The game came about when, in early 1983, Williams management needed a pinball game that could begin manufacturing in three weeks to prevent a factory shutdown. Furthermore, distributors wanted a low-cost game for family centers where the play time could be easily managed. Oursler and his team completed Time Fantasy in two weeks, a time-based game designed around low-budget components and leftover pieces from other titles.
Time Fantasy is reknown for its psychedelic fantasy theme, which has an anthropromorphic snail-like creature meditating contemplatively among a field of mushrooms in a surreal rainbow-colored landscape. Along with hitting targets and bumpers for points, the player can activate Time Ball for a temporary period of invincibility, then make specific shots to further extend that. For big points, make the Mushroom Jump horseshoe loop, but don't jump backwards or you'll lose points instead!
Only 600 Time Fantasy games were made, but its unorthodox rules and mind-bending theme causes it to get overlooked by many players. It has a small but devoted fanbase, however, who find it a refreshing change of pace from the usual pinball fare. If nothing else, this is a very memorable game for all sorts of reasons.
Time Fantasy demonstrates the following tropes:
- Cartoon Creature: The game's main character is a green and yellow creature with spindly limbs, bulbous eyes, and a large snail-like shell on its head and back.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows/Rainbow Lite: The background of the playfield includes a large six-color rainbow.
- Excuse Plot: What do snails and mushrooms have to do with time travel, anyway? Who cares?
- Invincibility Power-Up: Spelling TIME starts "Time Ball", which gives the player temporary invincibility — draining the ball simply returns it to the launcher for another go.
- Magic Mushroom: The only vegetation visible in the landscape are various yellow bell-shaped mushrooms.
- Spelling Bonus: T-I-M-E starts Time Ball mode, while F-A-N-T-A-S-Y increases the bonus multiplier and adds five seconds to the Time Ball mode.
- Springy Spores: Invoked by the Mushroom Jump loop.