After The Addams Family, this seems to be the second most well-known pinball machine. As always, if there is something you’re confused about, I’ll be happy to explain. Pinball is stupidly obtuse and beginner-unfriendly.
Besides its popularity, at about 15,000 machines sold, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) is also significant to pinball as the first machine in development with a dot-matrix display, referred to henceforth as a DMD (though not the first one released—that’d be Gilligan’s Island; Gilligan’s was second in production but beat T2 to release by a few weeks). Having a DMD allows for pictures and animations to accompany a pinball game, as well as a “Video Mode” (a short minigame played on the DMD controlled with the flippers). Prior to Gilligan’s and T2, the standard was an alphanumeric display (like with Xenon), akin to a digital clock that depicts letters and numbers, hence its name. Though a few machines from Gottlieb and smaller manufacturers continued to use alphanumeric displays, DMDs soon became expected. They continue to be the standard to this day, though falling costs of monitors means we’re currently in a transition from DMDs to HD monitors.
A DMD is a grid of small lights that, when viewed from a distance, creates an image or text. You’ve seen plenty of these on signs at storefronts and schools. Orange ones like these are powered by plasma tubes, which are energy-intensive but were cheaper to manufacture and purchase in bulk. Starting in 2004, pinball machines turned to DMDs lit by LEDs and are red, though they didn’t become the norm until 2006. There are also now full-color DMDs specifically for pinball machines, which have the complete color range of an HD screen but a low resolution of a DMD. If you’re confused about why these even exist, so am I.
This machine is based on the film from 1990. John Connor will lead humanity in a successful rebellion against robots in the future, so two Terminator robots are sent to the past: The T-800, better known as Arnold, and the T-1000, a shapeshifter made of liquid metal. Arnold, who was the villain in Terminator 1, has been reprogrammed to protect the young John against the ruthless and later-model T-1000. Due to the movie studio providing WMS with limited information, the T-1000 is barely depicted, John is not depicted at all, and it’s almost all about Arnold. This is one of two pinball machines based on a movie directed by James Cameron, the other one being Avatar.
The end goal in this machine is kind of hazy. It’s more score-focused, so I’ll concentrate on the two highest-scoring, most difficult to reach goals: “Payback Time” and the Super Jackpot. I achieve both of them in the same session.
In the middle, there are two columns of circular orange lights. These represent Skynet’s CPU (Skynet being a satellite that gained sentience and wanted to destroy humanity) and lead up the left ramp and the right ramp. You can start at either ramp, and shooting the other one will increase a level in penetrating the computer’s security system: Check Point, Pass Code, Silent Alarm, Vault Key, and CPU Lit. Once you pick a side, you have to shoot them in that order for the remaining levels.
Once both ramps are lit for CPU Lit, Payback Time will automatically begin. This lasts for approximately 20 seconds, and all paths are worth 5 million. This can be quite valuable if you’re good at shooting the ball cleanly, quickly, and accurately, but I screwed up a lot here and got only 10 million points out of it.
The Super Jackpot, like all Super Jackpots in pinball, is found at the end of Multiball. To activate multiball, shoot the metal head up at the top. This lowers a hidden drop target to clear the way. Shooting at the head again will bring the ball over to the cannon on the right, which will pivot back and forth with one of the targets on the opposite side lit. If you can shoot the lit target, Multiball will begin.
Your goal now is to get a Jackpot with at least 2 balls stored. Green lights pointing to paths will flash on the left half of the playfield, and you must store as many of the 3 balls as you can at the scoops at the end of these paths. The Jackpot is multiplied by the number of balls stored. To score any Jackpot, you must hit the lit target with the cannon again.
Once you get a Double or Triple Jackpot, the metal head will activate again. Shoot the head to lower the drop target, and shoot it again before the drop target pops back up to load the cannon. This time, the cannon not only moves back and forth, but the light will cascade up and down too. If you can shoot the lit target while at least one other ball is still in play, you’ll get the Super Jackpot, worth 50 million points.
There are other modes here too, like Chase, Video Mode (hey look, it’s Colossal Titan), and Hurry-Up, but I have no description space left. Sorry!
The next table will be FunHouse.
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