Jackalwere's ratings

Pinsider Jackalwere has rated 9 machines.

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

Rating comments

Jackalwere has written 9 rating comments:

1 year ago
I'm amazed by the number of "code warriors" who have ripped the code on this game, but when I check their collections they have games like Scared Stiff, Theatre of Magic, or old solid states with rules that are far more shallow. What a bunch of hypocritical sheep.

John Borg should be called Mr. Consistent...the shots in this game are like a dream. Anyone who rips them must really hate Metallica, Tron, Guardians and The Walking Dead. The ball save does need to be on to protect from unfair drains. The Skill shot trick (holding down the left flipper while you plunge) and then hitting the right ramp is a great feeling. The mono targets don't bother me, I'll hit targets no matter what kind they are.

The lower playfield is fun. It could be better and a little less floaty. If someone makes a mod with heavier balls (hehe) it will be pretty awesome. It's amazing how many shots they squeezed into that thing: a VUK, a ramp, an orbit, and a bash toy. Plus the ability to play multiball on both playfields at the same time is total chaos!

The art is gorgeous, Christopher Franchi's best work. The lighting is beautiful, too. The music and callouts: like any game it can become repetitive sometimes, and it didn't seem like they used much of the assets they had available. The topper is pretty cool.

The Midnight Madness and Secret Mania modes are fun, too bad they aren't part of the main game and have to be specially triggered, I think it would have helped the code angst. It looks like production is shutting down soon. That doesn't mean more code isn't coming - see Dwight's work on Ghostbusters as an example. I guess time will tell.

Overall this is a great game. I'm amazed by the games ranked higher than this one. Pinball Magic, Roadshow, and Champion Pub (along with many others) are better than this game? Sadly we live in a time when it's more important to be aligned with the loudest and most vocal than it is to form your own opinion.
2 years ago
I've been adding horror themed pins to the collection, and my recent NIB purchase choice came down to this and Monster Bash. I ended up going with ACNC for several reasons. First, the world under glass is off the charts. Where else are you going to find a pin with all these sculpts in it? Look at BKSOR or the new Elvira...it's not even close. Next is the upper playfield, with 2 targets, 1 flipper, 2 flipper ramps to hit (Frank and Guillotine) and 2 exit ramps (on flipper misses) plus a drop into the crypt. It's probably the best upper playfield ever made. The artwork is superb, from the cabinet to the playfield, and the comic book animations are just awesome.

I'm not a huge AC music fan, but I like (most of) the songs that Spooky and Alice chose for the game. Unlike some of the "band pins" where the music is constantly going, I like that the original soundtrack plays until you battle a monster, which unlocks an Alice song. That is brilliant. The callouts are fine...so he doesn't growl or scream...that's not his thing. Cold indifference, almost like a creepy and uncaring ringmaster, has always been Alice's style. The background sounds added by Scott Danesi are awesome, from screams and moans to rattling chains and doors closing, there's a lot of little things that you don't notice in the heat of playing but when you are watching someone else you hear a lot of detail.

Game play? I can't stop playing it. I love the monster battles and the idea of moving through the castle. The rules are imaginative, such as hiding the ball during Pit Monster or loading bullets and then firing to wound the werewolf. I love that you can play a co-op mode just like TNA. As for the shots, I find the orbits and secret passage fairly easy to make. The only criticism I have here is that I find the ramps harder to hit, resulting in not enough time spent on the upper playfield, and there is a lot of bouncing around that can be annoying when you just want the ball to return to the flippers. However these are minor complaints and accuracy will improve with more plays, while Titans can be used to reduce the bouncing and the slings can be set to a less sensitive or lower power setting.

This leads to my most important point - difficulty. I see some people bagging on the game. Different strokes I guess. For me, going into a home collection, I want a game I can enjoy for a long time. Games that are difficult and challenge me have more staying power. I have The Hobbit (super deep rules), Dracula, which is brutally unfair, and now ACNC. Hitting shots are so satisfying on Alice...it's nowhere near as bad as BSD or Houdini. Outlane drains are rare and the default ball save is generous. The higher difficulty means there's a lot I still haven't seen and done. Considering the rules are still be worked on, the game's only going to get better. There are no playfield pooling/chipping issues, very little dimpling if any, and to top it off Spooky's support is the best in the business.

