(A Pingame 'Classic')
By Russ Jensen
This is the sixth in a series describing one of the pingames in my personal collection. This game is probably my favorite of all the pingames I own.
Genco's METRO is a classic pingame which was released in the latter half of 1940. Ever since I worked on a friend's METRO in the late Forties I have been fascinated by this game. It is now in my personal collection. I consider METRO to be a "classic" in two respects: first from an aesthetic viewpoint, and secondly for it's advanced playing features.
The artwork on the backglass depicts a "city of the future" as viewed in 1940. The automobiles are not too futuristic, however, looking not much different from the models of the day, with a little "streamlining" added. The rocket ship in the upper right area (which is the game's "TILT" sign) certainly has a "Buck Rogers flair". Also notice that the building on the left side (with the Ten-Thousands scores on it's upper floors) says "Genco Manufacturing" on it, indicating to me that the artist expected the company to last for quite awhile.
What makes the glass still more interesting to me is the artist. While discussing my METRO one year with designer Steve Kordek at one of the Pinball Expo shows in Chicago, Steve informed me that the backglass was done by none other than famous pinball artist, the late Roy Parker. Roy was supposedly the artist who did many of the Genco glasses, both before and after the war. A study of the glass will reveal that Roy was not too far off in his artistic predictions of "things to come".
Another unique aspect of this machine is the use of bell shaped molded plastic bumpers. In 1940 bumper styles were changing from the old "spiral spring" types to new plastic types, and several odd shaped bumpers (like the 'bells' on METRO) were used by various manufacturers during the period. As far as I know, however, METRO was the only game to use these bell shaped bumpers.
The most significant scoring feature of the game is the "bonus" system described in detail below. This is the earliest game I know of to have an "advancing bonus". If any of you readers know of an earlier pingame with such a feature I would be very interested in learning about it. It is interesting to note that this concept is one of the few pinball scoring techniques that was developed before World War II and is still in use today in solid-state pins.
Now for a description of METRO's advanced features.
All unlit bumpers cause "light animated" cars on the backglass to advance along a road. Twelve operations of the bumpers are needed to complete a circuit of the road, and for each circuit 1,000 points are scored. All bumpers (except the purple bumpers) score 1,000 points when lit.
There are six purple bumpers (labeled '1' through '5', and one unlabeled). Bumpers '1' to '5' must be hit in sequence to light, while the unlabeled bumper is always lit. Striking a lit purple bumper increases the bonus score indication on the backglass, up to a maximum of '15'. If all five numbered purple bumpers are lit, hitting any of the purple bumpers awards one replay.
A triangular array of yellow bumpers is located on the left of the playfield with a rollover between the top two. Beneath the rollover is a yellow playfield "insert" disc which lights alternately depending on the position of the cars on the backglass. A similar set of green bumpers, with corresponding rollover and insert, is located on the right side of the field. If a ball activates a rollover when the corresponding insert is lit, the bumpers of that color light and remain lit throughout the game. These lit bumpers now score 1,000 (instead of only advancing the cars). The rollover also scores 1,000 points.
"A - B - C" FEATURE
Three rollovers in the lower half of the playfield (labeled 'A', 'B', and 'C') operate in conjunction with four white bumpers surrounding them. The rollovers must be operated in sequence to light the corresponding bumper(s). When A, B, and C have been sequentially lit, the bonus collection feature (described below) changes from awarding points to awarding replays.
Two more rollovers, with a white bumper in between them, are located at the bottom of the playfield. This bumper never lights and thus only advances the cars. A lighted post is located next to each of these rollovers. These posts light alternately (first one for awhile, then the other) as the cars advance on the roadway.
When a ball passes over a rollover when it's corresponding post is lit, the indicated bonus on the backglass (from 1 to 15) is collected, either in thousands of points or replays, depending on whether or not A, B, and C are lit. Thus the bonus can be 1,000 to 15,000 points, or up to 15 replays.
Collecting the bonus resets the bonus number on the backglass back to one. Passing over one of these rollovers when it's corresponding post is not lit merely scores 1000 points with no effect on the bonus system.
In conclusion, after reading the above description of both the inventive artwork and the fascinating design features of this early pingame, I think you will agree with me that Genco's METRO should definitely be considered one of the "classic" games of pinball history.
Use back to return to prior web page