When I was a kid and would go to the local skating rink (“Skate World”, I believe it was called), there was small arcade section. I remember them having video games like Ikari Warriors and maybe even something like Double Dragon. But then there was THIS…
Bally’s KISS Pinball machine. And it scared me. I was probably 6 or 7 years old when I first laid eyes upon this machine in that smoky and dim skating center that always had the aroma of Cheetos puffs to me (a combination of used skates and the cheese pizzas, I’m sure). The cabinet was first produced in 1979. Ultimately, 17,000 cabinets were made and sold.
I had no idea who KISS was when I was kid. I knew they were a rock band. Well, going by the artwork on this pinball machine, I assumed they were the heaviest and most evil METAL band of all time. They were scary looking. Especially Gene, which is appropriate since he is “The Demon”, after all. Wearing face paint, dressed in black, and having rippled muscles and flames going off all around them, I assumed KISS were Knights In Satan’s Service. I could do nothing but stand in awe and fear whenever I would go into the arcade room. I dared not even touch this machine.
And I haven’t even gotten to the artwork on the playfield yet, which really sold the evil that was KISS to a youngster such as myself.
Behold! Is this playfield a gorgeous piece of art or what? Look what’s going on here. You’ve got two green dragons rising up and spraying flames everywhere, a pair of scantily-clad busty babes dressed in leather on either side of the board, lightning bolts, a pair of fiery claws reaching up to drag your pinball into an infernal abyss, and the band standing down in the center pointing at what looks like an atomic bomb going off while just below them a cool rock-like font talking about bonus points being held down by chains.
I’m sure I eventually played the machine, but man, it really had me shook for quite some time. Of course, these days KISS is my favorite band and it’s amusing to look back and think about how scared of them I initially was, and it was all because of this epic pinball machine. Man, what I would give to have $7,000 to spare so I could buy one on eBay right now!
Of course, that wouldn’t be the last time that KISS licensed themselves out to pinball…
KISS Pinball was released in 2001 by Take-Two Interactive for Sony PlayStation. And it was garbage. I bought this for about $5 from Walmart after the original PlayStation was already discontinued in order to play it on my PlayStation 2. THIS GAME DOESN’T FEATURE ANY MUSIC FROM KISS. So why bother getting the KISS license? It’s a bad pinball video game and it’s a great example of KISS willing to slap their name on anything as long as the check clears.
KISS would again grace the cabinet of a pinball machine in 2015 through Stern Pinball, Inc., but here’s some game play of the Bally original: