Alien Pinball - Ultimate Guide to Heighway's Latest Machine.

Posted by Jono 14 DECEMBER 2016

Alien Pinball Machine

The wait has been long and hard, but we’re excited to say that Heighway’s second game is finally almost here! Pinball fans the world over can almost all agree that the pinball world has been waiting much too long for a machine based on Ridley Scott’s exceptional sci-fi horror franchise, so it was brilliant to see Heighway Pinball step up to the plate, and deliver a game that looks quite simply stellar in terms of theme, features, sound and of course gameplay.

Before reading on, we insist you take a look at this spectacular promotional video Heighway have produced of the game. All the Alien fans at the showrooms got chills!



Ahead of this landmark pinball release, we’re going to take some time with this blog to ensure that you’re completely up to speed on this brilliant looking new machine.

 
What are the Basics on Alien Pinball?

Alien is Heighway Pinball’s second game after the release of their player favourite: Full Throttle. Alien is the company’s first time handling a licensed game, and the look of the game has gotten the pinball community excited to see what can be delivered.

The game was designed in part by industry legend Dennis Nordman (Elvira: Scared Stiff, Indianapolis 500, Pirates of the Caribbean amongst others) before being primarily worked on by Heighway's Dave Sanders (Responsible for Full Throttle). The game features numerous different toys and features (which we will cover later) and allows the player to play through the first two iconic Alien movies. The play field is brought to life with the artwork of Aurich Lawson, and the tension-building sound provided by David Thiel. The game has gone through numerous different design iterations, with previews of the whitewoods being shared as early as February 2015.


                    

Just like the company’s first game Full Throttle, Alien uses a number of different features that are standard on Heighway Pinball machines. Features seen in Full Throttle include inductive switch technology which replaces the mechanical rollover switches which have been used in pinball machines for decades, full RGB Supernova LED lighting, that allows any of the game’s inserts to show a massive range of colours, WiFi connectivity for software updates. All these features (as well as some new ones) all carry over to Alien.

More features about the game wouldn’t be shared until August of that year…

                 Alien Pinball Machine - Playfield Plan


The Grand Unveiling

                                                               Pinball Party 2015 Logo

 
The Home Leisure Direct team were actually on hand when the team at Heighway pinball unveiled some key elements of the Alien pinball machine for the first time!

The day was the UK Pinball Party, on an exceptionally warm day in 2015 at Heighway Pinball’s Factory in Merthyr Tydfil. Whilst there had been much chatter about Heighway’s latest game, nothing at all had been shown, and a group of about 40 of us (including pinball enthusiasts, journalists and more) were all escorted to an upstairs office in Heighway's factory, all of us having been sworn to secrecy about what was about to be shown.

At the front of the room, next to the projector screen was a large pinball-shaped object, hidden beneath a thick shroud. The talk began about how Alien was developed and eventually, the big moment came. From beneath the cover, lights started to flash, and the sheet was pulled away to reveal the stunning looking Alien cabinet. We were only stood at the back of the room, but it looked incredible, with the stark, white, unmistakable Alien font and the head of the Xenomorph glaring in from the edge.

Alien Pinball Machine - Cabinet Artwork

 
We were told about how the Alien universe and series was a huge favourite of the company’s CEO Andy Heighway, so the project was very much a labour of love, and wanted to include all manner of crazy and fun extras to really complete the theme, even going as far as thinking about including a smoke machine in the game at one point! Whilst some of those ideas ultimately remained just ideas, the final design was shown to us with a noticeable ripple of interest around the room. The play field shown was a wide body design, packed with all manner of Alien features, including the famous Xenomorphs, the Alien Queen and of course the iconic Face-Huggers.

We were eventually shown computer generated simulations of the table in action, and gave us a great flavour for what the machine could be like to play, with an intense and pulse pounding feeling whilst playing through the survival oriented Alien modes, and listening to the more upbeat and energetic tunes of the Aliens modes. Everyone left the room feeling excited, gutted that they had to keep everything that they had seen a secret, but most importantly stoked for what Heighway’s latest game may have to offer… Fast forward to now, and this terrific game is finally on the brink of being in the hands of pinball players all over the world!

What kinds of features will be on Alien?

We’ve covered some aspects of Alien’s play field above, but since that reveal, much more has come to light regarding what players can expect to see, so in no particular order, here are some of Alien’s main features.

Xenomorph Head and Magnet

Alien Pinball Machine - Xenomorph Head

The big feature right at the back of Alien’s playfield is one of the iconic Xenomorphs. Far from just being a decorative toy, this head is animated, and can in fact extend its long tongue out to snatch balls away, right off the playfield surface! We’re sure this head will end up being central to many of Alien’s modes.

Air Lock

Air Lock Screen

The Air-Lock just to the left of the Xenomorph head contains a 5" LCD screen, which will be able to display all manner of horrifying creatures trying to break through into the ship.

Chestburster Slingshots

Alien Pinball Machine - Facehugger Slingshots

Very similar to the original ‘Boogie Men’ from Scared Stiff, these little Face Huggers are placed above the slingshots, and will in fact move along with the slingshot as it sends the ball flying upon contact.

Alien Egg Pop Bumpers

Alien Pinball Machine - Illuminated Egg Bumpers

One feature that Heighway were very proud of in their initial presentation were the Egg Bumpers, and the variety of lighting effects they had. One feature talked about was making the eggs appear to be on fire, just like they were in the movie!

