Taito Testing Head-To-Head “Space Invaders Pinball Jam” In Japan [UPDATED]

Shaggy December 23, 2018 7
Taito Testing Head-To-Head “Space Invaders Pinball Jam” In Japan [UPDATED]

This week is starting strong with the arcade news, and we’ve got quite the interesting product to start off with, something unexpected from Taito.

Taito has been full of surprises over the past month, beginning with their first appearance at the IAAPA trade show event. The Taito staff mentioned that they were working on new products that could better work out in the West, and this has a strong possibility of being the first of those intended games.

Space Invaders Pinball Jam takes advantage of Taito’s strongest IP and combines it with a game style that has never done terribly well in Japan(pinball). By the pictures, it is not full-size pinball – the ball itself appears to be light-brown or orange, and the playfield isn’t terribly complex. All of the playfield language is in English, and it is being tested out at a location with some Western games like Jurassic Park, all of which seems to indicate a game eventually intended for overseas audiences.

Head-to-head style play is unusual, but not unheard of. The most famous example would be Joust. Judging this playfield solely by the static pictures, it appears quite barren – there are no stand-up targets that I can identify.

Update: Some hours after posting this, I found more pics, info and a video from someone who show the game sort-of in action. This is NOT active gameplay, but the attract mode that takes place while waiting to be played. Here is that, then some more pertinent information:

UPDATE (cont.): The gameplay is separated into three rounds, and there is no single player mode currently present. Here is a rough translation Google provided on how it works:

“Like the pinball rules, the rule will hit the ball so that the ball will not fall to you. 
If the ball falls to the opponent, one point is added, and if the ball falls to you, one point will be given to the opponent. 
With all three rounds of time, the time and the number of balls are different for each round. 

Round 1: 90 seconds · 2 balls 
Round 2: 60 seconds · 3 balls 
Round 3: 30 seconds · 6 balls 

Aka: It’s along the lines of an electromechanical game with extended time and multiball. It reminds me a bit of the obscure i-Hockey by Imply, something that falls more into the lines of air hockey. I’m pretty sure that those times could be adjusted by the operator. Also given these details, I could easily see this being adapted for redemption play out West (although the purist side of me hopes that if such is the case, it will still have Amusement Only/ticketless play).

While the game could use proximity sensors, a type of roll-over switch located underneath the surface to detect the presence of the ball rolling over it, but judging by the new info above, it doesn’t appear to be the case. Those two star-shaped fixtures are confirmed to move around, an interesting little variation on pop-bumpers:

ORIGINAL STORY: The in-lanes mention an “energy reload,” although again, we’d need to know the rules to know how that is used. There is also a time limit on the game, something that may be operator adjustable, but combined with the basic design means that this whole game is designed for rapid-action play. The only other thing I can assume by looking at this is that it also will use LEDs to good measure…hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to see how it is before possibly finding it’s way to US shores.

Of course the other question pinball wizards likely are wondering about: “Taito making pinball?” It’s a good question, but there is a good chance that behind-the-scenes they are in talks with one of the pinball houses here in the States for manufacturing, which would go towards alleviating some concerns in that regard. There is no indication as to how long this will be on test, although I did read that they are charging 200 Yen for a go.

What do you think about this interesting new project?


  1. Isocube Software December 24, 2018 at 2:43 am - Reply

    Wow, this is very interesting! I would love to see it in action!

  2. Da Flex December 24, 2018 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Yes, we must see the game play. Combining the strong “Space Invaders” brand with a new concept is very cool.

  3. Da Flex December 24, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

    PS: A longer video with a serious player would be nice. 😉

  4. Federico Croci December 24, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Actually, TAITO made an head-to-head pinball back in 1967: “Crown Soccer Special”


    • arcadehero December 24, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      Ah, wasn’t aware of that bit of obscure history. Thanks!

      (Although it’s pretty unlikely that anyone that was at Taito back in ’67 is still around 😛 )

  5. Bill December 25, 2018 at 8:26 am - Reply

    This game sure reminds me of Gottliebs Challenger made in 1971. the game was one of Gottliebs biggest pigs. They made just over 100 of them, with the majority being sent back to Gottlieb from their Distributors.
    Hope this one does better, looks cool

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