One of the frustrations of pinball has always been how difficult it is to earn the extra balls 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. Some pinball games, however, enable the player to score free pinballs as often as their skill allows.
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.
With Tropic Fun, extra pinballs could be scored in two ways. The first was to hit a central target until it lit up three lights of a tic-tac-toe grid. 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 beachgoers drawn in a unique, angular style.
Tropic Fun became quite popular when it was released, because of its unique style of play. Today, it remains a favourite with collectors thanks to the fun offered by its ‘add-a-ball’ feature, keeping the pinball fun rolling for a pleasingly lengthy time.
Similar machines made by Williams Electronics, Inc. included Darling, Gulfstream, Fun-Fest, Jubilee, El Grande, Honey, Fan-tas-tic, Line Drive, Olympic Hockey, and Big Star.