Do Any Pinball Machines Have Magnets? (12 Models That Do)


Do Any Pinball Machines Have Magnets?

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One of the most addicting, yet simple arcade games out there is the pinball machine. No matter how many quarters you feed into it, you always want to play again. Many sore losers like to believe magnets play a factor in this game, perhaps to draw the metal ball closer to the drain, but is that true?

Do any pinball machines have magnets? In general, you won’t find any magnets in pinball machines influencing the ball, making it easier for you to lose. The only instance you will find magnets in a pinball machine is as part of the gameplay, but even that is rare. Pinball machines mainly rely on gravity and velocity to move the ball around. Magnets are not the reason you keep losing at pinball.

The rumor that magnets influence the gameplay has been around for decades. The number of times magnets have ever been used in pinball machines is so insignificant, it’s safe to say you won’t run into any while you are playing. There are, however, a very few times where you may notice magnetism within a pinball machine.

When You Will Find Magnets In A Pinball Machine

Although there aren’t any magnets in a pinball machine that are intentionally trying to sabotage your winning streak, there are certain occasions where magnets are found.

Rare Instances of Magnets in a Pinball Machine

Have you ever been playing pinball, and all of a sudden, the metal ball gets stuck in a hole and then shoots out at high speeds? Or have you ever shot the ball into a hole and it disappears, only to appear from another side of the board? This is sometimes from the help of magnets. Granted, there are occasions where gravity does all the work.

These instances, known as holes, scoops, or saucers, are the only time you will find magnets in a pinball machine. Older versions of pinball machines used tubes behind the playing field to achieve the same effect. Nowadays, the effect is created with magnets. Once these metal balls get sucked into the holes, they are kicked back out with a kicker.

Another very rare instance of magnets being involved with a pinball machine is with an electromagnetic pinball machine. These are very rare, for two reasons. The first being this is how pinball machines originally started as in the 1930s’. Those pinball machines look almost nothing like the ones we use now, however. It was almost like playing baseball in an arcade game, constantly trying to swing the ball being pulled towards you by magnets.

This style was quickly phased out as time went on, but a few models adapted this technique. Another reason why it’s so rare you’ll find magnets in a pinball machine is because only a handful of modern pinball machines are electromagnetic.

Electromagnetic Pinball Machines

Very rarely will you find a modern electromagnetic pinball machine, but they are out there. These machines don’t rely heavily on magnets, but the gameplay is influenced quite a bit by them. The pinball machines will feature magnetic holes, scoops, and saucers like most others. There are also magnets underneath the mainboard.

These magnets are used to speed up, slow down, or even curve the metal ball around the board. This makes the field of play much less predictable, ultimately increasing the difficulty of the game. Some find it challenging; others think it messes with their natural play.

However, there still aren’t any magnets near the drain pulling the ball closer towards it. Even for electromagnetic pinball machines, that would be a difficult challenge. The magnets are there to enhance gameplay, not rob you of quarters.

Some electromagnetic pinball machine owners complain of their pinballs becoming magnetized over time. And this can actually happen if a ball has been in contact with those magnetized features for long enough. So, if you notice a ball acting strange, hanging up in odd ways, or sticking to another ball, perhaps it’s the ball that is affecting your gameplay.

Balls that have been altered in this way can be replaced. There are even methods to demagnetize the pinballs.

Popular Electromagnetic Pinball Machines

As we said, there are still a few electromagnetic pinball machines out there. If you frequent enough bars or arcades, you may start to notice one yourself! If not, we’ve found some popular electromagnetic pinball machines you may have seen before.

  1. The Shadow
  2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  3. The Addams Family
  4. Twister
  5. X-Men
  6. Houdini
  7. Ghostbusters
  8. Last Action Hero
  9. Dialed In!
  10. Twilight Zone
  11. GoldenEye
  12. Black Knight

You may have seen one or two of these pinball machines in your life and have maybe even played one. If you haven’t, keep your eye out and experience the difference of electromagnetic pinball machines. If you have no idea how regular games differ from electromagnetic, maybe we should break it down a little further.

If you want to see some gameplay from the Addams Family game check out the video below. 

How Pinball Machines Work

Pinball machines have been around for almost a century now. They are one of the simplest ways to have fun at a bar or arcade. If you’ve never seen or heard of one, let’s break down how a pinball machine works.

Basics

No matter what kind of pinball machine you see, there are a few simple basics that you need to know to understand the action:

Plunger To start the game (other than by putting a quarter in), you have to pull the plunger on the front side. This pulls a spring back that will launch the metal ball when released.
Metal Ball The focus of the game is keeping the metal ball away from the drain and keeping it in play for as long as possible. More modern games have features like multiple balls, where 3 to 5 will shoot out if you hit a certain target.
Flippers On each side of the pinball machine, you will notice a button that will control a piece of the machine individually, towards the bottom of the play area. These are known as flippers and are used to hit the ball away from the drain.
Drain This is essentially the strike zone for pinball. It’s located at the bottom of the play area, beneath the flippers. The point of the game is to not let the ball fall through the drain. If this happens three times, game over.
Targets Throughout the gameplay area, there are targets that will acquire your points if you hit them. The more targets you hit, the more points you receive. Earn enough points and you will earn a replay, or in other words, another game.
Wiring The rest of the pinball machine is a matter of electric wiring throughout the bottom of the machine that sets off the flashy lights, bells, and whistles that attract you to the game itself. 
Tilt One last basic element of pinball is the tilt rule. Within every pinball machine is a tilt sensor that will indicate when you are trying to cheat by moving the table. Set off the tilt sensor after a few times and the pinball machine will either assess a penalty, take away a life, or stop the game completely.

The point of the game is to achieve a high score by hitting enough targets and staying alive for as long as possible. Once you pass certain score points in the game, you will often be awarded extra balls which will help you play even longer. 

Summary

The only time you will find magnets in a pinball machine is as part of the game, such as to hold the metal ball in a hole, scoop or saucer, or to transport the ball to another location underneath the board. For all other moments, you and that metal ball are being challenged by gravity, speed, and velocity. 

There isn’t some grand scheme that is trying to rob you one quarter at a time. Magnets in pinball machines are there to help the gameplay and to make it more fun not to cause the ball to go down the middle or the outlanes. 

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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