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Pinball / The Twilight Zone

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So this is where Rod retired to...

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination."
Rod Serling, at the start of the game

The Twilight Zone is a Pinball game designed by Pat Lawlor and illustrated by John Youssi. Released in 1993 by Williams Electronics under their Bally label, it is based on the original The Twilight Zone (1959) television series, with dozens of cameos, shout outs, and references to various episodes.

Taking place in a curio shop, the player must explore various Twilight Zone artifacts to gather fourteen door panels. Tasks include surviving a riot in Town Square, collecting the Powerball from the Gumball Machine, Battle the Power, taking photos with the fortune-telling Camera, and collecting the Spirals around the playfield. Reassembling all fourteen panels opens a door to another dimension, leaving the player Lost In The Zone...

Due to the runaway success of The Addams Family, Pat Lawlor was given carte blanche privileges in the game's design; the result is arguably one of the most complex pinballs ever, with more patent-pending features than any other table ever made and an impressively deep ruleset. It has been rated "Best Electronic Pinball Machine of All Time" on the Internet Pinball Machine Database. Despite this, in its initial release it didn't sell well — the huge success of The Addams Family was tough to follow, though Zone has since been Vindicated by History.


A digital version of the game was formerly available as part of FarSight Studios' The Pinball Arcade collection until the WMS license expired on July 1, 2018.

