The Simpsons Pinball Party is the second licensed pinball machine based on The Simpsons, designed by Keith Johnson and Joe Balcer, and released by Stern Pinball in February 2003. It is a successor to The Simpsons pinball machine by Data East Pinball, the predecessor to Stern.
As one would expect, this pinball game is a cornucopia of all things Simpsons as the entire town of Springfield comes out for a wild nonstop party. Take a tour of Springfield's iconic landmarks, from Moe's Tavern and the town monorail to the Kwik-E-Mart and the Nuclear Power Plant. The game features the talking, moving head of Homer Simpson, along with skateboarding Bart, Itchy & Scratchy, and Comic Book Guy. The garage door leads to a second level with a dot-matrix color television set and a couch that gets filled up to start multiball. The party is easy to start, but only the very best players will get to invoke Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode.
The game features original dialog performed by Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria and Dan Castellaneta. It is said to feature one of the most complex rule sheets that were ever designed for a pinball machine at the time, with the ability to stack various modes and multi-balls on top of each other.
This pinball machine contains examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight: "Homer's Day" and "Bart's Day".
- Alien Invasion: The subject of the final TV Mode.
- Couch Gag: The dot-matrix cutscenes leading up to Couch Multiball show the Simpsons sitting on the couch only to catch giant pinballs. Then the Springfield Police Department surround 742 Evergreen Terrace and Homer drives out of the garage leading to a Hot Pursuit.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Activating the Couch Multiball prompts this exchange:Chief Wiggum: Open up Simpson, you're under arrest!
Homer: For what?
Chief Wiggum: Hoarding pinballs!
- Gotta Catch Them All: Collecting five super jackpots (corresponding to each of the Simpsons family members on the playfield) is one of the tasks required to activate the "Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode".
- Collecting all 26 Cletus Kids from the left orbit begins "Pretzel Multiball", though this is not needed for the aforementioned Wizard Mode.
- In general, most of the mini-Wizard Modes are started from starting a group of other modes. Springfield Mystery Spot, for instance, is started from collecting all the Otto 2x scoring modes. Completing those mini-Wizard modes in turn form the keys to unlocking the true Wizard Mode.
- Hot Pursuit: One plays out between the Simpsons family and the Springfield Police Department during multiball. It's also depicted on the playfield artwork by the flippers.
- Interface Screw:
- The flipper controls are reversed during "Springfield Mystery Spot".Homer: Oh, everything's all backwards!
- The "Crazy Extra Ball" Treehouse of Horror award. Extra ball is lit at the left outlane or either inlane. Under normal circumstances, the player can control the lit lane with the flipper buttons...except that in this mode, the game does. And it will try its absolute hardest to avoid giving it to you. You get 2 million for every lit lane you manage to make after the first, making this mode quite valuable in spite of the difficulty.Bart: Whoa, man, that's freaky.
- The flipper controls are reversed during "Springfield Mystery Spot".
- Licensed Pinball Table
- Match Sequence: Disco Stu dances for a few seconds before a disco ball falls on him, breaking in half to reveal the digits.
- Nightmare Sequence: One of the Treehouse of Horror awards is the timed mode "Krusty's Nightmare", whereupon the spinner scores increased points and hurls knives at Krusty on the display.Krusty: Are you nuts?
- Overly Long Name: Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode, a Company Cross Reference to High Roller Casino's "Super Duper Mega Extreme Jackpot". Designer and programmer Keith Johnson did the software for the latter game.
- Punny Name: The Itchy & Scratchy episodes: "Spay Anything", "Kitty Kitty Bang Bang", "Field of Screams", and "Esophagus Now".
- Revenge: "Scratchy's Revenge", unsurprisingly, is focused on this (But the Super Jackpot yields The Un-Reveal a la "Homer Goes to College").
- Sarcasm Mode: Comic Book Guy is full of this.Comic Book Guy: Oh, and you were doing so well.
- Score Multiplier: Otto's Bus Tour lights 2x scoring on a random shot.
- Shout-Out: When Mystery Spot is ready, Professor Frink will say, "You have come to the end of your journey," referencing "Lost in the Zone" from Twilight Zone.
- Skill Shot: There's three of them. Depending on how you launch the ball, you can get more than one point value related skill shot (both the Kwik-E-Mart and bullies standups), or a careful ball launch to the Comic Book Guy target starts 2 hurry-ups.
- Spelling Bonus: The Garage shot can award a letter in "SIMPSONS", and getting them all starts D'oh Frenzy.
- Timed Mission: All of the modes have a 30-second timer. Notably, activating a TV Mode while already playing a TV Mode resets the timer for both. Since there are over 20 things that can reset the timer, it's theoretically possible to have modes running for more than 10 minutes.
- Wizard Mode: The aptly named "Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode". Getting to it is extremely difficult, and those who have reached it have an unspoken oath to not tell others about it. It is reached by getting five Super Jackpots during Couch Multiball, a Super Jackpot in both Springfield Mystery Spot and Scratchy's Revenge, completing all four waves in Alien Invasion (locking all five balls), and completing both Daredevil Mania and Secret Stash. The mode itself is feature-heavy, with all shots scoring jackpots (increased by the Monorail), an extra ball from the Daredevil lights, and Super Jackpots from both the bullies and Itchy & Scratchy (which are increased by the couch). One of the rare videos showing it reveals that it takes 25 seconds solid to explain the whole thing.
In 2006, Stern Pinball partnered with the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, Illinois, and the Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska to produce an edutainment pinball called The Brain. All of the artwork was done by the museum's Exhibits Manager, Bruce Qaust, who first conceived of the idea for the exhibit.
The Brain is a modified version of The Simpsons Pinball Party; all references to the show were stripped out, with digitized pinball chimes replacing the sound effects, while the playfield TV continuously scrolls "BRAIN GAME." The game itself focuses on the five senses — sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell — and players score points by lighting up the various parts of the brain.
A unique twist to the game is its Epileptic Seizures; at random intervals, the table suddenly shuts down, and a light-up panel displays "Seizure — stand by for game to resume." The game continues after about fifteen seconds, and is meant to teach that seizures are nothing to be afraid of. To prevent pinball wizards from dominating the game, it also includes a time limit, with a special game over message requesting players to let another person have a turn.
This pinball game provides examples of:
- Brain In A Pinball Machine
- Edutainment Game
- Faceless Eye: Shown on the playfield to represent "sight".
- Helping Hands: A hand on the playfield represents "touch".
- Interface Screw: See Painting the Medium below.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: More or less.
- Living Apart: The playfield includes a detached nose and ear.
- Mouthscreen: The sense of taste is indicated by a close-up of a mouth and tongue (replacing the garage door in the original game).
- Painting the Medium: The game occasionally simulates a seizure by stopping play for about fifteen seconds
- Retraux: The electro-mechanical-style pinball chimes.
- Nelson: "Smell ya later!"