OK! What was Bally up to in 1984??
Current U.S. Class:
Current International Class:
A63F 9/02 (20060101); A63F
7/02 (20060101); A63F 9/00 (20060101); A63F 7/00 (20060101);
A63F 007/02 ()
U.S. Patent Documents
Primary Examiner: Shapiro; Paul E.
Attorney, Agent or Firm: Welsh & Katz
What is claimed is:
1. A pinball game comprising a playfield having a plurality of targets, means
for introducing a projectile onto said playfield, means for manipulating said
projectile on said playfield to contact said targets, a plurality of
individual light devices in a spatial array, means for actuating one of said
light devices, player controlled means for stepwise actuating the other light
devices to simulate a projectile, means on the playfield for indicating a
player determined direction of stepwise actuation of the simulated
projectile, means providing an objective for movement of said simulated
projectile, and scoring means for tabulating events of said projectile on
said playfield and events on said array.
2. A game according to claim 1 wherein a second simulated projectile is
movable along said array.
3. A game according to claim 2 wherein said second simulated projectile is a
different color than said first simulated projectile.
4. A game according to claim 2 wherein an electronic control moves said
second simulated projectile.
5. A game according to claim 4 further comprising means for activating said
spatial array in response to each occurrence of a predetermined event on said
playfield, and wherein the electronic control increases the speed at which
said second simulated projectile is moved in response to each subsequent
activation of said spatial array.
6. A game according to claim 2 further comprising second player controlled
means for actuating said second simulated projectile thereby permitting a
competing player mode.
7. A game according to claim 1 wherein said array comprises a plurality of
lenses in the playing field and an array of luminescent devices disposed
below said lenses.
8. A game according to claim 7 including a board on which said luminescent
devices are arranged, said board having a printed circuit whereby said
luminescent devices can be individually actuated.
9. A game according to claim 1 wherein said manipulating means also functions
as said player controlled means for stepwise illumination of said light
10. A game according to claim 1 having a first player control to determine
direction of said simulated projectile and second player control to move said
simulated projectile in the determined direction.
11. A game according to claim 1 having a projectile-retaining target, means
associated with said projectile-retaining target for activating said spatial
array, and means for releasing said ball from said projectile-retaining
target pursuant to an event on said spatial array, whereby said projectile
and said simulated projectile are manipulated independently.
12. A game according to claim 11 further comprising timing means for
reactivating said spatial array in response to occurrence of said event on
said spatial array within a predetermined time after activation of said
13. A game according to claim 1 wherein an electronic control provides said
means providing the objective.
14. A game according to claim 1 wherein a final score is determined by a
combined tabulation of events of said projectile on said playfield and events
on said array.
The present invention relates to pinball games
and more particularly to pinball games having both real and simulated
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A wide variety of games of skill, generally known as "pinball
games", have been made available for the entertainment of the public.
These games utilize a projectile, such as a metal ball, which the player,
through various control devices, manipulates and directs at various targets
on a slightly inclined playing field. The variety of games offered to the
public reflects the desire of the playing public for new and different
challenges reflected in the variety of games. Within the genre of pinball
games, most of the variation is provided by variations in the playfield,
i.e., the variety and arrangement of targets, scoring systems, sound effects
and artwork. The actual means of manipulating the projectile has remained
relatively constant, i.e., initially introducing the projectile onto the
playfield with a spring-loaded plunger, and thereafter directing the ball up
the inclined surface at the targets by means of flippers situated toward the
lower end of its playfield. It is felt a greater variety and increased player
interest can be obtained by introducing additional skills to the playfield.
It is a general object of the present invention to provide pinball games of
greater variety, and a particular object of the invention is to provide a
pinball game having both real and simulated projectiles.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a pinball playfield, including a simulated
projectile display, embodying various features of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view of the simulated projectile
display of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 3--3 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a plan view of a circuit board with a light bulb array for the
simulated projectile display.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Illustrated in FIG. 1 is a pinball playfield 10 having a real projectile 12,
means 14, 16 of manipulating the projectile, targets 18 for the projectile
and a simulated projectile display 20.
