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Pinball / Caveman

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It Will AMAZE You!

For the 1981 comedy film, click here.

Caveman is a pinball machine released in September 1982 by Gottlieb. Designed by John Buras, it is notable for being the first Pinball/Video Game hybrid, and the Ur-Example of the Video Mode.

Physically, Caveman resembles a conventional pinball machine, but with a video screen embedded in the top of the playfield and a small joystick in front of the player's position. During gameplay, shooting a ball into either side of the screen would start a simple Maze Game, whereupon the player can move the caveman, catching extra balls and hunting dinosaurs. The player could return to the pinball game if he exited the maze, but getting eaten by a T. rex would drain the ball.

This pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Artificial Stupidity: Like the ghosts in Pac-Man, the dinosaurs in Caveman could be made to move in repeatable methods based on how the player moved. Savvy players could then figure out patterns to maximize their score.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Invoked, embraced, and clubbed over the head repeatedly. After all, this is a game where the player maneuvers a caveman to hunt brontosaurs and pterodactyls while avoiding the Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • By the Hair: The caveman can be seen dragging off a smiling female to his cave on the playfield.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The difficulty of the maze game would change based on how well the player does on the pinball board, such as turning tyrannosaurus rexes into bonus-scoring pterodactyls.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spelling C-A-V-E lights the extra ball shot.