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What Could Have Been / Pinball

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  • Gottlieb's Gladiators pinball was originally intended to be a The Legend of Zelda game, after the company's earlier Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World tables. Unfortunately, midway through development, Gottlieb reached a deal for the American Gladiators license on the condition that they use the license quickly. The game was rethemed and reprogrammed to match, but the deal fell through; without any more time to revert the game to Zelda, it was decided to theme it with cyber warriors in a virtual reality Cyberspace.
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  • Jon Norris was once working on a pinball table named Golden Cue, which would flip the conventions of pinball on its head by having the player complete a series of goals to beat the game, instead of being an endless high score fest. Unfortunately, the game was scrapped when Sega Pinball folded into Stern, who tasked John Borg with making it into a more standard pinball table. The final result was Sharkey's Shootout.
  • Banzai Run was originally named "Wreckin' Ball".
  • Black Rose:
    • Pat McMahon is said to have drawn an X-rated backglass intended for an interested European market. It was ultimately never produced.
    • Additionally, the balls were originally intended to be black (like cannonballs), but this idea was presumably scrapped for cost reasons.
  • Bally's Wizard! was originally intended to be centered around a white-bearded medieval wizard who used magic to turn over the game's "flip flags".
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  • According to designer John Borg, Data East's Jurassic Park pinball was originally intended to be a licensed game based on Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula was originally intended to be a licensed Alien game.
  • For Breakshot, the game was originally called "Cloud 9", and featured ancient gods playing with the nine planets of the solar system. Artist Stan Fukuoka's initial art designs were very adult-oriented, with nude Goddesses everywhere. Executives nixed the design to make the game appealing to family recreation centers, and the theme was changed as a result.
    • In a later stage of game development, the art director wanted to replace the female characters with farm animals.
  • Two Pinball 2000 tables, Wizard Blocks and Playboy, were in the prototype stage when Williams Electronics left the pinball business.
  • According to artist Greg Freres, Bally had planned a pinball based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It was never produced due to licensing issues, and became BMX instead.
  • Avatar was to have been Steve Ritchie's next game after Spider-Man; after he was laid off from Stern Pinball in 2010, Steve posted the blueprint on his website. Avatar was eventually released with a different design by John Borg.
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  • According to programmer Dwight Sullivan, Star Trek: The Next Generation was originally based on the movie Under Siege.
  • John Popadiuk's Theatre of Magic was originally going to be The Magic of David Copperfield and was going to be released by Williams, but Williams couldn't get the license. It was ultimately released under their Bally label.
  • Police Force was going to be based on the 1989 Batman movie, but Data East already had the license to produce their own table.
  • According to Larry DeMar, The Addams Family was originally designed with alphanumeric displays (instead of then-new dot matrix displays), feeling that the dot matrix display's budget would be better spent on other parts of the game.
  • Black Knight 2000 was originally designed as a sequel to the 1979 pinball game Flash; programmer Ed Boon released pictures of 2000's whitewood, which showed that "B-L-A-C-K" was "F-L-A-S-H" at one point. Also, prior to High Speed, Steve Ritchie hinted at releasing a sequel to Flash, tentatively titled "Super Flash".
  • The Twilight Zone was originally going to be the first game to use Williams/Midway's DCS Sound System. but because DCS was still in development at the time, the music was rescored using Williams's Yamaha YM2151/Harris CVSD sound system. In 2015, composer Chris Granner released the original DCS soundtrack for Twilight Zone; here's what it would have sounded like. The DCS Sound System would debut in Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure and Mortal Kombat II.
  • Keith Elwin's debut game for Stern Pinball, Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast, went through two different changes in license.
    • In its original homebrew version, it was based on Archer.
    • Following Elwin's entrance into professional designing, it was then meant to carry a Guardians of the Galaxy theme, while John Borg would design an Iron Maiden-themed table. The two ultimately ended up swapping themes; Elwin speculates that Borg got tired of rock band tables, having designed Metallica, KISS, and Aerosmith in the previous five years.
  • In The Simpsons Pinball Party, the Homer head was originally going to follow the ball more accurately, and the Comic Book Guy target was originally designed to kick back balls to the upper right flipper for extra shots; thus allowing the player to accumulate several hurry-ups at once.
  • Deadpool was originally designed by John Trudeau. However, following his 2017 arrest for possession of child pornography, Stern cut all ties with him and threw out his work, replacing him with George Gomez. While the company never officially announced his involvement in the project, Zombie Yeti — the game's artist — revealed this information on this episode of the Head2Head Pinball Podcast.
  • The backglass artwork for Guardians of the Galaxy was originally done by "Dirty" Donny Gilles (who had previously illustrated Metallica). According to former leaker and podcast host Kaneda, it was soundly rejected by Marvel, and the final artwork was done by a different artist (namely, Christopher Franchi).
  • As revealed on the Head2Head Pinball Podcast, Ghostbusters' Wizard Mode "Are You a God?" was originally meant to be accessed by finishing every part of the game; programmer Dwight Sullivan instead decided to use the idea for Jedi Multiball in Star Wars (Stern). Upon returning to Ghostbusters for its 2019 code update, he decided to streamline "We're Ready to Believe You" (which he had grown to dislike) and make it the sole prerequisite for the final mode.
  • During a seminar at the Chicago Pinball Expo, game designer John Trudeau claimed that one game of his had its original license fall through shortly before production began, necessitating reworking and ultimately resulting in WWE Wrestlemania.
  • In its original homebrew phase, Total Nuclear Annihilation originally took a much more flippant, tongue-in-cheek approach to its premise of nuclear devastation, with the player destroying a city for no real reason. As mentioned in this interview, creator Scott Danesi subsequently decided to rewrite the story to "make it more fun and interesting".
  • Joe Kaminkow told the Internet Pinball Database that The Simpsons was supposed to be the first Data East game to have a dot matrix display (and, by proxy, the first pinball machine ever to have one). President Joe Keenan was worried that it wouldn't be ready in time for release (and that rushing it out would spell disaster for the company), so it was held off until their next game, Checkpoint.
  • Data East planned to make a pinball machine based on Total Recall (1990), but it never got beyond a single prototype table.


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