The game casts the player as the assistant to an unnamed Scientist who has invented a Time Machine. Beginning in the future, use the four bottom flippers to shoot the bumpers and standup targets to build up the Bonus Future. When you're ready, head for the Time Hole to activate the Time Machine, retract the main playfield, and enter the distant past. While in the past, shoot the fixed targets to complete the machine and light the Green Special, then build up the Bonus Past. Return to the Time Hole to travel between the past and the future, orbit the Time Bridge to raise the bonus multiplier, then master time itself and get the Machine Special.
Among the titles in Zaccaria's modest game library, Time Machine stands out for being one of their more memorable titles, as the retracting playfield was a great innovation at the time. Unfortunately, it's also the game's main weakness: Playing in The Past is a very spartan experience, which makes that portion of the game tedious as a result. Once the novelty wears off, what's left is a decent but unspectacular game.
A digital version of this table is available on Zaccaria Pinball.
Time Machine demonstrates the following tropes:
- Appeal to Novelty
- Bald of Evil: Although the morality of the Scientist is never given, his Kubrick Stare, Creepy Monotone, and bald head combine to invoke this trope.
- Creepy Monotone: Though the game avoids the Machine Monotone of earlier talking pinball tables, the speech is decidedly monotonic and somewhat disturbing.
- Down to the Last Play: As with many Zaccaria pinballs, Time Machine has a "Game Time Bonus" feature: during the last ball, a timer is incremented during play. When it drains, the player keeps playing until the timer counts down to zero.
- Einstein Hair/Wizard Beard: Seen on the Scientist.
- Excuse Plot: The Time Machine plot is a way to show off the elevating playfield.
- Fanservice Extra: The backglass includes two attractive women wearing skin-tight Space Clothes, high heels, and bubble helmets in Boobs And Butt Poses.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom/Time Crash: On the playfield, the collision of Past and Future eras is represented by two tidal waves colliding to form a massive waterspout that dwarfs mountains.
- Kubrick Stare: The Scientist takes Time Travel very seriously.
- 1 Million B.C.: Used on the left half of the pinball table to represent the Past.
- Our Time Machine Is Different: And it's a transforming pinball machine.
- Pinball Scoring: Averted; the scoring is modest compared to most pinball games.
- The Professor
- Raygun Gothic: The game's representation of the Future, with massive silver towers and women wearing skin-tight Space Clothes.
- Spelling Bonus: Spelling M-A-C-H-I-N-E (in either the Past or the Future) lights the Time Hole for a 1,000,000-point Machine Special bonus.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs in the past include a tyrannosaurus, a triceratops, a beaked pterosaur, a duckbilled hadrosaur, and a giant serpent.
- Time Travel: The primary gameplay mechanic.