Carmoney's ratings

Pinsider Carmoney has rated 18 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms Carmoney's personal top 18.

Rating comments

Carmoney has written 18 rating comments:

7 months ago
I drove halfway across Nebraska to buy this machine from a nice older couple who had it in their home for more than 25 years. And man, am I glad I did! I am privileged to own a bunch of very nice EM machines, and this one has quickly become my personal favorite.

I did a mild functional restoration of my game after bringing it home, and in the process learned the importance of using a bit of lubrication on the cams that drive the switches on the drop targets. One of the drop target 5-banks was sluggish, and I thought I would need to rebuild them with new springs. Turns out they were just really dry. A little dry lube sprayed on the mechanisms, and tiny dab of synthetic lube on those cams--now they drop perfectly with no more hang-ups!

The hype surrounding this game is fully justified. Abra Ca Dabra is truly a great pinball machine.
7 months ago
I bought this machine because it was cheap and unusual, and after a functional restoration it has become a surprise hit at the office. It's fast and wild, and does not feel like any other EM pin I have ever played. The ruleset is actually really neat--the goal is to hit all the targets at the top (which is deceivingly hard to accomplish) to light the Sun and Moon targets, while also hitting the flat disk spinner at the center of the playfield to wind up the bonus for each side. Once you have that done, hitting the Sun or Moon targets in the upper corners of the playfield activates a powerful magnet, which hold the ball quivering in place while the bonus counts down. There is no bonus on ball drain--you have to earn the points!

Succeeding with this game requires well-timed coordination of the upper and lower flippers--both are important. Don't expect to employ a lot of ball-control techniques--the slings are powerful and will kick the ball away if you try to get cute with it. This game is for banging the ball around--which is not a bad thing at all.

This is one EM machine that truly benefits from high-tapping the transformer. You won't hurt anything, and it's great to have the extra flipper power.

Only 704 of these were made in 1971--including the "Planets" version made for the New York market. There are only 11 of them in collections on Pinside, and one of those is the guy who sold me the machine--so the number is actually 10! That makes it an extremely rare artifact. Not many actual production machines (as opposed to prototypes, etc.) are that scarce. But don't let the rarity fool you--it's not because it's a bad design! Steve Kordek did some cool stuff with this design that would have been pretty revolutionary in 1971. (Was this the first use of magnets to lock the ball against the playfield momentarily, then release it back into play? I guess I'm not sure.)
9 months ago
Odds and Evens is the single-player version of Monte Carlo.

I find it to be one of the more addictive EM machines I own. Trying to get all the roll-over buttons to light up the 5000 saucer bonuses is the key here. Some of that comes through random luck, but of course it's important to get the ball back up to the top (which is not easy to do because it's effectively blocked by various playfield components).

I wish there were more left-flipper shots. Until and unless you get all the numbers lit, the bonus lane on the right remains closed. This would be the main shot from the left side, but most of the time you're just going to bounce the ball off the gate wire. The out-lanes are pretty hungry, too--and I haven't yet figured out how to nudge the machine in way that saves the ball when it's heading out the side.

Despite all that, it's a game that makes you want to keep playing and playing.

My machine is fairly rough--I found in a guy's garage when I went to look at another machine he had for sale. It was full of dirt, rust, and mouse shit, and nothing worked. On the bright side, the back-glass was perfect! I bought the other machine, and the guy threw in Odds and Evens for an extra $50. I almost passed becasue of its condition. It took some effort to bring it back to life, but I eventually got it running 100%. Cleaned up and waxed, it looks much better, too! I found the process of saving this game to be really gratifying.
9 months ago
I am fortunate to own a number of EM machines, and Jacks Open is easily my favorite of the bunch. I play it virtually every session.

The rule set is great, and it's really fun to accomplish the goals and roll the score over and watch the 100,000 light pop on. Don't get the idea that the game is too easy--the open lanes will punish you if you try to get cute and cradle the ball too often. Learning how to roll down through three of the top lanes (but not all four!) to maximize the drop target scores is critical to success.

