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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Pinball > Games > Industry > Video Games > TILT: The Battle To Save Pinball (2007/DVD-Video Set)

TILT: The Battle To Save Pinball (2007/DVD-Video Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Documentary: B-



One of the greatest inventions ever and one of the greatest games ever made is the pinball machine.  Classic, surviving almost every technological change around and by the 1970s achieving a hip, massive, legendary status among teens and the ultimate permanent pop culture status achieved by its pivotal use in The Who’s Rock Opera Tommy (reviewed in an SACD/CD Deluxe Edition elsewhere on this site) and the later 1975 feature film by Ken Russell that remains a counterculture icon, what’s not to love?  Greg Maletic’s TILT: The Battle To Save Pinball (2007) covers the history of the game, could never go on long enough (it runs an hour) and is both a true labor of love and vital document about one of the greatest games ever played.


At first, it looked like pinball could meld with the videogame era without compromise and even in the late 1990s, hit machines that were fun with innovative features were being made and making money.  As videogames became more popular, Williams (who bought out Bally, et al, owning 80% of the pinball market at the time) decided to try a new game with a bunch of new features, innovations and the most ambitious implementation of video to the machines ever.  All they needed was a super team to invent it and engineer it at the highest level possible at the time.


They delivered and instead of producing what seemed like a sure thing, Williams cancelled the machine, closed the division (which they did not even sell) and settled for electronic slot machines and other cheap, quick profit gadgets.  Why.  Why?  Why!


That is among the many questions asked, though one of my favorite comments is that it was as if Detroit invented the most advanced car possible, spent a bunch of money on it, it worked, then they killed it, which is exactly what happened with the electric car in Who Killed The Electric Car?, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Now we are seeing hybrid cars, so why not hybrid pinball machines?


This work speaks volumes about everything that is wrong with creative, innovative industries in this country and maybe even the world, but also is another sad case example of a lack of will since the 1980s to do anything fun and interesting that might take some extra effort.  Williams’ machine for Star Wars – The Phantom Menace was a hit and the machines from all eras are constantly in demand.


More than just another documentary work, it shows a great world of creativity, innovation, fun, heart and soul that deserves and needs to rise again.  The men who made and fought for the Pinball 2000 models are nothing short of heroes and deserve as much thanks and credit as possible.  Eight years later after the game was killed, watching this, you can see a whole multimillion (even billion) dollar industry that never was.  Of course, it is not too late to try again, but it will hopefully be next time by people who care and will be able to financially and creatively go all the way.


You may get mad at times watching this, but you’ll become even more fired up, especially if you love gaming and pinball.  King Of Kong has received so much press, but this may be better and is makes the basis of a great DVD set.



The 1.33 X 1 image is shot on low def video that looks like a digital source and is very consistent, plus edits in great still and vintage footage, though the director also had to do recreations of games he did not have and they too are impressive.  I liked the pacing and the way the story unfolded.  The Dolby Digital 5.0 mix is better than expected, better than the Dolby 2.0 and has editing that makes it work well.  The combination is very good under the low budget circumstances.


Extras include Maletic’s excellent commentary track on DVD 1 and DVD 2 has a bunch of equally excellent goodies including a highlights section of al the extras whittled down for crash course viewing, but the full length version of all is superior.  Also conveniently broken down into subsections, you get Inside Pinball, Inside Pinball 2000, Inside Williams the manufacturer, Inside The Industry that makes and made pinball machines, the very interesting Lost Machines, about three impressive would-be best sellers, Tributes, Expo Speech in which George Gomez discusses and takes questions about the Pinball 2000, Cast Discussion, Graphs & Statistics and About TILT.


Honestly, that is a better set of extras than most of the feature films we have seen in any format lately and along with a solid documentary makes TILT: The Battle To Save Pinball one of the best, hottest DVD sets we will see for all of 2008.


Get yours now by going to the website at this link, where the latest information is available:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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