The Games of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection

PINBALL_BOXI love video pinball games. Recently I picked up the Xbox 360 version of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection for around 15 bucks on sale. I was surprised how addicting it was! So I thought I’d run through the dozen or so pinball tables on the collection!


I’d have to say that The Williams Collection is one of the better pinball games I’ve played in recent years. The tables are accurate, ball physics are nearly spot on, and most of the tables are familiar to me and I’ve seen them and played them in arcades before.

A few years ago, Crave came out with a Gottlieb pinball collection, but it wasn’t as fun because I didn’t know most of the tables and they weren’t as interesting anyway. Another pinball game collection you can download on Xbox Live is Pinball FX. It’s all right, but some of the tables aren’t very fun (like the downloadable Street Fighter one), and the ball physics aren’t as good.

In the Williams collection, the menu where you pick which table you play is set in a fictional 3-D arcade from the 80’s and it looks really authentic. Everything from the change machine, faux-80’s music, even the ugly carpet is there. It makes me even more excited about the upcoming Game Room on Xbox Live.

Many of the tables are locked, but you can play them anyway with tokens earned by completing goals in the other tables. Complete all the goals in one table and you can unlock one for free! Each table has rules explained to you with spoken voice and pictures, making it easy to figure out how to complete the goals and get a high score. So anyway, if you see this game on sale somewhere, pick it up! It’s very good.

So here are the tables you can play in the game:

Jive Time (1970)

OK, this one is the exception. It’s locked, but you can’t unlock it by buying it or completing goals. What you have to do is take The Williams Challenge. It’s a special mode where you play all the tables in a row and try to get a set score in each. And I can’t do it. I love pinball games, but I’m not especially good at them. But I don’t feel too bad about not being able to unlock Jive Time because it’s a really old table and usually those aren’t quite as much fun to me.

Gorgar (1979)

The name sounds like some kind of MST3K movie. The theme of the table is a devil monster called Gorgar that you have to defeat, and he’ll taunt you with bad voice samples along the way. The further you get into the table, the faster you hear a heartbeat, so I imagine it was a pretty intense table for the time. I think the sound effects in Gorgar were later used in Joust, as they both sound real similar. The first few tables on this collection I don’t remember, as I was pretty little back then and was more interested in Sesame Street than pinball. Since Gorgar is an older table, it’s pretty simple and it was one of the first tables I was able to get all the basic goals on.

Firepower (1980)

This one has a spaceship theme. I don’t know if I got lucky or if the table is really easy, but I managed to get all the basic goals the first time I tried it! It’s a really open table with a lot of targets to hit, but not a lot of ramps.

Black Knight (1980)

I guess the two most popular themes in pinball are sci-fi and medieval. A Black Knight threatens to ‘slay you’ in this table. The main feature is that the table is split into two parts, with flippers at the top middle and bottom. Try to keep the ball in the top part, where earning multi-ball is easy. I managed to get all the basic goals in this table pretty quickly as well.

Sorcerer (1980)

This psychedelic table has an evil wizard who taunts and laughs at you as you play. Aside from the bright colors, I didn’t find this table too interesting.

Space Shuttle (1984)

This is the earliest table that I can actually remember seeing in arcades. It’s a simple table with few ramps. The main feature is the big space shuttle that sits predominantly at the top middle of the screen, where a ramp is. It’s not a terribly interesting table, but with a little work, I was able to complete the basic goals.

Pin-Bot (1986)

I saw Pin-Bot tons of times in arcades, but I bet many people my age who grew up in the NES era also remember the NES version of Pin-Bot. The NES game was very faithful to the arcade machine and looked great for its time. Rare also made a NES version of High Speed later, but I never played it. It could be a good testament to both the NES game and the version of Pin-Bot on this collection, but both played spot on. I was able to complete the goals easily because it felt so much like the NES game. Anyone remember the pinball sequel: Bride of Pin-Bot?

Taxi (1988)

I don’t remember this one, but I wonder if this was the inspiration for the video pinball game Big Race USA (more on that one later). You have to pick up passengers and the ramps look like roads and the lights are the people you have to pick up by rolling up the ramps. One of the passengers is Santa Claus! It’s a fun table, but also really hard for me to get all the basic goals on! It feels pretty advanced for an 80’s pinball table, though.

Whirlwind (1990)

This one has a tornado theme. There are three circles in the middle of the board that will spin around and mess up the path of your ball when it rolls over. For this reason, I don’t care much for this table.

Funhouse (1990)

This is another table that I remember seeing in a lot of arcades. In fact, I think EGM did an article about it back in the day. I’m not sure why it’s called Funhouse, though, because the two main features of the table are a clock on the bottom and a talking dummy head named Rudy near the top. You have to hit targets to make the clock go to midnight. That’s when the talking dummy Rudy falls asleep, and you can send pinballs in his mouth for mega bonus points. I don’t really like this table because the layout of the ramps is a little confusing. And the basic goals are pretty hard! One of them you have to shoot the ball into Rudy’s mouth WHILE he’s talking! How are you supposed to do that?!?

