Retro Coin Op Synopsis
One of the hassles of playing pinball has always been how difficult it is to earn the extra pinballs necessary to prolong a game. No matter how skilled a player may be, most machines limit the player to scoring only one extra ball per turn. Just the same, there are certain pinball games that allow the player to score free pinballs as often as their skill will allow. Williams' 1973 hit Tropic Fun was one of the best examples.
Tropic Fun stood out from the pinball pack because it was one of a select few games with the ‘add-a-ball’ feature. Basically, ‘add-a-ball’ allowed the player to score extra pinballs in a game as often as they could trigger the features that made this happen. ‘Add-a-ball’ machines also counted the number of pinballs in a game differently: Instead of counting pinballs from 1 to 5, they counted from 5 down to 1. As the player scored extra pinballs, the machine made a ‘thump’ sound to let them know that the number of pinballs indicated on the backboard had moved up one digit.
With Tropic Fun, extra pinballs could be scored in two ways. The first way was to hit a centralized target until it lit up three lights of a tic-tac-toe grid on the playfield. The other way was to spell the word ‘S-P-E-C-I-A-L’ in lights by moving the pinball through seven different lanes (one for each letter). Either way, Tropic Fun offered plenty of pinball enjoyment, and skilled players could keep the game going for a long while. The game also boasted impressive beach-theme artwork featuring all sorts of beachgoers drawn in a unique, angular style against a background dominated by green, orange and white colors.
Tropic Fun became quite popular when it was released, both because of its unique style of play and for the fact that the early 1970’s was a boom time for pinball. Today, it remains a favorite with collectors thanks to the fun offered by its ‘add-a-ball’ feature, keeping the pinball fun rolling for a pleasingly lengthy time.