Pinball Browser: Customise Your Pinball Machine

If you like to dabble in hacking and modding proprietary software, especially on pinball machines, you are in luck!

Pinball Browser, created by French Pinsider, Olivier (aka: OGA83), is your godsend tool to customise and personalise your Stern Whitestar, SAM and SPIKE firmware based pinball machines to your liking. Pinball Browser allows you to access, modify, add, remove sounds, images, videos, messages, adjustments and of course, high scores tables. So if you want to ensure you are the Grand Champion on your Stern The Walking Dead pinball machine, get this great software tool and get creative!

To learn more about its capabilities and download Pinball Browser (latest version is v6.50) go here now. Oh yeah, please consider donating 20 EURO (or more) to register this great piece of software. By registering Pinball Browser, your donated contribution unlocks unique features and will also support Olivier in including future improvements! It is definitely worth it.

We all owe our gratitude to Olivier, so from the entire pinball community, thank you for creating this most awesome and useful tool!

Pinball Browser is one POWERFUL modding tool!

Look who is now the GRAND CHAMPION on TWD 😉

Changing some DMD graphics – does orange look alright to you?


The Pinball VS Arcade Industry Battle of the 80s and 90s

During the boom times of the 80s and 90s, it would have been quite hard to imagine that one day the coin-operated (coin-op) pinball and arcade video games business would (almost) disappear.

With the current worldwide resurgence in pinball and old school arcade machines making a comeback in barcades, we thought we’d take a look at how prevalent pinball and arcade games were in the 80s and 90s in the biggest coin-op amusement market in the world, the good ole USA!

We delved deep into the available ‘Census of Service Industry‘ data from the US Department of Commerce, which kept record of “sources of receipts” for pinball and arcade machines in establishments across the US. What we found was quite eye-opening!

source: 1982 Census of Service Industries: Industry Series. Miscellaneous Subjects(SC82-I-5) – US Dept of Commerce

From the 1982 census data, there were 5,434 sites across the US where the general public could attend to get their fix of playing pinball and arcade games. The total US takings at these establishments was a whopping  USD$1.175 billion (for that year), with arcade machines earning the lion’s share with USD$890.4 million and pinball with $284.3 million. Remember, this was just before the video games crash of 1983. Interestingly, Pennsylvania had the highest number of establishments (268), with the split of takings between pinball (USD$34.2M) and arcade (USD$36.0M) being almost 50/50. Everywhere else, it was arcade video game machines that took more coins out of pockets.

source: 1992 Census Of Service Industries: Subject Series. Sources of Receipts or Revenue (SC92-S-4) – US Dept of Commerce

By 1992 the coin-op amusement landscape changed quite a bit. As evident by the numbers, pinball declined substantially while arcade machines broke through the magical USD$1 billion earnings barrier for that year – that is some serious amount of coins! Pinball had unfortunately slid back, earning their operators a poultry (when compared to arcade video games) USD$165M in 1992. With hindsight, pinball was going to be saved by some big name licensed machines – hello The Addams Family!

source: The Arcade Flyer Archive

As already hinted, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for pinball. According to Vending Times (which tracks the use of coin-operated games), in the mid-1990s the silver ball game had rebounded with takings of USD$912M in 1994 (that was 38% of the total coin-op market at the time) and then almost doubling to a dizzying USD$1.7 billion by 1997/8. Pinball had gone from junk to the golden goose in three short years! Before pinball operators could make it rain more coins, it was the 32-bit gaming era that sounded the death knell for not only pinball, but arcade video games too. By the end of the 1990s, the number of venues where one could play pinball and/or arcade machines dwindled dramatically. Things got acutely dire for pinball when the once mighty Williams closed up its pinball division near the end of 1999.

The beauty of hindsight is that we can assess and track the ups and downs of the pinball and arcade coin-op industry. With the current global video games industry sporting 2.6 billion gamers and takings in excess of USD$116 billion per annum, the time of amusement centres on every street corner are long gone. If pinball could tap even 0.5% of this (that’s USD$580M), then the great silver ball game will be here to stay and be enjoyed for many generations to come!

