Story dated June 7, 2006 .

There are loads of toy pinball games on the market and - let's face it - most of them are pretty much rubbish as any kind of introduction to the real deal.

But one company plans to use its licences and market presence to make a wholly different kind of pinball. One even the seasoned pinball player might fancy their chances playing.

Zizzle are a company founded by Roger Shiffman - the inventor of the Furby - and they are known for their toy figures and handheld electronic LCD games (including a pinball). They hold licences for Marvel heroes and for Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean and make games and character models for both.

But their latest project is something much closer to the type of game we're used to playing and ties in with one of Roger's interests - Pinball.

By utilising the Disney and Marvel brands, and combining them with the pinball design skills of John Popadiuk, Jr., they have created two home pinball machines intended to bring the feel of arcade pinball to the home at an affordable price.

The first is Marvel Heroes & Villains and is based on the eternal battle between good and evil. It features classic Marvel characters Hulk, Spiderman, Wolverine, Thing and Storm fighting it out against Green Goblin, Mystique, Dr Doom, Magneto and Venom.

Marvel backglass

As you can see from the pictures, this is like no ordinary toy game. For a start it has a backbox with a backglass and a wooden cabinet with artwork on the sides. In fact, this is a three-quarters size game with metal legs, an LCD display and even a tilt mechanism. But perhaps most importantly from the gameplay point of view, it is mains-powered.

Having access to a decent power supply means you're not limited to the type of in-game effects and features which don't drain the batteries too quickly. And that means the use of solenoids and playfield illumination. The flippers, kickers and bumpers all use solenoids to produce their movement and the playfield is lit by LEDs as is the LCD display and the playfield inserts. In fact LEDs are used instead of mechanical switches to further improve the reliability of the game.

Populated playfield

Playfield artwork

The game has ramps, posts, a wireform, standup targets and even a spinner, so it's definitely got the makings of a machine with lasting interest for the kids. They can even play against their friends as the game can have one or two players.

Zizzle haven't been slacking in the electronics department either as the game has 60 seconds of sampled music, sound effects and speech played through the backbox speakers to accompany the game play while the backlit alpha-numeric LCD display keeps track of the score, high score and gives extra information to the player.

The other game, and the first to be released is Pirates Of The Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest, based on the forthcoming Disney movie.

Pirates Of The Caribbean backglass

The playfield layout is identical to the Marvel game but the artwork and sound packages are totally different as you'd expect.

Pirates Of The Caribbean playfield

While Zizzle's Marc Rosenberg, Chris Nicollela and Patty Jackson kickstarted the project, John Popadiuk, Jr. joined last summer and development of the game began.

John told Pinball News about the process.
"Everyone in the office contributed something to make the games play better or look cooler. A philosophy that was used at Williams. A very similar pinball design process was used, from original designs beginning as napkin sketches, foam models, prototypes, to full engineering being completed in 3d cad utilizing rapid prototyping
processes to meet tight deadlines and manufacturing tolerances."

The game was completely designed in Chicago but it is being manufactured in China.
"Currently in China, what I believe to be the world's largest pinball factory is being tooled up to manufacture the first of 2 titles in the months ahead.

The games have a long feature list built within wood cabinets supported by steel legs. The games are 75% size of a real commercial machine. The chrome steel pinball zips across wood playfields that are lit by leds and have full size flippers, slingshots, mini pop bumpers mounted within a gorgeous playfield artwork. Multi level play is possible with 2 ramps, spinner and a fast wire catwalk.

Each game has a unique art, sound and programming package with real pinball toys! There is even a backlit orange lcd display that will read "tilt" if you nudge too much!"

But we've kept the biggest surprise for last. We mentioned at the top of this article about Zizzle's intention to "
bring the feel of arcade pinball to the home at an affordable price" but what exactly is that price?

Well, the suggested retail price of these games in the US is $300.

You will soon be able to find out more about owning these games at the Zizzle website and Pinball News will be reporting more about them and their creator in future articles.


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