Pinball Spotlight Series:
Skateball is another early solid state Bally, released in 1980. This is a classic build a bonus game from Claude Fernandez. He was responsible for other very popular games from the middle of this Bally golden era including Flash Gordon and Embryon.
This game features the first art package from a now pinball legend, Greg Freres. Story goes that the theme for this game was taken from Greg’s sample piece, “Summertime” which he had completed as part of his interview with Bally to be hired on. He went on to pair with Dennis Nordman in the late 80s thru the late 90s for classics like the Elvira games and for the Party dude trilogy of Dr. Dude, Party Animal, and Party Zone. This is definitely restrained for what he eventually became known and loved for – his comedic signature isn’t as prominent here as in his later work. But damn, doesn’t this game this completely capture it’s era or what?
The game is a real blast to play, with ours recently restored by the great Eric Hill. It’s playing real nice. Lucky to have found an early solid state Bally with a day one mylar protective sheet to keep the ball rolling true. As much as Bally was killing the game at this point, their playfield clear-coats definitely left a lot to be desired. Under the playfield there is a even a little sticker that says “this playfield is protected by Bally’s Tuff-Coat” which sorta seems like a sick joke in retrospect because they are easily the worst of the big three pinball manufacturers from this time period. It’s common to find these classic Bally’s looking like they lost a fight with a belt sander.
They also have their iconic and funny kinda fat flippers and their notorious Bally drop target design, sometimes affectionately know by pinheads as “Bally Tombstones” because they have been known to resist direct hits without dropping down like they should. But it’s all in good fun. Every true pinhead loves these Bally’s because the art was killer, the layouts were innovative, and the gameplay was fun as hell. There is nothing else like them truly.