Pinball Spotlight Series:
This is Bally’s Jeremiah Johnson, I mean Grizzly Adams, wait, no it’s actually Frontier! Released in 1980, Frontier was designed by the mostly forgotten George Christian. We first covered him in the Pinball Spotlight Series for his game Mystic released earlier in the same year.
The game is a sterling example of Bally’s golden era, which are all highly sought after games by collectors now. Of these, Frontier is my absolute favorite. It’s got a perfectly simple scoring logic that’s hard to achieve to its full potential and features both inline and bank drop targets. It has great action, and is blast to play. Hard to beat even in this crowded era of classic solid state pinball designs.
Art was done by Greg Freres, an absolute legend, of whom if you’d like to know more, look to our pinball spotlight on Skateball (also released the same year!). The art package of Frontier features a hilarious caricature of what we now refer to as “toxic masculinity syndrome”. It permeates basically all pinball of this era (and basically all pop culture as well), so it isn’t particularly distinctive on that front. But it’s of the most purely distilled audacity, so it bears (intended) special mention. The highlight is the shirtless man fighting a bear with a knife on the playfield. I ain’t gonna lie, I absolutely love this sh*t! Makes me laugh every time I play it.
The sound design on this game is a real standout. The quality is pretty compressed as it’s basically first gen sound chip technology, but the wolf howls and cricket chirps are unlike anything else ever done in a pinball machine. Really cool and memorable. A very good example of the importance of sound design in the pinball experience. Just try and play a game of Frontier and NOT mimic the howling! I dare you.
Our Frontier has a brand new hardtop playfield, and the ball rolls more smoothly than when it came off of the assembly line. It’s truly a joy to play, so come and feel the call of the wild at Wedgehead soon!