On a dark and stormy night, frisky teens Jodi and Todd venture into an abandoned old house, only to get separated by a Mad Scientist living within. Dr. Shock introduces Jodi to Gertrude the chimpanzee, then announces his wild experiment to swap their bodies. While Todd rushes to save her, the player must use the Particle Accelerator and the Atom Smasher to power up the experiment, and activate the Anti-Gravity machine to move balls up the playfield. Trigger the Power Saver to prevent drains down the outlane, fill up the test tube, then start a five-ball multiball spree and start some Strange Science!
Capitalizing on the "wacky science" comedy movies of The '80s, Strange Science ended up a modest success, selling around 2,300 units. It was marketed with a seven-page black-and-white comic by Brian Colin (the designer of Rampage) documenting the back story. While it's not a particularly deep game, it has a fair number of fans who enjoy its wacky humor and engaging layout.
Strange Science demonstrates the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: The game's background story is only presented in the promotional comic.
- Anti-Gravity: The Anti-Gravity machine shoots balls up to the top of the playfield.
- Big Electric Switch: Dr. Shock is grabbing one on the backglass.
- Damsel in Distress: Jodi.
- Einstein Hair: Dr. Shock has a scalp of cropped white hair.
- Epileptic Flashing Lights: The Jacob's Ladder neon topper tends to flicker very rapidly, producing this effect.
- Evil Laugh: Though the game lacks any voices, it makes up for it with a variety of modulated laughs from Dr. Shock.
- Excuse Plot: The backstory of Jodi, Todd, and Shock's experiment don't factor into the game at all — just shoot stuff and score points.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: The experiment is to swap Jodi and Gertrude's bodies.
- Genius Slob: Dr. Shock's desk (represented by the pinball table's apron) is a slovenly mess, including a half-empty can of cola, a partially-eaten cheeseburger and a tube of ketchup.
- Golden Snitch: Multiball is ridiculously unbalanced - The playfield multiplier goes up to 12x with all five balls out.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Jodi and Todd.
- Improbable Weapon User: Todd charges into the laboratory with his electric guitar held like a shotgun.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
- Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Dr. Shock is always seen wearing one.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. E. Shock, the antagonist.
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: The playfield is decorated like a classic laboratory. Operators can also install a backbox topper resembling a Jacob's Ladder with an electric arc.
- The Mockbuster: The game intentionally invites comparisons to films such as Weird Science and Real Genius.
- No Name Given: Ultimately subverted; although the Mad Scientist is never named anywhere, a small nametag on his coat reads "Dr. E. Shock".
- Not-So-Abandoned Building/Old, Dark House: Shock's lab is located inside a seemingly-abandoned Old, Dark House.
- Score Multiplier: 3x, 6x, 9x, or 12x with 2, 3, 4, or 5 balls in play, respectively.
- Skill Shot: Time your launch so it rolls over the Particle Separator switch when the moving light is on the desired reward.
- Spelling Bonus: L-A-B increases the bonus multiplier, while S-T-R-A-N-G-E-S-C-I-E-N-C-E advances the Spark Bonus.
- Unwanted Rescue: The comic ends with Todd bursting in to rescue Jodi (whose mind is now in the body of Gertrude the chimp), only for her to note, "Save me?! He's gotta be kidding — this is the most fun I've had in years!"
- Valley Girl: Jodi even thinks in val-speak.Help! Totally.