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Pinball / Doctor Who

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The Doctor Is In...note 
It's About Time

Doctor Who (referred to in-game as Doctor Who: Time Streams) is a pinball game released in 1992, designed by Bill "Pfutz" Pfutzenreuter and Barry Oursler, and released by Williams Electronics (under the Bally label), unsurprisingly based off of Doctor Who. Unlike most pinball games, this table had rather complex rules and a plot that was not an excuse to show off the gameplay. Sadly, this was the game's downfall, as casual players were put off by the amount of effort it took to properly understand everything. On a lighter note, however, pinball aficionados have taken to the game in later years for this exact same thing.

Sylvester McCoy and Terry Molloy (the incumbent actors as the Doctor and Davros respectively) provided custom speech for this game.

The plot is as follows: The Master, desperate to get rid of the Doctor, teams up with Davros and the few Daleks he has left to destroy their shared nemesis once and for all. His plan is to use the "Time Expander", which can manipulate space and time events to interact with an entirely new time stream, to expand the Doctor's time stream to kill him. The main hurdle is trying to track down all of the Doctors (seven, as of the time of production).

Fortunately for him, the key is Earth. The Doctor likes to hang around Earth, and every incarnation of him winds up there at some point in time. With this in mind, the Master intends to expand Earth's time and push the planet into the sun, wiping out all of them at once.

Things don't go to plan, however, as the Doctors escape, but most of them end up trapped in certain places. Fortunately, the Seventh Doctor remains unharmed and has found the Time Expander. Now, he must reunite his past selves, return Earth's time to normal and confront the villains, ending with a final battle with Davros...

In-game, lighting each of the seven Doctors affects the gameplay in a distinct way. For example, the Third Doctor extends the time limit for spelling W-H-O (needed to light and collect extra balls), while the Sixth Doctor racks up scoring multipliers faster and keeps them in effect longer. The player can choose one at the start of each ball and can light more through various means, such as completing the Video Mode or building up Transmat power via the pop bumpers.

Every machine comes with a Dalek topper, and the first 100 units had one that moved during certain points in the game. This proved to be too costly to keep up, hence its discontinuation.

Oh, and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill once filmed an interview while playing the game. The world is a funny place sometimes.

In January 2016, FarSight Studios started a Kickstarter campaign to bring the game to The Pinball Arcade. In December 2016, FarSight released an updated version of the table, subtitled "Master of Time". The plot: some people didn't like the resolution of the Time War plotline in The Day of the Doctor, and it turns out someTHING didn't like it either - the Whoniverse itself. Spacetime has started coming apart at the seams, and the Doctor's greatest enemies all have their own plans to exploit the rips and tears. The Doctors must work together to fix the mess they caused.

In July 2018, the original Doctor Who table was taken down due to their license to all Bally and Williams tables expiring. However, Master of Time is still available (due to it being predominantly made by FarSight themselves).

