  • Score Multiplier: Raise the score multiplier by spelling MCFLY on the return rollovers, then quickly shoot a lit multiplier lane within a brief time limit. Be aware that each lane can only be used once, making it more and more difficult to push the score multiplier up to the max of 10x!
  • Skill Shot: The player must launch the ball with just enough force that it lands on a very short crossramp. This is called a "crackshot" in-universe.
  • Spelling Bonus:
    • Spell DOC to change the random award that will be granted once the bumpers are struck enough times.
    • Spell TIME on the target posts to raise the amount of time available for bonus hurry-up modes.
    • Spell DELOREAN to get bonus points, plus an extra ball the first time this happens.
    • Spell MCFLY on the return rollovers for a chance to raise the score multiplier.
  • Wizard Mode: Finishing all 6 main missions will grant you access to the Time Paradox wizard mode, which is simply a huge victory multiball where you can score oodles of points as long as you keep at least two balls in play. Plus, if you finish all missions in the order of the films, you get an even larger multiball - seven balls to be exact!

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