Co-created by Play Mechanix and Chicago Gaming Company, Pulp Fiction pinball is a brand new physical pinball machine based on Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 cult classic film. This quirky machine was developed by legendary pinball designer Mark Ritchie, who created classics like Fish Tales, Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure, and Taxi. After getting the chance to chat with Mark Ritchie and play the game for myself, I’m happy to say that Pulp Fiction pinball is an absolute blast.
First Look at New Pulp Fiction Pinball
The first thing that strikes you about Pulp Fiction pinball is its decidedly retro look, as the machine lacks many modern pinball features. While Mark Ritchie had plenty of great ideas at the start of the creative process, including a wide-body design with a fancy video display (like Scooby-Doo pinball), Quentin Tarantino reportedly wanted “none of that shit”. Instead, the filmmaker desired a pinball machine reminiscent of those from the late-1970s, specifically Dolly Parton, Strikes and Spares, and a few others. Combining an old-school design with modern pinball technology, Mark Ritchie has managed to fulfill Tarantino’s requests while still producing a pin that has plenty of depth.
Despite being a single-level playfield with no ramps, Pulp Fiction pinball feels great on the flippers and stays engaging with each passing ball. Lots of love has been paid to the source material in the form of bright and vivid art, hilarious call-outs, and plenty of cheeky references hidden throughout the playfield. I also have to commend the beautiful playfield illumination, which provides colorful light shows during specific modes and moments.
Pulp Fiction Pinball Rules and Gameplay
With a clean and straightforward layout, Pulp Fiction pinball has a simple yet very satisfying set of rules. Right after you plunge the ball, you’ll likely end up in the saucer above the pop bumpers, which activates “contracts” to recruit specific characters from the film. By hitting the “roll scene” lane on the right side of the playfield, you can start a handful of modes that recreate scenes from the film.
I particularly enjoyed the Vincent and Mia dance scene, where every hit to the pop bumpers results in a satisfying flash of colored lights. Pulp Fiction pinball also features an easy-to-access multiball mode, activated by shooting drop targets in the center of the playfield to open up a lock shot.
If you want to follow Mark Ritchie’s personal strategy, you can aim for the two Big Kahuna targets behind the pop bumpers, which activate a 2X playfield bonus when hit. Talented players can also activate “Pulp Fiction Frenzy”, a bonus mode that requires clearing a series of dangerous targets. That’s just scratching the surface though, as there are many more features and strategies for players to uncover.
Overall, I had a wonderful time playing Pulp Fiction pinball and chatting with Mark Ritchie. While I was lukewarm on the concept at first, I became hooked after a few flips and found myself returning to the machine multiple times for “one last game”. Whether you’re spamming the flippers or taking calculated shots, Pulp Fiction pinball plays well and feels rewarding. It’s one of my new favorites and I can’t wait to play more when Pulp Fiction pinball releases in Q3 of 2023!