Full Tilt! Pinball
Developer(s)Cinematronics, LLC
Composer(s)Matt Ridgway
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows (v1 and v2), Mac OS (v1 only)
ReleaseOctober 31, 1995 (1995-10-31)
Genre(s)Arcade game, pinball
Mode(s)Single player, Hotseat multiplayer

Full Tilt! Pinball is a pinball video game developed by Cinematronics[1] and published by Maxis in 1995.[2][3] It features pre-rendered 3D graphics and three tables: Space Cadet, Skullduggery, and Dragon's Keep. On each table, side displays show the players' scores, ball numbers, player numbers, various other information, and a table-specific image.


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Space Cadet

The Space Cadet table features the player as a member of a space fleet that completes missions to increase rank.[4] Players can attain nine different ranks (listed from lowest to highest): Cadet, Ensign, Lieutenant, Captain, LT Commander, Commander, Commodore, Admiral, and Fleet Admiral. Players accept a mission by hitting "mission targets" which select which mission they will take, and by going up the "launch ramp". Each mission has a set number of things for players to do, such as hitting the "attack bumpers" (which are a set of four bumpers at the top of the table) eight times (this is the "target practice" mission). Some missions involve a number of steps which must be completed in sequence. Missions end either by being completed, or by being aborted due to running out of "fuel", as indicated by the lights in the passage that passes under the launch ramp. The "fuel" lights go out one by one at a time interval, and can be re-lit by having the ball go over them, or all at once by going up the launch ramp again. Upon completing a mission, some of the blue lights in a circle in the middle of the table turn on. When all of the lights in the blue circle turn on, the player's rank increases, and a light in the orange circle turns on.


Full Tilt! Skullduggery table

The Skullduggery table features a treasure hunt where the player must find pirate Peg Leg's loot.[3] The player can accomplish that two ways: either by piecing together a treasure map or by activating and completing a series of mini-games on the table called modes. Modes are like missions and quests of the other two tables. They are all pirate themed mini-games, such as ship battle, tavern fight, escape Bermuda Triangle, mutiny, and sword fight.

Dragon's Keep

The Dragon's Keep table features a fantasy environment where players must accomplish various quests, leading to the slaying of a dragon.[3] The quests include Dragon Hoard (steal the hoard), Fire Lizard Attack (defeat the fire-lizard), Rescue Maiden (rescue the damsel in distress), Dragon Pass (find the path to dragon's lair), Wizard's Fury, and Slay Dragon. The player can acquire awards such as spells, weapons, and armors. While weapons simply add points to the score, armors and spells temporarily turn on various gates, magnets, and chutes on the table to change the gameplay.

Elements from each of the three tables were elected for representation by Maxis in the illustration for the box art by Marc Ericksen, creating a montage below a hurtling Pinball.

3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet

3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet
Space Cadet table: Windows XP version on top of Full Tilt! version
Developer(s)Microsoft and Cinematronics, LLC
Publisher(s)Microsoft and Maxis
Programmer(s)David Plummer
Platform(s)Windows 95Windows XP
ReleaseAugust 24, 1995
Genre(s)Arcade game, pinball
Mode(s)Single player or multiplayer (up to four)

A version of the Space Cadet table, known as 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet or simply Pinball, was bundled with Microsoft Windows. It was originally packaged with Microsoft Plus! 95 and later included in Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows XP.[3][5][4] This version of Pinball, ported to Windows NT by David Plummer at Microsoft, was a port of the game using the original art and sound.[5] It was developed in C++ for cross-platform support because Windows NT supported RISC processors and prior versions of the game contained x86 assembly language and 16-bit logic. The Windows 98 installation CD has instructions on installing Pinball 3D on this version of Windows which are partly wrong; Microsoft later issued an updated support article.[6] Windows XP was the last client release of Windows to include this game.[7] Raymond Chen said his proudest work on Windows XP was reducing the amount of CPU that Pinball used when it was ported from Windows 95.[8]

The look and feel of Full Tilt! Pinball and 3D Pinball are similar, with a few exceptions: The latter contains only the Space Cadet table and only supports 640×480-pixel resolution, while the former supports three different resolutions up to 1024×768 pixels. The image on the side is a two-dimensional image as opposed to pre-rendered 3D. The words Maxis and Cinematronics have been changed from the yellow to a dark red, making them harder to see. It sports a splash screen that merely says 3D Pinball and shows a small pinball graphic with faded edges. Music is not enabled by default in 3D Pinball. It has fewer soundtracks that are inspired by the original game. A hidden test mode is also available.

There are only a few minor differences between the gameplay of the two versions. The completion of a mission in the Maxis version results in a replay—actually a ball save, rather than a special—being awarded. In addition, hitting a wormhole that has the same color light locks the ball, which if done repeatedly activates the multi-ball round. This is not the case in 3D Pinball: completing a mission merely awards bonus points and hitting a wormhole in the above circumstances awards a replay. Also, the three yellow lights above the bumpers (both in the launch ramp and in the upper table zone) act differently: In 3D Pinball these are turned off if the ball passes on them while they are on. This is not the case in the original game, where they just remain activated.