The apparatus for playing the real projectile 12, e.g., a metal ball, is
typical of pinball game apparatus. Balls 12 are shot into play, one at a
time, by a spring-loaded plunger 14, the shot ball
following a pathway defined by an elongated guide 22 having a one-way exit
gate 23 to the upper end 24 of the inclined playfield 10. From the upper end
24, the ball 12 rolls down the incline encountering various targets 18 along
the way scoring points for the player. Once free of the targets 18, the ball
12 rolls down the incline toward a ball exit 26 at the lower end 28 of the
playfield where the ball is removed from play unless the player intercepts
the downward roll of the ball with projectile-manipulating means, such as
flippers 16, that are actuated by player operated means, such as buttons 30,
at the front of the game. If the player intercepts the ball 12 and returns it
by means of the flippers 16 toward the back or upper end 24 of the playfield
10, the ball hits various targets 18 increasing the score of the player.
Additional flippers 16' are optionally provided at other locations on the playfield.
Generally the score accumulated by the ball hitting each target is reflective
of the difficulty encountered in hitting the target.
Targets 18 shown on the playfield 10 are representative of types of targets
which are commonly included in pinball machines including bumpers 18a,
flip-up targets 18b, etc. The illustrated playfield 10 is simplified, and in
actual practice, a playfield may have a substantially greater number of
In accordance with the present invention, the game, in addition to having the
various apparatus needed to play the metal ball, has the simulated projectile
displays 20 in which a projectile is represented by a stepwise actuation of
lights. The user moves the simulated projectile by means of external
controls, which may be the same controls 30a,b that are used to actuate the
flippers 16, to accomplish certain goals, such as escape or pursuit of a
simulated "enemy" projectile.
The simulated aspect of the game might be played concurrently with the real
projectile aspect of the game; however, it is contemplated that the simulated
aspect of the game will generally be played intermittently with the real
projectile game, such as when a certain event occurs in the real projectile
game. Such an event may be the striking of a particular target 18c by the
real projectile. The playfield 10 includes one or more ball-retaining targets
18c, herein, eject saucers including a depressed well 32 in the playfield in
which the ball may drop. Appropriate sensing means are provided in the eject caucer 18c so that when the ball drops therein,
electronic controls, such as microprocessors, activate the simulated aspect
while the real projectile aspect is temporarily interrupted as a result of
ball retention in the eject saucer. The game is programmed so that an event
in the simulated aspect, such as capture of the player's last simulated
projectile by the simulated enemy projectile or successful escape from the
enemy by using up all available moves, will deactivate the simulated aspect,
whereupon, an eject pin 38 in the saucer 18c operates to eject the ball 12
from the well 32 and return it to play. The ball-retaining target 18c could
also be an electromagnet which magnetically holds the metal ball until the
power supplied thereto is cut off in response to an event in the simulated
Herein, the simulated projectile is provided by an array of light means 40 in
the playfield 10. A 5.times.5 array of light means 40 are represented, and
the player's simulated projectile is represented by the stepwise actuation of
adjacent light means of the array. The player manipulates his simulated
projectile by operation of the external controls or buttons 30. In a
rectangular array, such as is shown here, the movement along the array will
typically be one space at a time horizontally or vertically. The movement of
the simulated projectile will be directed to a particular purpose, such as
illuminating all of the lights by successfully moving the projectile to each
of the locations on the array within a predetermined number of moves. A
particularly exciting purpose of the simulated projectile is pursuit or
escape from an "enemy" simulated projectile, also represented by
stepwise actuation of the individual light means 40 of the array. Preferably,
when the object of the simulated aspect is pursuit, the simulated enemy
projectile is of a different color than the player's simulated projectile.
As a means of providing the array 20 of light means 40, an array of lenses 42
are embedded in the board 44 that provides the playfield 10, under which is
an array of luminescent devices, such as incandescent bulbs 46a,b, for illuminating the same. The upper surfaces 48 of
the lenses 42 are flat and flush with the playfield 10 so as not to interfere
with the roll of the ball 12. The array of bulbs 46, illustrated in FIGS.
