DennisK's ratings

Pinsider DennisK has rated 28 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms DennisK's personal top 28.

Rating comments

DennisK has written 6 rating comments:

5 years ago
Silver Slugger, the first of the "street level" games Premier released and the most produced of the six. There's a lot going on in this game (despite its simplistic elements and lack of ramps). Most of which works, some of which doesn't.

Pros: The shots feel great. There is a surprising amount of flow to this game, and really the only elements that slow the ball up are the two kick-out holes that operate the game's mystery awards. The vari-target is a fun shot with a great sound, and it's got *three* spinners, all of which can be hit cleanly and are very satisfying.

The modes are entirely activated via the mystery system on the kick-out holes. This includes the multi-ball. Scoring appears well balanced across all the modes (an exception to Premier's typical reputation; even the multi-ball doesn't appear overpowered versus any other option). The music changes up for modes, and they present some challenging shots.

Speaking of shots, this pin is full of them. Drop targets up the middle, stand-up targets on the sides, the aforementioned spinners and vari-target, some active pop bumpers that see a lot of use... the game is jam-packed with shots and will keep you on your toes.

Related to all of this, the game's displays offer both traditional scoring as well as playing for runs scored. So, you have an option to mix things up and mandate playing for runs in competition, or relying on the traditional rule-set (where runs are worth bonus points but hardly need to be the focus).

A special shout-out to the skill-shot as well. Four lanes at the top, one of which will be flashing. You cannot move it. You can under-plunge or over-plunge and miss the in-lane section entirely. You must be precise, and you must nudge. One of the best designed skill-shots I've seen.

In addition, the backbox has some cool features. In addition to all the lighting, you can actually see the players' positions on the bases represented (as they are on the playfield) and home runs versus a pop fly gets animated via lights.

Cons: Baseball theme works but for the strange future-style they went with (robots? why?). Playfield art is pretty uninspired, as is the cabinet and backbox (so, really all the art). Alphanumeric display doesn't have much in the way of animation (sometimes a baseball is shown). The sound package seems a bit sub-par for the era, and some of the call-outs are too repetitive (namely "There's a drive").

Also, even if the scoring in multi-ball isn't lopsided, I find it very disappointing I have to rely on a mystery award to give me the two or three-ball multi-ball. The game would be so much better if you could activate the locks and then decide if you want to start a two-ball or go for three.

Overall, this game is a lot of fun. The misses on this pin are relatively slight, and more than made up for by the balanced scoring and great flow. It'll always look dated next to what other manufacturers were doing in 1990, but go in understanding that "street level" pins were shooting for a different market segment, and just judge the game on its own merits rather than comparing it to Whirlwind, and you'll probably find it to be an enjoyable experience.
5 years ago
I was on the hunt for a Sharkey's Shootout because of its Eight Ball Deluxe (EBD) inspired (heavily inspired) layout. The nutshell summary is this is a enjoyable interpretation with a few hiccups.

Pros: Shot geometry is good. If you like EBD's layout, this will appeal to you. The orbit shots feel smooth. The ramp's steepness requires a somewhat clean hit to clear, but it is not a tight shot. That ramp replacing the in-line drops, and a stand-up target blocking the lowest pop bumper, means the layout is actually quite a bit more forgiving than EBD's (the pop bumpers will not be much of a threat). In addition, post save buttons to protect the left and right outlanes (and between the flippers) give you added tools to keep the ball going (though these do have delays so you have to react fast enough).

Rules are fun but not complex. As you play through opponents you could be playing either 8-Ball or 9-Ball. Shooting drops to clear relevant balls is the obvious course of action but other shots also can award you credit, so there is some flexibility if you're finding something a bit too rough/repetitive.

Theme integration is great. Funny how a few pool balls mounted around the playfield can go a long way to making the game feel "full". The one toy is the Magic 8 Ball, which is accessed via the ramp shot. It's a clever twist on the 8-Ball concept, and functions as the mystery award device.

Sound quality is pretty good; it's easy to understand everything. Voice work is in that cheesy 90s way I associate with latter-year Williams.

Cons: Game has a lot of flow disruption, from two primary sources. The main issue is the sinkhole in the upper-right area. This is the primary target in the game for multiball locks, finishing an 8-Ball game, and starting a new opponent. The ball spends a lot of time in this hole. In addition, the ball fires out from it into the pops, with a very high chance of those pops sending it right back into the hole. It can get tedious. The second issue is the Magic 8 Ball. A magnet in there holds the ball and it spins while choosing your mystery award, showing you on the ball which one you received. It's neat as a concept but far slower than the typical mystery award process on pins. If you're going up there a lot, it can be a bit of a bore.

Other issues. Dots are good but surprisingly limited in use. Backbox looks weird (ugly) and the translite is not great (I think the art works better on the playfield). Music gets repetitive. Callouts get repetitive.

Overall, I think this is a pretty fun game that (at this time) is surprisingly underrated on Pinside. Yes, it is an EBD variant, but EBD being broadly seen as the best pool-themed pin out there it was the right concept to steal from. The rules have decent depth. It's got a lot of shots thanks to the drops and it is a shooter's game (especially when in 9-Ball). Safer and longer playing than EBD, with deeper code that remains easy to understand, this is a good pin for those wanting something that encourages good shot aim without being exceedingly brutal to you when you brick and fail.
6 years ago
Superman is such a mixed bag. It has a few cool ideas, and some really good shots, but it's also hampered by several things.