According to Microsoft employee Raymond Chen, 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet was first removed from later releases of Windows due to a collision detection bug during early development of 64-bit versions of Windows, originally for the Alpha AXP architecture.[9][10] Microsoft was unable to resolve the issue in time for the release of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for the Itanium architecture in 2002,[11] and it was assumed for some time to be the reason for the game's absence from Windows Vista and subsequent versions.[7]

However, the 2005 release of Windows XP Professional x64 Edition includes an official 64-bit build of Pinball, which was found to have only minor graphical glitches.[12] Following this discovery, a YouTube investigation later cited by Chen in a follow-up post[9] revealed working versions of 64-bit Pinball are also found on the CD-ROM for the 2003 update of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition and even in some early Windows Vista builds (then known as "Longhorn") for both IA-64 and x64.[11]

The final versions of Windows to include the game were the first released builds after the reset of the Longhorn project to start over with a fresh codebase, now for x86 and x64 only.[11] These builds are also the final ones to feature the other original Windows games from earlier versions, as opposed to the completely redesigned ones by Oberon Games that were publicly introduced in build 5219.[13] This has led to speculation that, like the classic versions of the other games, Pinball was ultimately removed from Windows due to its visual style being considered outdated.[11]

In late 2018, Raymond Chen stated that there were multiple attempts to revive the game as a Microsoft Garage project. They were apparently successful in repackaging the x86 version. However, as Microsoft contacted the legal department to review the original license contract, it was found that newer versions of the game were only permitted to be released pre-packaged with subsequent Windows operating systems and Microsoft Plus! packs. The license also forbade the release of the source code.[1]

Full Tilt! Pinball 2

Full Tilt! Pinball 2 was released in 1996[14] with three new tables: Mad Scientist, Alien Daze and Captain Hero.[4]


Reviewing the Windows version, a reviewer for Next Generation said that while the Space Cadet table is fairly good, the other two tables suffer from cluttered graphics and weak ball physics, making them "incredibly difficult to follow." He gave it two out of five stars.[15]

3D Pinball Space Cadet gained a cult following, and tutorials showing how to install it on modern versions of Microsoft Windows have been published.[16][17]


On March 6, 2020, the sound effects of Space Cadet were sampled in a song, "You Better Move" by Lil Uzi Vert, containing elements from the game.[16] It captured positive reception from many fans who grew up playing the game.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b Chen, Raymond (December 21, 2018). "On the attempts to resurrect Space Cadet Pinball". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Archived from the original on December 23, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Vermeer, Gerrit (2006). "Games: Designing Cities and Civilizations". In Oosterhuis, Kas; Feireiss, Lukas (eds.). The architecture co-laboratory : GameSetandMatch II : on computer games, advanced geometries, and digital technologies. Episode Publishers. p. 94. ISBN 90-5973-036-4. OCLC 68568510. Archived from the original on 2021-07-28. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  3. ^ a b c d Morrison, Marc (19 February 2019). "The 8 Ball: Top 8 Video Pinball Games – Sonic Spinball, Space Cadet Pinball, More". 411Mania. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  4. ^ a b c Shannon, L. R. (4 February 1997). "Far From Quiet on the Computer Game Front". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  5. ^ a b Bowden, Zac (15 June 2020). "Windows features we loved and miss from earlier OS versions". Windows Central. Archived from the original on 2021-03-30. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  6. ^ "How to Install 3D Pinball Using Windows 98 CD-ROM". Support. Microsoft. January 23, 2007. Archived from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Chen, Raymond (December 18, 2012). "Why was Pinball removed from Windows Vista?". The Old New Thing. Microsoft. Archived from the original on February 17, 2021. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Chen, Raymond (1 December 2005). "What one Windows XP feature am I most proud of?". The Old New Thing. Archived from the original on 6 May 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Filling in some gaps in the story of Space Cadet Pinball on 64-bit Windows". 6 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Raymond Chen discusses running Windows Server 64-bit on Alpha AXP". 8 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d "The REAL Story on Why Space Cadet Pinball Was Removed (Ft. Windows on Itanium)". YouTube.
  12. ^ "Installing the Pre-Release Copy of Windows XP Professional x64! - YouTube". YouTube.
  13. ^ Paul Thurrott (2010-10-06). "Microsoft Windows Vista Build 5219 (Community Technical Preview 1) Review | Product Review content from Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows". Supersite for Windows. Penton. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  14. ^ Classification, Australian (2019-08-30). "FULL TILT PINBALL 2". www.classification.gov.au. Archived from the original on 2021-07-28. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  15. ^ "Full Tilt Pinball". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 88.
  16. ^ a b c "Lil Uzi Vert's "You Better Move" Samples The 'Space Cadet' 3D Pinball Game From Microsoft Windows". Genius. Archived from the original on 2020-03-07. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  17. ^ Chalk, Andy (14 March 2018). "Here's how to bring Space Cadet 3D Pinball back to Windows". PC Gamer. Retrieved 7 November 2021.