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Pinball / Embryon

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"Embryonic incubator functional."

Embryon is a widebody arcade pinball machine by Claude Fernandez, with artwork by Tony Ramunni, and released in 1981 by Bally.

The game has the player in charge of some unspecified futuristic eugenics program, responsible for growing and birthing various multicolored humanoids in organic pods. Complete the top three-bank, pass through the 1-2 rollovers, then knock down the lower drop targets to expose the targets behind them. Hit the two captive balls in the middle of the playfield to spell EMBRYON, then capture a ball in the upper corner and start multiball. Complete the A-B inlanes and you'll be able to use the Flipsave to rescue balls before they drain down the right outlane.

Aside from being the last widebody pinball from Bally, Embryon is remembered for its vaguely unsettling yet alluring theme, which raises more questions than it answers. It has a small but vocal following of fans who enjoy its unorthodox layout and diverse targets; it's a rather fast game for a widebody pin, one that rewards patient players with good aim. The Machine Monotone voice, simplistic digital sound effects, and clinically alien artwork come together into a memorable Science Fiction package.

Embryon demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The humanoids have either blue or red skin.
  • Just in Time: When the ball goes down the right outlane, the player can use the "Flipsave" (a smaller flipper) to try and knock it through a gate and back into play.
    "Flipsave energized."
  • Machine Monotone: The game speaks with a monotonic male voice.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: The entire theme of the game is based on this.
    "Commence life."
  • Space Clothes: The protagonist wears a red and blue jumpsuit with a tight-fitting silver helmet.
  • Spelling Bonus: E-M-B-R-Y-O-N enables the ball lock.
    "Life support functional. Final stage in progress."
  • Uterine Replicator: The beings are grown in organic bubble pods.
  • Visual Innuendo: The two captive balls in the middle of the playfield are trapped in a pair of curved arches, with more than a passing resemblance to a vagina.

"Re-engage Embryon."