This pinball machine contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The game's flyer and promotional video are the only ways of knowing the plot.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: The game is extremely generous with the ball saver, activating it every time a new ball is launched, whenever a ball is locked (even if it's done via the center Time Expander target), or even after shooting an unlit lock.
  • Author Appeal: Both Bill Pfutzenreuter and Barry Oursler were big Doctor Who fans.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: The Video Mode.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Master and Davros (and by extension, a few Daleks).
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Tying into the theme, each ball is labeled "Part 1/2/3" at the beginning, a la the classic serials. When you get an extra ball, the next ball reads "Part 1/2/3 Continued".
  • Cap: You can spot every Doctor up to six times.
  • Combos: The W-H-O combo shot, which is achieved by shooting the right ramp, followed by the Hang-On Target on the left side of the playfield, and then shooting the Cliffhanger Ramp on the upper right side.
  • Consolation Prize: The Master's Bonus, obtained by draining the ball through either of the outlanes.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A message during the Attract Mode.
  • Evil Laugh: The Master does one if you collect his bonus while draining the ball.
  • Excuse Plot/No Plot? No Problem!: Averted.
  • Flying Car: The Whomobile, used by the Third Doctor in the original series.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Not absolutely required, but collecting all seven Doctors makes it much easier to achieve high-scores. They can be collected by powering up the Transmat and hitting the Transmat target, completing Video Mode with the active Doctor, or scoring an Emperor Dalek jackpot in multiball (which lights every Doctor at once). You score a bonus for collecting them all one-by-one, and a larger one for doing it on a single ball.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: The Master's ultimate plan for the Doctors.
  • Iconic Item:
    • The Third Doctor's Whomobile.
    • The Fourth Doctor's scarf.
    • The Seventh Doctor's straw hat.
  • Match Sequence: The TARDIS console's centrepiece repeatedly pushes up a number, eventually settling on one; afterwards, the background dissipates.
  • The Nth Doctor: A major gameplay mechanic.
  • Random Transportation: In the flavor text, the Fifth Doctor and his allies are trapped in a maze of transmats, forever searching for the right path out.
  • Rule of Seven: The seven Doctors, based on how many actors had played the role in the TV series up to the time of production.
  • Sidekick: Ace, the Seventh Doctor's companion.
    • The player takes this role in Master of Time.
  • Score Multiplier: Aside from the bonus multiplier, there is the Playfield Multiplier, which allows you to multiply any scoring (including Multiball jackpots and video modes) up to 4x its value. Lighting the Sixth Doctor advances the multiplier twice as fast for each shot to the Cliffhanger ramp (by 1 instead of 0.5) and increases the time that it stays in effect before starting to decrease.
  • Spelling Bonus: Getting W-H-O lets you earn extra balls, R-E-P-A-I-R enables Unlimited Millions, and E-S-C-A-P-E lights the TARDIS for Video Mode.
  • Timed Power-Up: The playfield multiplier gradually decays with time. The Sixth Doctor slows the rate of decay.
  • Updated Re-release: Doctor Who: Master of Time, a digital version released exclusively for The Pinball Arcade. It's themed around the newer series, some of the shots have been rearranged, and Video Mode has disappeared, but the overall gameplay is very similar to the original.
  • Video Mode: The chosen Doctor runs right from a Dalek, jumping over obstacles and eventually arriving at his TARDIS. Hit one flipper button for a short jump, or both together for a longer one. Certain obstacles can only be cleared by long jumps.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The tilt screen displays the test pattern for (the fictional) WBL-TV, as if the station was knocked off the air.
  • Wizard Mode: Not an actual Wizard Mode, but the three Davros Jackpots in multiball fall in this line. You have to start multiball, score all the other available jackpots, then hit all the Time Expander targets to enable each Davros Jackpot (once for the Single, twice for the Double, three times for the Triple). Lose one ball, and you drop back one jackpot level and have to work your way up again.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The "Roni Spheres" which bombard the First Doctor and Susan are the "bubble tripwire" death traps from Time and the Rani. The name change came about because mentioning the Rani by name would have required a payment to her creators, Pip and Jane Baker note .
  • You Don't Look Like You: Even though Anthony Ainley was the incumbent Master at the time of the game's release, the character is depicted as the Roger Delgado version instead due to a rights issue. Davros is also depicted as the Michael Wisher/David Gooderson incarnation despite being voiced by Terry Molloy.
  • You Have Failed Me: After the Last Wave Bonus is awarded (for clearing all the waves in a Video Mode set), an animation plays where the Supreme Dalek chasing the Doctor reports his failure to the Emperor Dalek, who exterminates it in response. Get another Last Wave Bonus and it's inverted - the Supreme Dalek shoots the Emperor in self-defense. Get a third one, and the Supreme tries to shoot the Emperor, who blocks the shot with a force field and then blows the Supreme away with a HUGE cannon.

The Seventh Doctor: "I do not mind the brisk pace or a Dalek or two - it's the obstacles that I hate!"