My machine was altered by some operator back in the day so that the extra drop target scores were not registering. When I looked under the playfield, I found four cut wires that were neatly taped off. With the help of some of the knowledgeable EM tech experts here on Pinside, I was able to correctly re-solder the wires and take the game back to full factory functioning. The game has been rock-solid ever since. I can understand why the Gottlieb wedge-heads have such an appeal.

Highly recommend this game--if you can find one, get it.
1 year ago
Royal Flush is a cool machine, but I have found it to be incredibly brutal to play. You would think that big bank of drop targets would be easy to clear, but believe me--it's not! If this has been the first EM machine I had ever experienced, I think I would have written off that entire genre of pins as nothing but '70s era arcade coin-stealers!

I have watched Chuck Wurt's tutorial video on Royal Flush several times, and I really respect his skills! Watching that video makes me determined to keep playing until I can master this machine.

A previous owner of my machine installed LED bulbs throughout, which actually look really good.

Do I recommend this machine? Not for the newer player. Not as a first (or only) EM machine. Not if you are unprepared for the brutal ass-kicking it will deal out. But in a larger collection, it definitely has a place. My rating may not be that high, but I'm glad I own this game.
1 year ago
Grand Prix has become my favorite EM machine and one of my favorite pins in my collection. This is one of the last of the EMs, and I've heard it said that it's one of the most mechanically complex EM machines ever made. My specimen is not a collector piece, but it plays great. The previous owner re-did the playfield and gave it an automotive clear-coat finish which makes it play really fast and smooth!

The shots in this game are great. The spinner shots up to the top are incredibly satisfying to hit. The game is difficult, but not ridiculously so. You definitely need to be careful of the openings at the sides of the in-lanes. If you try to control and catch the ball, you run a very real risk of losing the ball out the side. Some people have indicated that you can use those openings to save out-lane drains--but I have not been able to make that happen! (Once in a while I do get lucky, but it's not because of any nudging or pushing I'm trying to do.)

This game has helped me develop real respect for the older EM machines. Once I got everything set up, cleaned, and working correctly, it just plays and plays and plays. Despite its mechanical complexity, my Grand Prix has been extraordinarily reliable.
1 year ago
Blackout is the earliest SS game in my collection. I bought my copy in rather poor condition, and have done a fairly extensive "restoration" of the machine. In my case, the previous owner had been given the machine by his brother-in-law as a non-working parts donor, and decided to see if he could make it work again. He installed all new boards (except the main MPU), re-pinned the connectors, and got it functioning again. The only electronic addition I have done is to add Frank's coin battery holder (for Williams System 6 machines). I gave it a pretty full cosmetic work-over, including installing the wonderful Pinball Hardtop polycarbonate playfield. Of course, this required removing and de-populating the entire upper part of the playfield and sanding it down to prep it for the Hardtop application. I also added Comet LEDs and a brand new mirrored backglass. Then, after that, I spend a fair bit of time tuning all the stuff that I had removed and replaced!

This game is really fun to play. The ruleset is simple and understandable--the goal is to complete the three sets of targets and qualify the Blackout shot. That gives you the incredible Blackout light-show! (I say this tongue in cheek, because it's incredible only by 1980 standards.) The shots that get you there are very interesting and satisfying to hit. Particularly with the ultra-smooth Hardtop playfield surface, it's really fun to pick off the shots needed to accomplish the mission. The drops are fun to hit, the stand-ups are way more fun than you might expect, and the three separate spinner shots are smooth and pretty awesome.

Sounds are pretty bad--but again, you need to remember that some of this stuff was pretty ground-breaking clear back in 1980. I added a hidden modification that involves a micro-MP3 player under the playfield that is triggered by hitting the Blackout saucer hole. When that happens, a song is played through a sound bar that is in the coin box area. I selected the song "Blackout" by Breathe Carolina, after being inspired by a Youtube video that incorporated the song as background music at the end.