If you just want to slap a ball around, this game isn't for you. If you want to be challenged, this is the game. I used to think White Water or The Hobbit would be the one game I'd bolt to the floor, but now that I have ACNC, it's never leaving...they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands...perfectly matching the spirit of the game!
3 years ago
I owned this game for awhile many years ago because the price was right. At the time I only had 4 other machines, and since my White Water wasn't working, this got played a lot. The crane is the coolest toy in pinball (although I think George Gomez improved it for the Dark Knight), all the retro videos modes (Time Machine) are awesome and the concept of building a spaceship jalopy from junkyard parts is brilliant. The other toys are okay but mostly just window dressing.

Unfortunately, like others have said the game suffers from being a one-trick pony (shoot the crane to start multiball, other "toys" like the toilet and bus do nothing), no pop bumpers and tough side drains. But perhaps the worst feature is the music and callouts. I'd rather hear Rocky and Bullwinkle's "wrong hat" and Fish Tales' "gone fishin!" all day than to listen to this. It constantly grated on me more and more with each game I played. The devil and angel concept make absolutely no sense with this theme, and since they are the primary source of the callouts, they really hold the game back.

Don't get me wrong, I think the game would be fun playing on location for anyone else, I've just had my fill and moved on. With so many better titles available to put into the home collection, I only recommend it to a collector looking to add it to a large collection. In a small collection you will tire of it quickly. I guess the best thing I can say is that I made a decent profit when I sold it.
3 years ago
There's a lot to love about this game and it definitely belongs in the all-time top 10, but I don't believe it's the best game ever made simply because it's a bit too repetitive and easy. It feels weird to say that since I like Attack From Mars more than anything and it is just as repetitive. But of the 2 Brian Eddy games, for some reason I always come back over and over to AFM while MM earns a "been there, done that" feeling from me. I really like the game, but I don't love it.
3 years ago
Hands down the best game ever made and beats MM by a mile. I've played this ever since it was released during my college days in the mid 90s and I still play it whenever I can. While the saucer toy is the most visual and most fun, there's still plenty of other things to do on this machine, and I still haven't reached Rule the Universe. The only thing I don't really like is the amount of red in the playfield color scheme. Someday, somehow I'm going to own one...
4 years ago
This game isn't what we have come to define 90s era and later pinball machines as. It isn't about the toys, though it has some; it isn't about ramps, though it has those too. It isn't even about multiball, though it has its fair share. The Hobbit is about four things: 1) a homage to pinball machines of the past; 2) precisely placing shots within modes to achieve objectives; 3) immersion into the theme; 4) teamwork (optional). Those who judge this machine based only on the toys, ramps, or multiball will be confused or turned off by it. But for those who can look beyond that, you will find one of the most unique experiences in pinball today.

The Hobbit pays homage to machines of the past, primarily late 70s EM and early 80s SS machines. Most machines during this period featured few ramps, no toys, and little to no multiball. Instead, what made the machines fun and challenging was hitting drop targets, rollovers, spinners, bumpers, and generally being able to precisely place your shots. It recalls the days when utilizing these features were how points were scored, and yet it still includes multiball, toys, and ramps to stay current.

Keith Johnson is an amazing programmer. His rulesets for The Simpsons Pinball Party, Lord of the Rings, and Wizard of Oz are incredibly deep. I have faith that after a few more updates, The Hobbit ruleset is going to be amazing when finished. Currently the game has perhaps the "widest" ruleset rather than deepest. Getting to Into the Fire, Barrel Escape, and Battle of the Five Armies is incredibly challenging, with a super wizard mode (There and Back Again) coming. It takes precisely placed shots to get to these modes and beat them. But even the casual player has fun with the game as it is fairly easy to start Smaug Multiball.

The game is an immersion into the theme. I loved the movies and from the first time the start button is pushed and Bilbo Baggins exclaims, "I'm going on an adventure!", that's exactly what the game is trying to capture - that sense of adventure in journeying to defeat Smaug and the other monsters. The audio and video is spectacular, and it has a shaker to capture intense moments. Game times are long, further feeding into that sense of immersion into the adventure.

Finally, The Hobbit really excels when a player has another person to help call out shots or objectives that need to be completed. A person can still do well playing alone, and although they can't look at the screen, there are other indicators to help, namely the LCD book on the playfield, and flashing inserts that tell you what to shoot. But having that person help call the shots makes things much easier, and that helper gets to enjoy the video and audio as they assist.

