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1980 Stern BIG GAME pinball machine

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Published on Mar 13, 2013

The latest London Pinball installment here is a 1980 Stern Big Game. Huge thanks to Scott in Allentown for getting me this game last May... I've finally managed to get it shopped out and I'm very happy with the results.

Anyway, this game was designed by the late/great Harry Williams and was Stern's first widebody machine. It was also the first game by any manufacturer to feature 7-digit scoring.

This is a really fun game with some excellent rules and great shots. The two spinner shots on the left side are very satisfying and it's always a thrill to hit the right spinner lane hard enough to sweep the upper-right 3-bank of drop targets. The left spinner lane leads to a saucer that scores points for each letter spotted in the words "BIG GAME".

Similarly, the upper right side lane, when well hit, can sweep the left bank of drops. These shots were well laid out and provide some excellent shooting across the entire playfield.

The rules are quite interesting with the three bingo cards in the centre of the playfield. The player must light each of the numbers in each of the cards to spot lines and score big points. Achieving this takes some skill, especially as the cards start to fill up, because the player has to work to light the proper card and then aim well to nail the remaining drop target numbers without inadvertently switching the lit card.

GREAT SOUND from Stern. Starting with Ali, the company really started to use the SB300 to its full potential and produced some excellent sounding games in early 1980. Big Game, Cheetah, Quicksilver and Star Gazer are great examples of Stern sound at its finest.

The only down side of Big Game, in my opinion, is the 4-flipper configuration. I understand why Harry Williams designed the machine this way, but I think it would have been a bit more ideal if it had only two flippers. I'm not saying that it should have had a traditional two-flipper layout, but it could have done without the two outside flips.

At any rate, this is a great game by Stern and one of the reasons I think 1980 Stern machines rule the world.

And if you're still reading this, you may have noticed over the years that I still suck at playing pinball. I'm a fixer, not a player. What can I say? :)

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