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HHaase's ratings

Pinsider HHaase has rated 9 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms HHaase's personal top 9.

Rating comments

HHaase has written 9 rating comments:

8 months ago
One of the least appreciated Lawlor games, but still an extremely good machine, hampered (in some opinions) by an odd theme of road construction. Personally, I love the theme and this game.

As part of the "Super-Pin" generation at Williams, it's flat-out loaded with stuff. Almost to the point of absurdity. Two talking heads, lots of ramps, it's a wide-body that's overflowing with stuff. For all the hardware, you rarely get to use the 'flying rocks' second plunger. Rules are decent, trying to work across the country from East to West, but does get a bit repetitive as it's always the same sequence and start point.

The thing is, though, I think this is better than a large number of games of the era in many ways. But for some reason the community never really took to it, which at least in 2018 leaves this as a bargain compared to other WPC era games. Maybe it's just overshadowed by other Lawlor games, particularly TZ and TAF, and the comparatively simple linear rules aren't in vogue these days. Or maybe people just really don't like the Country/Western theme and music. Either way, this is a hidden gem that got lost in the shuffle, in the days of excess before Williams started their cost cutting extravaganza.
1 year ago
Let's address the elephant in the room first. This is a Stern game with the SB-100 sound board, and the earliest variant at that. The sound as originally installed in this game is among the worst in all of pinball. Not much more than a series of high pitched beeps, counting off similar to EM chimes based on the points scored. You will tire of it. Quickly. It can be improved by modifying it to the later SB-100 tones, which is almost mandatory, but that only helps a bit. Truth is, take away the sound issues and the game improves dramatically.... but I weight the sound heavily in how I feel about games. So this probably drags the score down more than is deserved. But there's no softening the blow, the sound on this game is absolutely terrible.

However, gameplay is decent, if simple. It essentially plays like a slightly juiced up EM game. Simple and accessible, but it also has the typical early Stern drop target banks. Meaning they're in odd locations that aren't clean to hit. The left kick lane is kinda neat, but really nothing that stands out to me on this playfield either positive or negative. Very neutral kind of feel but can get a bit quick. The spinner shot would be pretty satisfying if there was some kind of better sound or other reaction to it. It's a nice shot but noting really gives it any flair. Like I said, plays ok but nothing to rave about, but nothing to really complain about either. Decent for the transition era just coming out of EM design theory. Some decent strategy to involve too, and being able to collect the bonus mid-ball is actually kinda cool. Over time it continues to grow on me from a play standpoint.

Playfield artwork is, well, theme-less. Some pretty colors in nice patterns that represent nothing..... except a giant arrow pointing at the spinner shot. I mean, it looks pleasant enough but reminds me of the kind of bland artwork you'd hang in an office elevator, or on a generic 1980's arcade cab. Like the gameplay, it's there, it won't upset you, but 10 minutes later you'll probably not even remember what it looks like other than remembering it had a generic but pleasing look.

Cabinet is about on-par with the playfield. It's there. Nothing really stands out either positive or negative, but it does meld well with the overall theme. Pretty much average for the era of stenciled 2-3 color cabinet artwork, and it is game specific.

Then we get to the backglass. I believe this was the first chrome nude backglass designs from old Stern. The nude pegasus/centaur woman artwork is just odd. Otherwise all I can really say is that the color pallet is consistent across the machine. Ironic to think that in just a couple years Stern would bring us Viper, which is my all-time favorite backglass. With Lectronamo they got off to a poor start.

So for a quick summary.... Everything on this game is very generic, there's no overall 'theme' to anything. The best way to describe things is to simply say it's a pinball machine that does play decently for its era, but you'll probably forget it all in about 20 minutes. You won't hate it, you won't love it, it happened, and then it ended. Except your ears are bleeding and you have an image of chrome horse-boobs burned into your retinas.
1 year ago
Man, how do you rate Genesis, without discussing the backbox? So hard to separate that from the game but you really have to. Just don't look at the translight while you play it, and give yourself a couple games, it grows on you quickly if you like fast games.

This game, if you tune it right, really can be fast and brutal. The quality of Gottlieb pop bumpers and flippers is obvious on this title, and the react targets just juice it up even further. A little nudging talent is needed due to the outlanes being so hungry. It's not really that different from the fan layout of late Williams games, just with less 'WOW!' factor to the ramp shots and of course no DMD or speech. To me the gameplay on Genesis is simple to understand, but very fun, one of the best playing games from Premier. Multiball takes a bit to achieve, but works well how it's integrated into the gameplay. Just a very solid playing game for sure, one that I just keep going back to for the fun factor.