This pinball demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Auteur License: After The Addams Family became the best-selling pinball of all-time, Pat Lawlor was given creative control over the game, and the end result, by Lawlor's own admission, was one of the most complex designs ever.
  • Author Catchphrase: Like in many other Pat Lawlor tables, "The Power" is mentioned here. This time, there's an adversary called the Power that you can fight on a mini-table. In addition, there's the Powerball, a special ceramic ball that moves lighter and faster than a regular pinball, and is immune to magnets. Returning the Powerball to the gumball machine activates a special multiball mode, or bringing the Powerball into the regular multiball enables it to be used to score a double jackpot.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: The Curio Shop where the game takes place.
  • Big "NO!": The Power does this when you enter the Powerfield during "Lost in the Zone" or "Powerball Mania".
  • Building of Adventure: Technically, everything is taking place inside the Curio Shop.
  • Canon Foreigner: The game's iconic gumball machine and 'fight the power' pyramid were created for this game, and are not references to any existing episodes.
  • Cap:
    • 99 Robots
    • 99 Hitchhikers
    • Bonus multiplier tops out at 5.
  • Continuity Cameo/Reference Overdosed/Shout-Out: LOTS, thanks to the license. A full list of the pinball's episode references can be found here.
  • Creepy Doll: Talky Tina, just like in the episode from whence she came.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Defeating The Power causes it to explode.
    • Inverted with the Door; it explodes to signal the start of multiball, but remains intact when starting Lost In The Zone.
  • Developers' Foresight: If the ball exits the Powerfield undetected and doesn't hit any switch on the playfield before draining, a new ball is fed to the autolauncher to compensate.
    Rod: "Things aren't what they first appear."
    • If the Powerball is on the field, then access to the Powerfield is disabled, since the Powerball isn't affected by the magna-flippers.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Occurs when you defeat The Power.
  • Evil Laugh: Done by The Power if you fail to defeat it before or after the ball drains after the timer expires.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Powerball + Battle the Power = instant loss.
  • Fortune Teller: The Camera, which predicts the next award it awards.
  • Greed: One of the modes that, unsurprisingly, has an emphasis on hitting as many 5,000,000-point targets as possible.
    Voice: You want more.
    Rod: There. See what Greed will get you?
  • Humans Are Bastards: "There's madness in Town Square."
  • Large Ham: Rod Serling (or, at least, Tim Kitzrow's impersonation of Serling).
  • Licensed Game
  • Lilliputians: The Invaders, who are only slightly larger than a pinball.
  • Machine Monotone: "The robots can help."
    • Played with: at the start of multiball, "Don't touch the door!" is heard, getting higher and higher pitched everytime. See Madness Mantra below.
  • Made of Explodium: Some of the extra balls you get explode.
    • The Zone's door explodes upon starting the game's main multiball mode.
  • Match Sequence: One of the Invaders fires its laser gun to reveal the two numbers, and any non-matching numbers instantly vaporize.
  • Mind over Matter: The mini-playfield, which uses flipperless "magna-flips" to control the ball and battle The Power.
  • Musical Gag: The game's main background music is an instrumental version of the 1982 song "Twilight Zone", by Golden Earring. Which ties conveniently to...
  • Mythology Gag: The "Fast Lock" multiball, which starts with a radio playing clips from Lawlor's previous tables. Depending on when the player locks a ball, music from The Addams Family, Fun House, Whirlwind, Earthshaker!, or Banzai Run will play until multiball play ends.
    • Cover Version: Chris Granner (the game's composer) covered Banzai Run's main theme (originally performed by Brian Schmidt) for this game.
    • Similarly, hitting the clock enough times during "Clock Chaos" will play a clip of Rudy (from Funhouse) yelling, "Quit playing with the clock!" Also, when a player goes for the buy-in (i.e. puts in additional coins for an extra ball), a clip from The Addams Family of Raúl Juliá's Gomez Addams saying "Grrreeeeeeed" will play. (Oddly, it's not heard when the mode named "Greed" is active.)
  • New Game+: This is the first Pat Lawlor game to reset the modes (door panels in this case) immediately after playing the Wizard Mode, allowing them to be played again on the same ball as opposed to not resetting until the next ball.
  • Not Quite Starring: Tim Kizrow, who does Rod Serling's voice, as the real Rod Serling died in 1975.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: The Power speaks in a very deep baritone.
  • Power-Up: The Powerball, a ceramic sphere that's the same size as a pinball, but whose lighter mass makes it go faster and move somewhat more erratically as a result. It's also immune to the game's magnets. When it appears in-game, some shots have increased scoring, additional targets are lit, and returning it to the gumball machine starts Powerball Mania mode.
  • Pyramid Power: The Power, appropriately enough.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: In addition to using the theme song from the show, this game used the 1982 hit song, "Twilight Zone", by Golden Earring.
  • Retro Rocket
  • Robot Buddy: Gather enough robots to light the Extra Ball or the Camera shot.
  • Score Multiplier: A Jackpot scored in Multiball with the Powerball scores double its value - The display will point this out as it is awarded.
  • Signature Style: A "bumper shot" through Town Square, magnets to Battle The Power, more than two flippers, a "soft plunge" Skill Shot, and an eye-grabbing gumball machine — yep, it's a Pat Lawlor pin all right.
  • Skill Shot: A soft launch will send the ball into a colored zone (red, orange, or yellow), which lights one to three of the jet bumpers.
    • The "Super Skill Shot" mode does something similar, except the awards are either lighting "Battle the Power", lighting the outlanes, or lighting the extra ball shot.
  • Spinning Clock Hands: Used throughout the game to indicate the amount of time remaining for a particular mode. In some modes, the clock hands can travel backwards, switch directions, and/or determine the points awarded for hitting a target.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The playfield spirals. Aside from being decorative, they can also temporarily trap a pinball, which is helpful for making some of the shots.
  • Timed Mission: While timed modes are a staple of modern pins, TZ is well-known for having a physical ticking clock on the table to go with many timed objectives. Although the clock doesn't always tick clockwise...
    "Time is a one-way street...except in the Twilight Zone."
  • Title Drop: True to the series, many of Serling's voice clips refer to "the Twilight Zone".
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Powerball. It's lighter than a standard pinball making it riskier to handle, and because it's ceramic, it's unaffected by the magnets on the field.
  • The Unintelligible: The Invaders.
  • Wizard Mode: "Lost In The Zone", which is reached after collecting all of the door panels. In this mode, all six balls are launched onto the playfield, and the player has 45 seconds to rack up as many points as they can with nearly all of the door modes, along with Powerball Mania, running at once.

"Dance with the devil at your own risk, in the Twilight Zone."

Example of: