The secret life of 3D Pinball

Woody leonhard By Woody Leonhard

Of all the features in Windows XP that have gone missing in Vista, many of you most lament the passing of 3D Pinball. Really.

Well, strap on your pearl-handled phasers, Space Cadet: here’s a holiday treat that can help you cheat and hack 3D Pinball to your heart’s content in both XP and Vista.

How 3D Pinball became so popular

Windows 3D Pinball Space Cadet started out as a state-of-the-art 3D game called Full Tilt! Pinball, from Cinematronics LLC, way back in 1995. Maxis swallowed Cinematronics in 1996, and Electronic Arts bought Maxis in 1997. If you look closely at the lower left corner of the Windows 3D Pinball window, you can still see the name “Cinematronics,” and “Maxis” appears in the lower right corner. (See Figure 1.)

3D pinball
Figure 1: 3D Pinball is a classic Microsoft PC game, but it isn’t included in Windows Vista — unless you know the secret.

Microsoft bundled a scaled-back version of Space Cadet, one of the Full Tilt! playing fields, in the Windows 95 Plus! Pack, thus contributing to a worldwide glut! of! exclamation! points! in the mid! 1990s.

Windows 3D Pinball Space Cadet proved quite popular at the time: some folks (present company included) felt that Pinball was the major selling point for the Plus! Pack.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-12-06:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.