Enjoying some arcade and pinball action at Melbourne’s Invaders Amusement Centre
– circa early 80s


Boom! Stern Pinball Unleashes Deadpool

Yesterday Stern Pinball Inc. announced their latest pinball machine, Deadpool. Based on the Marvel comics (not the movies), Stern seems to have captured the real essence of the Marvel character, thanks to the artwork by famed artist, Jeremy Packer, also known as Zombie Yeti.

True to the Deadpool character, Stern have thrown in some really clever, funny and backhanded insults, taunts and other comments all over their three Deadpool pinball machine models (Pro, Premium and Limited Edition (LE)) – check them out below. We particularly love the “OOOH, YOU’RE FANCY!” one on the LE plaque.

Oh yeah, the backboard LCD screen graphics will definitely take you back to your 80s and 90s video game days with their pixelated imagery – the nostalgia is overwhelming!

Designed by George Gomez with coding lead by Tanio Klyce, the Deadpool Pro model will hit Australian shores in October, followed by the Premium and LE models in late November (subject to change).

We can’t wait to get to Zax Amusements to fight some ninjas and get insulted! BOOM!

Price (in AUD with GST):

Image source: Stern Pinball Inc.


First Impressions: Stern’s Iron Maiden Pro Pinball Machine

When we got the word that Stern’s new Iron Maiden: Legacy of The Beast pinball machine had officially landed in Australia, we knew we had to run to the hills (Ed: terrible pun!) and hit up our friends at Zax Amusements to get hands on with this highly anticipated pinball machine.

Our first impression when walking up to the Iron Maiden Pro pinball machine was wow, this thing stands out! The physical presence and visual impact is striking and quite visceral. Jeremy Packer’s (aka: Zombie Yeti) art sets the tone and scene for what is to be a pretty darn awesome and frenetic pinball experience.

From the very first plunge we had our mouth and eyes wide open with our heart palpitating at the excitement – funnily enough, the short plunge was quite easy to do to hit the skill shot target (we’ll leave the more difficult skill shot to the Jordan Tredaways of the world). The induced adrenaline rush wasn’t based on us just playing ‘another Stern pinball machine’, we immediately noticed that Iron Maiden was a fresh take on the Stern formula with a new layout, thanks to Stern’s rookie design team; Keith Elwin – Game Designer, Tim Sexton – Software Engineer and Harrison Drake – Lead Engineer. Originally an Archer whitewood (which was shown at Arcade Expo 2.0), the game was morphed into Iron Maiden and we have to say, the re-theme suits the game like a glove – it is fast and furious, just like the metal band. Stern’s lineup of music themed pins just keeps on getting better.

We can sit here and tell you all about the technical aspects and the myriad of modes and shots to play on this machine, but we will spare you, as we’ll leave that to wizards out there than can explain it way better than we can. Let’s just say that this machine gives the beginner and expert players equal amount of ‘fun play time’. We loved the additional two flippers which ensured that the ball is kept around the targets and loop near the top of the playfield, giving the game a ‘super flow’ feeling of satisfaction when a shot is nailed. Speaking of the upper loop, it definitely has that supercharger feel when you keep hitting the shot over and over with the upper right flipper – the gratification is immense.

The left ramp through the pops is a bit more of a challenge, but again, with a bit of game time, the shot can be nailed over and over again. The sarcophagus gives the game that extra dimension, giving the perception of depth to the playfield which we have not seen on a Stern pinball machine in quite a long time (if not ever!). The one really great thing we noticed was that this game had no cheap drains, meaning that it is perfect for the casual gamer wanting to extract the maximum time of play on Iron Maiden.

This pinball machine is the complete package, no matter if you are an Iron Maiden fan or not. The art, the playfield, the four flippers and game play has that distinct freshness about it that provides fun for everyone, from the novice to those gifted pinball wizards among us, Stern has definitely hit it out of the park with Iron Maiden: Legacy Of The Beast! Go and play it now.

