Doctor Who (pinball)
|Release date||September 1992|
|System||Midway WPC (Fliptronics II)|
|Design||Bill Pfutzenreuter, Barry Oursler|
|Sound||Jon Hey, Paul Heitsch|
|Voices||Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)
Terry Molloy (Davros)
Doctor Who is a pinball machine designed by Bill Pfutzenreuter (Pfutz) and Barry Oursler, and released by Midway (under the Bally brand name) in September 1992. It is based on the television series of the same name, although the relationship of spinoff media to the parent series is open to question. As stated in the Gameplay section, the rulesheet is rather different from other pinball machines released at the time, which didn't help popularity (and even now it is still seen as an exotic machine amongst collectors) as casual players did not understand the complex rule changes that occur during the game.
The first 100 games included a moving Dalek topper that would turn side-to-side while the robot was speaking. The effect was achieved by fitting the robot's body with a complex motor, cam, and optoelectronics system. Its complexity and expense lead to it being cut from the production run. Production Dalek toppers can be made to move with "wobble head kits".
Prototypes featured the old Bally-style backbox (and a totally different backglass), but this was changed to the Williams-styled one in order to cheapen the production process for both product lines.
The basic gameplay is all about the various incarnations of the Doctor (at the time, these were seven) and each Doctor affects the rules of the playfield differently (each for a different section of the playfield). The player must "collect" all Doctors throughout the game. After collecting a Doctor, the following rule changes are applied:
- Doctor 1 (played in the series by William Hartnell): Awards an extra "E-S-C-A-P-E" letter each time the shot is made, thus enabling easier earning of the Video Mode (which can then be used to "collect" the currently selected Doctor).
- Doctor 2 (played in the series by Patrick Troughton): More time to make the combo shot on the left ("Hang-On" target) and additionally doubling the score of the shot.
- Doctor 3 (played in the series by Jon Pertwee): More time to shoot "W-H-O", thus increased chances to score Extra balls.
- Doctor 4 (played in the series by Tom Baker): Easier to achieve "R-E-P-A-I-R".
- Doctor 5 (played in the series by Peter Davison): Doubles Jet Bumper score, which also results in a faster lighting of the Transmat (to "collect" the currently selected Doctor).
- Doctor 6 (played in the series by Colin Baker): Increases the Playfield Multiplier shot (each time the shot is made by one instead of 0.5).
- Doctor 7 (played in the series by Sylvester McCoy): Awards an additional shot every time the up/down target bank (Time Expander) is hit, thus enabling a faster multiball lock.
Areas of Importance
Each of the various playfield zone features relates to one of the individual Doctors as listed below, and also affects gameplay rules. Completing a Doctor's playfield zone does not award that Doctor, but earning that Doctor will make earning the zone's award easier. The individual zones are as follows:
- Doctor 1: Lower right-hand orange target bank, labeled "E-S-C-A-P-E" - When all six of these targets are lit, the player can shoot the upper left orbit (toward the jet bumpers) to enable video mode. Each successfully completed video mode wave awards the currently lit Doctor, and alters the game's ruleset as described above. Once Doctor 1 is awarded, each hit in this area counts double.
- Doctor 2: Left entrance lane above the upper left flipper. Hang On mode is enabled when the right inlane switch is tripped; a flashing red arrow lights up next to the upper left flipper when it is active. If the left entrance lane is hit before time runs out, the Hang On award doubles.
- Doctor 3: Right ramp, left entrance lane, and upper right loop, in that order. Accomplishing this sequence of shots lights "W-H-O", which can award extra balls after a specific number of completions of the pattern. Using the factory settings, the first extra ball is enabled after 2 W-H-O sequences are completed. When enabled, an inlane or outlane (which can be changed by using the flippers) lights, tripping the lane switch awards an extra ball.
- Doctor 4: Upper left target bank, labeled "R-E-P-A-I-R." Completing all six targets before time runs out enables Unlimited Millions, which causes each successive hit on the target bank to award an ever-increasing amount of points. As long as the target bank continues to be hit before time runs out, the award will continue to increase and grow upon itself.
- Doctor 5: The Transmat is enabled after scoring 1,000,000 points on the jet bumpers. If Doctor 5 is already awarded, the jet bumpers will score double their normal value, building the Transmat's charge faster. Once the Transmat is fully charged, the player can hit the target just underneath the upper right loop to Transmat the currently selected Doctor, and the rules will change based on which doctor was scored.
