Grand Lizard (Williams, 1986)

Grand Lizard

Pinside rating

This game received 72 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.548 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #130 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game design: 7.784

Artwork: 7.397

Sounds/Music: 6.498

Other Aspects: 7.75

Rating comments

There are 33 rating comments for this game.

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Ranking history

An overview of this machine's ranking over the last years. Lower is better.

Rating history

An overview of this machine's rating over the last years. Higher is better.

Found 33 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 33 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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1 year ago
I have been a fan of the WMS Sys 7 "Big Four" for a while, so I expected a lot from this WMS Sys 11. I was, of course, somewhat disappointed since Grand Lizard does not really offer the kind of game play that the Sys 7's do. The playfield looks enticing yet cheap, and the shots were clunky and odd. So, overall, GL is worth checking out, but don't get your hopes up.

I'd definitely recommend playing Grand Lizard if you can find it, but it's not at the top of my mid-SS wishlist - needs to be cheaper before I'd even consider buying (goes for around $1.5k as of this writing, Jan. 2017).
1 year ago
My first Pinball, and I really love it!
Fast game with cool light effects, the flashing lizard head is great and the rules are good to understand, but not too easy. The multiball doesn't least very long, but makes huge fun. After changing all lamps to the right Noflix LEDs, the effects are marvelous and the backglass looks really great!! Just believe me :)
Also the magna save is great and funny feature!
I love the grove of the game sound, the jungle beats and n/voices, the game flow and when I start playing, it mostly takes hours till I leave it again 8-)
My first one & I LOVE IT!
1 year ago
It’s hard to say what endured me to this game. A local guy who shops out pins he gets from arcades called and asked if I was interested. I seemed to remember playing GL at an NCO club someplace back in 1987 but had to look up the game on Google because I did not remember the lay out. I thought the design and art were just plain weird, and I like weird. My only "beware" is that I was fairly new to collecting pins a few years ago and was looking for a project pin so I could learn more about maintenance, repairs, and installation. I paid way too much for it (haven't we all at one time or another?) and replaced all he boards, display, speakers, and totally LED'd it. It plays like new and is bulletproof, but I'd never get back what I sunk into it. Knowing what I know now I would have made a much lower offer and still would have probably have gone home with it in my truck.

OK. The theme is…a freaking lizard! The pin came on the heels of the seminal Steve Ritchie hit “High Speed” so maybe Williams was trying to do an anti-High Speed to compete? I don’t know.

The play: I love it. Looking at this in the terms of 1985 and the beginning of System 11, then this game is just a lot of fun to play. I think there is just a really good flow to this pin and I like the use of ramps, which would become such a staple in pinball games to come. It’s not super easy, but it is devoid of the complicated rule sets found in machines that came after it. I have mine next to a Ghost Busters Premium, a Walking Dead Pro, and a Metallica Pro and the Grand Lizard gets a fair share of the play.

The upper playfield is a points and specials bonanza when you master it, and you have four different shots to get the ball back up there. On the lower playfield you have a lot of fun things. You have magna-saves that throw the ball all over the place, a suicide pin between the flippers, and a three ball multi-ball feature that launches whenever you trap three balls. And if the person playing with you leaves trapped balls in the multi-ball trench, then they are yours for the taking on your next ball. There are no pop bumpers at all!

Multiball lights scoring bonuses but it’s not easy juggling them while hitting targets on the upper playfield. But, if you can manage it then lots of points can be had.

The playfield is well done. Good art. The cabinet is OK, and the back glass is fugly. Another glass was created originally but after a delay in production the original artist could not go back and re-work his art to accommodate some changes with the new display (or so I read). Williams pulled in the late Python Anghelo to make a completely different back glass that looks rushed and is otherwise "meh." Python and had done some awesome back-glasses, but Grand Lizard was not his opus. I think if he had not put in the drawings of the girl chained to the lizard (really?) and a high top sneaker wearing hero with a sword leaping to take down the lizard, then it would have been a better fit for the game. Some owners have gone out and gotten the original back glass and it does look better with the rest of the art, though I can't see spending the money right now on the original design when my back glass is in great shape. I have 8 pins and currently near the end of restoring a CFTBL. Funds are limited.

The sounds: First, you have a background drumming noise and then of course you have the sounds made by the ball on the playfield. There is no voice but the animal call outs work pretty good for the theme and the tempo changes when you get multi-ball. Hey, after all, you’re in the jungle, baby! There is a somewhat annoying bell that rings when you get an extra ball, etc, and I’m thinking of disconnecting it. When I got the game, the drumming back ground music/sound was disconnected. I think it probably wore on some folks after a while and they decided to just disconnect it in favor of playfield sounds only.

On a lot of these games the upper playfield is really torn up and decals can be had to re-cover the surface. Mine was not so bad and I am regularly polishing it with carnuble wax to protect it going forward. I did put some mylar over a few places on the upper play field that were wearing down.

