The game itself centers around Xenon, the supercomputer at the heart of a futuristic society. Build up the Mota Special and the Bonus multiplier, then spell XENON to advance the Super Bonus. When you've collected three X's from the top saucer, shoot through the tube to interface with Xenon and start multiball for faster scoring.
Xenon has the distinction of being Bally's first solid-state pinball game with multiball. And although it was not the first talking pinball ever, Xenon was also Bally's first game with speech, using Ciani's digitized and processed voice instead of the Machine Monotone of earlier games. The attractive science-fiction artwork, appealing sound effects, and uncomplicated rules made it one of Bally's best-selling games of the year. Even today, it is widely regarded as an iconic classic by pinball enthusiasts.
OMNI: The New Frontier did a short documentary on the creation of the game's audio effects; it can be viewed here.
A digital version was available for FarSight Studios' The Pinball Arcade until July 2018, when their license for the Williams and Bally tables expired.
The Xenon pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Appeal to Novelty:
- Word of God is that Xenon was originally intended as a single-ball game centered on the plastic transport tube. Bally management decided to add a female voice after Williams' Gorgar and Stern's Flight 2000 arrived with simple Machine Monotone voices.
- The two-ball multiball was added in a day after management later heard that another pinball was about to be released with multiball play.
- BrainComputer Interface: The playfield shows two red-skinned humans using jacks in their head to interface with Xenon.
- Brain in a Jar: The robots on the playfield have transparent skulls, with their organic-looking brains clearly visible.
- Computer Voice
- Fembot: Xenon is suggested to be one, though only her head and shoulders are visible.
- Fun with Acronyms: The tube transport system is the Kinetic Molecular Integrated Evolution Cylinder (KMIEC), named after designer Greg Kmiec.
- The Future
- The Immodest Orgasm: The sound effects include some arousing moans.
- Male Gaze/Victory Pose: A woman on the playfield is standing in front of Xenon, her back to the viewer and her arms raised in the air.
- Names Given to Computers: Xenon, which has no meaning beyond Rule of Cool.
- Nipple and Dimed: The red-skinned woman on the playfield is nude and topless, but has no visible nipples.
- Protagonist Title
- Sdrawkcab Name: The Mota Special.
- Skill Shot: Roll over the flashing button switch at launch to score 1,500 points and knock down one of the four side drop targets.
- Space Clothes: The people are wearing full-bodied single-colored jumpsuits.
- Spelling Bonus: X-E-N-O-N, of course.
- Tron Lines: Although predating the TRON movie itself, Xenon is an Ur-Example of the style, with heavy use of blue plastics and lights all over the playfield. Some collectors modify their tables with blue LEDs to further emphasize the effect.
- Tube Travel: The table's most prominent feature is a clear plastic tube that takes pinballs across the playfield.
- We Will All Fly in the Future: The backglass and playfield show people flying around, just because.