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Back to Transporter info page

Review: Eddie Mole on 21/11/2003

"Transporter-never heard of it, what's it like?"

"It's a nice enough game but it has this horrible monster on the back glass, I couldn't take it home as it would frighten the kids" John joked.

Transporter The Rescue is a 1989 alphanumeric Bally game, with a tongue in cheek space rescue theme. After my discussion I checked the web and found some pictures of it. More web searches didn't reveal much additional information and as it was at the other end of the country, my common sense told me it wasn't worth the effort of following it up. When did common sense ever influence buying a pintable? The trouble was those damn pictures, as the more I looked at them the more I wanted to play the pin. I was quite taken with the tentacled drooling alien on the backglass so I checked the Google pin/discussion group for more information. Opinions were that it was a decent-almost cult game and that the music and ball-locking device were apparently "cool". Somehow I justified the ridiculously long trip from Bristol to Scotland to collect it, so here's the game review in all its dribbling glory.


Transporter was designed by Greg Kmiec and Tony Kraemer and was the last in Kmiec's distinguished career, in which he designed 32 pins. Game art is by Tim Elliot and is errr different. The colours are mainly aggressive reds and buttermilk yellow. The main art character, a monster called "Megalopolus", appears both on the backglass and lower playfield. It's like a giant red octopus with 4 eyes, 3 mouths and loads of tentacles. It also has claws and is holding a spaceman who is about to eaten by one of its 3 sets of yellow teeth in the back glass. The art makes the best of the theme and includes some nice detailed figures and detail on the plastics. The sounds are excellent and approaching those of the superb Black Knight 2000. They are worthy of a special note as they are used and indicate your progress through the game. The music is typical late 80's techno beat-think of a robotic version of the Ghost Busters theme and you'll be getting close! There are several voices in the game. One sounds like Arnold Swartzaneager and another is female voice says things like "it looks hungry". Another nice touch is that lights continually blink in time to the funky music. The rumours on the web suggest a production figure of 859 but even if false, it is clear that Transporter is a relatively rare machine. It was produced at a time of many low production runs and around the same time as two all time classics, Black Knight 2000 and Elvira and the Party monsters. This red-hot competition and the obscure game theme ensured it wouldn't top the pin charts at the time.


The playfield's dominant feature is the space ship "Orion", which fills the top right of the playfield and shuffles locked balls through columns ready for multiball. It also has a "whirlpool" called the transporter about halfway up the playfield on the left. This is fed across a wide bridge like ramp travelling from right to leave. This in turn is fed from a high level/3rd flipper on the right-like Bally's Lost World. The art depicts a yellow lunar landscape with Megalopolus in the center. It's dribbles run down past the flippers that are included in the art to look like part of the beast's claws. The bottom flippers and slingshots-are in the usual positions and there is a very useful post to stop centre drains. Left and right inlane/rollover shots start a few seconds of increased scoring at the spinner. There are two outlanes, each of which can award a "special" when lit. Ball drains normally occur down the left but this has a kickback that is kept lit by knocking down all the drop targets-hooray! Above this are the RES drop targets. All drop targets re-set once all three have been hit. Further up is the long and narrow Orion ramp, that curls up and around to the Orion space ship, The transporter (whirlpool) is around the same area but at a higher level. An "X" bonus target is situated to the right of the transporter drain. This is an important shot with which to collect big points. It also has a great sound bite as when hit the playfield lights flash and a voice urges you to "transport, transport", accompanied by an electric piano riff. Upper left are 3 bumpers that can either be accessed from above by the SOS rollover lanes or below from a left flipper shot. The X target juts out and limits access to the bumpers from the right flipper. The SOS rollovers are equipped with a lane change and are important as extra ball is collected at the middle rollover. One way of lighting EB it is by completing all 3 rollovers 5 times. The "CUE" drop targets (that complete RESCUE) are centre right with the Orion ship/ball shuffler top right. There is a spinner lane/tunnel to the right of the CUE targets in which the ball can travel under the Orion and around to the rollovers on the left. To the right of this there is a short lane leading underneath the Orion. This feeds an up-kicker that in turn feeds the 3rd flipper for the cross-field transporter bridge/ramp shot. A diverter and ramp system mean that Balls in the Orion-once shuffled in preparation for multiball and then either fed back into play and the left flipper or to the 3rd flipper for a transporter shot. The top of the Orion is transparent and lit so you can see the balls being moved around inside. Finally the manual plunger is used to launch the ball up the right hand side, either straight into the SOS lanes or with a lighter shot, the spinner lane for a skill shot.


