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The PinBot Trilogy: Pinball Storytelling- Quark’s Corner

Quark's corner featuring the PinBot Trilogy.
Quark's corner featuring the PinBot Trilogy.

PinBot Trilogy

The game of pinball has been around for over a century and it has evolved and become more complex. Pinball has evolved with time and advancements in technology; such as the introduction of flippers in Humpty Dumpty, the switch from electromagnetic to solid state and/or the inclusion of the dot matrix display. Of all these advancements, there was one that the PinBot Trilogy mastered, and that is the art of storytelling.

It's the one thing you don't think about when playing pinball. You drop a quarter into the machine, you play, get some points, and then the game ends. But why? What's going on in the game that even has you there in the first place? While some games from the late 1970's and early 1980's had characters (i.e. Gorgar), there wasn't exactly a plot. But then, in 1986, PinBot changed everything. The PinBot Trilogy might have the most important pinball tables in the history of the medium. Not only are they great, they tell a complex story with only a few lines of dialogue over the course of a decade.

The Timeline

Let me explain the Pinbot Trilogy's chronology. PinBot was released in 1986, The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot was released in 1991, and Jack-Bot was released in 1995. While it would seem that the overall storyline is simple enough to go in chronological order of when the tables were released, that is incorrect. Canonically, Bride of PinBot is actually the first in the story, while PinBot is second, then Jack-Bot. How do I know that Bride is actually a prequel to the original PinBot and not a sequel? Because she is in the original Pinbot, already fully built, and I highly doubt he would build a second Bride.

The Bride as she appears in Pinbot

The Prequel

Bride of PinBot takes place on Earth and features humans building a rocket ship into space (who also happens to be The Bride). How do they build her? Via pachinko and a large roulette table. The subtle message of gambling will come back later in the PinBot Trilogy. Once PinBot turns her “human” she always reverts back into her robotic form. Essentially, her turning human isn't physical, but metaphorical, and stands for the human condition of sacrificing it all to win it big and the overall human ambition.

This could refer to PinBot and humanity's dreams of reaching the stars, risking a big hand in a game of poker, or both. And why is the Bride also a spaceship? Because PinBot hasn't built an actual wife, but a space station in the shape of a woman that he has named “The Bride,” because he is married to the stars and space travel.

Humans journeying into the stars in the prequel to PinBot

PinBot's Journey

This then brings us to the original PinBot, which is all about filling rows and columns that resemble a bingo card, to advance among the solar system. Like I said, The Bride already appears in the table, and she and PinBot are traveling through the stars, spreading PinBot's knowledge to the cosmos, and turning on everyone's “humanity” and awakening their inner inhibitions. Eventually, he does succeed and reshapes the entire universe.

Gambling in the Galaxy

Finally, we get to Jack-Bot. My whole theory would be up in smoke if it wasn't for Jack-Bot. Gone is the industrial music of the first two games, and instead, we have a much more upbeat, utopian-sounding track. PinBot has brought gambling to the galaxy and humanity has successfully colonized the galaxy. He has pocket aces in his hand, there's a slot machine on his chest, he's playing bingo, and he's in it to win it. Furthermore, the backglass art and overall playfield of Jack-Bot is a casino themed take on the original PinBot. This shows that where we are playing in the game of Jack-Bot is actually the same area as in the original Pin-Bot. It has just been shaped by the power of gambling.

PinBot Trilogy Finale

If you don't believe me that the PinBot Trilogy is about awakening the ambitions of humanity, the flyer says it all.

‘Nuff said

If you want more Quark Pinball Goodness, check out the following:

Pinball Arcade Season 1 Ranked: Here

Pinball Arcade Season 2 Ranked: Here