Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Pinball / Williams 1993

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” is a pinball machine released by Williams Electronics Games, Inc. in November 1993. Designed by Steve Ritchie, this machine is based on the popular science fiction television series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The game features a rich and immersive playfield with intricate missions, authentic voice acting from the series cast, and a host of interactive elements including a Borg ship, a rotating cannon, and various ramps and targets. The machine captures the essence of the TV series through its detailed artwork, sound effects, and a narrative that involves players in defending the United Federation of Planets.

Development of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” began in the early 1990s, as Williams aimed to create a pinball machine that capitalized on the immense popularity of the TV series. Steve Ritchie, a veteran pinball designer, led the project with a vision of integrating complex gameplay mechanics and thematic elements from the show. The game features custom speech recorded by the main cast of the series, which was a significant innovation at the time. The design team worked closely with Paramount Pictures to ensure authenticity in the representation of the Star Trek universe. The game’s advanced dot-matrix display (DMD) and sound system were state-of-the-art, pushing the boundaries of pinball machine capabilities in the early ’90s.

Upon its release, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” received widespread acclaim from both players and critics. It was praised for its deep and engaging gameplay, high-quality production values, and faithful adaptation of the TV series. The game quickly became a favorite among pinball enthusiasts and is often cited as one of the greatest pinball machines ever made. It won several industry awards, including the Best Pinball Game of the Year. Its complex rule set and challenging play made it a staple in arcades and a sought-after piece for collectors.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” was primarily released as a single model, but it inspired subsequent Star Trek-themed pinball machines from other manufacturers. It stands as a unique entry in Williams’ lineup, with no direct sequels, though its design and success influenced later games. The machine was available in both standard and prototype versions, with minor differences in features and artwork. While no official digital versions of the game exist, fans have recreated it on virtual pinball platforms.

Approximately 11,728 units of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” were produced, making it relatively common compared to other machines of the era. However, due to its popularity and the high demand from collectors, it remains a valuable item in the pinball community. Well-maintained machines can fetch prices ranging from $4,000 to $7,000, with pristine or fully restored units commanding higher premiums. The value is also influenced by factors such as condition, originality of parts, and any custom modifications.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” features advanced hardware for its time, including a powerful sound system and a dot-matrix display. Key components include:

CPU Board: Williams WPC (Williams Pinball Controller)
Power Driver Board
Dot-Matrix Display (DMD)
Sound Board with Digital Audio Samples
Borg Ship Mechanism
Rotating Cannon Mechanisms
Flippers (2 Standard, 2 Mini)
Ramps and Plastics
Playfield Sensors and Switches
Custom Speech ROMs
For repairs, the following parts are frequently required:

Replacement Rubber Rings
Flipper Rebuild Kits
Lamp Bulbs and LEDs
DMD Replacement
Playfield Plastics and Decals
Transistor and Capacitor Replacements on Boards
Maintaining and repairing “Star Trek: The Next Generation” requires familiarity with Williams’ WPC system and access to specialized parts, many of which can be sourced from dedicated pinball suppliers and enthusiast communities.

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