Originally produced in October, 1986, Pin-Bot is a cool pinball machine produced by Williams Pinball, once part of Bally/WMS Gaming.


Pin-Bot is based around a space exploration theme. At the beginning of the game, a destination planet is lit on the playfield, which features a map of our solar system. You travel through the various planets by clearing the 3-bank of drop targets off to the right side of the playfield, or shooting the bullseye target just above the right inlane. Reaching the destination planet lights Special at the bullseye target (to the right, just above the right inlane). Reaching the Sun scores an additional special.

When you start the game, you will be launching the ball from the plunger up a large orange spiral (the Vortex) at the right rear of the playfield. Three exits as the ball rises around the spiral score 5,000 (lowest), 100,000 (middle), and 50,000 (top), multiplied by the total number of shots up the spiral during the game. When starting Ball 1, it will be at 1x, and so on. This is important, as you can re-enter the plunger lane from the Bride Of Pin-Bot mini-playfield over the bumpers - more on that later. Yes, she is The Machine, soon to star in her own game! It is also possible to plunge the ball weakly and have it roll off into the bumpers, which is no fun.

Continuing off to the left, there's a five-bank of colored standup targets facing left, on the opposite side of a wall from the bumpers. To the left of that is a visor covering Pin-Bot's face - this too is equipped with five standup targets. These form the X and Y axes to a grid of colored lights top dead center on the playfield. Hidden behind the center 5-bank are Pin-Bot's eyes, which are two eject holes which form the locks for multiball.

To the left of the center targets, there is a lane that curves off to the left to another eject hole. This is lit by the right inlane for 25K, 50K, 75K, and Light Extra Ball. Extra Ball lights are located at the rollovers the inlanes and outlanes, and (I think) can be rotated using Lane Change on the flippers.

Off to the left of the eject hole is a ramp, made of blue plastic. This goes over to the right side of the machine, and the Bride Of Pin-Bot mini-playfield on top of the bumpers. There are four possible exits at this point, and the mini-playfield is covered in rubber-ringed posts. The left exit dumps the ball onto the middle of the playfield, and a small hole in the center dumps it into the bumpers. Exits at the lower left and lower right drop it in the right inlane and plunger lane, respectively. A ramp shot will advance the bonus multiplier up to 5X.

The ramp is like that on the later Whirlwind, which can flip up and down. When it's up, you've got a few seconds to grab the Energy Value at the target below. The ramp will be raised for a few seconds after clearing the three drop targets just below. The Energy Value is sort of like a progressive jackpot, which starts at 50,000 and is advanced by 2000 points by each bumper hit. The maximum is 500,000, and this increases over the duration of the game.

In summary, the 3-bank of targets below this has two functions: 1. Advancing you to the next planet. 2. Raising the ramp (timed).

And, voila, we're done. On to...

Fun Stuff!

Speech: Pinbot has a really neat speech synthesis system that allows it to talk to the player. The voice sounds surprisingly human, although distinctly mechanical.
Starting the game: "Pinbot circuits activated!".
Completing the grid of lights: "I am in your control!".
One ball locked: "Partial linkup."
Both balls locked, starting multiball: "Now I see you!"
Ball locked during multiball: "Shoot for solar value!"

Multiball: That shiny grid of lights in the middle isn't just for show. The first multiball is easy to start; vertical rows of lights will be lit in sequential order. Hit the target currently lit on the back target bank, and it will descend into the playfield with a satisfying little whirr. Otherwise, shooting a target will illuminate that one row on the grid. Once you get all the lights lit, the targets will drop. The targets off to the right side light a row horizontally.
On the second multiball, only the first unlit light next to the vertical or horizontal light in the grid will be lit. Thus, getting multiball ready would take either five hits to each vertical target, five hits to each horizontal target, or a combination of the two.
Once the grid is lit either way, the targets go down, and two sort of nautilus-shaped paths will be exposed, leading to a pair of locks. Get a ball into each one, and the fun begins. Pin-Bot spits his eyeballs out (I had to have fun with this...) and everything on the playfield is set to double score. You have about 15 seconds to give the silly thing back one of its eyeballs, which will lock it again and lower the ramp. Otherwise, the standup targets are raised again after that 15 second period, and the ramp is raised to allow access to the Energy Value target.
I believe this ball is locked only until the machine sees the other ball either fall off the ramp and hit a switch (right inlane, playfield target, etc) or it falls into the plunger lane and is plunged up the Vortex.
Once multiball ends, lighting all of the chest panel grid lights again will also light an Extra Ball.

Pinbot Rules sequence: Yes, this machine's got a builtin tutorial. With no credits on the machine, press the Start button, and watch the display and playfield lights.

Pin-Bot's playfield and some of its rules were incorporated into a later machine by Williams, JackBot. Pin-Bot's playfield is one of the most mechanically reliable games ever produced.

Please /msg me any corrections to this writeup - it's been over ten years since I've played Pin-Bot, and I only have a partial rulesheet and the flyer to base this on.

The bit of information I found, as well as images of the playfield and promotional flyer, are from the Internet Pinball Database at http://ipdb.org

Pinbot was also available as a vertical-scrolling pinball game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. All aspects of game play seem to be similar, although, having never played it, I can't say anything about the physics (some pinball simulations behave rather oddly in this regard). There is also a Pinbot handheld game, made by Tiger Electronics.

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