While mine played OK with the exception of a re-occuring "Adjust" error sequence on boot up (had something to do with the battery pack) I decided to replace the sound, power, and MPU boards. I thought new is better than 30 year old components that were starting to show signs of age. I also bought speakers especially made for this chassis and model machine. I also changed 100% over to LED's. I put a lot into it, but it plays like brand new. Note a few months later: turned out the "Adjust" errors were bona-fide and reflected switches that needed to be fixed or adjusted. Had nothing to do with the battery pack. Since then I've replaced all the circuit boards with new ones from Pinball PCB, to include a new MPU, put in LED display, and replaced the speakers. I also went to PinballLife and bought the one piece kits to replace the flipper assemblies. Plays like brand new.

Should it be in the top 100? Well, it’s a matter of choice but in the last few years there have been so many new releases that GL has sunk in the ratings, but that still does not take away from it being a decent 1980's gam. But I really like mine and it's a keeper.

*It's been a while since I posted my review. I'm still enjoying GL. I've had to replace a few switches as of late and rebuild the top left flipper, but otherwise it is still a fun game.
1 year ago
I enjoyed playing Grand Lizard and I was considering buying one that was listed locally (just couldn't agree on a price). It had cool art and sound effects but after a some playtime I found myself getting bored quicker then normal. Worth playing and owning for the right price.
1 year ago
My buddy has a real nice one. Background music is neat for its time but really annoying to me. lighting is average. Backglass is awful. Shots are ok. Game play is ok. Not sure why this goes for so much. Just not for me I guess.
2 years ago
One of my favorite games of all time and has been with me the longest out of all my pin. No plans on ever selling it unless I can find a better one. Top 3 System 11 pin and best bang for your buck pin, IMHO.

Love the music and sound package, love the upper playfield and the ramps. Fast, flowy, and lots of drops.

Only minor detraction is that the playfield art doesnt line up with the backglass and plastics.
2 years ago
As a company, how do you follow up High Speed, a watershed pinball game that sold a ton of units? Apparently with Grand Lizard, a game whose layout is a copy of Solar Fire, which was in turn a near copy of Black Knight. It may not be fair to compare this game to High Speed, but how can you not? Everything about this game seems lazy: from the copied layout to the simplistic jungle drum soundtrack to the disconnected art package. Python Anghelo, bless his soul, really missed on the backglass design. The playfield art works, and it is a shame the original “matching” backglass wasn’t used in the production run as it gels better with the overall package and is head and shoulders above Mr. Anghelo’s work. The changes in gameplay make Grand Lizard a step above its copied predecessor Solar Fire, however the game pales in comparison to other early System 11 luminaries like High Speed and Pinbot.
2 years ago
Wow I wished I had a chance to play this title back in the day. At first glance I thought it had a multilevel play field. Very deceptive but just a fabulous title. Looks like a green Sorcerer from a distance and plays phenomimially. If you get a chance play or pick up.

The backglass is interesting. It fits the times, but I think it could have been a bit less cheesy, more like Sorcerer.
2 years ago
This pin has some triply art and sound. The game needs some explaining to understand, but its a fun pin.
2 years ago
Great game. Wwwway underrated. It has some tricky ramp shots and wicked fun upper playfield. Like BK it has the magna save, but I love the way GL kicks the ball back into play (if you time it) with the magna save as opposed to just dropping it in the lane.
3 years ago
Have recently upgraded,refurbished,and adjusted my GL to play much faster than before and really having a fun time with it.I think it will be staying for a while.I really enjoy all the sounds and the PF artwork is really good too.It also has some nice shots.I like trying to keep the ball on the upper PF area and bashing the drop targets.The bell is a nice surprise too.
If you get a chance to play or pick up this sometimes hard to find pin,do so,its worth that "just one more game factor."
Have fun!
3 years ago
Fantastic game for the age. Lots of fun aiming for the shots needed. Plan your multiball!
3 years ago
fun and fast, I owned one and would own one again. the jungle sounds are awesome.
3 years ago
Great machine ,fun to play,cool sounds!
Brings you back to 1986.
3 years ago
A blast to play. Love the upper flipper action. Multi-ball can drain in the center way too easy. Too bad I have got so good that none of my friends will play a game with me.
3 years ago
My first, so I may be biased! My three favorite pinball features are magna save, upper flippers, and multiball. This has all three! Game play is fun, there a a couple poorly designed areas (The "D) target gets bashed hard from the side and could use a block of some type to protect it.) The sounds are fun, the lack of voices doesn't seem to bother anyone who has played it.
4 years ago
Great pin from its era . Cool sounds
4 years ago
The sound really makes this game, I love he music and how it builds throughout the game. Fun upper playfield that really plays I to the game, not just a gimmic. Tough to post a high score on, not a huge bonus either. Enjoyed a few runs on it.
4 years ago
Neat layout and design by Oursler. It give you the illusion of an upper playfield without actually having one. The game seems like it's in two pieces and using ramps and the spinner shot to get up to the top (where the real scoring happens) is a neat part of the game.
The sounds are like no other game and, when you first hear those jungle drum beats and baboons, you'll be hooked. It really sucks you in.
I guess it can get tired after a while and it lacks the story-line that many later system 11 games had, but still worth a spot in a larger collection. Very unique.
4 years ago
Very fun game, with lots of shots to go for. Of course you want to try to rack up the scoring by keeping the ball in the upper playfield as much as possible. Shooting the lizard is also a cool aspect of the game. This is a classic Williams that you can usually pick up for a modest price, and has the cool addition of the magna save, which I always loved from the Williams family...
4 years ago
what Caucasian2Step said.
4 years ago
My first pin. I'd never played it before I bought it, just went purely by what was being said here and I was not disappointed. Great flow and one I've put probably 400 games on in 2 months and I'm not sick of it yet. If you find one in decent shape... buy it.
5 years ago
Best flow I have EVER experienced...