Stern Iron Maiden: Legacy Of The Beast pinball machine comes in three models:

  • Iron Maiden Pro $8,450
  • Iron Maiden Premium $10,650
  • Iron Maiden LE $12,500 (SOLD OUT)

Get in touch with Zax Amusements if you want a Pro or Premium machine. Up The Irons!

Look familiar? Before Iron Maiden became Iron Maiden, it was Archer!

A huge thanks to Phil and Scott from Zax Amusements for allowing us to go nuts on Stern’s Iron Maiden: Legacy Of The Beast!


Pinball For All!

Pinball should be enjoyed by all. For those of us that love pinball we take it for granted that we can stand at a machine and flip using our arms and hands/fingers. For people with disabilities, like someone with one arm or losing the use of their hands or being in a wheelchair, playing the game they love can be somewhat challenging – but it doesn’t have to be!

Necessity is the mother of invention, especially when there are brilliant people out there that come up with awesome ideas to ensure that pinball can be played by all – without exclusion. From Dutch pinsider Sascha’s simple and yet genius Zaza Ability Device + 1 (ZAD+1) contraption for people with one arm, to the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Iowa’s Wheelchair Accessible Pinball, it seems that there are ingenious inventions out there for pinball to be loved and enjoyed by everyone, no matter their ability and/or mobility.

Pinball is an inclusive game, and now it is even more so by clever people creating ingenious inventions to ensure people with disabilities can enjoy playing the silverball game! Here are a few absolutely mind-blowingly brilliant pinball playing inventions for wizards with disabilities:

The Zaza Ability Device (ZAD+1) – simple but brilliant!

icanswim70’s – Big Ol Sunction Cup Band

Yonkiman’s Doohickey design

Ben Heck’s – Single Handed Pinball Mod  

U Can Do It’s Adaptive Pinball that can be played with feet, fists, one handed, wrists and elbows

Wheelchair Accessible Pinball

image source: Links within story / title image source: Cary Carmichael via Pinside


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2018 Brisbane Pinball Masters

Calling all pinballers! Get your flipping fingers ready, as the 4th annual 4-day Brisbane Masters pinball extravaganza is almost upon us!

The 2018 Brisbane Masters will take place from July 19 till July 22 at Rydges Fortitude Valley. With 100 confirmed entrants, places are limited, so ensure you get in touch with the organisers, Jason Lambert and/or Jimmy Nails (via the Facebook event page) to secure your spot at this most prestigious pinball tournament.

Just in case you needed an incentive to compete, official Australian Stern Pinball distributor, Amusement Machine Distributors (AMD) is sponsoring the 2018 Brisbane Masters and have thrown $3,000 towards the event kitty!

For more information on the tournament, please check out the official Facebook Event page.

Photos from the 2017 Brisbane Masters (by Marco Rossignoli)


Kill Bill Pinball: It’s Pinnovating!

Where would we be without clever and innovative people? We’d probably still be rubbing sticks together to create fire!

Thank-goodness for extremely clever peeps (Ed: We are looking at you Dennis Van de Pas)! The team behind the homebrew made The Matrix pinball machine and Demolition Man On Steriods, Pinnovating has done it again with their third project based on another cult movie classic, Kill Bill!

Just like they re-programmed Johnny Mnemonic into The Matrix, Pinnovating took Bally’s World Cup Soccer 94 and turned it into Kill Bill – The Whole Bloody Affair. This may sound easy, but after 4 years and 3,000+ hours of toil, the changes don’t seem simple anymore. A lot of work (and love) went into changing the playfield layout, the handcrafted artwork, sound effects and of course, the visuals running on a 27″ HD screen supported by a classic DMD (Dot-Matrix-Display). Let’s not forget the programming, as without it, you’d have a hefty paperweight. The enormous programming task was accomplished by using the P-ROC hardware system. We wonder what they will make next???

For those in the UK, you can get your hands bloodied on this machine at UKPinfest in August. We just wish this beautiful machine would make it down here in Australia.

source: Pinnovating on Facebook

image source: Pinnovating on Facebook