The Addams Family (pinball)
|The Addams Family|
|Release date||March 1992|
|System||Midway WPC (Fliptronics I)|
|Designer(s)||Pat Lawlor, Larry DeMar|
|Programmer(s)||Larry DeMar, Mike Boon|
|Voices||Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston|
The Addams Family is one of the best selling pinball machine of the 1990s. Manufactured by Midway (under the Bally name), it is a solid state electronic pinball arcade game. It was based on the 1991 movie of the same name, and features custom speech (mostly derived from the motion picture) by the movie's stars, Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. A total of 20,270 units have been sold thus far.
The machine's game card describes the game objective as being to "Explore the strange world of the Addams Family." With that in mind there is no single player goal, though there are two central objectives:
- The Mansion: The Addams Family mansion is located in the center of the playfield and has 12 "windows". Each window corresponds to a different room that the player can enter and receive an award for.
- Vault Multiball: In the top-right section of the playfield is a blue bookcase, representing the bookcase that Gomez shows Uncle Fester in the movie. Hits to it award letters in the word "Greed". Once the word is completed, like in the movie, the bookcase turns, revealing a shot to the vault behind the bookcase (it is possible but rare for a ball to go into the vault when the bookcase is in the blocking position). A shot to the vault locks the ball for future multiball use, or starts the multiball when two balls have been previously locked. The bookcase also opens access to the vault at certain other times during the mini games, with varying scores and effects.
Other lesser objectives include:
- Bear Kicks: a ramp in the top center of the playfield awards 1 or 2 "bear kicks" (referencing the scene in the movie with the bear carpet that comes to life), awarding points, mansion rooms, and extra balls. A successful "bear kick" shot enables Uncle Fester's light bulb (when not in multiball mode), which indicates that a shot into his electric chair gains a mansion room and activates a mini game (after such a shot, the light bulb goes out).
- Staircase Ramp: a left-side ramp that awards an increasing number of millions, usually 1M-10M, and letters in the word "THING" (see THING below).
- Graveyard: a set of 5 bumpers (a rare amount on modern machines) that increases the "Graveyard value", which is collected from a right-side shot.
- Train Wreck: a dead-end shot in the top-left section that awards points, assists graveyard scoring, and lights extra balls.
- GRAVE: 5 targets strewn around the field that award letters in the word "Grave", which when completed award an increasing amount of millions.
- THING: Once the word THING is completed (see Staircase Ramp above), a scoop in the top right corner awards an increasing multiple of 5 million points.
- Skill Shot: When initially launching the ball, dropping it into Thing's scoop just past the launch ramp gives 2 million points the first time, increasing by a million each time up to a maximum of 5 million points each time. Hitting a skill shot may also gain other benefits if they are active on Thing's scoop (e.g. extra ball, Quick Multiball, Thing points, locking a ball for multiball).
Reasons for popularity
||This section possibly contains original research. (July 2012)|
A number of simultaneous factors came together to give The Addams Family its record-setting sales figures.
Around the time of the game's release, video arcade games were declining in popularity, due largely to the technological ascent of home systems. Meanwhile, pinball in the recent years prior had witnessed a strong wave of technological innovation. The dot-matrix display, for example, had just been added to the first pinball machine (Data East's Checkpoint) about a year before, and CPU advances allowed machines to perform simultaneous video, audio and gameplay functions more smoothly.
The Addams Family added to this a number of game-specific "toys" that proved popular with players:
- Thing: A hand that comes out of a box and uses a magnet to pick up and store the ball when it lands in the appropriate spot.
- The Power: a triangle of under-playfield electromagnets in the middle of the board that, when during certain times in the game, activated in a generally random manner, causing the ball to move in unpredictable directions.
- Thing Flips: Above the top left flipper was an optical sensor that at certain points in the game let the machine attempt to read the speed of the ball, and taking control of the flipper from the player hit a shot on the opposite side of the field, the first CPU controlled flipper in pinball history. The game's ability to use missed shots to calibrate future attempts resulted in an automatic flip that was impressively accurate.
