Baby Pac-Man

By Bally

Model No: 1299
Released: October 1982

Designed By: Claude Fernandez
Art By: Margaret Hudson

It's a pinball, it's a video game, it's... the most unusual machine to ever grace an arcade.

In 1982, both Bally's pinball division, and their arcade division Midway were number one in their respective fields. So someone came up with the idea to try merging the two types of games, and Baby Pac-Man was born.

Baby Pac-Man was the first, and well, only, hybrid video game/pinball. The machine was shaped approximately like a standard arcade cabinet. However, the 13-inch screen was higher up, facing straight out. The pinball playfield was a short, stubby thing, sticking out about halfway up the machine, about the level of the monitor in a normal game.

Gameplay required one to make use of both the video portion, which played like any other Pac-Man game, minus the energizers, (the power pills they were sometimes called), and the pinball portion. Exiting out the bottom tunnels would send the player to the pinball, where they could attempt to earn energizers, advance the fruit that would appear on the screen, or give a few other improvements to their Pac-Man.

Losing a life was only possible in the video game. While in the pinball portion, a player can only lose the ball, which would send them back to the video game with the bottom tunnels closed, where they would have to finish the screen without any more pinball bonuses. There was a target on the pinball playfield which would return the player back to the video portion with the tunnels at the bottom still open, allowing them to return back to the pinball playfield.

Baby Pac-Man had only limited success in the arcades. Neither the video game portion nor the pinball portion were good on their own, making the game a merger of two weak components. Besides, most players either stuck to video games or pinball, giving this game fewer people to pull in. Even worse, the game's high price for its unusual design was compounded by the game requiring frequent maintenance for various mechanical problems.

Finding one today is rare, and they tend to be expensive when they are found, and are considered difficult to restore due to their design.

The Playfield:

The playfield was very simple. A pair of flippers at the bottom, with what could be called two inlanes to the far sides of the playfield. There was a wider than normal distance between the two flippers.

At the top center were four drop targets, and immediately to the right and left of the targets were spinners, leading to a horseshoe, then rollovers which will give additional bonuses for the video game section, and which head straight down to the outside "inlane"s. There's a kicker (saucer) between the spinner and the far lanes on each side, and putting the ball in either one will return the player to the video game.

The maze for the video game was smaller than the previous Pac-Man games, with only one tunnel on the side, and two tunnels heading off the bottom of the screen, which engages the pinball portion.

Sources:
The Internet Pinball Database, http://www.lysator.liu.se/pinball/IPD
Yesterdayland Arcade Games, http://www.yesterdayland.com/popopedia/shows/arcade/ag1015.php
Baby Pac-Man, http://www.geocities.com/arcadeclassics.geo/BABYPACMAN.html

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