The name refers to a mythical lost city of gold, with the backglass depicting a group of cowboys who've just found an (unseen) fortune. The game itself is deceptively simple; use the four flippers to knock down all fifteen drop targets, then hit the single lit target for a Special. However, hitting all the targets and rollovers requires skillful nudging and flipper control, and moving the lit spot and hitting it on the same ball is a challenge for most players.
Pinball connoisseurs consider El Dorado a classic Gottlieb "wedgehead" game, and it is frequently rated highly among all electro-mechanical tables. Gottlieb must have agreed, as the game was remade and re-released several times:
- An add-a-ball version called Gold Strike (1975)
- An Italian version called Lucky Strikenote (1975)
- A four-player science-fiction game called Target Alpha (1976)
- A two-player replay game called Solar City (1977)
- A promotional game for Canada Dry (1977), released in France for a contest.
- An updated remake, El Dorado: City of Gold (1984)
Digital versions of El Dorado: City of Gold are available for FarSight Studios' select versions of Gottlieb Pinball Classics, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection, and fully on The Pinball Arcade, with the original table also digitally-recreated for The Pinball Arcade.
The El Dorado pinball and its variations demonstrate the following tropes:
- Cool Helmet:
- The aliens in Solar City wear ornately colorful winged helmets.
- Some of the people in Target Alpha wear brightly-colored helmets with large fins.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Solar City depicts a group of alien Expys of Native Americans, complete with braids, buckskins, and bows.
- Jungle Drums: El Dorado: City of Gold (which is set in a jungle) constantly plays the sound of drums.
- Literary Allusion Title: The title refers to the poem "Eldorado" by Edgar Allan Poe, about a knight searching for the legendary city of gold.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Target Alpha and Solar City, which reused the same layout in Science Fiction settings.
- Sigil Spam: Unsurprisingly, the backglass and playfield for Canada Dry is heavily decorated with the drink's logo.
- Space Clothes: Target Alpha shows people in the future wearing garishly-colored jumpsuits and helmets with large fins.
- Spelling Bonus:
- Canada Dry uses D-R-I-N-K and C-A-N-A-D-A-[space]-D-R-Y for its drop target banks.
- El Dorado: City of Gold has C-I-T-Y-O-F-G-O-L-D for the top set of drop targets.
- Stock Footage: Some of the art for Target Alpha is reused in Solar City, such as the smiling man and woman on the playfield plastics.
- Winged Humanoid: Solar City features humanoid aliens with large feathered wings.