Flash Gordon is a Pinball game from Bally/Midway, based on the Cult Classic 1980 movie from Dino De Laurentiis. It was designed by Claude Fernandez and illustrated by Kevin O'Connor.
The player is Flash Gordon, savior of the universe, out to stop Ming the Merciless and his army from conquering Earth. Launch into the royal chambers on the upper layer and attack the palace guards, then drop down to fight the armies of Mingo City on the lower level. Travel to Arboria and try the challenge of the Wood Beast to impress Prince Barin, rally Vultan and the Hawkmen to collect the Super Ring bonus, then vault back up to Ming's throne for 15 seconds to multiply your scores.
Riding on the coattails of the movie, ten thousand Flash Gordon tables were made, becoming Bally's best-selling game of 1980. It is highly regarded by pinball die-hards for its challenging gameplay, intricately beautiful artwork, and impressive use of realistic voices. The game is infamous for its Nintendo Hard gameplay, with midfield pop bumpers and drain-hungry outlanes ready to punish the careless — this is not a game that you can lose yourself in, but a series of controlled explosions that fights back with every shot.
The Flash Gordon pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Adaptation Name Change: A minor case — promotional flyers call Prince Barin "Baron". Or maybe it was a typo...
- Bald of Evil[: Ming.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: Flash is shown reaching into a hollow stump that contains a giant Wood Beast (complete with deadly stinger), while Prince Barin watches in amusement.
- Cool Chair: Ming's throne fills the upper playfield.
- Cool Mask: Klytus wears a mask that completely covers his face.
- Cool Plane: Flash rides a rocketsled into battle.
- Dark Chick: General Kala.
- The Dragon Both Kala and Klytus, seen on the slingshop bumpers beside Ming himself.
- The Emperor: Ming the Merciless, complete with royal throne.
- Epileptic Flashing Lights: The game originally came with a bright flashing strobe light in the backbox, behind Flash's circular logo. It was removed due to complaints from operators, though many collectors use aftermarket kits to restore the feature.
- Faceless Goons: Ming's army wear samurai-like helmets with skull masks that cover everything but their eyes.
- Human Aliens: Technically, just about everyone except Flash Gordon himself qualifies.
- Ms. Fanservice: Dale Arden and Princess Aura, whose only purpose are to stand around in skimpy Chainmail Bikinis and Show Some Leg.
- Ominous Floating Castle: Mingo, seen hovering between the upper and lower playfields.
- Raygun Gothic: Comes with the license.
- Retro Rocket: Two war rockets with swept wings and ovoid bodies fly into battle.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Flash is always shown with his arms bared.
- Timed Mission: After hitting all upper or lower drop targets, enter the saucer at the base of Ming's Throne, and all playfield scores will be doubled, tripled, or quintupled for 15 seconds.
- Winged Humanoid: Vultan and the Hawkmen.