First, I should note that the art looks great. Playfield art and backglass both give the comic book vibe from the era. George Opperman may have been Atari's greatest asset. Cabinet art is pretty tame comparatively, in that limited color stencil style favored at the time.

The playfield is well lit, and given the bright colors I think it is pretty easy to keep track of the ball.

The play itself is mixed, so let's hit the good parts first. I'd consider the main goal to be spelling SUPERMAN. Nothing spots letters, so you have to make all the shots, and they require you to play the entire table, so I think that's well implemented. There is a drop-target bank in the center; completing the drops advances the kick-out hole's award, so you can choose to take the center-shooting risk and try to light that for more value. There's also a roving lit drop target (reminds me of Tri Zone, another 1979 game) on the bank which can be hit for additional points. The game has two spinners, either of which can be lit, and they can be a lot of fun. I also really like the lower-pop on the left-hand side. It gets a lot of play in games, and introduces a lot of action in an otherwise slow table.

So, the bad parts. Well, as my last sentence in the good section demonstrates, this game is slow. All the Atari games are widebodies, and this suffers as you'd expect. Big outlane sections, lots of (slow) side to side action, and sometimes significant time waiting for the ball to actually interact with something. The Fortress of Solitude shot is long (better have strong flippers to make it), and it takes up a ton of space. Outside of hitting the spinner, all it does is have an elaborate path back to the top of the playfield. It is sort of neat to see, but it requires such a strong shot that you'll just wish the game had an orbit instead. Luthor's Lair is easier to make (the ball has less routing to deal with) but it also is pretty lackluster outside of the spinner.

Sounds are fun, but no background music is a disappointment (not surprising for the time, but knowing that the designers wanted to add it in and Atari said no just makes it sting knowing it could have been more immersive).

Overall, Superman is a decent pin. Steve Ritchie's design, while not consisting of the flow he is now known for, does offer a number of shots, and the rules incentivize taking those shots. But even steep the game doesn't play particularly fast, and you MUST have good flippers in order to reach the top of the playfield. But if you see one in decent shape, this can be entertaining and challenging.
7 years ago
Score-board does not have much going for it beyond its art (it is a nice-looking wood-rail table). I would say three main things hamper gameplay. First, it is a four-player model and so it was limited in how complicated it could get with scoring. Second, the playfield layout is symmetrical, so there is no variety to the shots you can take. Third, the table has two gobble holes in the middle. The only feature I found interesting is there is a pop bumper below the flippers, which can result in some interesting ball saves. But, there really is nothing about the gameplay that will keep someone coming back for more.
7 years ago
The first pinball machine I actually ever bought. In terms of aesthetics, I think this is one of the best looking EMs (in terms of the backglass). Playfield is easy to interpret. The problem is in the gameplay. There just is not much to shoot for. The playfield is very spartan. Visually, your eyes are drawn to the center with the impressive-looking capture ball (holding five balls, with your goal to get them all on one of the two sides). Probably the most dangerous shot, due to the ball positioning to center drain, but given the 3-inch flippers even that risk is relatively low (especially for someone who knows nudging). Other than the capture ball, the only other thing one can really do is make orbit shots. The game flows pretty well, but that is because there is really nothing much that can mess up your shots. Overall, the game is very simplistic (especially for a single-player EM out of the mid 1970s) and just does not offer much long-term challenge or player choice on what to do for points while playing.
7 years ago
Firepower offers an entertaining and challenging pinball experience for casual play, though it is lacking in features or viability in competitive settings.

The space theme is well integrated and the backglass and playfield look good. Cabinet is basic and pretty boring. I think the table suffers a bit in lighting, especially in the lower middle playfield, though this can easily be addressed by converting to LEDs (I'd at least double the brightness from incandescent if you want to play this in the dark). Sounds do lack variation and the audio quality is low by today's standards but was pretty exciting for the time. The voicing suits the game and the background music helps with immersion and offers a decent 80s experience.

Firepower lacks the flow Steve Ritchie ultimately gets known for, but it plays pretty well. The playfield is pretty spartan (there are no toys to major devices to interact with), but I find the three kick-out holes (which serve as the ball locks) to be interactive and interesting. The spinner of course is fun, especially to hear it when lit, and the game does require precision to hit the center targets and nudging skills to deal with those dangerous slings.

In a casual setting, there's really a lot you can do here. The multiball is not easy, especially since you need to fully clear the center bank of shots twice to enable all the locks. Going for F-I-R-E and/or P-O-W-E-R is another option to explore, especially if you want to try to build score via the high center stand-up target.

Firepower is not a very good competitive game, however. The best scoring strategy is clearly to light the spinner and then just attack it repeatedly. There is absolutely no points bonus for being in multiball, so its only benefit is giving you insurance against draining. I think Firepower can work in tournaments where the players aren't great (the shots ARE hard, and it tends to have short ball times), but learning how to master this game competitively does not take much to figure out.

Nonetheless, I find this game a lot of fun. It is my favorite from the early 80s.

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