Mata Hari is a Physical Pinball Table designed by Jim Patla with artwork by Dave Christensen. it was released by Bally in 1978, just as the company was switching over from electro-mechanical pinballs to solid state.
Inspired by... the Real Life Mata Hari, the game depicts the exotic dancer and spy performing her duties. The pinball backglass shows her lounging in her chambers, handing a small folded map to a gentleman identified only as The Baron. On the playfield, Mata Hari is passing off documents stamped Top Secret, and is featured stepping out from behind a gigantic knife while framed by oversized feathers and snakes. The sides of the cabinet eschew all subtlety, with Hari pointing at a silhouette of the skull and crossbones while preparing to strike with her dagger.
The elegant and seductive artwork coupled with the uncluttered layout made this one of Bally's best-selling pinball tables of the year. Like many fictionalized depictions of the character, the Mata Hari pinball is admired by expert players for being deceptively dangerous — while the sparse playfield only has a few elements to shoot for, a misplaced shot can instantly send the pinball between the flippers or down the outlanes. Doing well at the game requires constant vigilance and a willingness to get physical, as heavily nudging the machine is essential for high scores.
The Mata Hari pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Artistic License History: The Real Life Mata Hari was executed in World War I, so there's no reason for her to have a dagger with an SS inscription. She is also nowhere near as buxom as the illustration suggests.
- Diamonds in the Buff: Mata Hari's primary outfit is a gold-plated Chainmail Bikini covered with rubies.