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Pinball / Metallica

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"Master of Puppets" edition shown

James: “Metal up your ass!”

Metallica is an arcade pinball game designed by John Borg, programmed by Lyman Sheats and Lonnie Ropp, and released by Stern Pinball in 2013.

Naturally, the game is centered on the world-famous Heavy Metal band Metallica and their music. Advance the Fuel Gauge to start Fuel mode for double scores, use the Hammer to smash pinballs into the Coffin underneath the playfield, then raise the Grave Marker and prove yourself the Master of Puppets. Get the band members' guitar picks, feed the Snake, then throw the switch on Sparky's electric chair to Ride the Lightning. Good players can spell METALLICA to bring Justice For All, great players will use prodigious reflexes to Seek and Destroy, but only the best will Crank It Up and reach the End of the Line, accompanied by over a dozen of the band's best songs and original quotes from Lars, James, Kirk, and Robert.


Both Metallica fans and pinball players regard the Metallica pin as a respectably balanced table, one that is both approachable and fun for casual players while having lots of depth for experts. The game is jammed with numerous references to the band and its lengthy legacy, the comic art by fan artist "Dirty" Donny Gillies is an eye-grabbing cornucopia, and the music and sound effects are as bombastic as one would expect. The band often brings a table with them on tours (Kirk Hammett is a longtime pinball enthusiast), and additional tables are kept near their studios and hangouts for games between sessions.


