I have mentioned the company ColorDMD on here before – they have taken upon themselves the arduous task of taking old monochrome dot matrix displays on pinball machines and providing a modern tech package which enriches the games with a fresh coat of color paint. This involves replacing the displays with a specially designed color LCD as well as software which can interpret the dots and give them the right color.
So far the only instance where I have seen the ColorDMD technology being embraced by a manufacturer was with the Medieval Madness remake units that were on display at IAAPA. What they were showing there was not the full color conversion (which is available) – they had it set to the single color hue mode. Otherwise it has been left up to collectors and tech types to buy a kit and convert a compatible game over; other manufacturers like Jersey Jack and Heighway Pinball have designed their own color HD display solutions so that no conversion is necessary.
Up until now, the supported hardware included pinball machines from the 90s and covered several popular titles: The Addams Family, Fish Tales, Star Trek The Next Generation, Theatre of Magic, Doctor Who, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and several others. Then they announced that it was available for the popular Stern The Lord of the Rings table and this past week they announced that the more recent AC/DC would get color support(pictured above and below). According to ColorDMD: “AC/DC marks the 18th game supported by the ColorDMD platform and the first to utilize the extended shading available from SAM games. ColorDMD’s unique processing combines color hues with the game’s full range of dot intensities to yield up to 193 colors per frame. AC/DC represents the most rich color rendering of any game to date!” This could mean that many more recent pinball games will soon be able to give us some color.
EDIT: A video has just been posted to show this off:
What are your thoughts on colorizing machines that originally shipped with monochromatic displays? Personally, I’ve long wanted to see pinball displays go color – not necessarily because it changes what the pinball does in the game but because of the overall appearance that is conveyed by going that route. With the display above the playfield you aren’t looking at it when you are playing unless the ball is being held by the game. But if you are watching someone else play, you do tend to look at it more. It is impressive what artists can still do with single color and low resolution displays and I get that it has been a part of pinball for 20 years now. The problem is that the games look outdated when you notice that part of the game. Granted that is starting to change thanks to multi-color LEDs but the display is still a part of the whole package and it just looks out of place as the rest of the machine advances with tech. What I like about ColorDMD is that it can still keep that pinball-like dot matrix appearance that people expect while sprucing it up. As an arcade operator, I want anything new that I have to at least appear cutting edge and monochrome does not get that across when it is ubiquitous in the games. Here’s hoping that Stern’s Star Trek pinball will get the full ColorDMD treatment soon, I think it would be appropriate given how colorful the Premium/LE table is to begin with thanks to the multi-color LEDs.