The game also made extensive use of the film it was based upon, arguably the most of any game at that time. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston both contributed many re-recordings of quotes from the film, along with a number of extra quotes exclusive to the machine ("Jackpot!", "Extra Ball!", etc.). Much of the game's humor was also well-received, such as the mode "Hit Cousin Itt", where successful hits to the Cousin Itt target resulted in display animations of It getting hit with a large pinball, Gomez's (Julia's) response to the player upon tilting, "Hee hee hee, you're a funny guy!," and the machine occasionally flipping both of its lower flippers in tune to the finger snapping in the Addams Family theme song. A lesser known activity for players is to attempt activating a hidden function which allows the player to hear an audio clip of Nat Perrin telling a short pun. This function is said to exist only in ~100 first-release machines and was subsequently removed in later CPU revisions.
From a player's perspective the game received positive reviews for its good use of the playfield, its audio and video effects, "flow" (the way the game's shots and objectives lead naturally from one to another) appeal to both beginner and expert players, and general replayability.
Mansion rooms are awarded from the lit electric chair shot in the center of the playing field. Once a mansion room is awarded, the electric chair light goes out until it is relit by a Bear Kick (some other switches will relight it temporarily). A player can have more than one mansion room scoring mode activated simultaneously, something which is often considered good strategy. The rooms/modes are:
- 3 Million, 6 Million, 9 Million: Separate rooms that award that many points. When hitting either the 3 million or 6 million room, both rooms will be lit and considered "done".
- Graveyard At Max: Advances all five jet bumpers to their maximum value (30,000 added to the Graveyard Value per hit).
- The Mamushka: Adds 250,000 for every switch the player hits to his end-of-ball-bonus.
- Hit Cousin Itt: Adds 200,000 for every switch the player hits to his end-of-ball bonus at start. The more the player hits the Cousin Itt target, the higher the per-switch award goes.
- Quick Multiball: Lights "Quick Multiball," allowing the player to start a two-ball multiball in which the vault opens, and shots into it score an increasing award.
- Fester's Tunnel Hunt: Awards the player 5, 10, and 15 million points for hitting the swamp, electric chair and vault.
- Seance: Awards the player 5, 10, and 15 million points for each bear kick or staircase shot. "The Power" magnets are activated during this mode.
- Thing Multiball: A "hurry-up" mode with a point value decreasing from 15 million to 3 million. If achieved before timing out, the player is awarded a two-ball multiball where shots to the vault award the "hurry up" score again.
- Raise the Dead: For 30 seconds each set of 4 hits to a bumper in the graveyard adds 3 million points to the player's end-of-ball bonus. The round ends early if all five bumpers are hit 4 times each.
- Lite Extra Ball: The extra ball becomes available at Thing's saucer.
If the player manages to start all of the above scoring modes (regardless of whether or not they complete them), the attic room marked with a "?" awards the game's "wizard mode":
- Tour the Mansion: Awards the player 50 million points, lights the extra ball, lights the "special" (free game) on the outlanes, maximizes the five jet bumpers, and starts each of the six timed modes automatically, one after the other. After the last mode, the player will not be able to collect any more Mansion Rooms until the start of the next ball; losing the current ball during Tour the Mansion immediately ends it.
The player can add letters to the word "GREED" by hitting the bookcase in front of the vault. Spelling "GREED" opens the bookcase, revealing a shot into the vault that can be used to "lock" (hold) balls for multiball; for the first multiball, the swamp can also be used to lock balls. The Power turns on for the player's attempt to lock the third and final ball. Multiball can be started from the vault or, for the first multiball, the electric chair.
Once multiball begins the Train Wreck shot lights up for a Jackpot, and the Staircase Ramp for a Double Jackpot or, from the 2nd multiball onward, Triple Jackpot. The Jackpot starts out at 10 million, and increases by one million for every Bear Kicks shot or shot to a closed vault during the multiball. Upon receiving either, the vault re-opens, and a successful shot to it re-lights only the Staircase Ramp. The player may continue to do this as long as there are two balls on the playing field.
If a player does not get any jackpot, a last-chance "Thing Multiball" lights up for 20 seconds. If the player shoots it in time, he gets to launch a second ball and continue the multiball per the rules above, except with no more last chances given.
Scores on The Addams Family tend to have an average in the low 8-digit range. Among machines found in public locations, the score necessary to obtain a replay is usually between 35 million and 80 million, with high scores dispersed mostly among the full 9-digit spectrum. The world's best players will occasionally score in the billions.
Without tilting, the lowest possible score is theoretically 300,000, by shooting each ball through the graveyard without hitting anything and letting it drain (the ball will roll over a trigger that gives no points but disables the replay that is normally given when a ball hits no trigger). Then each ball is given a bonus of 100,000 for the starting one bear kick. However, getting that score may be difficult to do, as it is difficult to shoot the ball through the graveyard without hitting any of the graveyard bumpers. A score of 750,000 is easily attainable by launching each ball weakly so that it drops directly into the swamp and then drops down the center drain, gaining 150,000 points plus 100,000 bonus points each.
