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Pinball / Batman (Stern)

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Why So Serious?

Batman is a Physical Pinball Table designed by George Gomez and released by Stern Pinball in 2008.

Despite the title, the game is primarily based on the second movie in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, with the player as Batman out to stop the Joker and the Scarecrow from terrorizing Gotham City's key political figures. Recruit Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox, gather equipment from the WayneTech arsenal, then rescue Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes from the Joker. Race the Batmobile off Gotham bridge and beef up the Bat-Pod's abilities, but watch out for the Scarecrow as he swings the crane around the playfield. When the Bat Signal lights up, answer the call for both the Bat Signal Challenge and Gotham City Multiball.

The original release of the game was incomplete, with some of the game modes being overly simplistic, sound cutoffs, and the absence of any sort of Wizard Mode. This was eventually addressed two years later, when programmer Lyman Sheats released a software update that fixed numerous issues, including the addition of a "Gotham City Multiball" finale.

In 2010, Stern released a limited number of "Standard Model" Batman tables through Costco as part of an attempt at reaching the mass market with a cheaper alternative ($700 lower than the original's price). The "Standard" game is almost the same as the arcade ("Pro") model, but without the rotating Joker reveal cylinder, the teetering Batmobile bridge, and the WayneTech mini-playfield, and with assorted software changes to match. Reportedly, only 48 of the "Standard" tables were released, making it an extremely rare (but sparse) collectable for the die-hard Batman fan.

This Batman pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Art Shift: The digital display mixes standard animated graphics with clips from the movie.
  • Ascended Extra: The Scarecrow is much more prominent here than in The Dark Knight.
  • Bank Robbery: "Joker Multiball" starts by showing Joker's gang robbing a bank.
  • Bat Signal: Played straight, as the bat signal on the playfield lights up to indicate the "Bat Signal Challenge" and "Gotham City Multiball".
  • Canon Foreigner: The Scarecrow's crane, which did not appear in The Dark Knight.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Batmobile Hurry-Up can be worth an absurd amount of points by selecting the Batmobile Skill Shot on the plunge, lighting a multiplier on that shot before starting the Hurry-Up, repeatedly shooting the right orbit to increase its value, shooting the left orbit again to double the Hurry-Up, and finally collecting it on the center ramp. It's possible to get over a billion points this way, in a game where a score in the tens of millions is typically considered to be quite excellent. However, successfully pulling this off requires no fewer than a whopping 35 shots (31 of these being to the right orbit) in a single ball while under pressure of the hurry-up timer potentially running out, a feat that only the best players are likely to accomplish.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: On the original Batman table, the Joker is hidden by a black cylinder; the outer shell rotates away during gameplay to reveal him. Averted with the "Standard Edition" table, which removes the mechanism.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: In the "Locate the Joker" mission, Batman uses a handheld scanner to track the Joker as he runs around.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: "Scarecrow Attack", which requires the player to hit the crane's wrecking ball as it moves around the playfield.
  • Indy Escape: Invoked by the Gotham bridge seesaw mechanism, which has the Batmobile outrunning a gigantic (relative to its scale) pinball.
  • Level Grinding: Collecting some of the characters requires repeating key shots over and over, with Lucius Foxnote  being the worst offender.
  • My Card: The Joker's playing card jokers.
  • Not Quite Starring: The unidentified voice actors who replaced the movie actors. Oddly, the game uses a mix of movie clips and re-recorded dialog, making the transition more jarring.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: "Rescue Rachel", where Rachel is falling from the top of a skyscraper, and Batman swings in to rescue her without even a bruise.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The playfield is decorated with Dark Knight action figures, and the Batmobile is from Mattel's Hot Wheels line.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: The Joker, who's flashing his knives in some of the animations.
  • Secondary Adaptation: The game is based on The Dark Knight, itself an adaptation of the Batman comics.
  • Score Multiplier: Everywhere. The Skill Shot will double the value of the Batmobile, Joker, or Scarecrow for that ball. If all three are selected at least once then the player is awarded Double Bonus. "Light Multipliers" can be activated by shooting the small target near the left orbit a certain number of times or as a Mystery award. This lights the "Mini-Mine Multiplier"s. The next major shot that is shot will be doubled for the rest of the ball. Lighting another Mini-Mine Multiplier when they are all already lit will have that insert flash (instead of being solidly lit) and triple that shot.
  • Skill Shot: Shoot the ball into the flashing rollover lane to receive one of three rewards.
  • Spelling Bonus: B-A-T-M-A-N enables the various Bat Missions.
  • Stealth Pun: The crane is controlled by the Scarecrow, whose real name is Jonathan Crane.
  • Weaponized Car: Or Weaponized Bike, rather. The player must collect three weapons upgrades for the Bat-Pod.
  • Wizard Mode:
    • Originally subverted; collecting all eight characters in the cast lit the Bat Signal for "Final Battle", but shooting the saucer to start it simply rewarded 100 million points. A proper Wizard Mode was eventually added in the 2010 update; the "Gotham City Challenge" starts off with a 50 million saucer shot, followed by a four-ball multiball mode. Drained balls can be restored by making major shots, and completing a certain number of shots enables the Super Jackpot bonus.
    • Played straight with "Bat Signal Challenge", a perfectly respectable sub-Wizard Mode. Enable the Scarecrow, the Joker, and the Batmobile, then shoot the saucer for a four-ball multiball. Make the three shots again to raise the jackpot, then shoot the saucer to collect the Super Jackpot.