In the late 1970s, celebrities became a popular theme for pinball machines. In fact, everyone from Ted Nugent to Evel Knievel had a pinball machine by the decade’s end.
But arguably the most popular of these star-driven pinballers was the KISS pinball machine, a 1979 game from Bally whose design was built around the heavy metal rock group of the same name.
The artwork on the KISS pinball machine lived up to the group’s imaginative appearance.
The multicoloured playfield depicted full-makeup renderings of Ace, Paul, Gene and Peter surrounded by fantasy-styled elements like giant serpents and huge pillars of fire.
This awe-inspiring imagery was borrowed from the group’s memorable stage show, which featured a serpent built into the stage set and tons of fiery pyrotechnics.
There was also a pair of girls in KISS makeup painted atop the target cabinets on the left and right sides of the playfield, an image borrowed from the album cover for Love Gun.
The KISS pinball machine matched its colourful look with action-packed game design. The playfield was studded with tons of bumpers, targets, and alleys with sensors to trigger points.
When players lit up the four alleys that spelt the word ‘K-I-S-S’ they could receive a bonus score that started at 40,000 points and could go as high as 240,000 points if the players lit them up enough.
The machine also used a pair of KISS songs in its sound effects to give the player the full KISS audiovisual experience in pinball form.
Since it arrived during the height of the group’s fame, the KISS pinball machine became a big favourite in arcades.
Today, it remains popular with both pinball collectors and people who adore KISS memorabilia.
Although no new KISS machines have been made since 1979, the old ones still pop up occasionally in hip arcades. As long as arcade lovers want to rock and roll all night and shoot pinball every day, the KISS pinball machine will continue to be popular.