In 1979, the runaway success of their KISS pinball prompted Bally to take another shot at a licensed celebrity game. Instead of going for another edgy rock band, however, Bally went with the family-friendly Harlem Globetrotters, who were a frequent television attraction at the time.
The game is as fun and lighthearted as the Globetrotters; spell GLOBE by knocking the four inline drop targets in the right lane, or take a Fast Break up the left side and into the upper saucer. Hit all five Globetrotters to advance the Slam Dunk Shot, then slam it in for a 50,000 point special, but don't drain the ball between the left double flippers. The rules are simple enough for beginners, but there's enough challenge to keep things interesting for pros.
Not surprisingly, the popularity of the Harlem Globetrotters made this game a big hit, and it remains popular with players today. Over 14,500 Harlem Globetrotters On Tour tables were sold, and even now it still holds the record for the best-selling basketball-themed pinball of all time. Movie buffs will recognize this as the game in the guys' apartment from Three Men and a Baby.
Harlem Globetrotters On Tour demonstrates the following tropes:
- Bald of Awesome: Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Curly Neal is the only bald Globetrotter.
- Creator Thumbprint: Greg Kmiec's red post can be seen supporting the left-lane spinner.
- Easily Distracted Referee: On the playfield, one of the Globetrotters blinds a referee with a bucket of water in the face.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: World landmarks include the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and (of course) the Eiffel Tower.
- Licensed Pinball Table
- Mythology Gag: On the backglass, the globe includes a splotch of white paint next to Lake Michigan. Greg Freres painted the image during Chicago's notorious winter of 1979, and included that as a tribute.
- Patriotic Fervor: Like the Globetrotters themselves, the game is awash in red, white, and blue stars and stripes.
- Pinball Projectile: One of the players throws a basketball that bounces off the heads of five other Globetrotters before flying up the left lane.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Sweet Georgia Brown" plays at the beginning of each game.
- Spelling Bonus: Spelling G-L-O-B-E awards 50,000 points, lights the outlanes, and awards a Special.
- Spiritual Successor: The playfield is pretty much a condensed version of that from Paragon. A saucer at the top that progresses towards a Spelling Bonus, inline drop targets that increase bonus multiplier, a spinner on the left side, split flippers, and other similarities. The sound package is also largely the same as said game.