Finally, I got a little time to finish off this series of posts on Las Vegas' down and dirty, rather excellent Pinball Hall Of Fame (here's Part 2, featuring some of the best-looking machines, and Part 1, marveling at 'The Pinball Circus').

This particular post will simply picture and highlight four of the machines I actually spent some time playing while I was in Las Vegas last weekend - and there's a smattering of obscure classics, machines that are precious just to me, and plain weird pinball mutants. Let's go!

This one falls into the 'precious to me' category - Data East's 1993 pin 'The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle', which had just came out when I started going to university. We had a machine in our dorm's common area for quite some time, and so I had lots of fun jumping in the WABAC Machine and watching Bullwinkle pull a rabbit out of his hat.

The game is a sophisticated multi-moder with nice smooth lines and a dot matrix display, and I think is definitely one of the top Data East pins of all time - though the company doesn't have THAT great a rep in pinball, sadly.

Here's a good guide to the game, which in particular notes: "You don't get any points for it, but this is the first game in existence that recognizes a death save (getting the ball back in play after an outlane drain) and CONGRATULATES you for doing it!. This is totally cool. :) In fact, it now takes first place on my Way Cool That They Even Thought To Put That Into A Game list, just barely edging out "Dirty pool" in The Addams Family."

Oh my, this is Stern's 'Orbitor 1' from 1982, and I'd already played it at California Extreme, so I didn't try it out again in Vegas - but it's kinda awesome, because of its extremely quirky concept and execution.

Basically, you're playing pinball across the surface of the moon, and the playfield is curved to match the moon's craters, making it one of the only pintables ever that doesn't actually have a flat playing area!

As IPDB explains: "The playfield is (smooth) molded plexiglass, with the moonscape surface artwork suspended beneath it. The moonscape is lit from below by a fluorescent tube."

Now, this is Williams' 'Hyperball' from 1981, a unique pinball machine in that, uhh, it doesn't even have flippers! As IPDB explains: "Hypercannon fires up to 250 3/4" balls per minute at targets located around the outer edge of the playfield."

There's also a 'Hyperball: What was it?' FAQ which explains more: "You controlled the game from two hand-grips with triggers, which rotated left to right and back. In between the hand grips was a *Z Bomb* button which would destroy all the attacking lights....Hyperball was released by Williams Electronics originally at the 1982 AMOA show. This initial version was apparently a mechanical nightmare."

Oh, and this is very cool: "It uses the classic Williams sounds from that era, including many Defender sounds and the walking sounds from Robotron." Ah, back when the pinball/video game crossover was in full effect!

A final highlight (and thanks to co-worker Frank, a Vegas native, for alerting me to this one!) - Midway's 'Safe Cracker' from 1996. This pintable was produced in pretty limited editions (just over 1,000 machines made), and is notable for being perhaps the least-seen pinball machine from the legendary Pat Lawlor.

Why would you know Lawlor? Uh, try Whirlwind, Funhouse, The Addams Family, Twilight Zone, and many more - he was responsible for multiple games in most pinball fans' Top 10, and it's surprising that this mid-sized table ended up being so obscure - possibly it was the lack of theming which did it in? This is the first time that i'd seen one, at least, and it's a design from the late end of Lawlor's golden age, so to speak.

In any case, it has an honest-to-God board game as part of the back glass, it dispenses tokens if you win (!), and a handy FAQ explains a lot of the carefully designed and excellently carried-out ruleset. Also, it has a shot in the middle of the playfield which is just where The Electric Chair is in The Addams Family, which makes it seem like signature Lawlor even if you didn't realize it was him. Great stuff.