I am a devoted video-game fan and a constant cheerleader for them to be considered art, but honestly I would give up most of the compelling stories and high-definition graphics in the world for the simple pinball machines. They're crafted and mechanical, and when done with a loving hand can turn almost anything into a game of skill that homages your favorite pop-culture icon.
It's like themed slot machines, but with less crying...usually.
Today we look at some of the tables that have been based on our favorite musicians.
10. The Who Yes, yes, let's just get it out of the way. The Who have actually had two different tables dedicated to them, both of them dedicated to Tommy. The first was a Bally table put out to coincide with the 1975 film version of the album. The second was made by Data East in 1994 to help promote the stage version of Tommy. A prototype of one of these actually appeared in the 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
9. The Beatles One of the oldest rock and roll tables is the Beat Time table from 1966. It was originally put together with the band's name spelled as "The Bootles," pending final approval of use of the name, but 1967 models and later have the proper name and more accurate likenesses of the group.
8. Ted Nugent Back before he was a professional conservative annoyance, Ted Nugent actually did put out some pretty good music. In 1978, riding on the success of Cat Scratch Fever, Sterns Electronics put out a pretty damned good table. Best thing for Houston pinball fans, there's a beautifully maintained one to try out over at Joystix. They also have...
7. AC/DC There's been a nostalgic pinball rush over the last several years, and among the bands to get pinball tables for the first time is AC/DC. There are actually two of them at Joystix, but the premium has a moving diorama of the band that makes it the most fun.
6. The Rolling Stones Joystix has the 2011 Sterns table, but like the Stones themselves it's not really relevant anymore. What you want to find is the 1980 Bally table from back when the Stones were really something to see. The Sterns table just reminds you that sometimes acts go on way longer than they need to.
5. Metallica There are three different Metallica tables at Joystix, although why anyone at this point in their life would need to have three different versions of 21st century Metallica to choose from in a game setting I will never know. Try out the Master of Puppets table. It's the one that makes you least feel like a douchebag for playing it.
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4. KISS C'mon, everyone who clicked on this link knew for an absolute fact that there had to be a KISS pinball machine. There sure is, and it's a pretty damned successful table all things told. Bally started making them in the '70s and they remained a regular catalog item through the '80s. Joystix has a wonderful restored one to play.
3. Elvis The last of the tables you can try out at Joystix. The bar owns a limited edition of the Elvis Gold table, in addition to the regular Sterns table that is more common. The Gold series saw a run of only 500, and each one is authenticated by Graceland. As far as the Sterns musical nostalgia line goes, Elvis is probably the best of the bunch.
2. Dolly Parton Parton is one of the few non-rockers to get a table, and even that is debatable; when Bally was working on the cabinet in 1978, Parton was undergoing a shift from country to pop. Reportedly, Parton kept the production held up for quite awhile because she was worried about how she would be portrayed, either as a country singer or the crossover mainstream success she enjoys now. In the end, she got what she wanted.
1. Guns 'N Roses Easily my favorite and a hard one to find is the Guns table from Data East in 1994. Don't worry, it's not the Use Your Illusion Guns, but all those hard Appetite songs we first fell in love with. I always got a kick out of the rose handle. Fun fact, the table contains an outtake from Use Your Illusion 1 called "Ain't Going Down," which is actually the track's only official release. Just one of the many reasons this table tops of the list.
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