Blast from the Past: Bally’s Corvette Pinball Game

The Corvette is a fairly expensive car, at least if you’re talking new or “classic,” which means that the average Corvette owner is going to be old enough to remember when pinball was still a thing… Before the force-feedback steering wheel and the rumbling wireless video game controller, there were two flipper buttons, the rattling vibration of the bumper servos, and the “THWACK!” of a hard-hit steel ball rebounding off the glass.

There was no “pause” button – you caught the ball with a flipper and held it there if you needed a break (and you couldn’t convince your girlfriend to feed you nachos while you played!) And long before Kinect and the Wii had kids putting body English on imaginary objects on a LCD screen, there was the subtle art of nudging the pinball machine just hard enough to get the ball to go where you wanted without triggering the “TILT” light.

During the last great era of pinball, game designers were going head to head with arcade video games in the struggle to capture players’ quarters, and what better way to grab a kid’s attention than with a game inspired by America’s sports car? Released in August, 1994, Bally’s Corvette game was a great example of the high-water mark of pinball machine design. Microprocessor control, lots of cool gameplay elements, and great playfield graphics combined with solid physics combined to earn Corvette a 7.8 out of 10 “fun rating” among users on the Internet Pinball Database.

Look closely and you'll see that every generation (up to that time) of Corvette makes an appearance in the playfield graphics, including a Callaway Twin Turbo C4. An animated LT-5 engine sits at the top of the playfield, shaking back and forth when a ball is captured.

Special thanks (along with a certain amount of envy) go out to Corvette Forum user kaz1961 for showing off his new toy and getting us interested in this classic pinball machine in the first place. 5,001 machines were built during the game’s production run, and there are several currently up for sale as of our last check on eBay. Now, all we have to do is convince the boss to get us one for the breakroom…

The combination of mechanical and digital components, like the Grand Sport and ZR-1 that drag race up the right side of the playfield, and the complex tangle of electronics behind the back glass make these machines as much of a maintenance challenge as a real C4.

 

 

About the author

Paul Huizenga

After some close calls on the street in his late teens and early twenties, Paul Huizenga discovered organized drag racing and never looked back, becoming a SFI-Certified tech inspector and avid bracket racer. Formerly the editor of OverRev and Race Pages magazines, Huizenga set out on his own in 2009 to become a freelance writer and editor.
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