Special Collector's Edition
In October 1994, Bally produced a "Special Collectors Edition", often referred to as The Addams Family Gold. In the original run of The Addams Family a few machines had been produced with golden features to celebrate the machine's sales record. The Collector's Edition similarly featured specially designed accents such as golden side rails, a golden lock bar, golden legs and a slightly enhanced software program.
The game also included a number of gameplay enhancements. New scoring rules were added, most notably to the Mansion. Some rooms randomly awarded players items from Cousin Itt, such as a hair dryer or brush, with an accompanying number of points. Wednesday and Pugsley also made their first in-game appearance in the form of a "trap door", that would sometimes let a player move from one room to another, awarding them both. Numerous new quotes and dot-matrix effects were also added.
Only one thousand Collector's Edition units were produced.
Hidden game codes
The Addams Family pinball contains two known Easter eggs—plus a third egg in the Special Collector's Edition—each of which can be accessed using a flipper and Start button code sequence specific to each egg. The results produced are cosmetic in nature only; they do not modify actual game play in any way.
The codes work only under the following conditions: The machine must be in its Attract or "game over" mode (no game currently in progress). There must also be no credits on the machine. (The Start button cannot be flashing to begin a new game; consequently, the codes will never work if the machine is set for free play.)
The codes may also temporarily stop working if they are done too many times in a row. Allowing the Attract mode display screens to cycle all the way through (at least 1 or 2 minutes) before trying a code again should rectify this.
The available Easter eggs and how to activate them:
- "When Cows Fight": This is a humorous dot-matrix still that appears on the display for about three seconds. To see it, press the left flipper button 7 times, followed by the Start button once, then the right flipper button 14 times, Start button once, left button 20 times and finally the Start button once.
- "When Cows Dig for Gold" (collector's edition only): Another humorous still. Press the left button 12 times, then the Start button once, right button 5 times, Start once, left 4 times and Start once.
- Design credits: A flashy (and very noisy!) nod to the game's designers at Bally. Left button 13 times, Start button once, right once, Start once, left 2 times and Start once.
Some aftermarket modifications may be found in some machines:
- A ColorDMD full color display that replaces the original orange DMD.
- An Uncle Fester model sitting in the electric chair. He has a light bulb in his mouth replacing the light on the left side of the chair.
- A white bear above the base of the central staircase ramp where one shoots for bear kicks.
- A bronze colored vault on top of the vault shot hole.
- A Cousin Itt model above the Cousin Itt targets. This modification may trap balls.
- A bronze colored train near the train shot.
- A bronze colored phone near Thing's box.
- A bronze colored suit of armor in the back center.
- A miniature Tiffany-style lamp near Thing's box.
A version of this table was in development for the PC and was also going to be released on the Nintendo 64 and would be developed by Digital Eclipse and published by GT Interactive, but was cancelled. The game is also supported by Visual Pinball, which can also be made by some people to play through a home made pinball cabinet, like the original but digitally emulated.
On July 11, 2014 FarSight Studios released The Pinball Arcade Newsletter 29 indicating they "agreed upon terms with all of the major licenses and clearances" needed to digitally recreate this table. A Kickstarter is currently underway for The Addams Family to be digitized to The Pinball Arcade. The "Gold Collector's Edition" is to be a Kickstarter reward as DLC for a $100 Pledge. 
- "The Addams Family Gold Edition". Pinball Archive Rule Sheets. Professional & Amateur Pinball Association. June 10, 1995.
- The Pinball Arcade Fans forum post. The Pinball Arcade Fans. July 12, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- FarSight Looking To Bring A Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious And Spooky...And Altogether Ooky Table To The Pinball Arcade!!!. The Pinball Arcade Fans. July 12, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- Internet Pinball Database: The Addams Family
- Internet Pinball Database: The Addams Family Special Collectors Edition
- Pinpedia Database Entry: The Addams Family
- Arcade History: The Addams Family
- "The Addams Family Pinball: A Legend in its Own Time". PlayMeter Magazine. March 2002. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009.
- Pinball Archive rule sheet for The Addams Family
- The Addams Family promo video
- The Addams Family Owners Community