The game is so unique, so different, that many players won't get it. But many of those who own it are realizing what an amazing game it really is. The Hobbit will never leave my collection.
4 years ago
I feel like I've owned this game long enough to make a detailed evaluation, rather than reviewing a routed machine that may or may not have issues that impact my impression of it. I had to overcome my Bally/Williams bias and the ugly Frankenstein toy before purchasing but I'm glad I did.

It quickly became one of my favorite machines. There are lots of things to like about it, the first being the ability for each player to select which music they want - the movie soundtrack or the Edgar Winter version (I prefer the drama of the movie soundtrack and Edgar Winter still plays during Geneva multiball). There's Creature 2 ball multiball which can be turned into six ball multiball by locking one at the North Pole and then hitting any hole, the ramp, or the right orbit quickly; delay and the number of balls will be reduced. There's also 3 ball Geneva Multiball. The modes are generally fun and achievable, with my favorite being Graveyard, where you have to assemble body parts from hitting various shots. Save Justine requires a shot through the bumpers which can be really challenging. There's only 1 ramp, but there are 4 pop bumpers, 3 holes, a spinner, a North Pole VUK, a kickback, and a monster that moves his head and throws balls right at you!

The shots generally feel good. In many ways this game reminds me a little of Whitewater without the ramps. One big creature toy sits in both machines and interacts with the ball. The North Pole shot with the VUK is similar to White Water's No Way Out. Some days I can drill a shot up that narrow passage anytime I want, and other times all can hit is the targets in front of it. The same goes for the ramp next to it. Hitting that ramp consistently will start Creature multiball more quickly. On my machine the monster throwing the ball hits the glass just like Insanity Falls does in White Water. Unlike White Water, Frankenstein's upper flipper isn't super important, but if you can consistently hit the Ice Cave with it you will get good bonuses. The bumpers are placed close enough to get good action, although a ball will occasionally exit this area and go SDTM. The DMD animations are excellent and the big DMD is a great feature, but expensive to replace, and Color DMD is $469 and not fully developed - I think the current version only supports changing the color, not supporting multicolor yet (except for Baywatch). I also love the big knife switch used to launch the skill shot, very steampunk! The machine is very forgiving for bad aim, as errant shots often bounce of rubbers and slings, easily caught on the flippers, while side drains are fairly rare. Getting 6-Ball Victor in multiball gets its own initials at end of game, which then appears on the cover of a journal on the DMD in subsequent games, the first time the ramp is hit...a neat feature. There are also some hidden features like the secret passage shot (again like White Water), a diverter behind the North Pole, add-a-ball during multiball, and restart multiball with a North Pole shot.

Some issues I have with the game are modes are a little inconsistent, with countdowns for the Creature Ramp, Frozen, and Save Justine creating tension, but Voltage and Millions don't feel quite the same, while Stoning is absolutely dull. Another issue is that while 6 ball multiball is exciting, the flippers tend to be slightly underpowered during this mode and can become frustrating. Some of the callouts are great, such as "Live again!" for extra ball and the buildup to Creature multiball is great; others such as "Who am I?!" are quite annoying. One other negative is that the game is very dark and unplayable in low light conditions. Putting in a few spotlights would help immensely. I also recommend a Pinsound for home users that utilizes Hazzard's mix, it's much better than the stock sounds! There is mini-wizard mode entered by completing all modes that really amps up scoring, lights extra ball, and and starts CREATION multiball, but it is a timed mode that ends after 60 seconds so it can be intense while it lasts but also a bit disappointing when it ends.

Overall it's a solid, trouble-free game (I've had zero maintenance issues) that keeps me coming back for more. The movie wasn't very good, but the pinball machine overcomes that and works well in small or large collections, especially those that are horror or monster themed. Since White Water is my favorite game, some of the similarities I mentioned above between it and Frankenstein might explain why I like Frankenstein so much. It's just a lot of fun, and it won't be leaving the collection anytime soon.
4 years ago
This was my third game purchased, which I picked up back in 2006 for price that would be a steal now. I'm a fan of anything Elvira, so theme was a no-brainer. I don't care for the red playfield, but I like all the toys, especially once you put back in the missing features like the lighting the Deadhead skulls and the dancing bogeymen. However, I think the dancing mode is a little silly and the leapers are just annoying.

Elvira's callouts are the best ("Wake me up when you're done!", "Another notch for my bedpost!"), and I like the "hip" Dracula voice. The 3D backglass and spinner spider are great, the cabinet artwork is cool and some of the music is pretty damn good (I like Double Trouble the best).

