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~ 1982 ~

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I picked up Spectrum as part of a package deal with the World Fair game on July 1, 2003. This is a game that I had been curious about, and was kind of regretting not inquiring about the one I saw in Mark Pratt's storage locker a year earlier. A co-worker had given me the name of a guy (Jerry) selling a few games, and this wasn't even in his original list of games for sale (he wanted to sell me a Solar Fire). I saw it in Jerry's storage garage and made an offer for it along with the World Fair, which he eventually accepted. It was in storage for many years, and needed a little work. It was still set for European voltage, so I know it hadn't been played since at lease 1990, when Jerry moved to the US from England. It was also missing a couple of the computer boards for which I had to find replacements.


Here is the playfield for the game. There are a few unusual characteristics to this game that the observant player will notice immediately. The first is that there is no shooter lane. The ball is served from a kick-out hole between the flippers. This means that the middle drain is actually in the middle of the game! With the unusual configuration, the standard painted metal apron won't work, so the screened plastics are used all the way to the front. Secondly: There are no pop bumpers. This is not unheard-of, but is certainly rare. Thirdly: Although it is not a multiball game, there are three balls in this game, with two being held captive throughout the game, as can be seen in the picture. Also, the playfield is very open, with the four banks of drop target being just about the only thing to shoot for.


Spectrum was released in August 1982, and has an official run of 994 units. There is a widely circulated rumor (substantiated by a former Bally employee) that several hundred (~500) games did not sell and were dismantled at the factory and stripped for parts. So it is generally acceped to be quite scarce.


Object of the Game
As mentioned above, Spectrum is the pinball version of the popular '70s game 'Mastermind'. The computer picks a random 4-color "code" and it is up to the player to guess the sequence by hitting the appropriate colored drop targets. Whenever two targets of the same color are dropped, it registers as a guess, and the bank is reset.

Starting Play
This notice on the plastic near the right flipper alerts players that hitting the right flipper will begin play. But most people are still left scratching their heads, since the shooter rod is absent. The kick-out hole between the flippers pushes the ball up about 12" and to the left, so that the ball can easily be played off of the left flipper. This is the only game I know of where the ball starts out at the bottom of the playfield, rather than up top.

No? Then what's with the balls on the playfield? This game has a couple of "Hidden Lanes", one down each edge from about three-quarters up each side. When the ball in play enters either lane, the ball that is being held captive is immediately kicked out and fed to the flippers. This is a very startling event to the unsuspecting player, and may balls will pass right over the flippers for awhile until the player gets used to it...

The Color Grid
The color grid is one of the most identifiable features of this game. As you can see in the picture, it is a grid consisting of three columns of four rows, with four light representing each element, or "cell" in the grid. This is the mechanism by which the player can keep track of his 'guesses' as he tries to break the computer's random color sequence code.

When the player knocks down any two drop targets of the same color, it is registered as a guess in the grid. The left-most column lights first, from the top down (numbers 1-4, in small red letters). If the guess is the correct color, then thi light comes on and is flashing. Incorrect guesses light solid. When four guesses are registered, the second column is used, again lighting 1 through 4. Then the third column, and when additional columns are needed, it pushes the left-most guess off of the board, and continues to use the right-most column until the code is guessed.

When the code is completed, it lights a Star just above the grid, and the grid is cleared.

Any lit guesses are counted down as bonus at the end of each ball, and the Stars are additional bonus at the end of the game.
Color Grid
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