Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Over the years, game designers have introduced all kinds of unusual features to jazz up pinball machines. There have been extra levels (Haunted House), computerized backboard animations (The Addams Family), and even machines that allow two players to play the same game at the same time (U.S.A. Football). In 1989, Earthshaker added a totally new wrinkle to the cool pinball feature sweepstakes when it combined pinball with all the thrills of a natural disaster.
Earthshaker was released by the Williams company and advertised with the tagline “It’s a moving experience!” For once, the hype was true. The playfield was laid out to a resemble a city, composed of various numbered zones. The object of the game was to destroy a series of buildings. A display on the playfield lit up to show which ‘zone’ was most likely to trigger an earthquake to destroy a building. This cued the player to shoot the ball in that area until it was completed. When all the zones were completed, the player would either shoot the ball into a shelter or up the ‘fault line’ (a ramp). Either way, the ball would be locked in place and another ball sent out by the machine to replace it.
Once the player completed the zones and locked a pinball three times, all hell broke loose. As the third pinball locked into place, it caused the states of Nevada and California to split apart on the playfield. The third pinball fell through this crack, unleashing all three pinballs so the player could use them all at once. It also triggered the game’s machinery to make it shake back and forth while in multi-ball play. In addition to these unique sights and sounds, Earthshaker also boasted a pair of flashing siren lights and spoken sound clips like “Head for the shelter!” and “Ooh, bitchin’!”
Earthshaker was a one-of-a-kind experience for pinball lovers and became quite popular when released. It also popped up on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 when Steve and Clare played a tense game of Earthshaker in the foyer of the Walsh home. It continues to be popular with collectors today and frequently appears on ‘all-time favorite’ pinball game lists.