This particular machine is special to me because of the work I did to it--work which really helped me learn a great deal about how early SS games function.
1 year ago
I bought Arena on a whim, and like it more than I thought I would! It has a very different feel than my newer Sterns and such, but once you get dialed in and start making the shots, it can be a lot of fun! I heard Todd Tuckey say this game is growing in popularity with players wanting something less expensive, which makes sense. Definitely has that '80s sound to it, but I like it.

This machine was nicely refurnished before I got it, but I found a couple spot targets that weren't registering hits correctly. I tried and tried to adjust the leaf switches, and finally replaced them with new parts. Soldering the connections was a challenge, trying to work vertically with the playfield up--but I got the job done. Funny how successful fixes like that can add to pride of ownership, y'know?

I can't decide if I like the skeeball-like "pit" assembly or not, but at least it's something different.

I have no idea what the theme is all about. Some kind of gladiator couple battling a reptilian devil? It's weird AF. If anybody knows what the "CYS" on the stand-up targets is supposed to mean, send me a message. CYS???? Guess I'm stumped.
1 year ago
This machine is my latest acquisition, and was something of an impulse purchase, as I had never played the game before buying one. My particular specimen is in really nice shape, and everything works really well. The last owner installed LEDs throughout, so that's a nice improvement over factory stock.

I think this game compares decently to my more modern machines. Obviously, the sound isn't what we get today, but the game plays really well. The shots are satisfying. I was concerned that the various casino games would slow down the game play, but I don't find it offensive. The upper slings are great, and create a randomness that I like. Like all good games, this machine is pretty easy to play...but not so easy to play well!

Edited to add: ColorDMD is now available for High Roller, so I swallowed hard and ponied up the bucks. Really makes a big difference in the overall appearance of the machine! Glad I did the upgrade.
1 year ago
This is my newest machine, and the only Stern Pro model in my collection. I'm glad I got the Pro on this one--having looked at the few extra features on the Premium/LE, I came away convinced the Pro is by far the best value of the group. This particular machine arrived at my distributor slightly damaged, so I got a great deal. I want to personally thank the monkey who stuck a forklift blade through the box, particularly since he (I assume it was a "he") considerately selected the side marked "TRUCK THIS SIDE ONLY" and only grazed the plywood on the cab bottom with his clumsy spear. If I hadn't been offered the special "scratch and dent" discount, I probably would not own this great game!

My review is offered at a pretty early stage--with only 100 plays on the table, I'm still just getting the feel for it. This is a very fast game--but delightfully so. The shots are really fun, and I can sense the John Borg smoothness even through the speed. That goddam left outlane set-up is a known ball-killer, but I am losing fewer balls out the left as I learn to control the flow more reliably.

I'm really not a fan of the theme. TMNT came along well after my time, and it has always seemed like a silly concept. But--the game play of this table more than makes up for it. I will give the design team credit for nicely integrating the theme into the game. Anybody who is a fan of TMNT will absolutely love this thing. I made the mistake of watching a Youtube video of the making of this machine, and it showed the two guys (I think they are brothers, or maybe life-partners?) who voiced the call-outs. Now I keep picturing their faces whenever the turtles and villains are talking.....acchhh! Ah well. If you get this game, avoid watching that video and stick with the SDTM guys and their obligatory but heart-warming excitement over every new release.

I like playing this game more than most of the games I have tried, including the JJP Guns-N-Roses LE machine that is currently on location at my local barcade. Did I mention this Turtles game is fast? It's a hard-driving, exciting, and sometimes maddening, crazy flipping beast.

I like to mention tech issues I have experienced in my reviews. Here, the spinning pizza was making tons of noise, scratching and scraping horribly. After gathering that this is a common problem, I did what others on Pinside recommended, and dismounted the pizza spinner from the underside of the playfield, disassembled it, and applied a good amount of white lithium grease to the white nylon bearings before putting it all back together. It still makes a little noise, but it's WAY better now. I also had one instance where I had a great game going, and for no apparent reason during a multi-ball on ball three my flippers suddenly went dead, the music stopped, and the game sat there staring at me for a few seconds and then re-booted. I have no idea why. Pissed me off, but fortunately it seems to have been a one-time fluke. I have the latest code installed (1.23.0), which came out only about three weeks ago. Who knows.