But how does it play? It might be a bit too easy, so maybe it's not great in a small collection but if you've got 5 or more pins it's nice to have at least one that doesn't kick your ass. A lot of players are negative on this machine because they've gotten bored with it, but to me that's a little self-serving. My take is that although the pins are for me, I love having friends over to play, most of whom are casual players or are drawn to the novelty. Scared Stiff gets a lot of play by my friends because of theme and it's not super complicated...they can earn Crate Multiball pretty easily and that generates a lot of fun and excitement, which in turn gets them wanting to play more. And I'm still trying to complete the spider wheel, which is pretty difficult.

Is it worth the money it goes for today? Absolutely. Everything has risen in price...try to find a Shadow or Dracula for under $3k...you'd have to be extremely lucky. Medieval Madness is also an easy game with a great theme and even the remakes are expensive!

In conclusion I would have to say that while it is not deep or hard, it has a great theme and a fun factor that entices curious friends to play, and sometimes that's better than only judging the machine by what it does for you alone. I won't say it will never leave my collection, but I doubt it. I love it.
5 years ago
Disclaimer: All of my reviews are for machines I've owned in the home, or routed machines that I played a lot. My home machines may have different ROMs and mods than routed machines.

I initially played White Water in a local pizza parlor in the 90s and it was blast. I had not set foot in arcades for some time. The pizza parlor also had a Medieval Madness, Twilight Zone, and Attack from Mars. Maybe it's coincidence, but these 4 games are the gold standard by which I measure every other machine I've played.

White Water is my favorite game. The other 3 come close, very close, but White Water tops them for me. Why is this the case?

I read in another review that White Water is like a tiny world captured under the glass. That is an amazing and accurate way to describe it. I've been whitewater rafting, and this game looks like what I experienced in my adventure, minus the water of course. I wish Dennis Nordman could have figured out a way to get incorporate the same technology in the topper and embedded it in the playfield. Still, all the mountains and artwork provide an amazing "tiny world" feel. One real negative is the fragility of those mountains - they sure love to break.

And those ramps! The best ramps in pinball by far. The Insanity Falls ramp is amazing, there's nothing like it, as the ball flies up and down it and smacks the glass. If you've ever had to shop White Water, the sheer number of ramps to take apart and clean is ridiculous! But I love ramps, so it's worth it. The ramps cover a lot of real estate, and it turns some people off that the ball can't be seen under those upper playfields. It is annoying but not a deal breaker for me, although I get the complaint by others.

The Bigfoot toy is funny and well designed. Since it is the only toy in the game, you could argue that it doesn't completely sell the game and that there should be at least one other toy and you wouldn't be wrong. I think a small rubber raft toy in the game that you bash would have been perfect.

The topper is the best in pinball. The fact that no one really knows how this was made (including Nordman) and no one has successfully reproduced one speaks volumes about the design.

Music is 90s midi cheese, but the tunes are catchy and I never get tired of them. a real credit to Chris Granner's skill. The callouts can be annoying. The artwork could be better too, but it's not terrible.

The game play is what you make of it. People complaining about SDTM drains - c'mon people, pinball is supposed to be hard! They are designed to separate people from their quarters. When pinball games are too easy, not only do they not make money on route but they also get boring fast. The challenge of beating the machine is what keeps most of us coming back. The home rom helps a lot by adding a ball save, and home users can modify the lost mine kickout so that it drops to the inlane/flipper instead of the outlane. The boulder garden can also be adjusted. There is so much to do in this game - Spirit of the River, Man Overboard, Vacation Jackpot, No Way Out, the Secret Passage, Bigfoot Hotfoot. And multiball is a such a rush, with the "WHITE WATER!" yell and sending 3 balls down Insanity Falls - so cool! I always seem to drain on Man Overboard for some reason. I got to the Vacation Jackpot once, and thought WTF? What followed was an amazing experience and everyone should strive to reach it at least once.

This machine isn't for everyone - no machine can please everyone - but it's the best for me, my desert island pin if you will. It was the first machine I bought and it will be the last one I sell. For others who are thinking about owning it, it works best in a larger collection with more variety of games. Owners should change out the lost mine solenoid, make sure the flipper solenoids are correct to avoid weak shots and SDTM, and put some mylar in front of the lost mine, that part of the playfield takes a real beating. At my house, the game never lacks in its ability to attract players thanks to Bigfoot and his tiny world that we get to be a part of for a little while.