There is something about hard rock music and pinball that go hand in hand. Pinball games used to be considered gambling machines and were frowned upon by normal society. You could find pinball in shady bars in the back rooms. It actually was not until the flipper was added to the game that it became more widely accepted.
Hard rock music follows a similar history. The music started in garages and bars. This was rebel music and only listened to by the outcast of society. It was bands like KISS that brought hard rock to the masses. Stern Pinball honors this marriage of pinball and rock with the KISS Pinball Machine!
It was actually Bally that introduced the first KISS Pinball machine in 1978. The artwork on this game was amazing. The cabinet is covered in flames, and the back glass has all four band members in their full-face make-up glory. The playfield artwork is covered in dragons and fire. The Bally KISS Pinball is one of the best-looking pinball machines ever built. Where the machine falls short is in the game play. There is not a lot to accomplish in the game making the replay value low. This is not true with Stern’s version of a KISS Pinball Machine.
It was Stern’s goal with the KISS Pinball to reflect the experience of a KISS Concert. It is all about the energy of the audience with this game. The goal is to score points by finishing game objectives to fuel the audience excitement and energy. Higher scores amp the experience. The higher the energy level, the bigger and louder the show! The game features 10 of the most famous KISS songs.
Three different versions of the game were released; The Pro, Premium, and LE Model. The Pro is the most common model and the one you would most likely see in a commercial location. The Premium and LE models targeted the pinball collector market.
We spoke with a few actual owners of the game. Besides being KISS fans, they are also lovers of pinball, so they had high expectations for this game. Here is what they had to say:
Bill of Tucson, AZ, explains why he loves the game.
“There is so much that I enjoy. First and foremost, the homage given to the original Bally machine. The hand drawn art and the back glass art being done by the same artist that did the 1979 Bally KISS. Using the same bumper caps as the original. An updated version of the Gene Simmons spinner with the tongue out. The game play is based around the same idea as the original, filling the grid in the playfield to unlock other features and scoring. I also enjoy the modern features of the LE model. The metallic paper that cabinet art is printed on and the mirrored back glass like the original, and of course, the music!”
Ben from Eagan, MN, tells me he was one of the first people to get his hands on a machine.
“I’ve been a KISS fan since I was 5 years old. One of my earliest memories was seeing a KISS pinball machine in a pizza place at my 5th birthday. I remember thinking it was the coolest looking thing I’d ever seen. Fast-forward 35 years later, and I bought my very first machine, the 79′ Bally KISS. I collect everything KISS—from the lunch box, to the action figures, to all the posters I can find. The Holy Grail KISS collectible has always been the pinball machine.
The colors and art on the KISS Pro are simply beautiful. I love the giant Gene head that spits the balls out the mouth. The best part of the pin in my opinion is the quality of the sound. The music sounds amazing coming out the speakers. Much better in fact, than my Metallica, and light years better than my Guns N’ Roses. I’m glad the music sound was taken seriously by Stern, especially on a music-themed pin! This is one of my ‘never for sale’ games. I’ll own the Pro and the original KISS forever.”
Ben currently holds the highest score recorded on the KISS Pro with around with 1.6 billion.
Rockedride of Pittsburgh, PA, has owned his KISS Pinball for two years now. He is a big KISS lover and tells us his favorite feature is the music and the songs. Gene lights up red like he is spitting blood during the Dr. Love Song, and things start lighting up purple when you hear “Love Gun.” He has been a rock pinball collector for years and has owned Bally KISS, Rolling Stones, and Captain Fantastic The Wizard Pinball.
Stern Pinball did a really good job honoring both the band and the fans of KISS. The KISS Army and its legions love the game, and it is easy to see why.
Gene Goodman is Vice President of M&P Amusement, a distributor of new and used arcade games.