- —Promotional flyer
Eight years after No Fear: Dangerous Sports, Steve Ritchie returned to arcade pinball with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Released by Stern Pinball in 2003, this table features art by Kevin O'Connor, original voice clips by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a ball-launching RPG in the backbox itself.
As one would expect, this pinball game follows the plot of the movie, with the player as the T-850 Terminator fighting against the T-X. Since her Plasma Cannon easily outclasses the T-850, the player must first travel around the playfield, collecting weapons and BFGs. Look for opportunities for multiball, Quick Fire, and Payback Time, but don't hesitate to Escape if necessary. Avoid getting distracted when the Command Center initiates a Red Alert, and be ready to use the backglass RPG at the T-X when the time comes. Survive long enough for the Final Battle, and try to Finish Her before she does the same to you.
Stern did not hesitate to play up the significance of the game in advertisements, touting the return of Steve Ritchie and the Terminator 2: Judgment Day team.note Many pinball enthusiasts agreed, welcoming Terminator 3 as a worthy return for the "Master of Flow", a game that emphasized long shots, fast action, and precision shooting. The main point of dispute is whether it surpasses the T2 pin, with T2 regarded as having better art and T3 having more demanding gameplay.
This pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Arm Cannon: The T-X's Plasma Cannon, which launches pinballs at the player.
- BFG: The RPG, represented by the backbox launcher
- Blown Across the Room: The final fight against the T-X.
- Channel Hop: From Williams Electronics to Stern Pinball.
- Combo: Not only does the game reward you for shooting certain items in sequence, but having several game modes running simultaneously starts "Blitz", where certain shots award even more points.
- Cool Shades: Worn by the T-850, even with half of his face gone.
- Cower Power: Appears on the backglass, where John Connor and Kate Brewster are cowering behind the T-850 and his RPG.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: By default, the game ships with a gun grip and trigger to launch balls and fire at in-game targets. Operators have the option to replace the grip with a fire/launch button "for sensitive locations".
- Flawless Victory: Bonuses are given for not missing any shots in the RPG mode, with even larger bonuses given if some of those shots took out two targets at once (by being in the middle of them).
- Gatling Good: The T-850 is using one in the ball saver animation.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: The T-850 head on the playfield has a flashing red eye.
- Hint System: To help pinball novices, not only do the playfield indicators flash for relevant targets, but the game even has Arnold Schwarzenegger tell you what and where to shoot for at the start of each ball.The Terminator: Shoot here, and here!
- Lockdown: Occurs during "Blitz", complete with an animation of blast doors closing.
- Match Sequence: The word "match" shatters into pieces, and the pieces then melt and reform into the final number.
- More Dakka: Weapons are collected by repeatedly shooting the center ramp, which provide various bonuses and increases the Assault award. Furthermore, the player must collect multiple RPGs to reach the Wizard Mode.
- Moving Target Bonus: The second and third waves for the RPG mini-game is this; for the second wave, four (out of five) targets are lit, and they move continuously. The third wave is similar to the Super Jackpot shot in Terminator 2, in which only a single target is lit and moving.
- Mythology Gag/Shout-Out: At the climax of "Final Battle", Steve Ritchie reprises his role as Shao Khan to deliver the final instruction:"FINISH HER!"
- Rated M for Manly: Every inch of this pinball table lives and breathes this trope; the playfield's predominantly red color scheme is punctuated by the stainless steel ramps and chrome pipes everywhere, while the red-tinged backglass is only interrupted by the merciless Terminators glaring at you.
- Red Alert: Done with RED, where the entire playfield is illuminated with red flashers (and all shots are worth 1 million points).
- Robo Cam: Used when selecting a random reward.
- Robot Girl: The T-X, of course.
- Robot War: Well, robot-vs.-robot war, anyway.
- Signature Style: It lacks the "Picard Maneuver" Combo shot, but the pin has Ritchie's other design styles.
- SkeleBot 9000: The T-X on the playfield.
- Spelling Bonus: R-E-D starts RED, naturally. R-P-G standups light the RPG mode.
- Spiritual Successor: A borderline example, since both this game and the Terminator 2 pinball share the same license and the same creator, but are released by different companies. Whether this makes them direct sequels or not depends on how one defines "successor".
- Terminator Twosome: Represented both in the game itself, and the two Terminator heads (T-X and T-850) on the playfield.
- Trampled Underfoot: Multiball begins with a Terminator stomping on a human skull.
- Video Mode: Similar to the one in Terminator 2, this is a Light Gun Game where the player uses the flipper buttons to move the crosshairs and pull the launch trigger to shoot.
- Wizard Mode: "Final Battle", which is only available after starting Payback Time and Assault Multiball, collecting the Super Jackpot in regular multiball, collecting all of the Escape awards, and completing all three RPG modes. The Battle itself is a multiball mode where you must repeatedly hit the taunting T-X to weaken her. After that, shoot the ramps and loops, and finally Finish Her by hitting the T-X until she's destroyed, after which it starts over again but with multiple modes activated which activates "Blitz".
- World of Badass: By default, since the two main characters are the dueling Terminators. The only non-badass characters are the tiny figures of John and Kate cowering behind the T-850.