Pinball 2000

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Pinball 2000 is the last pinball hardware and software platform developed by major pinball manufacturer Williams, and was used in the machines Revenge From Mars (under the brand name Bally) and Star Wars Episode I (under the brand name Williams) before Williams exited the pinball business on October 25, 1999. It is the successor to the Williams Pinball Controller platform.

Unlike previous pinball machines, Pinball 2000 machines feature a computer monitor to display animations, scores, and other information. The player perceives this video to be integrated with the playfield, due to a mirrored playfield glass (utilizing an illusion called "Pepper's Ghost") that reflects the monitor hung in the head of the machine. This allows the display of virtual game targets in the playfield's upper third that can be "hit" by the machine's physical steel ball. "Impacts" on these targets are detected by physical targets in the middle of the playfield, and by recognizing successful shots up the left and right ramps and orbits/loops.

This innovative integration of pinball and video was inspired by the Asteroids Deluxe arcade machine,[1] which used a one-way mirror to add a static background graphic to the game's animated vector graphics.

Revenge from Mars, the first of the two released games, sold a promising 6,878 units. However, Star Wars Episode I suffered from a rushed and top-secret production cycle and sold only about half as many units (3,525), leading to Williams' decision to close down its historic pinball division.

Technical details[edit]

  • Computer: The machine's head contains an IBM-PC based computer consisting mainly of a BAT style PC mainboard running a Cyrix Media GX CPU connected to a Cyrix CX5520 bridge. A PCI-PRISM card holds the game ROMs and DCS2 sound hardware.
  • Video: Pinball 2000 uses a 19-inch CGA color monitor. It is possible to exchange the built-in monitor with an LCD display, provided it can handle the low refresh rate (15 kHz) and resolution (640x240) of an arcade CGA monitor.
  • Audio: DCS2 audio hardware provides full stereo output, compared to the old WPC system's mono. The Pinball 2000 cabinet was the first to be equipped with a real subwoofer, where prior machines used a less-expensive broadband speaker.
  • Operating System: XINA (meaning: "XINA Is Not APPLE" (APPLE being the OS of WPC pinball machines))
  • Software management: Software can be updated via a serial cable connected to a second PC, so no ROM exchanges are necessary as in previous generations.
  • Network support: Pinball 2000 machines can be networked, enabling them to be set up for game tournaments where each machine displays all highscores and even optional player pictures. It is also possible to play a machine from another computer—for example, over the Internet—using the Telnet protocol and a webcam.
  • Maintenance innovations: Broken lamps and fuses are listed in the service menu. Other broken hardware, such as switches and solenoids, are listed on the display and indicated on a playfield diagram.
  • Quick game swapping: Playfields and software can be quickly swapped, theoretically enabling operators to convert an existing game into a new one in just 5 to 10 minutes. A conversion kit for Revenge from Mars was released so it could be converted into a Star Wars Episode I. The kit included a new playfield, ROMs, cabinet decals and a manual plunger.

Games[edit]

Released

Planned (unreleased)

  • Wizard Blocks – A prototype exists, owned by Steve Tsubota.
  • Playboy –A prototype exists, owned by Steve Tsubota.
  • Wild Toys – Registered as a trademark to Williams Pinball but later abandoned in favor of Wizard Blocks.
  • Monopoly – Stern later released their own (Monopoly) pinball.
  • "Holopin" -Prototype Machine. Made to show Pinball 2000 concepts.

Trivia[edit]

  • The Pinball 2000 platform was originally designed to use a backbox video display (replacing the standard dot matrix display) but without the mirroring technique, as seen in Bally's Baby Pac Man and Granny and the Gators.
  • The first-generation mockup prototype of the Pinball 2000 architecture was called Holopin. It used main designer George Gomez's old Amiga computer to drive the video display, and a No Good Gofers whitewood prototype playfield.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TILT: The Battle to Save Pinball (DVD documentary film). [clarification needed] . Special features: Interview with Tom Uban.
  • Schelberg, Jim (January 15, 2009). "Wizard Blocks: A Snapshot in Time". PinGame Journal (83/84). 
  • Schelberg, Jim (2004). "The WMS Playboy Story". PinGame Journal. [clarification needed]

External links[edit]