The artwork on my machine is bright and beautiful, so whatever was creating the complaints with the washed-out playfield art on some early-production specimens seems to be fixed. Playfield and construction quality on this machine seem just fine so far, but I guess time will tell. I don't get too terribly caught up in all that stuff.

I'm a big fan of new Stern Premium games, but in this case I say get the Pro. It's got a lot going for it. My biggest complaint is that I have had a hard time getting to bed before 1:00am since I got this thing!
1 year ago
I have eight pinball machines currently--all fairly recent releases, including six new Sterns--and I think this may be my favorite game to play. The shots are so smooth and satisfying. This is definitely not a stop-and-start machine, and you can really build the flow as you play. Most of the shots are to the back of the playfield, and there is something really fun about making those nice long fast shots, instead of constantly banging into stuff a few inches from your flippers. There are no cheap drains on this game, which is refreshing.

I just installed the newest code (1.00.0), and I can't see much change from the 0.99 version. The little trailers that follow each player's final ball drain are actually sorta annoying.

I have heard the opti-sensor on the back door shot was glitchy at first, but everything has been perfect for me from day one. I believe my machine was from a later production run, so maybe the moral of the story is to wait to buy until they get the bugs out of the first run tables. (Sorta like avoiding buying the first model year of a vehicle after any major redesign, maybe?)

I was never a huge Elvira fan when she was hosting the crappy B-run horror movies on late night TV. But the actress behind Elvira, Cassandra Peterson, was a VERY fine-looking woman in her prime, and she is holding up amazingly well today at age 69 (at this writing). There is probably a joke to be made here (69?), but decorum prevents me from taking the low road in this review.

This is a great pinball game. Impossible not to enjoy playing it.
1 year ago
Jurassic Park Premium is very much deserving of its high ranking on Pinside, and I believe it will stand the test of time. I like this theme way more than the comic book super hero and heavy metal themes that are so popular right now.

The shots are different, interesting, and fun. The ramp work is phenomenal, and the articulating dinosaur head and the raptor cage are some of the greatest toys ever. This is a really well-designed pinball machine.

The voices and call-outs are not my favorite--and it's obvious that they are mostly (or maybe entirely) second-rate voice actors. A couple of the voices are so over-acted they almost sound like they were taken from a Saturday Night Live spoof on the movie. But the John Williams score is pretty awesome, and overall the effect accomplishes the goal of integrating the theme pretty nicely.
1 year ago
I own Yellow Brick Road #10 and it's an incredibly beautiful machine. The "regular" edition machine looks bland by comparison.

I find the game play fun and addictive. The upper playfields are great and there is a good variety of shots on the main playfield. The criticism that there are only really two main shots (the ramp up the middle, and the castle VUK also up the middle) is somewhat valid, but there is enough else to do that I don't find it troublesome. I continue to learn new things about the coding every week as I play the game, and I have found it really enjoyable.

I have had a little trouble with the doors on the upper castle feature--they were sticking intermittently for the previous owner, and they continued to give me troubles after I transported the game to my house. I tried to mess with them from above, and eventually they started sticking and buzzing badly. That's when I realized I would have to remove that playfield completely from the game and refit the door mechs from underneath. I was able to get everything fixed and reinstalled properly, and it's been working well ever since. It should be noted that the opti-sensors that detect ball hits on the doors are very sensitive and must be perfectly adjusted, with everything tightened down with the correct torque. This only proves once again that learning to adjust and repair the mechanics on our games is critical for the home user. The only pinball technician within 100 miles of my WOZ game!

