Time Fantasy is a late model Williams System 7 games released in November of 1982. This was during the great “arcade” collapse of the early 80s. For those of you too young to remember the late 70s and early 80s, arcades were everywhere. You couldn’t turn a corner without running into a coin-op game. Malls, the shore, the Bally stand-alone arcades, bowling alleys, miniature golf course, etc. Pinball was still alive and well, just look at the production numbers from 1981 for the big three, well over 60,000 machines! Video was even bigger, I don’t know the numbers, but there were an equal amount of video games out there.

However, starting in 1980 home game consoles (the Atari 2600, Activision, etc) as well as home computers (remember the Commodore 64?) starting selling, with sales volumes in the millions. It didn’t take long for the quarter popping arcade player to start saving their money to buy new cartridges for their game machines and computers (I can raise my hand on the computer side) and stop patronizing their local arcade.

How bad was it? If you count Black Knight in the 1981 numbers, Williams produced over 24,000 games in 1981. In 1982, they produced less than 2,000!  But wait, it gets worse… In 1983 Williams released two pinball games, one as a “cocktail” (Joust), leaving just one traditional game (Warlock) released the entire year. A grand total of 625 Warlocks were produced. If pinball wasn’t dead, then it was in ICU. Interest rates in the 15% range didn’t help as operators were unable to afford any financing for new machines.

Pinball made a comeback in 1984, with over 13,000 units produced (Firepower II and Space Shuttle were the big titles).  This was followed by the introduction of System 11 games (High Speed), and pinball was once again in high gear as far as production numbers were concerned.

This brings us back to my Time Fantasy, released in November of 1982, a grand total of 608 units were produced. I may have played the machine back in the day, but I would have thought the art work would have stuck with me!  Fast forward to the present, an ad went up on Mr. Pinball for a Time Fantasy in late January 2003. The machine was located near Harrisburg , PA. Yikes! get in contact with the seller! He emailed back that he had a bunch of folks interested in the machine and the first one with the money could take it. I was the first to call back and it turns out that he was going to buy one of my machines the past summer but backed out of the deal because his trip to the Jersey shore was canceled. So to make up for that deal he told me the machine was mine. Yes!  I had to drop a friend off at the Philadelphia airport for a 5am flight that week, so I just continued over to Harrisburg and picked up the machine at 7 in the morning, just your typical pinball "road trip"!

Background Info:

Time Fantasy was designed by Barry Oursler, who's Williams resume includes Comet, Space Shuttle, Jungle Lord, Time Warp, Gorgar and Doctor Who.
You will notice by looking at the pictures that the artwork (by Seamus McLaughlin) is a bit, how can I put it, "out there". It features snails and mushrooms, which the designer and artist must have been consuming during the building of this game. I can just imagine the Williams execs when they saw this one ("what is this thing?! hey, give me one of those mushrooms..... gee, this game looks better now...!").  I've heard comparisons of Time Fantasy's art work to underground Comix of the late 70s and to a Grateful Dead album cover. 

As you would probably guess, reaction to this game is either love or hate, with on in-between. I've done some research on google and have found a number of people who love the game. I cannot really remember ever playing it before, so it will be interesting when I get it working. 

Update! (January 14, 2004)

A couple of updates on the Time Fantasy front.  The machine has finally been brought down to the game room after sitting in the garage for about 10 months.  The machine wasn't working when I bought it (rapid resets every few seconds) and it repeated that behavior when I fired it back up.  However it turns out that the only problem it has is a bad power connector that with about 30 seconds of work I was able to correct and the game plays fine.  I also located a NOS playfield for the game on Mr. Pinball (see photo below), which should be arriving shortly and I'll be swapping playfields.



Full playfield shot:

Upper Playfield shot:


Lower Playfield shot:




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