Black Knight

Made by Williams in December, 1980. Several decent photos of this machine appear in the book Pinball: The Lure of the Silver Ball, by Bill Kurtz on page 8, and in Pinball Art, by Temple on page 62. It is considered the first great Williams solid state machine. It is also one of the most popular collectable solid state machines. At this time several are still operated on location. It is a most unforgiving machine and as such is cruel to the novice. It was remade, in a 1989 model called Black Knight 2000. The newer version is even more difficult to play and as such is very popular with skilled players.

Backglass: shows Black Knight on a horse. The glass has outlines silvered for an impressive mirror-type effect.

Playfield: Asymmetrical layout with two levels, attached by three ramps. It has four banks of three drop targets each. Two banks are on the upper level and two on the lower level. A pair of 3" flippers are placed in normal positions at the bottom of each playfield--for a total of four flippers. It has normal in-lane, out-lane, and slingshots configuration. The unusual feature debuting in this game is the magna-save above each in-lane. When activated it holds a ball above the in-lane, usually saving it from the out-lane, and then releasing it a few seconds later to the in-lane.

Cabinet: Colors are red and yellow on a black background. The typical stenciled shapes are pieces of armor.

This machine is always popular with players. It is difficult for novice players because the average plunger shot drains instantly! That usually teaches a hard lesson early.

This game is the first game that featured magna-save, and the first to combine multi-level, voice, and multi-ball play. It is not the first with multi-level, voice, and multi-ball play, just the first to combine them. It was one of the first games that tried to get 50 cents per game pricing. Some came with a SBA dollar coin chute.

Strategies on this machine vary, but the basic idea is to knock down complete banks of drop targets as many times as possible. Doing so enough times will light various lanes for specials, and reenables the magna-save feature. Highest scores usually come from focusing on achieving multi-ball as often and for as long a possible. Two ball multiball doubles all scoring, and three ball multilball triples all scoring. The best location to start multi-ball is the upper playfield. Keeping balls on the upper playfield makes draining less likely.

Because this game was so popular with players, it is difficult to find a good condition machine. Most have holes worn in the paint over the magna-save. Every machine I have seen, or heard of has lost most, if not all of its drop target stickers. I used to sell reproductions of these, but now Alan Meyer sells these as well as many other Williams drop target stickers.

I was fortunate to come across this game. An operator had brought it home for his children to play and then he put it out in a shed. The backglass was scratched and flaking, but not too badly. The playfield though was the best condition of any Black Knight I have seen. I held onto this game for three years and then sold it. My focus is electromechanicals, so I felt I couldn't keep it forever. It did go to a good home. An older man uses it to babysit his grandchildren. Every 6 months or so he has me come over and service it.

This is certainly one of my personal favorites. I have owned three over the years and it is, even now, one of the most often asked for machines. If you check the PAPS list you will see that this machine is one of the most commonly owned games among the internet pinball crowd.
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