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Pinball / Lights... Camera... Action!

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Director: "Quiet on the set!"

Lights... Camera... Action! is an arcade pinball game released by Gottlieb (under the "Premier" label) in 1989. It was designed by Jon Norris, with artwork by Brian Johnson and Constantino Mitchell.

In this game, the player is a budding Director working on a summer action movie. Under the heat of the spotlights, travel around San Francisco, wrap up the five big Scenes, and finish the Blockbuster. Complete the Stunt Sequence, perform the Helicopter Rescue loop, then flip the ramp and film the big Shoot-Out in the backbox. Keep an eye on the countdown timer embedded in the playfield, use the Catch-Up feature to stay in the game, and collect the stars' playing cards to build up your Poker Hands.

Lights... Camera... Action! was one of the earliest System 3 tables from Gottlieb, allowing for more complicated games like those from their competitors. Although many players initially dismiss LCA for its cluttered, cartoonish artwork, those who look past the surface find it fast, sophisticated, and challenging, with lots of satisfying shots and a deep ruleset that requires several plays to fully understand it all. The game has ended up an under-rated Cult Classic among pinheads.


A digital version is available for The Pinball Arcade.

Lights... Camera... Action! demonstrates the following tropes:

  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Chinatown has a parade featuring identical-looking performers wearing conical straw hats.
  • Art Shift: The cartoonish playfield art is interspersed with several women drawn in a more realistic style. According to Brian Johnson, Constantino Mitchell added them because Gottlieb management felt Johnson's women weren't "sexy enough".
  • The Artifact: The numerous references to playing cards, and the need to assemble poker hands for bonuses. Word of God is that the game was originally designed with a card game theme, which was changed to movie-making midway through production.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Though set in San Francisco, the right side of the table depicts an orange suspension bridge with three towers. Either the Oakland Bay Bridge is miscolored or the Golden Gate Bridge got a sudden extension.
  • Advertisement:
  • Big Bad: "King", the antagonist of the movie.
  • Camp Gay: "Queen", the flamboyantly effeminate man with a loose shirt and leather-skinned bandanna draped over his shoulder.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Multiplayer games have a Catch-Up feature in place; each round ends with all players receiving the score of the opponent immediately ahead of them, while the leading player gets an extra 1 million points.
  • Creator Cameo: The director's assistant (a woman wearing a tank-top with the name "Jeanine") is Constantino Mitchell's wife.
  • Destination Defenestration: The rooftop Chase Scene includes a bystander knocked through a skylight window.
  • The Dragon: "Jack," the Big Bad's enforcer.
    Jack: "Don't come any closer... copper!!"
  • Easter Egg: In the artwork on the sides of the cabinet, the rocks spell out "Jon Norris".
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The Golden Gate Bridge is prominently featured on the backglass.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Two cars are shown falling off of a cliffside road in a fiery collision.
  • Foreign-Looking Font: The signs and indicators in the Chinatown section of the playfield are lettered with the same psuedo-Asian typeface used in many Chinese restaurants.
  • The Hero: "Ace," the star of the film.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Invoked by the movie-within-a-game, as the Chinatown scenes take place in the middle of a Chinese New Year parade.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: While naming the characters in an action movie after playing cards can make thematic sense, there's no way to explain why you're collecting their "cards" to build poker hands while filming the movie...
  • No Name Given: The player is never told the name of the movie nor the names of the stars. The main characters are also never properly named, and are only identified by their playing card ranks.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname/Theme Naming: The movie characters are named after playing card ranks — "Ace" (The Hero), "King" (Big Bad), "Queen" (Camp Gay), "Jack" (The Dragon), and "10" (The Chick).
  • Outside Ride: Two characters are shown hanging off the outside of a helicopter.
  • Painting the Medium: The spotlights which shine down on the player at key points of the game.
  • Playing Card Motifs: All of the characters in the film are named after playing cards, an artifact of the original card-game motif.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Though it's not set in the Old West, the shootout scene in the backbox plays this trope straight.
    Director: "Ready, set, DRAW!"
  • Show Within a Show: Or, rather, Movie Within a Pinball.
  • Stairwell Chase: One of the Scenes being filmed is a foot chase up a flight of stairs.

Director: "Cut, cut, cut!"

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