European pinball machines
The USA are not the only country that created pinball machines. There were a lot of (small) European companies that made pinball machines too.
There were several reasons why European manufacturers could exist.
Usually because of currency exchange rates, American pinball machines suddenly became too expensive.
Some countries (like Spain) had very restrictive laws to protect their own economy.
These made importing games expensive or even impossible. As there was a big demand for pinball machines,
the only solution was to build/assemble them in the country themselves.
Especially in Spain and Italy there were a lot of small companies, who usually copied American models. Some like Vifico, Cirsa (Unidesa) and Segasa built games in Spain under license of American companies. Sometimes operators or small companies modified existing games to make a 'new' game out of them. Others built their games from scratch, but playfield layout and artwork was 'inspired' on american pinball machines. Italian company Bell Games started making 'conversion kits' for existing Bally pinball machines. Only a few European companies were successfull in making the step from electro-mechanical to solid state pinball machines.
The artwork on most of the European games is very different from American-made games.
Probably inspired by fashion and trends of that time (we're talking about the seventies and eighties), most games have bright colorful artwork.
Some games are also more risque, showing more nudity and even bare nipples on the backglass artwork or playfield, something which was (and is even today) unheard of on American pinball machines. Especially Italian manufacturers showed nudity in their artwork.
Here I try to give you an overview of what companies existed and document as much as possible I can find. I try to provide you with technical repair information as there are no nice repair guides for this kind of games like there are for the American games.
If you have more information or documentation about European pinball machines, please let me know.
Playmatic repair information
Repair information about these Spanish solid state machines.
Information about Recel solid state pinball machines.
Bell games / Nuova Bell Games
Some information about these Italian pinball machines.
Gottlieb pinball machines made under license in Spain.
A small Italian pinball company.
A new Spanish pinball company.
There were a lot of other companies, like Sonic in Spain, Bergmann and Wullf (which was taken over by Bally in the late 1980ies) in Germany.
More information about Italian Zaccaria.
Petacos: spanish pinball machines, a whole forum section dedicated to spanish pinball machines.