This game is a marvel. Pride of ownership is second to none. Everybody loves it. I sometimes just stand there in the semi-darkened room and look at it before I go to bed.
1 year ago
I bought this game in order to breed some variety into my collection. I actually played this particular machine when it was on location at a nearby barcade, and the owner eventually sold it to me at a good price. I suspect they wanted the space for recent additions, with the all new titles that have been released lately. I gotta give high marks for construction and build quality--despite having around 6000 game plays on it, after replacing the rubbers and cranking up the flipper power a couple notches, this machine looks and functions almost like it's brand new.

The big feature on this game is the unusual shots--which I personally really like. It's definitely not a simple fan lay-out. You know you're not playing any other pinball game when you're playing Houdini. I have noticed that many of the balls return to the very ends of the flippers, which is frustrating for the uninitiated players who don't know what to expect. This improves as a player gains experience with the table.

I installed a shaker motor just for kicks, but frankly it doesn't seem to do very much. Probably would not spend $80 on that extra if I had known how little it would actually do.

I like the Houdini theme, and the art work is pretty cool, but the music is marginal, the vids on the DVD are amateurish, and the call-outs can be annoying. I find myself constantly hitting the flippers buttons to jump past all the nonsense and get back to playing pinball. Nonetheless, I respect the effort they made into incorporating the Houdini history into the game.

This is a really neat game, and I think it will stand the test of time. I would probably not have it as my only machine, but it definitely has a place in an 8-10 game collection.
1 year ago
This was the first machine I bought for my home, and it is still one of my favorites. I think it's a drop-dead beautiful game, and the sounds, music, and call-outs are all absolutely first-class.

I like the game play, and have learned most of the tricks of progressing through the modes. One thing I figured out early on is that the upper playfield and the main ramp are the keys to making it through the various monster modes. You can follow the flashing lights and make all the shots that are supposedly required to defeat the enemies, or you can just shoot the ramp over and over and get all the hits you need up top. It does get a little repetitive--lock balls behind the shield (which is cool and satisfying in and of itself), then get up to the upper playfield and stack on the catapult multi-ball and build points.

I still get excited by achieving the "retro" modes. There is something really cool about engaging the original BKs from the classic games.

Despite the criticisms mentioned above, I find this a satisfying and really fun game to play. This is a tough table, and it will force you to learn ball control. Just banging the ball around will not work for long. Casual players seem to get frustrated by it quickly, but the better players find it intriguing.

I had a weird glitch involving the fuctioning of the shield, but posted a query on the Pinside forum, and quickly received a helpful message from Tim Sexton, the software guy at Stern who programmed the game. I was impressed that Tim jumped so quickly to help me out--makes me feel good about Stern as a company.

I also found that the little black screws that hold the plastic trim pieces in place needed a little blue loctite, and the same was true with the fasteners that mount the spinning flail. And I had to unplug and re-plug the connectors to the under-field node boards to correct a crazy lighting issue. But it's all good now, and with about 1000 games on the machine everything is working fine.

I like games with unlicensed themes, although I suspect we won't see many more from the makers, and I think this is a really neat theme. Bottom line--I don't think I will ever get rid of this game.
1 year ago
Star Wars Premium was the second game I purchased for my home collection. Overall, I am glad I own it, but I must admit that I have not completely warmed up to the game play. This game plays extremely fast and the outlane drains are pretty brutal--so much of the time you don't even have a chance to nudge the ball back into play, it just rifles out the side (particularly the left) and is gone. I am slowly getting better at making the tougher shots--in particular the hyperspace/death star shot--but it still plays pretty tough for me. The ramps are fun to hit, and the hyperspace loop is a really cool feature of the premium edition. I'm luke-warm on the asteroid video mode--it was fun at first, but lately I have found myself avoiding it, just to keep playing pinball, y'know? I got really excited the one time I blew up the death star--but I haven't been able to make that happen since, even as my play has improved. I don't think I have explored the code very far yet, since I'm still in survival mode most of the time. I'll be honest--I moved the outlane posts to the inner positions and set the game at 5 balls just to allow myself to play a little longer.