2-4, is for a pursuit game involving a player controlled simulated projectile
and a microprocessor controlled enemy simulated projectile. A 5.times.5 array
of bulb pairs 46a,b are provided on the upper surface
of a circuit board 50 disposed beneath the playfield 10, each pair of bulbs
46 being directly below one of the lenses 42. The bulbs 46 are preferably
plugged individually into the circuit board 50 to provide for individual bulb
replacement. The bulbs 46a,b of each pair are of different colors, one color
bulb 46a, e.g., yellow, representing the player's simulated projectile, and
one color bulb 46b, e.g., red, representing the simulated enemy projectile.
The printed circuit 54 on the upper surface of the circuit board provides for
illumination of the bulbs 46a,b according to the
strategy of the game. Plug means 55 on the under side
of the circuit board connect the printed circuit 54 to an electronic control
53, e.g., microprocessor, such as are known in the electronic art, and this
control manipulates the enemy projectile according to a predetermined pattern
or in response to movement of the player's simulated projectile. The
electronic control 53 also interfaces the simulated projectile aspect with
the real projectile aspect and interfaces the events in both aspects to
scoring and sound apparatus.
The pinball game of the present invention provides for test of player skill
in addition to the usual ball manipulation skills. The final score of the
player is determined by his skill in both aspects of the game. The scoring
system of the game is adapted to maximize the interrelationship between the
real projectile aspect and the simulated projectile aspect. The player may
accumulate points at a rapid rate by playing the simulated aspect; however,
his opportunity to play the simulated aspect is dependent on his ability to
maintain the ball 12 in play and his ability to direct the ball to a
particular target, i.e., the eject saucer 18c, that activates the simulated
game. His ability to take advantage of the opportunity to score points in the
simulated aspect depends upon his skill in manipulating the simulated
projectile. Furthermore, the player's opportunity to play the real projectile
aspect is determined by his skill in the simulated projectile aspect if
rewards, such as additional balls, accrue upon the accomplishment of certain
objectives in the simulated aspect.
In order that the invention may be more fully understood, an example of a
pinball game, with particular emphasis on the simulated projectile aspect,
will now be described in greater detail.
By means of the plunger 14, the player puts his first ball 12 in play at the
upper end 24 of the playfield 10. As the ball 12 rolls down the inclined
playfield 10, it strikes various targets 18 providing some initial points to
the player. The player guards against the ball 12 leaving through the exit 26
by means of pairs of flippers 16, each flipper actuated by its own
player-controlled button 30 at the front of the game. The flippers 16 propel
the ball 12 upwards on the playfield to strike the various targets 18. The
targets 18 that the ball 12 strikes and the score accumulated thereby depends
upon the skillful manipulation of the flippers 16 by the player as well as
some permissable jarring of the playfield 10. When
the ball 12 lands in one of the eject saucers 18c, play of the ball 12,
dependent on certain other requirements, is halted and the simulated
projectile aspect of the game begins.
The player is provided with a given number of simulated projectiles, herein
five as indicated by the five lighted counter indicia 56 below the light
array 20. By pressing one of the flipper buttons 30a, the player puts one of
his simulated projectiles in play as indicated by illuminating one of the
lenses 42 of the array with a bulb 46a of the player's color. It is also
accompanied by the introduction of the enemy simulated projectile onto the
array by illuminating one of the lenses 42 of the array with a bulb 46b of
the enemy color. The player uses one flipper button 30a to move his simulated
projectile and the other button 30b to determine the direction in which the
simulated projectile moves. The direction of the projectile effected by depression of the projectile-moving button 30a
is indicated by means of arrows 60 above the display 20. One of four arrows
60 indicating up or down or left or right movement is lit at all times during
the simulated aspect of the game, and the player changes the arrow that is
illuminated in a rotational, e.g. clockwise, direction by successive
depressions of the directional button 30b. Thus by the coordinated
manipulation of both buttons 30a,b, the player moves
the simulated projectile in the direction of his choosing. As the player
moves, the electronic control moves the enemy either in response to a
predetermined sequence, a random motion sequence or in response to the
If the enemy is the pursuer, the object of the player is to avoid the enemy
for a predetermined number of moves as indicated by a move tabulator 64. If
the player completes the maze by completing the object of the maze while
avoiding the pursuing enemy for the predetermined number of moves, he is
credited with a completion as recorded on a counter 66 as well as rewarded
with points on his total score. If instead, his simulated projectile is
captured by the enemy as a result of the enemy simulated projectile occupying
the same position as the player's simulated projectile,
he is credited with no completion and looses this
one of his simulated projectiles. He may, however, be credited with some
score according to his number of escape manueuvers.
