Baywatch is a 1995 arcade pinball game based on the world-famous television series from The '90s. Designed by Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow, with artwork by Markus Rothkranz and Jeff Busch, it was the second game from the newly-formed Sega Pinball.
Set in the sun and surf of Southern California, the game casts the player as one of the Baywatch lifeguards, working with Mitch, C.J., Stephanie, Matt, and Caroline on various beachside adventures. Perform CPR on drowning victims, rescue trapped Divers, and watch out for the Tidal Wave. Visit Venice Beach and Shark Cove, go jet skiing, then activate the automatic Shark Fin Flipper to help out during Tourist Season. Lock pinballs in the Guard Tower for multiball, prove yourself in the Ironman Competition, collect all the vehicles for the Search and Rescue, then ride out the Earthquake and look great while doing so. The large DMD features near-photorealistic animated clips, while David Hasselhoff provides custom voice work. Up to six players can compete, including an option for two-on-two "doubles mode".
While some dismiss Baywatch for its blatantly exploitative license, those who've looked past the theme have discovered that it's actually a fun, fast game with lots of interesting shots, some tough challenges, and a deep but understandable ruleset. For its fans, Baywatch isn't a Guilty Pleasure as much as it's just a great table that happens to have some lovely Fanservice accompanying it.
Custom copies of the Baywatch pinball game were given to Hasselhoff and key producers of the TV series. In March 2014, Hasselhoff worked with Julien's Auctions and the television show Celebrity Home Raiders to auction off his table. It was eventually sold for $4,160, and the proceeds benefitted the Starlight Children's Foundation.
The Baywatch pinball table demonstrates the following tropes:
- CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Played with; "CPR" in Baywatch is fairly difficult to accomplish, due to the steep Guard Tower ramp and the precedence of ball locks.
- Creator Cameo:
- Gregory J. Bonann, producer of the television show and a Real Life lifeguard, appears on the far playfield panel as the man carrying a surfboard.
- Producer Douglas Schwartz is the man with the mustache near the bumpers, while across from him is executive producer Michael Berk and a man believed to be Jolly Backer, Sega's Director of National and International Sales.
- Markus Rothkranz' girlfriend appears as the surfboard-carrying blonde in the corner of the backglass.
- Death Glare: David Hasselhoff has this on the backglass.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Shark Fin Flipper is a flipper with a shark's fin on top of it.
- Fanservice: For players of all genders. For the ladies, Mitch and Matt are never seen with a shirt on. For the guys, the female lifeguards are always in their swimsuits.
- Heroic Dolphin: Invoked by the "Search and Rescue" lane, which has a spinner with a dolphin in it.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: As noted above, customized copies of the game were given to Hasselhoff and producers of the TV show. These machines included some voice clips not present in commercial tables, including R-rated language and various Inside Jokes.
- Male Gaze: The sides of the cabinet prominently feature the thong-clad backsides of C.J., Caroline, and Stephanie.
- Match Sequence: The display pans down a line of female Baywatch lifeguards, each holding a card with a match number. The last woman's number is the match.
- Mythology Gag: After winning a Special, one of the random voice clips is Mitch saying "Never had a better day!" — a catchphrase of series producer Gregory Bonann.
- Skill Shot: The player can choose from one of three Skill Shots — the top SPF rollover lanes, the Shark Hole, or the Ironman side ramp. The difficulty and bonus for each shot increases accordingly.
- There's also a Secret Skill Shot, where you shoot for the Guard Tower when it's lit for 25 million points.
- Spelling Bonus: S-P-F raises the bonus multiplier, S-H-A-R-K activates the Shark Fin Flipper, I-R-O-N-M-A-N enables the Ironman Video Mode, and G-U-A-R-D starts the first sub-Wizard Mode.
- Video Mode: Two of them.
- The first is the Ironman Competition, a simple button-pressing game. Stephanie is in a race, and rapidly tap the flipper buttons to enable her to win.
- The second is the Jet Ski Race. Use the flipper buttons to avoid sharks and buoys, while hitting jump ramps for extra points.
- Wizard Mode: The game has two sub-Wizard Modes and one final Wizard Mode; each one is started by completing a tier on the five major shots.
- The first sub-Wizard Mode is "Lifesaver Millions", available after spelling GUARD. A jackpot counts down from 50 million, and shooting any of the five main shots scores the current value.
- The second sub-Wizard Mode is "Tourist Season", and is available after hitting all five major shots twice to light the five lifeguards (Mitch, Matt, C.J., Caroline, and Stephanie). This is a two-ball multiball with a 25 million jackpot at the right ramp.
- The one true Wizard Mode is "Earthquake", available after performing CPR, Helicopter Rescue, Trapped Diver, Shark Cove, and Tidal Wave. This is a six-ball multiball mode with a 60-second timer. An earthquake has hit and a car is about to fall over a precipice; shoot the Guard Tower to rescue it and score a 10 million bonus. When the earthquake ends, the game pauses to drain the balls and then resume play.