NAME: Airborne Avenger
The backglass artwork for Airborne Avenger was designed and signed by lead Atari artist George Opperman (1935-1985). Mr. Opperman was the first artist hired by Atari and the creator of the Atari logo.
Airborne Avenger was Steve Ritchie's first playfield design. His career in the pinball industry would bring him much success later on at Willams Electronics, with games like Flash, Firepower, and Black Knight.
They finally let me work in the engineering area. I got an offer to be the first employee in their pinball division (a new venture at the time) ... I was blown away by pinball and started a design of my own, which I worked on at home only. I asked my boss if I could bring it in, and he said "No way, pinball design is for college graduates only." I worked on it for one year ... One day, I became frustrated as hell and went to see Nolan Bushnell. Nolan looked at my drawing, and asked if I did it all at home. I said yes. I asked him if I could build it up and make it work. He said certainly ... No one on earth was happier than me. The game was Airborne Avenger. (IRC transcript, 9/13/95)
Eugene Jarvis, also to one day make a name for himself in the coin-op industry at Williams Electronics with video games like Defender and Robotron, went to work for Atari straight out of college and programmed several of the Atari pinball games before leaving the company.
I remember I worked on a game called Airborne Avenger. Terrible design. There was always #@$% falling off the machine, stuff would short out and blow up. (Playboy, March 1982)
Contrary to Mr. Jarvis' remarks in 1982 about Airborne Avenger, the game is hailed by many as being perhaps the most creative and fun to play of all the Atari pinball machines that were mass produced. Even though he was probably refering to the engineering behind the game, his comments it would seem were not entirely fair.
In the film TRON (1982) there is an Airborne Avenger poster on the wall in the stairway up to the loft above Flynn's Arcade. Much of the poster is obstructed by the stair railing.
Bonus: The bonus accumulator, which is collected at the end of each ball is advanced in increments of either one, two, or three 1000 point values by various rollovers, targets, and kickout holes on the playfield. The maximum value that the accumulator can reach is 29,000 points (excluding the double bonus condition).
Double Bonus: Double Bonus is achieved by lighting the letters A, B, and C in the double bonus accumulator. Various rollovers and kickout holes will provide these bonus letters.
Gate: The drain gate is opened by hitting either yellow target #1 or yellow target #3. The gate will remain open until the ball goes through the gate, or the ball drains.
Spinner: The spinner target awards 100 points per revolution, and 1000 points per revolution when lit. The spinner is lit by hitting either yellow target #2 or yellow target #4 (captive ball).
Captive ball: The captive ball sits just above the drain hole between the flippers, and awards 3000 points, three bonus accumulator advancements, and lights the spinner.
A, B, C Bonus: The left eject pocket also keeps track of the bonus letters of A, B, and C, and awards 500 points plus 2000 points and two bonus accumulator advancements per lit letter. The ball will then be ejected to the top of the playfield.
Special: Three possible "special when lit" rollover targets are illuminated by hitting yellow targets 1 through 4. The placement of the special will alternate each time the ball goes through a sling shot or hits a 50 point switch. A replay, extra ball, or bonus points will be awarded depending on game settings.
Spell-Out: Spelling "AIRBORNE AVENGER" will yield either an extra ball or 20,000 points.
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* Special thanks to Dwight Elvey for the ROM images.
* Special thanks to Dale Luck for the photos.
* Special thanks to David Clark for the HTML manual.
* Special thanks to Chris Miller for the Airborne Avenger manual scans.
Copyright © 1998-2001 by Travis Haagen. All Rights Reserved.