The Metallica pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Adjustable Censorship: Turning off "Adult Mode" causes the profanities to be beeped out.
  • Big Electric Switch: There are several of them around the playfield, and must be hit to start Electric Chair Multiball.
    Sparky: “Juice me up!”
  • Big "YES!": Used in some of the callouts.
    James: “Oh YEAH!”
  • Buried Alive: Of a sort — the Hammer hits captured pinballs into a coffin beneath the playfield.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The entire band, frequently and unabashedly.
    Kirk: “That crazy little bastard just gave you a shitload of points.”
  • Die Laughing/Electric Torture: Subverted by Sparky, who enjoys being strapped into the electric chair but doesn't actually die from it.
    Sparky: “Hehehehe! That was fucking cool!”
  • Golden Snitch: One of the biggest criticisms towards the game is how disproportionately valuable Electric Chair Multiball is compared to the other non-Wizard modes, as it's both high-scoring and easy to start. This typically causes players to abandon everything else on the table in favor of shooting Sparky repeatedly (seriously, watch any competitive video of this table to see this in action), and because of that, it's more common than not that the winner of most games is determined by whoever could hit Sparky the most (and if not, it's because they happened to hit a bunch of other stuff accidentally in the pursuit of hitting Sparky, thus triggering a different mode). This also tends to make it one of the most boring games to watch, especially in a competitive environment.
  • Hammered into the Ground: On the Premium and Limited Editions of the game, a giant hammer smashes captured pinballs through the table and into the coffin.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Sparky, who merrily bobs his head during Electric Chair Multiball.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels
    Kirk: "Fast scoring... faster scoring... really fucking fast scoring!”
  • Incendiary Exponent: Nearly everything on the playfield is either on fire or surrounded by flames.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: In addition to the basic ("Pro") table, Metallica is available in two Premium Editions, "Monsters" and "Road Case", and a "Master of Puppets" Limited Edition. These add playfield spinners, LED lighting, a rising Grave Marker, the Hammer and Casket, an animated Snake head, more detailed metalwork, and a mirrored backglass.
  • Mascot: Not only is Sparky prominently seated in the playfield's electric chair, he also appears in many of the animated displays.
  • Match Sequence: The Snake gets an unpleasant expression, then vomits on the display, leaving the Match Number behind.
  • Medium Awareness:
    Robert: “We’re in a pinball game, maybe we’ll get a record deal now.”
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Sparky, who's clearly insane and played entirely for laughs.
    Sparky: “Hmmmm, smells like fried chicken!”
    Robert: “Smells like little crazy bastard to me.”
  • Non-Indicative Difficulty: In high-level tournament play, a common solution to the Golden Snitch mentioned above is to set the difficulty of achieving Crank it Up to its easiest setting. Since most high level players are very likely to achieve Crank it Up on the default settings anyway, reducing the requirements to light it up greatly reduces having to sit through lots of "grinding" to get there otherwise. And it doesn't change the fact that Crank it Up is a very high-risk, high-reward mode. Overall this change makes the game much more interesting without necessarily making it that much easier.
  • Nothing but Skulls: It wouldn't be Metallica without lots of scary-looking skulls all over the place.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Sparky's tongue reaches from his mouth to his left wrist.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The game includes twelve songs for the player to choose from, including "Creeping Death," "One," "Master of Puppets," "Battery," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Fade To Black".
    • Expansion Pack: Nine months after the game was originally released, Stern Pinball conducted a fan poll for two more songs to be added via software update. The winners were "Ride the Lightning" and "Blackened".
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Snake isn't there just for decor.
    Snake: “I’m fucking hungry, hungry for your balls!”
  • Rule of Scary: Combined with a heavy dose of Black Humor.
  • Score Multiplier: Scores can be multiplied 2x for 20 seconds during any multiball by hitting the four Pick targets and then shooting the snake. Scores can also be multiplied by 2x by spelling F-U-E-L and shooting the hole behind that target. Stacking both multiplies scores by 4x.
  • Sigil Spam: The band's "throwing star" icon is peppered all around the playfield.
  • Skill Shot:
    • Plunge the ball into the flashing rollover lane to double the bonus multiplier; do it without moving the flashing light to quadruple it.
    • Holding down the left flipper button when plunging enables three separate Super Skill Shots.
      • Hitting the Piston target enables the Double Playfield Score.
      • Shooting a randomly-lit target enables the Coffin Hurry-Up.
      • Shooting the right eject hole lights Mystery.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Used to sanitize the quotes when Adult Mode is disabled.
  • Spelling Bonus: Spelling F-U-E-L qualifies the Fuel target for temporary double scoring, and spelling M-E-T-A-L-L-I-C-A starts "And Justice for All..." for cumulative increasing scores.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Black spiders with red guitar silhouettes decorate the playfield.
  • Sssssnake Talk: The Snake talks like this.
    Snake: “That’ssss not niccce!”
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Sparky enjoys the electric chair too much.
    Sparky: "My eyeballs feel hot!"
  • Title Drop: There are many references to the group's songs and albums, especially in the callouts and game modes.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Electrocuting Sparky is needed to activate certain modes, and one of the end-of-ball bonuses is based on how many times you've electrocute him. Furthermore, electrocuting Sparky seven times during a single ball lights all shots for a Super Jackpot.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Snake vomits up the pinball to start Snake Multiball.
  • Wizard Mode: There are two sub-Wizard Modes and one final Wizard Mode.
    • The first sub-Wizard Mode is "Seek and Destroy", and is enabled by collecting all five Hurry Ups.note  During Seek and Destroy, a timer counts down and one lane will begin to strobe; shoot that lane to "Seek" it for a Jackpot and add to the timer, then shoot the Casket to "Destroy" it for a Super Jackpot. This repeats until the timer expires or the ball drains.
    • The second sub-Wizard Mode is "Crank It Up", which is started by scoring twelve shots on each of the Grave Marker, Sparky, Snake, and Casket targets, then shooting the scoop. "Crank It Up" offers a selection of four different modes tied to four different songs. A jackpot builds up as you complete the tasks for each mode. Complete all the tasks to add 15 million to the jackpot. Hitting the four major shots and then the scoop allows you to either finish the mode and collect the jackpot, or risk it and keep going for more. The mode lasts for the entire duration of a song and the jackpot must be cashed out before it ends.
    • The final Wizard Mode is "End of the Line", which is basically the fifth Crank It Up mode. It begins with a four-ball multiball. Completing all lit shots awards a Super Jackpot based on your previous Crank It Up mode scores, and that Super Jackpot keeps growing every time it's collected. Like the other Crank It Up modes, you can exit early (once down to a single ball) and take a (very) large jackpot, or risk it to build it up further and try to collect it before the song ends. If you had even one decent Crank It Up, it's not uncommon to score billions on this mode even if you may have started it with less than a billion.

Lars: “The snake owes me money!”

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