I love the defensive playfield. Ball can fast-drain at any second when in the lower PF.

* Asymmetry: very good.
* Backhands: good.
* Ball Time: very good.
* Drops (Sweepable): very good (2 banks)
* Flasher Blinding: Fair. Too much blinding to try and mess you up.
* Flippers (extra) 4 !!!
* Free Ball earning: 2 ways
* Fun/Lastability: Excellent.
* Hazards: Lower PF is as mean as it gets.
* Inlane Flow: Excellent.
* Lateral movement/Nudging: Yes. Slings are a total shell game once they grab hold.
* Multiball - entering: On the easy side, but with a lot of risk.
* Multiball - enjoyment: Decent. Ends quickly, but it's fun to try and get 2 or 3 balls on the top field
* Orbit Shots: NONE
* Originality: Excellent.
* Outlane save-ability: Excellent. Magnets are great.
* Ramp/Orbit Re-entry Speed: Very good - feeds to upper PF.
* Pop bumpers: NONE
* Rules (Time and Order-based) Very good. On drops
* Scoring Balance: No stupid jackpots
* Shots per flipper: tons.
* Skill shot: None
* Slap Saves: Excellent.
* Sound/Callouts/Voice: Funny sounds and no voices.
* Spinners: 1 Very fun one dead middle.
* Stop n Go/Flow: Best of all time.
* Taunting: Yes. The monkeys yell at you.
* Theme/Art/Lights: Very good.
* Toys/Gimmicks: Magnets, lizard head, 4 flippers.

Pros: Best flow ever, 4 flippers, variable magna save.
Cons: no skill shot, no voice.
5 years ago
Love this game. A really fast playing game with awesome magnasave. It really throws the ball around and actually can slingshot the ball back across the playfield if you aren't careful. I am usually not one for this kind of artwork, but it has kind of a Mystery Science Theater vibe to it that I dig. The lizard head is kind of cheesy but it gets the job done. I think they could have molded something better than a kids halloween mask, but it was the early 80's ;)

Probably my favorite of the early magnasave games. Solar Fire coming a close second.
5 years ago
Grand Lizard is a game that was inspired by my favorite of William's Fabulous 4, Solar Fire. Some things were improved, some things were toned down. The good news is that this is a great game to play.

The Good:
Great rules and flow with ramps make this game feel like a 2 level pf. The Sounds on this game with the monkey howls are the best! The light show is a blast as well. Stealing your friends locked balls is always a treat. The ramps feel great and intgrate into the ruleset very well. Oursler tm outlanes require your full attention as always. The ball coming out of the Grand Lizard's mouth from the ramps is a great gimmick with the head lighting up as the balls roll off the lizard's tongue. Multiball and PF multipliers keep your juggling skills sharp.

The Cons:
Multiball locks can be backhanded from the left flipper easily once the sweet spot is found. PF's on this game seem to be trashed quite a bit. The PF looks better than the BG. I've played the game with the original BG installed as well and... the PF still looks better either way. Achieving multiball can be really easy at times.

The Takeaway:
While not a complete copy of the original, this version stands on it's own quite well. Most of the good stuff has been kept from the previous generation of design. The things that have been taken are cost cutting features and are understandable for a Williams game made in 1986. The upper pf is nearly identical to Solar Fire. It's fun to play and sounds like a jungle. The ramps seem to be further up the PF than on Solar Fire making this game a bit more friendly. All in all a damn fine game.

Release the monkeys!

After playing this game a bit more, My opinion of it is that the older dual deck Solar Fire is the superior player between the two decks. The biggest reason is that multiball can be acquired rather easily once the pass-trap-backhand to the left flipper to rinse and repeat multiball... is too easy on most copies of this deck. A simple physical modification to the post just to the right of the left ramp should make both of those shots more difficult and require more balanced play over the entire PF. Scores altered accordingly. I still love playing this game.
There are 33 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 2.

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