The aim of Transporter the Rescue is simple:
1.Rescue the crew of the crashed space ship "Orion".
2.Get them back to the bases.
3.Transport them to safety-quick, before "Megalopolus" gets them!

All aspects are represented on the playfield, which together with the music and speech make the game easy to understand. The game starts by bleeping out a SOS distress message; a feature that repeats each time all three SOS lanes are completed. Once you have hit all RESCUE targets Arnie's voice will announce "get to base alpha" and you can lock a ball in the Orion. Do it again and your encouraged to "get to base Beta". Your then ready to lock ball 3 under the Orion and start multiball. If you send another ball to the Orion, the balls inside the ship will shuffle along one column and a ball will be sent back into play-a pleasure to watch and all in time with the music. The music moves up a gear when you lock the first ball, slows to a more sinister tune upon locking the second, and finally explodes into life during multiball. Other sounds also help highlight your progress, such as a roar when all drop targets have been hit or "hurry up bleeping" to signify when spinner values are doubled. The lamps blink in time to the music and indicate which the drop targets to hit. Keep an eye on are the 5 X-celerater lamps in the center as they tell you when it's best to collect from the X target and also watch the top left extra ball lamp under the rollovers. The backglass lamps indicate the bonus that the X target will award when you "transport" and be aware that once the value reaches 1 million it will gradually reduce again unless collected quickly. It is a pretty quick game as the ball tends to richochet off the centre post and targets around the lower part of playfield.


Once achieved, all 3 balls are released one at a time from the Orion. Big points can be scored here if you can achieve a couple of good flips across the bridge to the transporter. This raises the X bonus for a possible million point shot at the X target, "go-go-go".


1.Get ball locks and multiball.
2.Increase the X-target bonus, then collect.
3.Shoot the 2X spinner when lit.

The 2X spinner is easy from the left flipper and the shot sends the ball to the SOS rollovers. This is useful as you can work towards getting an extra ball. If the 2X isn't lit l either shoot to load the transporter, to increase the X-target score or continue knocking down targets for locks and multiball. Most drains occur down the left outlane so keep that kickback lit. When a ball drains and is kicked back into play, the kickback continues to remain active for a few seconds. I always aim to re-set the kickback by knocking down all the targets before time runs out. This guard's against the next left drain and also allows you to collect "special" (if lit) without loosing the ball. During 3-ball multiball the play can become quite frantic so it is always worth sending a ball up the spinner lane to the rollovers or up the ramp to the Orion, to get some breathing space. If you keep the kickback lit you can expect some frenzied multiball action. Don't forget to collect from the X-target when it reaches its max. If you collect maximum points and transport the crew safety during multiball, the lights and sounds go mad and the game announces the immortal phrase "Beam me up Bally". After getting your name in lights, the playfield and backglass flashers try their best to impress in a fun-if dated light display. To add to this madness you're also treated to a strange electronic cowboy tune. This is a surprise, as I didn't know they had "clip clopping" coconut shells in outer space!


Only one-that the ball can be launched into the air when the CUE drop targets re-set. This tends to bash the ball off the bottom of the bridge, often with a change in ball direction. It catches you out at first but after a while you are ready for it and adapt your play accordingly. This can be a problem with forward facing drop targets that I have noticed on other games such as Judge Dredd but adding a second rubber band, located behind the targets may cure it.


Transporter the Rescue is just plain fun and an easy game to understand. The game plays well and the "UN Orion's"; silky smooth ball-sorting activities are beautiful to watch. It has plenty of entertainment value as the transporter/bridge shot takes time to master the and I enjoy the challenge of hitting specific drop targets, a rare feature on many more modern dot matrix machines. The game's theme was retro when new in 89 and in 2003 the "techno music" has also dated but the sounds remain excellent and are still capable of getting you to boogie around the room after a good game-provided no one is watching of course. The game shows its age in other ways such as the flipper mechanism that doesn't have that instant "snap" we're used to on modern games. I feel that overall this gives the game an attractive retro charm. Finally there's Megalopolis-thanks to it, Transporter has more saliva on it than any other pin that I know of. As a Xenon fan I am glad to be able to report that Mr Kmiec's last game is a good one but Is it a classic? I honestly don't know but it is great fun and that's what its all about isn't it?

Eddie Mole 2003-11-21