Meteor is an arcade pinball machine designed by Steve Kirk of Stern Electronics, with artwork by George Obregon. it was a tie-in to the 1979 disaster movie, and was released a month after the film's theatrical debut.
Like its namesake, Meteor requires the player to stop a five-mile-wide "meteor" from colliding with the Earth. This is done by firing three nuclear missiles at the menace; hitting a three-bank of drop targets for each missile advances it one step closer. Keeping all three missiles aligned lights WOW for all of them to increase scores, while spelling METEOR increases the bonus multiplier. Advancing all three missiles to the meteor gives the player a chance for a free game. The game also made good use of its solid-state design, resetting and remembering game states and drop targets for each player.
Unlike the movie, which was a box-office bomb, the Meteor pinball is considered a respectable and challenging game. It featured fast, snappy gameplay that kick-started an innovation in solid-state tables, and went on to sell nearly 8,400 units, becoming Stern Electronics' most popular title ever. The memorable backglass art was copied from one of the movie's advertising posters.◊
The Meteor pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Artistic License Astronomy: Technically, it's an asteroid, not a meteor.
- Combination Attack: Aligning the three missiles flashes the WOW lights and increases the score.
- Do Well, but Not Perfect: The spinner value is maximized by knocking down all of the M-E-T-E-O-R targets except for one of E-T-E-O. Knocking down all the targets resets the spinner value to the lowest possible value.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Played with; the game never lets you actually destroy the meteor (especially since it was released before the advent of dot-matrix displays), but advancing all missiles to the meteor enables the Special, which is the next best thing.
- Licensed Pinball Table: This game is a classic example of how a bad license can still result in a good pinball game.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Seen on the backglass.
- Painting the Medium: The incoming meteor is represented by the game's single large bumper.
- Spelling Bonus: M-E-T-E-O-R increases the bonus multiplier, while hitting all of the drop targets for a missile advances it.