Pinball Spotlight Series:
Pinball Spotlight Series: This is 1981’s Embryon. One of the classic Bally widebodies released during their golden era. Wide body pinball machines are an interesting design choice that has fallen in and out of fashion throughout the decades.
The first widebody pinball machine was The Atarians by Atari in 1976. But they didn’t really catch on for a couple of years later. They are wider than the pinball standard of 20.25”, and just how much so varies game to game and manufacturer to manufacturer. Embryon is a whopping 28.5” wide, making it one of the largest and most lovely plus sized models in pinball history. Design was done by Claude Fernandez, recently highlighted in our Spotlight Series on Skateball.
The distinctive sci fi art package was from first time pinball artist Tony Ramunni. It was considered to be too creepy upon release and blamed for the game’s lower than expected sales. Now it’s remembered for being the high water mark that it truly is, and the lower production run just makes it more collectible. That dystopian cloning backglass! C’mon, that’s about as cool as it gets.
1981 was a crowded year for Bally, in this same year they also released : Fathom, Centaur, Eight Ball Deluxe, Flash Gordon, Elektra, and Medusa. That’s 7 different games in a single year, from a single manufacturer. That will never happen again. And it’s safe to say that 5 of the 7 are certified all-time classics. And wouldn’t you believe that this baby was their worst selling game that year?
Too bad it was slept on during its release because this game is loaded with cool features including and extra flipper “flip save” feature, the iconic middle playfield double captive ball feature, and drop targets a plenty! This game has great horizontal ball action, and overcomes the usual floaty feel that can plague wide body games.