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  • 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.
  • Alien (2017):
    • Dennis Nordman's original playfield drawing, while close to the final game's layout, bears some noticeable differences.
      • There was originally a mechanism that could stop the ball with a magnet, only for a hidden facehugger to appear, steal the ball (through another magnet), and drop it underneath the playfield in preparation for multiball. This was removed (and the area around it redesigned) for cost and simplicity's sake.
      • The airlock screen was originally part of a rotating chamber that would reveal either an alien or the Queen. This was later changed to a single figure of the Queen, which can be seen in both later blueprints and a promotional video for Heighway's staff. Ultimately, Heighway Pinball felt that it was "unloved" and replaced it.
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    • The original version's Limited Edition looked noticeably different before release (as in this photo). In addition to being called the "35th Anniversary Limited Edition," it had different backbox artwork by Brian Allen.
    • An anonymous account from a former Heighway Pinball employee claims that, during development, the game used a number of assets from the original films that they were unknowingly not cleared to use. This forced the crew to remove them from the finished product.
  • 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.
  • Banzai Run was originally named "Wreckin' Ball".
  • 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 in development. Also, prior to High Speed, Steve Ritchie hinted at releasing a sequel to Flash, tentatively titled Super Flash.
  • Black Rose:
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    • 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.
  • According to artist Greg Freres, Bally's BMX was originally planned to be based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The company couldn't get the license, though, so they shifted gears for the final product.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula was originally intended to be a licensed Alien game.
  • 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.
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    • In a later stage of game development, the art director wanted to replace the female characters with farm animals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • According to Greg Freres on the Internet Pinball Database, Gilligan's Island was intended to have a different theme when it was first being designed by Dan Langlois. When Ward Pemberton took over production, he changed it to Gilligan's Island.
  • Gottlieb's Gladiators 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.
  • Spooky Pinball attempted to obtain the Godzilla license around 2018, since the company's founder is a massive fan of the series, but Stern ultimately outbid them and created their own game in 2021.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2017):
  • Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast went through two different changes in license.
    • In its original homebrew version, it was based on Archer.
    • Following designer Keith Elwin's entrance into professional designing, it was then meant to carry a Guardians of the Galaxy theme. John Borg ultimately took on that license, swapping his spot as designer of an Iron Maiden game with Elwin.
  • According to designer John Borg, Data East's Jurassic Park pinball game was originally based on Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.
  • The Mandalorian: The Dead Flip reveal stream (done prior to most machines arriving to customers) provides two examples.
    • According to programmer Dwight Sullivan, he and Brian Eddy considered adding a Video Mode during development before ultimately deciding against it.
    • The stream itself shows an Arrange Mode dubbed "Hero Mode", with one player being dubbed the "hero" and playing on a Harder Than Hard difficulty. The name was changed to "Monster Play" (with the stand-out player now being christened the "monster") prior to the game's proper release.
  • A Playboy game was planned for the Pinball 2000 platform by Williams Electronics prior to their exit from the pinball industry.
  • Police Force was going to be based on the 1989 Batman movie, but Data East already had the license to produce their own table.
  • Rush (2022):
    • According to Ed Robertson in an interview in a Stern Insider podcast, while he and the two surviving members of Rush quickly agreed on the majority of the game's 16note  tracks, there was still some disagreement. Geddy Lee wanted "YYZ" in, but Ed insisted that "La Villa Strangiato" was catchier; the latter song was ultimately the one that made it in.
    • An interview with John Borg on a special episode of the Stern Insider podcast provides several tidbits about early game mechanics:
      • The game's centerpiece was originally a bass drum that could suck up the ball. Ed Robertson later devised the idea of using a Time Machine for that purpose instead.
      • The two scoops were originally positioned farther away from each other, such that they could simultaneously shoot out balls to both flippers at the start of Far Cry Multiball.
      • The time machine's ramp was formerly lowered by hitting a specific target.
      • The motorized clock (located on the Premium and Limited editions' bass drum in the final game) was once placed on the back panel.
    • The initial reveal stream from Dead Flip used earlier code with a number of differences from the finished product:
      • When the ball is about to exit the scoop, the game originally played a quick series of high-pitched beeps to alert the player. After complaints from viewers that it was excessively shrill (many compared it to a microwave), it was changed to a much more subdued sound effect.
      • The Match Sequence was based on Power Windows' album artwork; one of the TVs on the front cover displayed the match number. The final game uses a different animation inspired by the cover of Fly by Night instead.
  • Sharkey's Shootout began life as Golden Cue, a game by Jon Norris which would flip the conventions of pinball on its head: the player was to complete a series of goals to beat the game, instead of being an endless high score fest. The game was scrapped when Sega Pinball folded into Stern, who tasked John Borg with making it into a more standardized pinball table.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Data East planned to make a pinball machine based on Total Recall (1990), but it never got beyond a single prototype table.
  • 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.
  • 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". It was retooled to be themed after the 1975 film adaptation of Tommy instead, the title now alluding to the title character's fame as a "pinball wizard".
  • Wizard Blocks was a planned Pinball 2000 game by Pat Lawlor that was scrapped after Williams Electronics left the pinball business. Only a single rough prototype was produced.
  • During a seminar at the Chicago Pinball Expo, game designer John Trudeau claimed that WWE Wrestlemania had its original license fall through shortly before production began, necessitating retooling.

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