Updated: Aug 13, 2022
They interrupt flow and they often don’t have much to them, yet I love them so. I’m talking about upper playfields in pinball. This afternoon my family went to the fantastic Morristown Game Vault arcade in Morristown, New Jersey as a last hurrah before my oldest son goes off to college.
We played a ton of games while we were there, my oldest is more into the vids than the pins. While I was putting in some time on the pinball machines I found myself continuously getting sucked into one particular game over and over today, Stern Pinball’s 2003 masterpiece, The Simpsons Pinball Party (TSPP)
Some people criticize TSPP for being too easy or not being a great tournament game, but I am in love with it. The game is absolutely packed. I can’t even imagine how much this thing would cost if a manufacturer decided to build one today. Not only is it packed, it has what I believe is the best upper playfield in pinball.
The upper playfield on TSPP has two flippers, its own mini DMD, two targets, an loop and a ramp to a shot that locks balls on The Simpsons iconic couch. So cool!
No discussion about upper playfields in pinball would be complete without mentioning all of the variants of Black Knight. They’re definitely up there in the ranks. I actually have really been enjoying the small, single-flipper upper playfield on my Stern Mandalorian Pro lately. It’s a fun addition to the game.
So…what is your nominee for the best upper playfield in pinball? Let’s hear ‘em.
We’ve had a vote for Dutch Pinball’s The Big Lebowski. Great call. That upper playfield with the orbit, targets and how it transforms into a car is killer. We’ve had a lot of votes for Jersey Jack’s Pirates of the Caribbean rocking boat mini playfield. That is a fantastic one, too. Spooky Pinball’s Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle has gotten a number of mentions too.
Bally’s The Shadow and The Twilight Zone’s The Power are good ones as well. And how about Williams’ Banzai Run? Does the entire backbox count as an upper playfield? It’s pretty epic. I guess that it should.