Space Invaders was an arcade pinball machine designed by Jim Patla and released by Bally in 1979. As Bally's Video Game division Midway was the Western distributor of the arcade video game at the time, that makes this the Ur-Example of the Pinball Spin-Off.
As with most other pinball games at the time, there wasn't much of a story to the game — the player would simply shoot pinballs at various alien targets to repel the invaders. To flesh things out, Bally distributed an eight-page Comic Book/Advertisement to arcade operators that provided a backstory: the invaders were a race of Giger-esque aliens who have infiltrated Earth as sprites in the Video Game cabinets. Now the second phase of their plan has begun, as the aliens exit the arcade games and combine to form incredibly addictive pinball machines that completely steal the minds (and quarters) of unsuspecting humans.
The entire comic can be read here.
The art for the game (by Paul Faris) was heavily "borrowed" from the designs used in the movie Alien. Naturally, 20th Century Fox sued Bally over the resemblance, stopping production after 11,000 machines were manufactured. Bally eventually reached a settlement with Fox, paying royalties for each pinball sold.
This pinball machine demonstrates the following tropes:
- Alien Invasion: Of the infiltration variety.
- Blank White Eyes: On some of the aliens.
- Chest Monster: According to the comic, the Space Invaders pinball machines are actually aliens in disguise.
- Creepy Long Fingers/Femme Fatalons
- Evil Is Visceral
- Excuse Plot
- Fangs Are Evil
- God Save Us from the Queen!
- Humanoid Aliens: The aliens in general, but the Queen in particular, who resembles a four-eyed human female with silver scales.
- In Name Only: Aside from the name, a few small sprites on the playfield, and using the sound effects from the game itself, the pinball has no relationship to the Space Invaders arcade game.
- Mirror Monster: As seen on the mirrored backglass.
- New Media Are Evil: Played with in the comic; people who play the Space Invaders video game become enraptured by it to the point of ignoring everything else around them. On the other hand, the long lines of people who want to play the pinball is treated as just a curiosity.
- Overly-Long Tongue
- Pinball Spin-Off: The Ur-Example.
- Spikes of Villainy
- Unintentionally Unwinnable: Like other pinball games, players could get a free game if the last two digits in their final score matched a random multiple of ten (00, 10, 20, etc.). However, the lowest scoring targets award 50 or 100 points, making the player's final score always ending in 00 or 50...