When it comes to sound, It's got that 80's funky electronic music going, and it fits the game perfectly. The sound blends well with the theme, music ramping up as the game progresses. I'm big on sound, and feel it can make or break a game. This game really nailed it. Even without speech. I honestly don't even miss the fact it doesn't have speech, and I doubt it would really improve on things.

Artwork? Welllll.... lets start with the good......
Playfield art is funky, a bit weird, but I like the sci-fi look and colors. About my only complaint is the awful color to the factory ramps. Throw some aftermarket clear ramps and rubbers on it, and it makes a huge improvement. Otherwise you just can't look away from those big blobs of lavender.... yuck. The robot reveal is neat, and is a fun animation, with the lighting building up anticipation waiting for that big reveal.

Translight? It's just so cheesy. Some people like it, but I don't. Very few Premier translights of the era are any good. It looks cheap, and fades very easily. Cabinet artwork had even less effort put into it, and the cabinet is just soooooo bland and dull.

Overall, I love the way this one plays and sounds, one of my favorite playing games. Playfield looks fantastic with a few upgrades. But oh man, that backglass..... it's really a shame that people define the game by that terrible picture.
1 year ago
This is a tough game to rate.

I flat out love the theme and artwork on this title. Surprising that so many Zaccaria games, made in Italy, had such openly patriotic USA themes. Very much melds circus daredevil riders with Evel Knievel, and it works well. The molded inner backglasses are always very cool, and honest to god Neon! And Zac's of course had animated backbox features during that era, the flipping motorcycle is probably one of the better ones. Easy to spot who's doing something special at their show when that thing starts turning and beeping.

The playfield may be symmetrical, but it's got some unique and interesting things going on that offset the side-to-side repetitive nature. The drop target/drop ramps are the most obvious of course. The LARGE clear upper playfield, with a great view of the lower, works to great effect here. The reactive flippers in the outlanes are something I really would love to see again in modern games. The rules are fairly simple, but the play is fun, and about on par with everybody else of the era.

Zaccaria also gives Gottlieb a run for their money in build quality. I can't find many places where I think they cheapened out at all. Very robust build on the cabinet. A playfield that's far more durable than anything else from the early 80's. Well made boards. About the only thing that wasn't top-notch was how they assembled the displays.

Of course there's always some negative, and in this case it's the sound. I'm sure it's an acquired taste, but I don't know if I'll be able to acquire it. Very odd sounds throughout. The speech recordings are just terrible voice acting and very low quality resolution too. It gets repetitive pretty quick. It's one of those games you realize how much sound can make or break a game. Maybe I'll track down the original Italian voice ROM's and see if that helps.

Very unique game, one I'm glad to have, but not perfect either. Makes me wonder if a modern sound set could dramatically improve this game.
1 year ago
I tell you, this game comes so close to being a real winner, but comes up just shy for me. It's a System-3 Gottlieb, which means it's packed FULL of stuff. I'm a sucker for wire-form ramps, and there are some great examples in this game. You can tell they really weren't holding anything back when doing this game design.

Gameplay is actually pretty fun. Some great ramps to work with, and given the number of ramps in it, it's nice to see they all work well with each other, and it never gets confusing. The rocking glove, though, after a while it really started to annoy me. It just spends too much time blocking the critical three center ramps, and does a great job delivering STDM returns. It's too prominent and has too much of a negative effect on overall flow. I think if it swung further, and spent some time NOT constantly in your way, it would really improve the flow of this game. I mean, why have a glove doing so many catches in a home-run-derby mode? Would have been really nice if it could 'hide' sometimes. Modes are good for its era, nothing really stands-out, but can get a bit repetitive after a while.

Overall artwork is good, actually, both cabinet and playfield. Everybody has a different style but it sure comes across as a baseball stadium to me. Translight is 'ok', but doesn't detract from the game either. Leagues better than just about anything in the System-80 era for sure.

DMD animations are mediocre, you can tell that Gottlieb just didn't put the emphasis there which Williams had. Not really a game-breaker for me, but for those who feel DMD animations are important.... you'll come back underwhelmed. Very bland. Particularly the end-of-game and end-of-ball sequences.