Revers-O-Matic Ramp

Alien Pinball Machine - Xenomorph Spinner

Another feature that draws similarities to Dennis Nordman’s Pirates of the Caribbean is the Revers-O-Matic Ramp. This ramp structure loops up and back towards the player in a flash!

Modes


Alien offers two different styles of gameplay that the player can choose at the beginning of each game. These two sets of missions correspond to the first two Alien films, Alien and Aliens, and comprise of 5 modes each. Complete one set to progress to the other movie!

A look at the 'Find Jonesy' Alien Mode, demonstrating the more tense atmosphere seen in the Alien modes.

The 5 Alien modes give the game a very tense and dramatic atmosphere, as players try to survive the Xenomorph assault. The 5 Aliens modes are a lot more action focussed, and task players with several shoot-em-up style events as they go on multiple alien hunting missions, where the hunters become the hunted! Each movie has its own wizard mode (Self-Destruct for Alien, and Meltdown for Aliens) as well as its own multi ball mode associated with it, culminating in the final ‘All Out War’ Multiball wizard mode once everything else has been completed.


An example of an Aliens mode: Bug Hunt, which is much more action focussed as players track down and destroy enemies.


Aside from the movie-specific multiball modes, Alien also offers numerous stand alone multiball modes too, each visible from the flashing lights at the bottom of the Playfield. These multiball modes are very diverse, and again relate to numerous aspects of the Alien universe, including a Bug Hunt, Sentry Guns, Ambush and of course the aforementioned 'All Out War' wizard mode.

Ambush Multiball - Shoot the shots the scanner shows to keep the hoardes of Xenomorph creatures away. Also shows the special beacons on top of the backbox.

What will Alien be like to Play?


Alien’s dual-movie set up promises to deliver two very distinct atmospheres to the game, each half hoping to emulate the feel of each movie on the playfield. We’re especially looking forward to the eerie, tension filled atmosphere on the Alien half of the game, and seeing just how all these clever playfield features all integrate into the Alien universe.

 

Upgrades

Alien Pinball Machine - Right Ramp


There are a number of different options for you to further enhance your machine with any number of upgrades, including an added High Definition 27" screen for the backbox to bring the spectators in, a shaker motor to feel the force during certain game moments, non-reflective glass to improve visibility, a luxurious chrome finish cabinet trim. Here are details on what you can upgrade your Heighway Pinball machine with:

Additional 27" Backbox Display - As well as the smaller playfield LCD screen, this factory-fitted HD display is the perfect way to get spectators involved with the action, and display Heighway's dynamic animations and graphics for all to see.
Glass - Upgrade the glass in your Heighway Pinball Machine to include special non-reflective glass that reduces playfield glare, or upgrade to DPI Non-Reflective glass for a near-invisible cover to your playfield!
Shaker Motor - Feel the force from a powerful internal motor which rumbles the whole game!
Chrome Effect Cabinet Trim - Replace the cabinet's metal components with a striking chrome effect trim!
Game Specific Upgrades - Add extra flair to your Alien machine with a number of optional extras to truly bring the machine to life, from flashing orange beacons, ramp lighting and internal cabinet blade lighting!

 

Alien 35th Anniversary Limited Edition (LE)

                                          alien-LE-pinball-overall.png

For the die-hard fans of the Alien series, Heighway has created the brilliant looking 35th Anniversary Limited Edition version of the game, which includes a number of the previously mentioned upgrades as standard. For example, Alien LE features the orange beacon lights, a shaker motor and fibre optic ramp lighting as standard.

Alien LE also includes a number of extras to truly make the machine one-of-a-kind. For example, the game uses a special lime-green powder coat on the cabinet’s metal parts to give a truly distinct look, as well as including a numbered plaque, Alien Goody Bag and an exclusive art package.

Those who want this ultimate Alien package will need to act fast, as Heighway Pinball will only make 500 of these games, which is sure to make them a true rarity in the years to come, and an essential centrepiece to any fan of the Alien franchise.

 

Game Swop     

Just like Alien’s older brother Full Throttle, the playfield and cabinet artwork on Alien is completely removable, meaning that if you already own a Heighway Pinball cabinet for Full Throttle (or any other future Heighway game for that matter), you can simply buy an Alien conversion kit without having to buy a completely new machine!

                      

The conversion kit for Alien includes everything you need to transform a Heighway cabinet into an Alien machine, including the full playfield, the cabinet artwork and of course the translite. As shown in the video below, performing a game swap is easy, and can be done in mere minutes, so if after some intense gameplay on Alien you miss the fast and furious action of Full Throttle, you can convert back to Full Throttle again in a flash and vice versa!

How can I get the Alien Pinball Machine?

Alien Pinball Machine - Xenomorph Magnet

The good news is that production on the Alien Pinball machine has already begun! We are expecting the first shipment to come through in about 6 weeks time from the posting of this blog. Games are produced on a continuous basis, meaning that your game will be created for you in about 4-6 weeks from the date of order.

You can order the standard edition Alien Pinball Machine here.

You can order the Alien 35th Anniversary Limited Edition Pinball Machine here.

 

Arriving in our Showrooms Soon!

We’re excitedly waiting for Alien to land in our showroom so we (and you and all our visitors) can finally play and check it out! We're hoping to recieve one of the first production models of Alien at the beginning of January, and then expecting one of the special 35th Anniversary Limited Edition models in early February.

Are you looking forward to Alien? Share with us if you’re going to grab one, or even your favourite moments from the series!

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