The 1990’s were the golden age for Williams. Whereas the 60’s were Gottlieb and the late 70’s/early 80’s were Bally’s dominance, Williams really took over in the 90’s until they shut down at the end decade. I’m going to list the best pinball machines of the 90s that I’ve enjoyed playing. Some of my all time favorites came out in the 90’s. Be sure to check out my other lists, Best Pinball Machines of the 70’s, Top 5 Pinball Machines of the Early 80’s, and Best New Pinball Machines for Home Use.
Widely considered to be the best pinball machine of all time, Medieval Madness is an all time classic. It features a castle that you can bash, pop up trolls, a catapult, and a lot of classic callouts. Tina Fey is even featured in the game as a voice. Also probably the most expensive game on this list, even with the remake it’s still going to cost you over $8000 to buy one.
Attack From Mars
The precursor to Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars is a game with simple rules and outstanding flow. The objective is to destroy all the saucers so you can reach the wizard mode, Rule the Universe. There’s a lot of comedy in the game which makes it appealing to a wide variety of people. I know a lot of people where this is their favorite game of all time. I didn’t own one for a long time due to the cost, but recently finally got one. Family was ecstatic. One thing I can say is that this game needs the outlanes opened to provide adequate challenge, if they’re closed it will be too easy.
Brian Eddy, who designed Attack From Mars, also designed Medieval Madness and the Shadow, and did the software on Indiana Jones. Very talented individual.
Stargate was the first game I ever bought. It has 3 different wizard modes, and is probably the best game Gottlieb made in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s probably the cheapest game of all of these too. A lot of people don’t like the System 3 Gottlieb’s because of the flippers but I don’t mind them at all. They do have inferior sound though compared to the Williams games of same era.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
This was like the 5th game I ever owned, and I still own it 15 years later. It probably has the best callouts of any pinball machine ever made, featuring custom callouts from all of the cast members. It also has a Borg ship that actually fires balls at you, rotating phaser canons, and a ton of combos you can do.
One of the unique things about STTNG is that getting artifacts during modes contributes towards making the wizard mode worth more, a rarity in the 90’s. So the more modes you get artifacts, it will add 25 million per shot to the wizard mode. Also, if you get 4 artifacts, it will give you 1 billion points.
This is a game that should be better than it actually is. While it’s a good game, it doesn’t shoot as well as a lot of the other games of the era. The 12 modes are quite good, and the music/sounds are classic Indiana Jones.
The main feature of the game is the path of adventure on the left hand side. It’s actually a lot harder than it looks. Also, this game features a 6 ball multiball which is pretty cool. The head on the right side locks balls and releases them.
The Shadow is a great game that is unfortunately based upon a not so great movie. I remember when the movie came out it was pretty hyped but then quickly tanked off of not so good reviews. The pinball machine is unique in that it has 2 buttons per side, one for the flippers and one for controlling the direction of the ramp.
I find this game has one of the best wizard modes of the 90’s. It’s basically a ‘hit all the switches in the game’ in 45 seconds but with the upper playfield and dual ramps it becomes quite task to achieve. I was able to do it once or twice but it wasn’t easy.
Whitewater is one of those classic games where at first it doesn’t seem like much, but the more and more you play it, the more you like it. The music when you start is rather dull and uninspiring, but as you go along it gets better and better. The bigfoot mech and the tons of ramps make a really fun game to shoot. I had one for a while, wouldn’t mind having one again.
Getting the vacation jackpot is the main objective of this game. To do this, there is a variety of tasks you must do. I can’t even remember what they were anymore unfortunately, but I think it was advance the raft to Willie’s, collect multiball jackpot, etc.
The Addams Family
The best selling game of all time, and probably the most recognizable game on this list. Every arcade had an Addams Family during the 90’s, they made tons of money and were very fun. Thing coming out to grab the ball for multiball was the highlight of the game. Gomez Adams provides great voice work for the game as well. The ultimate objective is to get to the tour the mansion wizard mode, which is pretty awesome.
One of the hidden things on this game is that there are magnets under the playfield which activate during multiball. These can cause the ball to do all kinds of crazy things.
Finally, a game not made by Williams again. Tommy is probably the best game Data East ever made. It just was well rounded from start to finish, and very polished. I had one in my collection for a long time, was one of my favorite games due to the challenge. The best feature is the blinders that come out to cover the flippers during certain modes and multiballs. It’s a hit with guests because of that.
The music from the game is from the Broadway play and not The Who, but if you buy a pinsound board I believe you can install a modified soundtrack that allows you to here The Who’s songs.
Without a doubt, the best pinball toy of the 90’s was the ball eating Dinosaur on Jurassic Park. Never gets old really, and little kids love it. It has some minor code issues that hold it back, but definitely a great game. Besides the T-Rex, Jurassic Park also featured a raptor pit kickback that shot the ball back at the flippers at high velocity, also something that hadn’t been done up till that point.
This one of my kid’s favorite games when they were growing up.