But the sound, this really is what worked against me most on this machine. The call-outs from the stadium announcer are decently done but over-used and don't have much variety. The 'music', though, is the real stinker. Gottlieb did some fantastic synth work a decade before this title came out, so I don't understand why it's so bad here.

So I guess that's a great way to summarize this game to me. They put a LOT of work into the playfield, but seemed to run out of initiative after the white-wood was done. And that's the sad part, was how close it comes. A bit more polish to the rules, animations, and sounds could have really resulted in an outstanding title. But it comes up just a bit short for me.
2 years ago
Ahh, Whitewater. Sure, it's got it's faults, particularly that whistle in the upkick. But it's just so stinking FUN. The left waterfall ramp is my favorite in all of pinball, particularly if it's fast enough to 'click' on the glass twice.

A bit stop and go in some parts, very flowy in others, which I know sets a some people off. For me it's accessible, enjoyable, and light hearted fun. By standards of today the rules may not have the uber-depth of a modern Stern, but this was a game designed for location play, not collectors and tournaments.

This was my 'holy grail' machine, the one above all others that I had to have. And it HURT to sell when I had to. Someday I will own another.
2 years ago
Ah, yes, one of the great early 'Thrashers' by Steve Ritchie. If you've heard somebody call this game slow, ask them to stop being lazy. Tell them to clean their playfield, fix the main 6 standups, plus service their flippers. When this game is maintained properly it's frenetic and fast, though a bit choppy. But don't take that as a critique, take that as a complement. It works here.

Not the deepest rules-set of the era, it's all about completing a small selection of target banks. But when running at speed, with the associated short ball times, the rules depth feels about right for the game. Multi-ball feels like a real achievement when you get it, it's not spoon-fed to you like some games. Being the first SS multi-ball, they also made a show of it when the balls are kicked your way. Everybody in the lineup will know you've got 3 on the way.

Artwork, well, it's sharp but confusing. The big 'death star' floating out there looks like it belongs but could have probably been done a bit less 'chaotic'. The rest of the playfield looks fantastic. Particularly when in a good condition game with new bulbs. A bit cheesy at times, with subtle nods to Star Wars, but pulled off much better than Stellar Wars was.

Sound is probably one of the best of this generation sound board set from Williams. It fits the theme nicely, never feels overdone, and blends well into the gameplay too. Speech may have that early tinny sound, but again, it fits well with the overall package, perfectly matched in feel to the rest of the title.

In fact, that's one area Firepower does shine once you learn to appreciate it ... it's a whole package game. Gameplay, sounds, playfield art, cabinet art, backglass art, they all mesh well together and look like it was a team effort in design. It doesn't have the disjointed feel of some earlier games where art and play were separately designed.
2 years ago
For a Steve Ritchie game, this is a very unique title. It's a single ball, low speed, long-shot, widebody. The influence of his earlier work with Superman for Atari is obvious here. It's not his usual thrasher, this is more of an accuracy game, with a lot of drop targets to hit for activating pop bumper scoring and other features. Some of which are nearly full-length playfield shots. Particularly the 'R' target. About the only thing in the play that actually annoys me is the need complete all the inlanes, of which there are 4, to get the 'Stellar Wars' bonus. Though there are ways around this via other rules. Despite being so different from his other titles, it still shows his polish in the gameplay, and you can see the intent on trying to speed it up with 5 pop bumpers in there. Had this game come a few years later with the improved flippers, and more polish to the art and sound, I think it would have shown a lot better.

Playfield and backglass art is an era typical rip-off of other themes, in this case with obvious Cylons and Vipers from Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately it's not up to the standard of other games in the era, being just before the great work in Gorgar and Black Knight. Though the cabinet art is a notch higher up the scale I'd say. Very trippy overall color feel to it.

Unfortunately, the sound is what I find the most repetitive for this game. Most of the gameplay, for target hits and such, is just fine. Same sound board and core sound selection as Flash. It's the radar pulse sound that gets to me eventually. Particularly when close to completing the bonus. Rather than building excitement, it just makes me anxious with the rapid 'ping ping ping'.
10 years ago
A bit simple compared to the more modern uber-ramp designs, but still a great playing machine. A very fast and brutal play style, particularly with multiball. Magna-Save is still a very cool feature, as is the bonus-ball in a multiplayer game.

The playfield and backglass artwork are among the best of any machine, from any era.

The only place that really feels dated is the sound, and the only thing I wish it had has a "knocker" for when you get a free game.... I just don't like the bell.