Bought, Watched Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game + 8 Roger Sharpe Designed Pinball Machines and 6 VPIN Recreations

By Todd Russell Oct9,2023

No, this isn’t a movie review site, it’s a game site, but essentially anything game-related is fair game, pun intended 😉

This movie about the guy who “saved” the game of pinball, is definitely a plunge into a skill shot for my interest, anyway. But is the movie any good? We don’t have a current subscription to Hulu where it’s streaming as of this writing, and wasn’t really interested in activating one (maybe those reading can get a free trial somewhere, I didn’t research those options), so looked at renting or buying instead.

Rental cost $2.99 at some places like Amazon Prime Video and Vudu (the two main movie sites we have some movies purchased at), $3.99 at others, buying $7.99, after looking at the Rotten Tomatoes scores (see: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/pinball_the_man_who_saved_the_game), in the very fresh 90%+ range, I decided to just drop the 8 bones for it. Maybe it would be worth rewatching a few times.

Checking out Amazon Prime I saw an even better deal than mentioned above:

A buck to rent this badboy vs. $3 normally is quite the savings. or $7+ tax to buy. Decisions, decisions. Bought it. Again, some of these game-related movies I’ll watch again. Will I watch this seven+ times? Probably not, oh well.

This article hung around in draft status until I finally watched through it all on Saturday 9/23/2023. After watching I wrote a non-spoiler review and posted to Letterboxd here: https://letterboxd.com/tjsnk/film/pinball-the-man-who-saved-the-game/ giving it 3 out 5 stars and saying in summary:

The conversational back/forth between present and past is oft-putting in the beginning making it harder for me to get into this one. After the third or fourth attempt to power through the odd beginning and narrative style, I actually enjoyed this much more. There is a love story that goes beyond pinball in this that overpowers the pinball story, and they try and weave this in as important to the story.

Kinda wish I rented instead of buying. Probably won’t watch it again, but it was alright and did teach me some of the history of what happened to pinball in the 70s. Not recommended for others except perhaps for those like me curious about learning more about pinball history (again, fair warning, it’s more drama than documentary). Have you seen this? What do you think of Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game?

Looking for the book Sharpe authored in 1977? It’s out of print and rare. Found one copy on eBay for $799 (yes, that’s seven hundred, ninety-nine dollars for the hardcover book). Yes, the book has been scanned is available in various formats through The Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/pinball-roger-c.-sharpe-1977/mode/2up

BONUS – While this should probably be a separate article, I conducted some after the movie research on Roger Sharpe. Was intrigued to learn Sharpe helped design some pinball machines in the 70s and 80s. Pinside lists eight machines Sharpe is listed in the pinball designer credits.

These machines with Sharpe’s design credits are (chronologically ordered) along with link to virtual pinball recreations, if any:

  1. Stingray (Stern 1977) – Pinside – 3,006 produced, also Sam Stern credited along with Sharpe in creating the concept

    Virtual Pinball | VP10.7 via VPU

  2. Coney Island (Game Plan 1979) – Pinside – 3,000 produced
    Virtual Pinball | VPX via VPforums
  3. Sharpshooter (Game Plan 1979) – Pinside – 4.200 produced
    Virtual Pinball | VPX via VPForums
  4. Cyclops (Williams 1980) – Pinside – prototype only, never released
    Did not locate any virtual pinball recreation, please let me know in comments below if know otherwise
  5. Barracora (Williams 1981) – Pinside – 2,350 produced
    Virtual Pinball | VP10.7 via VPU
  6. Global Warfare (Game Plan 1981) – Pinside – 10 produced
    Did not locate any virtual pinball recreation, please let me know in comments below if know otherwise
  7. Sharp Shooter II (Game Plan 1983) – Pinside – 600 produced
    Virtual Pinball | VPX via VPU
  8. Cyclopes (Game Plan 1985) – Pinside – 400 produced
    Virtual Pinball | VPX via VPU

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