- Doctor 6: Upper right loop. Successive loops enable a full-playfield multiplier of up to 4X. Without Doctor 6 scored, and using default settings, the game's playfield multiplier advances at 0.5X per loop completed, and the amount of time each step of the multiplier remains active gets shorter until 4X (which is 10 seconds long). With Doctor 6, the playfield multiplier advances by 1 instead of 0.5, again to a maximum of 4X, and the time for each step of the multiplier lengthens. Additionally, every 10th loop enables the Sonic Boom, which reroutes the ball back to the left inlane. The player can then hit the W-H-O shots (right ramp, left entrance lane, upper right loop) in order to earn 10 million per shot.
- Doctor 7: Center target bank and mini-playfield (The Time Expander). Without Doctor 7, each hit on the row of 5 targets on level 2 of the Mini-Playfield lights a single Time Expander Factor (15 of which are needed to start multiball). With Doctor 7 enabled, each hit on these targets counts double. Additionally, if Doctor 7 is collected, hitting the center target while the mini-playfield is on Level 1 will light a Time Expander Factor, and if the player fails to score a jackpot during the first wave of multiball, the center target on level 1 will add more time to the re-lock timer.
The Multiball mode in Dr. Who begins after the player lights 15 Time Expander Factors after locking the ball. After the Time Expander reaches 0, the mini-playfield rises again to level 3, which has three gates in it with a small picture of a Dalek on the front. The player must shoot one of the doors to start multiball. Once the player has done this, the mini playfield lowers, releases the two locked balls, and then rises again back to level 3. To earn the jackpot, the player must hit all three gates on level three of the mini-playfield. This awards a jackpot that begins at 5,000,000 points for the lowest tier of Daleks and grows dramatically as the player rises through the ranks of Daleks (up to the Emperor Dalek at 50,000,000 points). After the player defeats the Emperor Dalek, Davros is revealed as the arch-villain behind the story. The mini-playfield lowers itself back to Level 2, and to defeat Davros, the player must hit the bank of 5 targets once (more if the player has already defeated Davros) to deactivate Davros' shield and get the mini-playfield to raise back to level 3. Once Davros' shield is down, the player must hit the three gates on level 3 again, after which a 100,000,000-point Davros Jackpot is awarded. All jackpots are affected by the playfield multiplier, allowing the player to collect tremendous amounts of points from a single jackpot (1,200,000,000 points if Davros has been defeated twice before and the Playfield Multiplier is 4).
Features and strategies
A major feature is the Time Expander in the middle of the playfield, which can be in the following states:
- Lock: Two locks must be filled with balls to move on to state 2.
- Targetbank: Five spherical optical-interrupt targets (very close to Pin*Bot) must be hit (default: 15 times) to move on to state 3.
- Jackpot: Three small "dalek" gates are revealed, shooting a ball through each gate awards a (Super) Jackpot.
As the player can select which Doctor to rescue next at the start of a ball, this enables a vast amount of scoring strategies:
- Play safe and choose Doctor 3 to earn more Extra balls.
- Try to build up a high playfield multiplier by choosing Doctor 6 (which is especially useful during multiball: Jackpots will be multiplied by 1.5 up to 4.)
- Easier collection of the final multiball lock by choosing Doctor 7 (as the target bank is a major source for balls going straight down the middle).
- Faster earning of Video Modes by choosing Doctor 1 (which earns one Extra Ball (default: Wave 2 only) and a collected Doctor each time finished).
Pro-Scoring strategies may also take into account that the next Doctor after the currently selected will be the one to the left of him (wrapping around to Doctor 7 if Doctor 1 is selected). Joey Redman from Victoria, Australia holds the highest score with 3 Davros multiball waves.
On December 25, 2015, FarSight Studios announced that their next Kickstarter would be for Doctor Who pinball. The goal of $54,364 was reached on February 13, 2016 with $16,566 in excess. The table is planned to appear in The Pinball Arcade as well as a regenerated version in September 2016.
The regenerated digital version will also be based on the original Doctor Who pinball machine. The new table will have an update of the art style and new material to add the six Doctors who debuted after the release of the original table, as well as new lighting features, and new toys.