The new pinball manufacturing company, American Pinball, previewed their first title in a private room at a trade show in Las Vegas on September 2016, before showing it to a wider audience with a back-stage preview at Pinball Expo 2016.

No pictures were allowed of the game when it was show in Las Vegas (picture by Tim Crowley)
No pictures were allowed of the game when it was show in Las Vegas
(picture by Tim Crowley)
The original Houdini playfield design
The original Houdini playfield design

At this stage the game was titled, Houdini: Master Mystery, after the movie The Master Mystery in which Houdini starred.

This wasn’t to be the final design by any means, as it was based on an initial incomplete design by John Popadiuk who had previously worked with American Pinball to produce a small run of Magic Girl games, but it attracted a lot of attention and suggestions from all who saw it.

American Pinball’s in-house Game Designer, Joe Balcer, then took the game forward. Despite undertaking a complete re-design of the playfield, the company said they would have a working prototype available to play just six months later at the Texas Pinball Festival in March 2017.

True to their word, following the reveal of the re-designed, re-engineered and subtly re-titled game at the American Pinball seminar, two Houdini: Master of Mystery machines were set up on the show floor in Frisco.

Joe Balcer unveils American Pinball's Houdini
Joe Balcer unveils American Pinball’s Houdini
Houdini at the Texas Pinball Festival 2017
Houdini at the Texas Pinball Festival 2017
There were long lines to play the two machines
There were long lines to play the two machines

Since that reveal in Texas, there were several modifications to the playfield design and the game’s artwork prior to the start of production, while the software, display animations and rules were all significantly enhanced both before and since production began.

The Houdini production playfield
The Houdini production playfield
The backglass and main display
The backglass and main display
The second display above the stage
The second display above the stage

The game has been a staple of the US pinball show circuit since Texas, while the company has added many European distributors to their stable of 30+North American distributors.

Houdini runs on the P3ROC hardware platform from Multimorphic, a system American Pinball continued to use for their second title. The six-ball Houdini features two monitors, a 20-inch catapult throw into a trunk, three magnets, an animated stage curtain and custom theatre spotlights.

The Houdini flyer's front
The Houdini flyer’s front

The game’s rules include five multiball modes, a Master Magician wizard mode, ten Stage modes three Magician modes, five Secret Mission Combo modes, five Houdini Silent Movie modes, five Jail Escape hurry-ups and a video mode.

The Houdini flyer's back
The Houdini flyer’s back

You can find out more about Houdini: Master of Mystery and watch a gameplay video on the American Pinball website.

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