There have been multiple Physical Pinball Tables named Harley Davidson released over the years.
The first Harley Davidson game was released by Williams Electronics (under the "Bally" label) in February 1991. Designed by Barry Oursler based on a concept by artist Mark Sprenger, it was intended to be a low-cost game with broad appeal. There is no overarching objective; instead, the player is simply out to collect a high score, either by advancing from Laconia, New Hampshire to Los Angeles and collecting the jackpot, or by spelling HARLEY DAVIDSON to collect assorted bonuses and rewards. The reversed outlanes will surprise rookies, but pinball pros can start multiball and collect the Screamin' Eagle loop.
To keep costs down, Harley Davidson was designed without any expensive playfield toys or backbox gimmicks, giving it a Retraux gameplay style. While pinball die-hards find the game too simple to sustain their interest, it gets more love from casual players and Harley enthusiasts who enjoy its easy-to-learn gameplay and modest difficulty.
The Bally Harley Davidson pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Badass Biker: The player takes this role.
- Cool Bike: Goes without saying, really. In addition to the various bikes featured on the backglass, there's a FXSTC Softail front and center on the playfield.
- Eagleland/Patriotic Fervor: invoked in a subdued manner, from the majestic eagle on the backglass to the use of U-S-A as one of the Spelling Bonuses.
- Hood Ornament Hottie: The playfield features a busty blonde woman wearing a white tank-top shirt and denim shorts, lounging across the back of the Harley.
- Random Drop: The "Speed Trap" gives a random reward.
- Road Trip Plot: The player must travel from Laconia, NH to Los Angeles, CA to enable the Jackpot.
- Shown Their Work: The playfield back panel features highway signs for the ten cities that you visit in the game; each one lists the name of the city, the Real Life highways that connect to it, and the distance to the next.
- Spelling Bonus: H-A-R-L-E-Y advances the Harley Bonus, while D-A-V-I-D-S-O-N lights the Speed Bonus. U-S-A advances the bonus multiplier, while B-I-K-E advances a city.
- Whammy: One of the Speed Trap results is "Traffic Ticket", which causes you to lose 10,000 points.
In 1999, Sega Pinball released a new Harley Davidson table, designed by Lonnie Ropp and John Borg. Soon afterward, the company was closed and relaunched as Stern Pinball, and additional games were released under the Stern brand.
As with the Bally table, this Harley Davidson eschewed complex rules for a casual-friendly, easy-to-play game. Once more, the player must travel to sixteen different cities, racking up miles to Milwaukee by hitting various targets. Rush over the ramps quickly to build up speed, hit the stoplights to change the traffic light to red, then hit the playfield Harley to pop a wheelie and start Motorcycle Multiball. Run over pedestrians in the Video Mode, collect patches along the way, and maybe the Mystery Rider will grace you with some extra bonuses.
Many players tend to initially dismiss Stern's Harley Davidson as a simple game that gets by solely on its license, with an overabundance of crowd-pleasing multiballs, jackpots, and extra balls. Those who get deeper find that the difficulty ramps up in later play, with more demanding challenges to advance. Its fans consider it a nice change of pace, a table to unwind with between more intense games.
Stern ended up re-releasing this table several times. Harley Davidson (2nd Edition) came out in November 2002, with chrome trim and updated motorcycle models on the playfield. Harley Davidson (3rd Edition) was released in April 2004, with all-new artwork.
The Sega and Stern Harley Davidson pinballs demonstrate the following tropes:
- Anti-Frustration Feature: By pressing a button on the right side of the cabinet, a headlight between the flippers pops up for a second, blocking any balls from draining down the middle.
- Artistic License – Ornithology/Stock Sound Effects: The end-of-ball bonus summary plays the cry of a red-tailed hawk when tallying up the Eagle Bonus.
- Badass Biker: The player takes this role.
- The Mystery Rider combines this with Mysterious Stranger.
- Cool Bike: Along with the bikes illustrated throughout the cabinet, the game includes three models on the playfield.
- The original Sega table and the first Stern release has the FLSTS Heritage Springer, FLSTS Springer Softail, and FXDL Dyna Low Rider.
- The "2nd Edition" and "3rd Edition" from Stern has the 1999 FLSTF Fat Boy, the 2000 FLSTF Fat Boy, and the 2001 FLSTS Heritage Springer.
- Cruelty Is the Only Option: The video mode tasks the player to run over pedestrians. An Extra Ball is given out to any player who runs over every pedestrian in sight.
- The Faceless: The Mystery Rider is never seen without his helmet.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: Done with the announcements of the remaining distance to the next city."One hundred - and - fifty - three - miles to - Pittsburgh."
- Match Sequence: The match number gets tattooed on a woman's back.
- Noble Bird of Prey: Earlier versions of Harley Davidson feature numerous eagles on the backglass and playfield. The "3rd Edition" replaces them all with a single gold eagle right above the flippers.
- Patriotic Fervor: American flags can be seen in the playfield backgrounds of the "3rd Edition".
- Real Song Theme Tune: The game plays instrumental versions of "Born to be Wild" and "Bad to the Bone".
- Spelling Bonus: Spelling R-I-D-E or L-I-V-E lights Next City, while H-A-R-L-E-Y pops a wheelie to enable Motorcycle Multiball.
- Time Trial: The game tracks how fast the player shoots the ramp shot; the player with the fastest ramp speed gets to enter his initials at the end of the game.
- Video Mode: Ride a motorcycle down a three-lane road, using the flippers to hit pedestrians and avoid cars. (This is a recycled version of the "Gilby Rides" Video Mode from Guns N' Roses (Data East), down to using the same patterns.)"WHERE'D YOU LEARN TO DRIVE, SON?!"
- Wizard Mode: "Milwaukee Multiball", where the player must visit all the states in the USA aside from Alaska and Hawaii in eighty seconds. It's as hard as it sounds.