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Video Game / Epic Pinball

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The first hit is free...

Epic Pinball is a series of Digital Pinball Tables for MS-DOS computers from Epic Megagames. Released both on CD-ROM and a series of floppy disks, they are noted for being one of the last commercial games written entirely in assembly language, making for very faster and fluid action even on a modest PC. The first game was released in 1993.

As with Silverball, James Schmalz created Epic Pinball to counter the success of Pinball Dreams by using assembly language to make full use of the IBM Personal Computer hardware. Similar to Dreams, the games were played from a top-down view, either with the entire table visible at once or with a scrolling playfield two screens tall.

The first table, "Android", was available for free in the Shareware and original retail versions; paying for the game allowed users to unlock other tables. The series featured an all-digital soundtrack in MOD format and thirteen tables all together.

The tables available in the series are:

  • Epic Pinball Pack 1:
    • "Android" (later tweaked and renamed "Super Android")
    • "Pot of Gold"
    • "Excalibur"
    • "Crash and Burn"
  • Epic Pinball Pack 2:
    • "Magic"
    • "Jungle Pinball"
    • "Deep Sea"
    • "Enigma"
  • Epic Pinball Pack 3:
    • "Cyborgirl"
    • "Pangea"
    • "Space Journey"
    • "Toy Factory"

A thirteenth table, "African Safari," was only available in the CD-ROM version. A stripped-down version of Epic Pinball Pack 3 was included by Acer in their desktop PCs, omitting the "Cyborgirl" table. A Spiritual Successor, Extreme Pinball, was released a few years later.

In 2011, the game was partially remade as "Retro Pinball" by Fuse Powered Inc. for Apple's iOS devices. It features updated versions of "Super Android," "Crash and Burn," and "Pangaea", handpicked by Schmalz himself.

The Epic Pinball series demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To Pinball Dreams, down to duplicating the "screws and fasteners" art aesthetic.
  • The Big Race: "Crash and Burn" is about an IndyCar race.
  • Cyberspace: The premise of "Cyborgirl".
  • Demo Scene: Artwork for "Space Journey" and "Toy Factory" was done by a member of the demo group Future Crew.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: "This game is not shareware. Please do not distribute!" Despite the warning, standalone installers for at least Crash and Burn, Deep Sea, and Enigma were distributed illegally in shareware bundles.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Hitting the round bumpers at the top-right increases IQ by 1 for each hit.
  • Intercourse with You: The background track for Cyborgirl includes some pretty pornographic-sounding moans and yelps.
  • Leprechaun: One appears in "Pot of Gold," predictably enough.
  • Pinball Scoring: It's a pinball game — of course it's going to use this trope.
  • Pinball Spin-Off: "Jungle Pinball" is based on Epic's Jill of the Jungle.
  • Shareware: Android (and only that table; others will warn you on startup that they are not shareware) was released essentially for free, with order info in the manual on how to get the other tables.
  • Slurpasaur: The "Pangea" table prominently features a dinosaur that looks like an oversized alligator.
  • Title Confusion: The patched version of "Android" has the title on the playfield as "Super Android", but keeps "Android" in the game menus.
  • Wackyland: "Enigma", which eschews all pretense of realism for a table of pulsing plasma where nothing is what it seems.

Alternative Title(s): Retro Pinball