Date: 18th December, 2020

After years of rumours and weeks of teasing, the company Pinball Brothers has finally confirmed they will be producing a remake of the Heighway Pinball game, Alien.

Pinball Brothers was the business formed by investors brought in to refinance Heighway Pinball. Their investment allowed Heighway Pinball to continue operations but ultimately the South Wales-based pinball maker jettisoned its founder, Andrew Heighway, before becoming insolvent and closing, leaving numerous creditors owed both money and pre-ordered pinball machines.

In the latter days of Heighway Pinball, many of the components for the games and even the licence for Alien were bought through Pinball Brothers, with PCBs latterly bearing the Pinball Brothers name. So, when operations ceased, Pinball Brothers reclaimed their remaining inventory, took it back to their native Scandinavia and have since been selling it on-line.

There have been many rumours about Pinball Brothers remaking the game in the years since Heighway Pinball closed. The game is well regarded and seen by some as the best theme integration in a pinball so far, so it could be a big seller if the reliability issues could be ironed-out and manufacturing started.

Today, Pinball Brothers have announced they will indeed be remaking Alien.

The flyer for the Alien remake

Although it remains essentially the same wide-bodied design we saw before, there have been several changes from the Heighway Pinball version of the game.

Most obviously, the two main LCD displays – one large display in the centre of the backbox and a smaller one inset into the playfield – have been combined into a single 18.5″ panel at the bottom of the backbox. There are also two 4″ speakers either side of the display for the main game audio.

The five-inch airlock display remains, although the housing has been made thinner and less obtrusive. This change created space behind the airlock for a ‘sneak-in’ back entrance which is registered by a dedicated switch and given an appropriate award.

The new Alien playfield design
The new Alien playfield design

The removal of the playfield LCD panel meant the insert layout and artwork needed to be adjusted to make best use of the larger playfield area. A new illuminated Weapons Status Display now sits where the playfield LCD was previously positioned.

The new Weapons Status Display
The new Weapons Status Display

The LED board which illuminates these weapon indicator inserts is part of a whole new electronics system developed by Pinball Brothers. The new system uses smaller, easier-to-access circuit boards which run off a PC in the same way as the Heighway Pinball system. Although PC-based, there is currently no internet connectivity for software updates, on-line challenges or global scoreboards.

The illuminated cabinet side panels have gone, but it is understood a magnet ball grabber at the top right of the playfield which was taken out of the original design because it clashed with the slide-rails under the playfield has been able to be reinstated thanks to a new slide-rail design. In addition, a virtual ball lock for the Hypersleep Chamber has been upgraded to the physical three-ball lock which was originally planned, together with the addition of a dedicated lifter mechanism to eject the balls.

The illuminated standup targets in the game have been upgraded too, from a single colour to full RGB lighting, while some targets which weren’t previously illuminated have got the RGB lighting enhancement too.

Elsewhere on the playfield, the Xenomorph mechanism which was so problematic on the Heighway Pinball games has been made more robust with metal parts replacing plastic ones and a new dedicated driver board. The Facehugger models on the slingshots have also been changed. A new more durable material has been used for the models while the slingshot kicker arms have been redesigned.

The additional devices, switches and lights and the new boardset all need support in the software, so Pinball Brothers have been working with one of the original programmers, Brian Dominy, to properly integrate them.

The cabinet design is now much more traditional, without the rounded backbox or modular flipper button boxes. The magazine frame holding the playfield glass has also been removed, replaced with the much more familiar glass slide rails and lock bar.

The new Alien remake
The new Alien remake

There are also no beacon lights on top of the backbox in the supplied images, although those may be available to buy as an add-on or possibly included with the Limited Version model, full details of which haven’t yet been announced.

The backbox translite for the Alien remake
The backbox translite for the Alien remake

What we do know are the prices for the two models. The Standard Version (shown above) is priced at $7,777 while the Limited Version (maximum 500 units) will be $9,999.

The game is to be manufactured by Pedretti in Italy who are a games supplier and parts manufacturer for jukeboxes, pinballs and video games. Playfields will be made by Peter Brunner of B&T Automaten Vert. in Hamburg, Germany who is well-regarded for his replacement pinball playfields and plastic sets.

Pinball Brothers say no pre-orders will be taken and the game will be available from distributors around the world. Those listed so far are:

The front view of the new Alien remake
The front view of the new Alien remake

Pinball Brothers revealed more details of their Alien remake on the Super Awesome Pinball Show podcast at around the 1h 20m mark.

CoinTaker are understood to have ordered an initial container of 66 Alien machines and are expected to have the first production machines available in early January 2021. Pinball Brothers have said they expect it will take 2-3 months to reach full production, at which point they estimate Pedretti will be able to manufacture around 100 games a month.

In a move to reach out to those who lost money by pre-ordering the original Alien game through Heighway Pinball, Pinball Brothers have launched a voucher scheme offering at least 50% of any losses incurred towards payment of an Alien remake.

More details of the vouchers and the qualification requirements can be found in the FAQ section of the Alien page of the Pinball Brothers’ website. Applications for one of the vouchers needs to be made by 28th February 2021, with the vouchers being valid from April 2021 until the end of December 2023.

Information on the voucher scheme for the Alien remakes
Information on the voucher scheme for the Alien remakes

In another move designed to resolve historic issues with the game, Pinball Brothers have said they are working with those who were owed payment for their development work on Alien to get them royalty payments from sales of the remake machines.

For more information on the Alien remake check out the Super Awesome Pinball Podcast link above, and we’ll have more news about the revival of the Alien game here at Pinball News.

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One Comment

  1. Doug.

    5th January, 2021 at 8:59am

    Well, it’s nice to see that this machine is going ahead again and more importantly, those who lost out financially,; be they would-be purchasers or those involved in its manufacture, are to be recompensed to some degree. Good news in these decidedly weird days!

    Reply

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