If the player's simulated projectiles are depleted through enemy capture, he
can earn no points in the simulated aspect even if he would otherwise have
the right to play the simulated aspect by virtue of his projectile landing in
the eject saucer 18c except under special conditions where the player again
earns the right to play the simulated aspect.
On the other hand, the player may be the pursuer who must capture the enemy
by landing on the same space within a predetermined number of moves. If
during the play of one real ball, the player becomes the aggressor, he
remains the aggressor each time he triggers an event which puts him in the
simulated aspect of the game until that real ball is lost from play. If enemy
capture occurs, the player is appropriately rewarded with points.
In the illustrated game, it is contemplated that different events will
alternatively result in the player and the enemy being the aggressor
(pursuer). An event which may be used to determine whether the player is the
pursuer or pursued might be the direction which the ball 12 enters the eject
saucer 18c. For example, if the ball enters the eject saucer 18c at the upper
right hand corner from below in the direction of arrow 74 as a result of ball
manipulation with the flipper 16, the enemy will be the aggressor. On the
other hand, if the ball 12 enters the saucer 18c from above in the direction
of arrow 72, an event which will generally occur only when the player has
carefully activated the plunger 14 to put the ball 12 in play, i.e., the
skill shot, the player will be the aggressor or pursuer. The player might
also become the aggressor by striking a certain sequence of targets before
landing in the eject saucer 18c. A light 70 at the right of the array
indicates that the player is the aggressor.
To add incentive for skillful play, a total replay may be awarded if a player
completes the maze within a predetermined time indicated by a timer 80 below
the array. The predetermined time may be adjustable by the arcade proprietor
to slow down or speed up play according to the volume in his establishment
and according to the general skill of his clientele.
The variations on such a game and the interrelationships between the real
aspect and the simulated aspect are endless. For example, the player may be
granted additional simulated projectiles for striking certain particularly
inaccessible targets 18 with the ball 12. The play on the simulated aspect
may be made more difficult on each subsequent play. For example, on the first
play of the simulated aspect, the enemy may move only in response to player
movement. On the next play, the enemy may move within a predetermined time
irrespective of player action. The movement of the enemy may quicken on
subsequent plays. Through the use of microprocessors, the speed of the enemy
is virtually unlimited so that even the most skillful player will eventually
be challenged to the limits of his ability. The simulated aspect may include
a two man mode wherein a competing player rather than an electronic control
operates the opposing simulated projectile.
While the invention has been described in terms of a certain preferred embodiment,
modifications obvious to one with ordinary skill in the art may be made
without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, although the
illustrated game contemplates a pursued and a pursuer, a single bulb
associated with each lens might be used in a straight-forward maze. The
simulated projectile(s) is generally indicated by stepwise illumination of
lights; however, it could also be represented by stepwise extinguishing of
the lights in the display. LED's might be used in place of incandescent bulbs
to simulate a projectile. While it is preferred that the light array be on
the playing field, the array may be on an upright light box at the rear of
the game where the score is generally displayed. Instead of using the flipper
buttons to move the simulated projectile, separate controls such as
additional buttons, handles, levers, guns, etc. might be provided. The
simulated aspect might operate simultaneously with the real projectile
aspect, requiring a player to coordinate his evasive action with his
manipulation of the ball by use of the flipper buttons or other controls.
Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.
http://danny.cdyn.com/Pinball with simulated