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Back to Earthshaker info page

Review: Dave Roberts on ??/02/1990

From Pinball Player Volume 14 #2

It's Sunny Drive Time...

Williams' EARTHSHAKER! is certainly one of a kind - the only game in living memory to take seismic disturbances as its theme, and as yet use a 'shaker motor' for added effect. Designed by Pat Lawlor of Banzai Run fame, the improvement over that game is considerable.

Now, down to the game

The plunger shot gives two reasonable options - full plunger power brings the ball right through the 'pin-bot style' spiral ramp, to run down the second half of the central ramp to the lower left flipper. This gives an instant chance to start building up mileage via the centre ramp. Less power may cause the ball to fall back into one of the three holes, or even miss the spiral altogether. The top hole scores 100K points, centre hole 50K, and the last, a mere 25K. Failing to reach the ramp also awards a score of 25K. There is another incentive for 'potting' the ball in the centre or top hole - it spots the next zone lamp in the sequence - see later.

Game objectives

Once in play, the main objective of the game is to complete all the flashing lamps which represent predicted earthquake 'zones'. Each zone lamp on the playfield is tied to a feature - all nine zone lamps are also 'mimicked' by the windows in the earthquake institute building. Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 are straight forward static targets while Zone 9 is a target, fitted with a captive messenger ball. Zones 7 and 8 are the top flipper return lanes. There's an echo of High Speed when spotting Zone 5 - the eject hole - it sends the ball sideways for an across-the-board shot with the upper flipper. This top flipper comes in handy when going for Zone 6, the loop behind the Institute Building, and is a must for making the 'FAULT' ramp on the right side of the playfield.

Once all zones are made - the prediction is completed - the LOCK arrows light, ready for the first ball. Either a shot up the right-hand FAULT ramp, or down into the drop-hole (SHELTER) captures a ball.

As soon as a ball is locked the SHAKER MOTOR begins to spin and the whole machine vibrates as the warning 'EARTHSHAKER...' is shouted from the speakers. If the ball was shot into the right ramp it will eventually end up in the SHELTER. To achieve this the FAULT will 'open' to direct the ball correctly.

Whenever the FAULT is visited the next ZONE lamp is lit. If a ball is sent into the FAULT ramp with just one ZONE remaining unlit, this last ZONE is spotted, and the LOCK lamps light.

Completing (usually) the same predictions again lights the second lock, but this time only attainable via the FAULT ramp. Achieving this second ball locked initiates 3-Ball Multi-Ball Play, and a third ball is delivered to the plunger. This is the only time the JACKPOT is available (how old-fashioned!) and collecting it is a two stage task. Firstly, a ball must be sent up the centre ramp to light the JACKPOT on the FAULT ramp. Now, the ZONE 5 eject hole comes in handy again as the JACKPOT is scored by sending a ball into the FAULT ramp while two or more balls remain on the playfield.


When two balls have drained, leaving just one ball in play, the RE-MATHCH feature begins, announced by the phrase 'Head for the SHELTER!!!'. Making the SHELTER in the time allotted locks that ball, and returns another ball to the plunger to continue Multi-Ball play, with the JACKPOT still available.

The JACKPOT is not an accumulated value as on most games, but one of five discrete values - 'JOYRIDE' style as on TAXI - and is altered by the BILLBOARD drop target bank.


The ZONE 6 loop feature lights a jet bumper for increased scoring and collects, and increases the BILLBOARD value. The BILLBOARD consists of three drop targets in a bank positioned just by the jet bumpers.


This is a (seemingly) random feature controlled by the SHELTER hole during normal, and '1 Ball Locked' play. Various awards rush onto the display panels, pause and exit again, until a matching pair occur. Some of the values available are: BONUS MILES, COMPLETE BUILDING (light all ZONES - light LOCK), 100K POINTS, ADVANCE BILLBOARD TO 100K, EXTRA BALL, LIGHT OUTLANE SPECIAL, FLASH BUMPERS, or LIGHT QUICK MULTIBALL.

The ball emerges from the ball popper at the lower right and spots ZONE 7 on its way to the right flipper.

Quick Multiball

When offered from the MATCH-UP feature, QUICK MULTI-BALL lights the lock arrow on the ZONE 5 eject - an easy shot as the ball exits from the shelter. Locking here begins two-ball Multi-Ball with the FAULT ramp lit for a flat 1 million points.

Bonus Miles

TWO MILES are awarded from the centre ramp, when lit from the left flipper return lane. Making the same shot repeatedly lights a 50K arrow on a very short timer. The FAULT ramp awards THREE MILES when lit.

The SHELTER EXTRA BALL lamp lights on a pre-determined MILEAGE score - normal settings are 17 and 34 MILES. An extended mileage of around 75 MILES lights the outlane specials. This is a very long way on three-ball play!

The outhole bonus is 1,000 points per mile, and 20K for each FAULT TRIP. The Bonus Multiplier is advanced each time a ball is locked.


The game artwork gets as much mileage as possible out of what is, after all, a very serious subject. Some of the jokes include surfers and roller-skaters trying to avoid the advancing 'split' in the ground. A man is held aloft on water spraying from a broken fire hydrant, while the 'YUP 1E' is catapulted through the sun-roof of his Mercedes whilst using his car phone!

The music purports to originate from a Californian radio station with messages like '...stay locked on with all the hits...', but my favourite effect is the female voice during RE-MATCH which cries '...Oh, Give me shelter...'.

After one Multi-Ball session, expect the Zone Prediction to be mildly harder. This progressive difficulty increases, and eventually leads to ZONES lighting one at a time, in numerical order.

I like the two different Multi-Ball modes. The easier 2-Ball play is similar to many recent 'average' games, together with the more exciting, and potentially more rewarding, 3-Ball play. This is very similar to the scheme used on BLACK KNIGHT 2000.