Tales of the Arabian Nights (1996)

You can probably tell by the title what the theme of this table is. The main features are a 3-D lamp you can spin around with the ball, and a genie near the back that you can hit. There’s a magnet by the genie that makes it look like he’s ‘holding’ the ball magically. Lots of newer pinball tables do this. My favorite thing about pinball tables starting in the mid to late 90’s is the LCD scoreboard that shows all the neat animated graphics.

The only problem I have with the video pinball version of this table is one of the goals is hard to get. You have to get Harem Multi-ball for one goal, and in order to do that, you have to go up a ramp to light the word HAREM. But if any other light is lit on that ramp, you can’t spell it. And the ramp is hard to get up to! There’s another way to ‘sneak’ in to the harem by rolling into a secret spot, but that’s even harder! I just can’t get into the harem! (Boy that sounded awful)

No Good Gophers (1997)

This is a golf-themed table that I’ve seen and played TONS of times in real life arcades. So I figure it was very popular. In fact, the Gottlieb collection had a golf table as well, called Tee’d Off, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t this game instead. The big feature of No Good Gophers are two wisecracking gophers that make snide comments as you play. It’s very Looney Tunes-ish. Makes me wonder if Williams really wanted the Caddyshack license for this. It’s a really fun table, though, plus I managed to get all the basic goals on it. My one tiny quibble with this table is the ramp layout is a little confusing.

Medieval Madness (1997)

Yup, it’s another medieval themed table. This is probably my favorite on the collection. I remember playing it tons of times in real life as it was one of the last pinball machines at the local GameWorks. It has a tongue-in-cheek cartoony humor about it, almost Monty Python-ish. Aside from the harem multi-ball in the other table, I think the other main form of E-10 Suggestive Themes comes from the Damsel in Distress ramp on this table. Some of the stuff she says is…wow, that’s all I have to say. Aside from that ramp, there are other easy to get to ramps that activate jousts, catapults, and other medieval fun. The main feature of this table is a castle in the back. Hit the door enough times to lower the drawbridge and open the gate, and then you can send the ball in to ‘destroy’ the castle. It’s fun, challenging yet fair, and the humor is great.


And that’s all the tables in The Williams Collection. Again, I was really surprised how good and addicting this game is! If you like pinball any at all, you’ll want to pick it up as soon as possible!

Cary’s Favorite Video Pinball Games

I thought I’d conclude by talking about a few of my other favorite video pinball games. While they’re not the same as playing the real thing, they’re easier to find and maintain. That’s what keeps me from buying a real pinball machine (aside from the space it takes up) because I imagine maintenance on these things is a pain! I do have a favorite real life pinball machine, though, and that’s Cirqus Voltaire. Mainly because it has a big neon light down the side of the table, plus it’s really fun.

I think my love for video pinball games really took off with Revenge of the Gator on the old Game Boy. HAL really knows pinball, and they later made my favorite Kirby’s Pinball Land and one of the Pokemon Pinball games. Speaking of which, the Pokemon Pinball games on GBC and GBA are really fun and I’m surprised that they haven’t made one on the DS.

When I first started college and got a PC of my own, I got a box of game CDs real cheap and one of them was Crystal Caliburn. It was a video pinball game modeled after tables from the 80’s, so it was a bit simpler. It had a King Arthur theme to it, and you had to go up a ramp 12 times to light up all the knights of the round table (represented by a zodiac sign), and then you could try for the ramp to collect the Holy Grail for mucho points! I think I managed to do that ONCE! I was so addicted to this game in college. Good simple fun and catchy music. It was made by a company called Littlewing…I wonder if they’re still around.

But my favorite video pinball game is from the Pro Pinball series. Even though they made fictional tables, they were very realistic and you could even adjust the angle of the board (steeper meant the ball moved faster and it was tougher to get up ramps). You could even choose to play the tables in new condition or unmaintained, where the lights were burnt out and dusty tables made your ball physics messed up! It was like owning your own pinball machine!

The Pro Pinball makers first did a sci-fi table, which name escapes me. Next was a time travel table called Timeshock. The last one they did was Fantastic Journey, which had a Jules Verne vibe to it. But the one they did before that was my favorite: Big Race USA. It was a very complicated table, so much so that they simplified Fantastic Journey due to complaints. But I loved it anyway.

In Big Race USA, the star was a taxi cab and the cast were living vehicles similar to Pixar’s Cars. The cars were competing in a cross country race, and each one had their own personality. For instance, the monster truck talked like Forrest Gump, and the Police Car imitated Darth Vader! By going up certain ramps three times in a row, you could challenge one of the cars in an event. You could also do other events by stopping off in different cities, and even play mini-games on the LCD score screen! Not only that, but you could pick up passengers and earn money separate from your score that you could use to buy items at a shop (I always bought ball saves). Needless to say, the game was VERY complicated, but very fun and challenging. I had to pry myself away from Big Race USA in college just to get my studies done! If you can find this game anywhere, get it!

After the company who made the Pro Pinball series finished Fantastic Journey, I think they went on to make the horrible Mario Pinball Land on GBA, but they made up for it later with Metroid Prime Pinball on DS. Not sure what they’re doing now, if anything.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about pinball right now. What are YOUR favorite pinball games? –Cary

No Responses to “The Games of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection”

  1. They’ve made Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon for DSiWare(500 points).

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