Sounds and light show are really cool--I do think the game does a good job of immersing the player in the Star Wars universe. But this is not the table for the casual player who only has one machine (or three). I could see how a more skilled player would enjoy the challenge the game presents, and as my own skills develop I am slowly enjoying it more and more. I may update my rating in the future as I get more time on the machine.

I never modify my games, but I did make an exception and installed PinStadium lighting in my game, just to give it a little more G.I. It's better now, and I don't think it interferes with the designers' intention of creating the dark space ambiance.
1 year ago
Having enjoyed the Munsters TV show in re-runs as a kid, I was immediately interested in this theme, but concerned about all the bashing it took in the early reviews here. Then I played the pro version at a local barcade and really enjoyed the shots--so I bought a premium table NIB at a nice overstock discount. This has become one of my favorite games to play, and is a favorite for friends and family too.

I really like the lay-out and the shots. Both ramps are extremely satisfying to hit. The lower playfield is great--it truly is a complete game within a game, and it takes both skill and strategy to play it well. The Munster Madness multi-ball, with action on both playfields at the same time, is always exciting--and I'm getting better at controlling both sets of flipper buttons and actually managing to see what is happening on both levels simultaneously.

Technically, the game has functioned well. I did find a hang-up spot in the lower playfield that would catch the little balls and require drastic tilting or disassembly to resolve. But after a little surgery with my dremel tool, I was able to fix the problem and it has worked perfectly ever since. Note: Make sure the lower playfield window is replaced into the playfield with the proper screw tension so that it is perfectly level and flush. In my case, I tightened the screws down a little too much and it put the plexiglass a little below flush, and it made the balls jump slightly and created rejections at Herman and the Grandpa scoop. Easy fix, though. I also found that I enjoy the game play with the main flipper power setting switched to "normal" instead of the default "hard."

I can't say enough about the great artwork--the game is really neat to look at. The B&W art in the premium package is very distinctive.

My advice--play this game! If you're not a tournament player and you don't care about code depth, you may find this table to be really enjoyable.
1 year ago
I am a relatively new pinball owner, but I have gone "all in" this year and currently own 8 tables--6 of those were purchased NIB. After owning and playing some great titles (including high-rated Elvira HOH and JP Premium), I wanted something that would really feel different. In particular, I wanted some straight classic pinball action, without all the toys and stuff. I looked pretty hard at TNA, but wasn't really sure--then I had a chance to pick up a NIB Beatles Gold for a really great price and decided to pull the trigger. And I'm glad I did.

The Beatles music is repetitive but good--although I'm not a huge fan of the band, I do find myself humming the classic tunes long after I am done playing the game. I like the fact that they included art blades as a factory feature--the art itself is not earth-shaking, but it's still nice. The game is very well-lit, and it's easy to track the ball at all times.

I find the game play to be pretty addictive. It's hard to walk away from this machine. There are multiple satisfying shots, and I enjoy working the drop targets, which is key to scoring success. The optical spinners are sweet, and I like the way balls feed into the inlanes. The bonus target behind the "FAB" drops is a challenge, but rewarding. I have never played the old Seawitch game, but it seems like a cool classic style to use as the base for this new game. The spinning magnetic record in the middle of the playfield adds an interesting random touch to the ball action, and I think it really adds to the enjoyment of playing the game.

Game play is pretty fast overall, and I notice that I get quite a few air balls, and have noticed a fair number of balls jumping over and banging into the left side of the cabinet. It doesn't seem to be causing any damage, though. I tried turning the flipper power settings down to "normal" and I still had the balls banging around and it felt a little sluggish, so I went back to the default "hard" flipper power settings.

This might not be a great choice for a first and only home game--but for those times when you don't need dinosaur heads and hyperspace loops and all the fancy stuff, and you just feel like playing some straight PINBALL, this game may be just the ticket! I find that I usually start and end my pinball sessions with a game (or several games) of Beatles Gold.

For a good quick tutorial on playing the game, check out this video: