jar155's ratings

Pinsider jar155 has rated 141 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms jar155's personal top 141.

Rating comments

jar155 has written 61 rating comments:

8 months ago
What a missed opportunity this game turned out to be. A fantastic license that really could have just done so well with a good layout and a good set of rules. Sadly, TMNT doesn't offer either. The layout is break neck fast and most of the combo shots are near impossible to make for all but the most advanced players. Casual and newcomer players are going to leave this game wondering how three balls went down the drain so quickly. With such an appealing theme, the game needed to be far more approachable.

Aside from being difficult, there are just some absolutely awful decisions in the design. There are cheap drains all over this thing (the pizza spinner funnels to the middle, the Dojo often exits to the drain, and the outlanes are far too hungry. The scoring is extremely imbalanced between the different turtle selections and the points are handed out in such nonsense amounts that have nothing to do with the difficulty of the tasks.

I wanted this one to be good. It was a dream theme and the art is absolutely killer. It just plays so poorly and comes with such a bad set of code that I can't possibly recommend it to anyone and I don't want to play it myself.
4 years ago
I think I prefer the pro, to be honest. I wasn't a big fan of the pro, but I hoped that the lower playfield would add to the fun of the experience and mix things up a little. Unfortunately, I'm not impressed by the mini pinball. I think Family Guy/Shrek does the mini pinball stuff better, and even then it's a bit hokey.

The game isn't a disaster, it's just not that fun when compared to others in the similar layout family (Metallica, Guardians, KISS, etc.). I keep wanting to go back to Metallica instead.
5 years ago
The Munsters feels like a bit of a retread of the Metallica layout, but it falls short of some of the other games that share the same DNA. There are some good things here, but there are some really rough edges as well.

First, the good. The ramps are this game are fantastic. Either the left or the right ramp is as satisfying of a shot as you'll ever feel. Borg has both of these ramps flowing fast and smooth and the ball seems to just zip right back to the flippers on a clean shot. It's hard not to feel happy about how those turned out on the game.

The theme is also well done. Even if you're not a big fan of The Munsters, it's still a charming package and is well suited to pinball. I was skeptical, but I think Stern did a good job with the license. The clips definitely get a bit repetitive, but they're fun.

The music is great. Jerry Thompson is a master. Ever since Ghostbusters, he's proven that he can work with licenses and create original tunes that are perfect for pinball and feel right at home with the theme.

The gameplay, however, is where I start getting irritated with The Munsters. It's still evolving, so I will probably come back and update things, but I'm just not a big fan of what there is to do here. The rules feel overly simplistic for a layout that's also quite simple and it feels like the rinse and repeat cycle just happens a bit too quickly. This might deepen with code updates, but right now you find yourself in the wizard mode rather rapidly.

The layout is also odd. Again, the ramps are fantastic, but the area between them feels cramped and a little clunky. The HUGE standup target is lame, which is obvious cost shaving practice rather than having individual targets and I really hope that doesn't become a new standard. There's just way too much open space in the center of the game and then not enough room on the edges. It's an odd design that's both overly simple and overly crowded. It can feel good when you're dialed in, but it can be miserable when you're just a little off. Feels a little under cooked.

We'll see where this one goes over time. I think it has a few fatal flaws that hold it back from being great, but it can be a decent player from time to time.

Sure is pretty...
5 years ago
Truly a terrible game. Even if you're an Austin Powers fan, this game is sure to annoy you before the end of your first play. The sound and music are repetitive and of poor quality. The layout is a very standard fan layout, but the rules are so basic that it all just ends up being a huge snooze fest. The toilet shot is unreliable as clean shots often just fall off the side rather than hit home. The Mini Me spinner is too heavy to get good spins going. There are just a lot of bad and uninspired ideas on this game.

The layout was partially recycled for Iron Man, but on Iron Man the rules get a massive upgrade and the shots are SO MUCH better. Night and day difference between the games.

I give Austin Powers a hard pass.
5 years ago
Ah, this game was one I have been waiting to see for a LONG time. Deadpool has always been a fun character in comics, games, and movies since he made his debut in the '90s, and it's about time he gets a pinball machine. We've known for a long time that Deadpool was coming, so I was pretty excited to finally get a chance to play the game when a pro showed up on location right by my office. Unfortunately, I was pretty frustrated with what I found, but we'll see how that develops over time.

First the good. The game looks great. The art is fantastic, the display is lively and much more varied than expected, and there are tons of fun little details all over the place. The sound is also pretty good, though the variety is a bit limited at this time. Going with the comic license gives Stern much more freedom to explore a wider range of things to do with the license, and the sound package should be all the better for it.

Unfortunately, for me, the good aspects of the game didn't spill over to the playfield design. There's a lot of nice concepts here, but the machine I played was clunky as all get out. Lots and lots of clean shots rejected, especially the lock shot. I feel like it's The Avengers all over again in many ways. Left orbit is dodgy (plus it hits a post on the exit), the lock shot is totally unreliable even on a clean hit, the spinner shot often dribbled backwards instead of making the round, the ball kept randomly bouncing back into the shooter lane, and the Li'l Deadpool shot often funneled back down the middle due to the angled exit on the right side.

There were also some unclear things going on. The Battle insert flashes seemingly at all times, but hitting the shot didn't always do something. At times it would start a battle, but it more often didn't. I'm assuming you need to qualify the battles, but that insert should not be flashing if there's nothing active there.

Back to some good...the battles are pretty fun. They're your standard hit the flashing shots to win sort of thing, but there's something a little more satisfying about actually fighting something than just completing shots 1-2-3-4. I'm hoping with future code releases that the battles can get a little more dynamic, but if you like the villain modes in X-Men, you get something similar here.

The use of the license is good. Everything from Chimichanga punch cards to cameos by the X-Men and villains really feel great here. it's snarky, it's funny, and it's self aware with its humor. It all works in that regard. As the code develops and new sound clips are added in and everything is deepened at bit, the game should improve in many ways. I look forward to what it's in store on the presentation side of things, but for me, this layout is a bummer. It's going to be really hard for me to look beyond the shaky nature of the shots.

All in all, it's a decent effort in many ways, but hamstrung by some dodgy shot geometry. I really wish Gomez would avoid shots that are unreliable. It's like his calling card by now. If a shot doesn't work at least 95% of the time, it needs to be redesigned. It seems like George is settling for 50% on recent games. Frustrating.
5 years ago
Meteor is a fantastic game, simply put. While so many will focus on the oddball sound package, the gameplay and experience of playing the game should really trump all else. This game is amazing for either casual or competitive play, and few games will really test your ability to keep a game away from the dreaded outlanes like Meteor will.

The rules on Meteor are simple, yet deceptively challenging. Knowing when to focus on the spinner versus drop targets or pops can make a huge difference in your final score.

A lot of these are being bought up to be converted into Star Gazer, but I hope that before people push forward with that too eagerly that they give Meteor a fair shot. Stern Electronics put out some special games, and Meteor is one of the best of its era.
5 years ago
Houdini is an interesting game. As it continues to grow and evolve, it's really shaped up to be a fun player. The first chance I got to play this game, I was left a bit confused, but saw plenty of potential. In recent time with the game, I've found that the potential is starting to solidify into a fine pinball package.

Houdini has a lot of demanding shots. Nearly everything on the game is tight, but you can dial into them fairly well. That's a good thing, because most of the modes in Houdini demand that you string together several accurate shots in succession, often in a very specific order.

The game is visually appealing, even if it looks a little basic at times with its animations or art. The animations remind me of You Can't Do That on Television, a kids TV show from the '90s. That isn't to say that the game is ugly, but it's a style we're not used to seeing very often these days.

Of all the magic themed games, I think Houdini is going to hold up the best. Theatre of Magic is far too simple, and Pinball Magic is far too linear. Houdini manages to offer a much more dynamic experience, and it demands a higher level of skillful play to complete.

American Pinball has a winner here, and sales seem to reflect that others agree.
5 years ago
Unlike most people, I actually played the pro after getting a good amount of time on a premium model. I feel like the pro barely feels like a concession, though the sarcophagus lock is a noticeable omission. Beyond that, however, the pro is solid, and is a great value in comparison.

Either model plays well. The layout is fantastic on this game, and it takes a while to find all the shots, though they are all fair. The game demands accuracy and skill in good measure, but it's impressively approachable for newcomers or lesser-skilled players. Newbies will manage to find a multiball mode or two and be able to get some loop shots going. It will give them enough to feel satisfied and to bring them back. Higher skilled players will get sucked in to the depth of the game, which has so much to experience. Modes, multiballs, combos, hurry ups, and multipliers are abundant, and knowing how to use them is key to blowing the game's score up.

There are lots of little touches thrown in by Elwin that reward higher level play as well. Loop shots are worth more if you don't hold your flipper up to make the shot easier. Nice idea! The more accurately you hit the middle ramp, the better it scores for you. Rewarding accuracy rather than just making a ton of tight shots is a great way to appease both high and low level players. Smart stuff here.

The theme is a problem for me, but that's just me. Even though the music irritates me, I can't help but circle back and continue playing the game. It's simply that fun. Long ball times are a little bit of an issue, but if you're going to see all this game offers, you're really going to have to play long. This game is a bit of a journey.

I appreciate the simple nature of the game's design by removing toys that disrupt the action for too long. While I hear that's an issue for some, I would hope that we could get more games that focus on actual gameplay over hollow style effects. Toys are fine, but Elwin seems to understand that their wow factor fades over time, but a solid gameplay experience holds up.

Great first effort by Keith Elwin and his team over at Stern Pinball.
5 years ago
Iron Maiden, as a theme, is a major turn off for me, so it says a lot about the game that I keep going back to play it. Elwin's design here is great, and it really overcomes my hesitations about the theme and music. It's so refreshing to see a layout in pinball that isn't your standard fan layout paired with a rule set that rewards accurate and deliberate shooting. Iron Maiden has both.

The upgrades on the Premium/LE aren't critical, but they are nice. The sarcophagus lock is great, and I love the diverter behind the backboard. Beyond that, I think the pro features are sufficient, so one shouldn't hesitate to "settle" for a pro on this game.

The ball times are extremely long, and it's not too much of an issue when playing alone, but playing with 3-4 players starts to feel cumbersome. If you play with friends often or use machines for competition, the ball times will become a bit of an issue. You can always make the game more difficult through setup (open outlanes, tight tilt, etc.), but the game sort of demands longer ball times to see everything in the game.

And boy, this game has A LOT going on. There are a ton of modes, multiballs, hurry ups, and combos. It'll be a while before you run out of new things to see, and they're still adding stuff to the game with updates at a good pace. Even high level players have some work to do in order to see all the game has to offer, and few have been able to run through all the game's content.

This is a great start for Keith Elwin and his career in pinball design. It's hard not to call this game anything but a winner.
6 years ago
Wow, what a bummer this one was. I was REALLY excited to get some time on this game and watched from the sidelines as the code evolved to .85, when I finally got my chance to spend an afternoon on it. Over the course of a couple of hours, I couldn't find a lot to like here, but I'll lead with the few things I did like.

It's a pretty game. The art, the colors, and the lights are all attractive. Franchi is a good artist, and he upped his game here over what he did with Batman '66 noticeably. I can't wait to his next effort. The ramps are fun to combo, and they're satisfying to hit. A ramp that feels great goes a long way when you're learning a game.

Unfortunately, this game has a mountain of issues, most of which are the result of either a rushed development or a phoned in attitude. The layout itself is a recycling from Metallica. Stern is starting to reuse stuff more and more, and Guardians is showing just how bold they are in dodging the challenge of new or innovative design.

The rules are a mess. The scoring is way out of balance. There's no incentive to play modes at all. Just play Groot multiball, because the only points of significance are there. With how tight the shots are on this game, modes should be worth way, way more than they currently are, because completing them is fair challenge.

The sound in this game is about the worst I've ever experienced on a pinball machine. It just throws constant noise your way that does nothing to indicate what's going on. Movie scenes play during modes and hitting shots does nothing to alter what's happening. You just get an onslaught of noise and it's unbelievable that anybody felt this was a good idea for pinball.

And those same movie clips also manage to make knowing what to do a little more fuzzy as well. Take a peek up at the screen and you don't get a ton of great indicators, but you'll sure get a chance to revisit your favorite movie clips from the first Guardians of the Galaxy flick for the 4983rd time! They gotta fix this movie clip show treatment.

Then there's that magnet. Look, John Borg, not every game needs a playfield magnet. You might think that's the case, but you're well beyond overdoing it at this point. It sucks to get punished so regularly by making that Orb lock shot to have the magnet chuck the ball straight out the left outlane (and it will do that A LOT). When Groot releases balls during multiball, it'll pulse there too. No problem at the start of multiball, but if you re-lock balls to build the multiplier, ball saver won't often save those magnet drains (despite the ball saver flashing).

The layout is recycled, sure, but it's not a bad layout. They can make this into a good game, but they probably need to reverse course on a few things to make that possible. Who knows if Stern is willing to unwind some of the knots in the software design on this game, but it's a pretty messy experience right now. The theme could have been used much better than this.
6 years ago
A fantastic throwback game that manages to meld classic layout elements with ultra modern presentation. The game is beautiful, brutal, and a blast to play. I'm eyeing my collection to see what I can move out to make room for one of these at some point.
6 years ago
I'm not a big fan of the pro, but it's definitely better than what you have here. The only real difference between the pro and the premium is the hyperloop and fork jump ramp. Normally added elements would be nice, but the forks on the jump ramp are problematic. Balls hang up behind them ALL THE TIME. Practically every ball you will get at least a couple of shots that settle behind the forks and the game is too stupid to know that it's just sitting there, so you have to wait for a ball search to release it (all the while your hurry ups and multipliers are expiring.)

Oh, and that hyperloop? It has issues as well. While a neat looking effect, having a ball fall off is a real frustration. The balls do look cool whipping around in there, however. But when it comes down to it, you're introducing problems into a game to add elements that don't do much in regards to gameplay. In fact, they detract from gameplay in the end. It's a head scratcher of a concept.

Star Wars is a bummer. I can see how people would like it, but I can't see how it turned out so disjointed, so underdeveloped, and such a confusing and scattershot jumble of ideas on an overly simple layout. For such a fantastic theme, there should have been more care and better planning going into this game. Here's looking forward to the next time someone works with the Star Wars theme...because for now, we're still waiting for someone to get it right.
6 years ago
Ok, it's not ALL bad with Star Wars, but I don't like the sum of its parts when it comes right down to it. I just wanted so much more from the Star Wars theme than we got here. It feels like they cranked the speed up to distract you from the fact that it's a pretty bare game.

The playfield shots are smooth as silk, and shots, when made, just feel right. The geometry of a game is something that Steve Ritchie just seems to understand better than most anybody. Some shots are tight, some are easy, but they all feel pretty much where they should be. It's hard thing to put into words, but you feel it when you play. Compared to something like Aerosmith or Batman '66, Star Wars just has a more refined feel to its geometry.

The sounds on the game are pretty cool. That spinner sound is the best since Metallica. Lots of neat little sounds are found throughout the game. Stern usually does a pretty solid job on sound packages, and Star Wars is definitely no exception.

I'm really not digging the code on the game. Bugs aside (and holy jeez there are plenty), it is totally the wrong type of game progression for how fast it plays. Shots get back to the flipper so quickly, that it's hard to keep up with what you're doing in the game. It's a bummer, because while the game has TONS of modes, they all end up feeling so samey because the ball is just flying around and you're fighting to keep control. Game of Thrones is also very fast, but the modes feel better differentiated, and it doesn't feel like a constant race against ticking timers. Star Wars gets in your face with too many hurry ups, too many timers, and too many dang layers of things going on. And you better like multiballs, because they are to be had at every turn.

Then you have the action button. It's way overused, and there's nothing fun about having to constantly babysit that thing. You have to use it to unlock, move, and lock in your multipliers, you have to blow up TIE fighters with it, you need to hold it down to add a ball in multiball, and you have to unlock and move your multipliers again. Don't forget to lock them or else you'll make your shots but they'll be worth, literally, a 40th of what they could. The game barely gives you a chance to breathe, but you're expected to keep up with slapping that action button so often? That was not even close to fun.

There are also some real head scratchers with Star Wars. Why do they even have pop bumpers in this thing? The ball rarely goes in there, and when it does, it's completely hidden from view. You can't see the pop action at all, because the mini LCD screen blocks it. They feel like they're in there simply because "a game should have pop bumpers." The mini LCD is nothing special either. It helps you on the "skill" shot, and then it's used fairly sparingly from there. You barely have time to check it for indicators anyway, because the ball is always at top speed. The kind-of-a-scoop is a bummer. I've played on 7 different machines now, and all of them had reject issues. Stern could have spent an extra buck and put a proper scoop in there. The eject from that shot is wild too. Blah.

The plunge on this game is terrible. By ball 2 of your first game, you already know the exact timing to get the max skill shot reward, but it sends the ball into an out-of-control state in the lower half of the playfield. Not a fun way to start a ball. Less fun when the ball saver just throws the ball back into chaos again. I would prefer the option to short plunge for the stand ups or to full plunge to the pops. Make it so you can risk chaos for a multiplier or play safe if you want to. But no, Star Wars never takes its foot off the pedal.

The game is always teetering on the edge of control. That can be fun in bursts, but to always have every shot leading to a blazing fast return is just too much. All the stand ups cause a lot of airballs. Bad ones. I think the flippers are overpowered here. It's just one speed to experience: maximum. The Star Wars films aren't some adrenaline-fueled spaz fest. They are very measured in how they dole out action, and the speed of the game just doesn't feel like a good match to the franchise at all.

And that's really my biggest disappointment here. It doesn't feel like Star Wars at all. It looks like Star Wars, but once you start playing, it just melts away. Stacking up Hoth and Tatooine stuff seems so strange. It's like an extreme over reaction to people not liking the Ghostbusters ladder system, so they just let you throw everything in a blender. Makes for a weird use of the theme.

The game is still very much in development, so things can evolve on the code front quite a bit, but I doubt it's going to dramatically change how the game feels to play. It's always going to be too fast for all the layers it's trying to put into the experience. Once the rush of the game's speed wears off, it just feels overwhelming. It's really hard to parse out why a shot scored the way it did, because some shots will have so many things stacked on them beyond what the game can adequately indicate.

I have a feeling that this game will have a hot moment of popularity and then people will get fatigued by it. Once you start getting dialed into the shots, you start having these insanely long ball times of super fast play. Multiball rolls into multiball, modes sit on top of modes, and it all just blurs into a samey hot mess. Almost all the games you play start feeling so alike. Even Ghostbusters, as linear as it is, has games that feel very different from one another. I can't seem to find out how to do that in Star Wars.

I was cold on Aerosmith out of the gate, but I am liking it more and more these days. I hope Star Wars goes through a similar process for me.
6 years ago
I have had an odd path this this game. At first, I hated it completely and just couldn't care for it at all. After playing it more and more (I'm stubborn with games I don't enjoy), I started to enjoy things about it enough to keep giving it another chance. Right now I'm in a place where I can enjoy playing it, but so many things actively annoy me with the game.

I usually give a game a pass on theme. It's usually one of the least important things, but the music is aggravating here. Aerosmith just grinds my nerves. Jacky is way too vocal, and let's be honest, he's horribly annoying as well. Small doses of Sparky worked on Metallica, he's too much here. Then there's the magnets. Borg has got to ease up on the cheap drains from his magnet bash toys. There are times when the ball will fly so hard from a magnet that it's completely impossible to save.

On the other hand, the ramps are good fun and the shots are great on the game. Shots through the orbits feel great, and I love the skill shot to sneak in a free lock. That right ramp will never feel good to hit clean.

In the end, the game will probably have a flash of popularity and will wane over time. The code is pretty thin, and there aren't many indications that it will get much deeper. It's a fun location shooter, but there's no way this would last long term in a collection unless the person is an Aerosmith fan. Better than KISS, but still low on the Stern music pin rankings.
6 years ago
Star Trek is a fun game that looks to refine the design that Steve Ritchie created for Spider-Man. With a bit wider openings, the ramps are a bit easier to hit, and some shots have been added to the far sides of the layout. The result is a game that feels similar to Spider-Man, but still manages to feel like a totally different experience, especially at the code level.

Heavy on mode-based play, many of the modes tend to feel similar, but they're broken up by a variety of multiballs and hurry ups. Star Trek brings modes close to the surface (you can't start a ball without being in a mode), while Spider-Man buries them behind several shots to qualify them.

While the game was nothing spectacular early on, Star Trek evolved into a solid player over time. There are a still a few hanging bugs or quirks that could use some cleaning up (like the Lock shot being lit but not collectible up the middle at certain times), but overall it's a solid game that provides a good mix of fast gameplay with measured shooting.
6 years ago
This is a game where my rating is going to go up and down over time as it evolves through code updates, but I've put in enough time at this point to get an initial rating down and to post some thoughts.

Dialed In, like many Pat Lawlor games, is packed with shots. Unlike many games with a high shot density, however, Dialed In remains smooth and keeps a good flow going. I don't know how Pat Lawlor does it, but he never wastes an inch of playfield space.

The theme has been polarizing, but once you realize it's a disaster game, not a game about a cell phone, it's easy to settle in and start enjoying what is going on with the game's theme. Natural disasters, aliens, shady corporations, and yeah, cell phones all make for a pretty fun theme.

Where the game truly shines is in its gameplay. Combos, modes, multiballs, and hurry ups are all well thought out and are a blast to shoot for. Of all of Pat Lawlor's games, Dialed In will most likely be pointed to as his best shooter, and if the code is up to snuff, we're looking at a game that will be held up as a winner for many years to come.

As they've done with The Hobbit and Wizard of Oz, JJP has done a great job generating nice art assets and animations for the LCD screens. Information is presented in a much cleaner way than the other previous two titles, which makes it easier to learn the game and get pulled into the story progression.

Music and sound effects are nice, and they're rich in variety. Some of the music is a little cheesy, but it's got a classic feel to it that feels like it belongs in a pinball machine. The voice work is campy and fun, and again feels very much at home in pinball. I'm sure the audio package will still evolve a bit over time.

Now, the game is quite expensive, even at the base model. At the price point, the game simply won't be for everybody in a home environment, but it should be a winner on locations as well. If this game is any indication of what Pat Lawlor is going to do in his return to pinball, I'm beyond excited to see what he does next.
7 years ago
Got a chance to put some good time in on an LE version of the game. The game was obviously rushed to get out for the 30th anniversary milestone, and it suffers greatly for it. Some of the problems will get cleaned up over time via code updates, but some are permanently baked into the design.

First of all, the LCD integration and presentation is nearly perfect. The size of the screen, and the placement of the screen, is far better than what anybody else has done so far. It's nice having it lower on the backbox, so you can glance up easier. You have to look too high and take in too much screen space on JJP games. Stern absolutely nailed the screen. They just need to clean up the moments when it's displaying the old DMD dots, which will obviously happen with updates.

The art looks fantastic as well. I wish that the artist could have used the machine as his canvas instead of providing a file of clip art, but they did great with what they had to work with. I really hope that they give the artist a shot at doing more art for a future title. While the colors look oversaturated in pics, they look great in person.
I have mixed feelings about the music. There's good variety there, the melodies are solid, but the jazz style is a bit rough. It could grow on you over time or get more annoying, but that's just a personal preference thing. Probably not a deal breaker for most people.
I'm not even going to critique the code, because there was so much missing. Certain things do absolutely nothing, and there's obviously a lot of things that are going to change. The game is surely still in beta, and it has a long, long way to go. Ran into quite a few bugs, but again, that's all WIP at this point.

The real bummer is the actual geometry of the game. That left orbit is awful. It's partially blocked by the blue nub, but even if it wasn't, the angle of entry on it is bad. The ball enters sharply, so you rarely get a smooth transition form the main area to the orbit, and you get rattles. It's just poorly laid out and the orbit entry needs to be lower.
The left ramp is nice when the ball stays put, but it flew off often during play. Moving the nub from the outside of the ramp to the inside seems like a bad idea, as that ramp shouldn't be tightened up any more than it is. I love the shape of the wireform. Very pleasing to watch the ball roll along. I know there are fixes for the ball flying off, but that's insane that it left the factory as it is. That ridiculous nylon tie also got the ball stuck in the left orbit more than once. WTF IS A NYLON TIE DOING THERE?!

The turntable is a mess. Not a good shot on any side. On the magnet side, you get really goofy action, and there's too much dead space. The sides with the targets have dead space around them too. The spinner side is the worst, as the clean shot just dumps with a thunk into the orbit, and a spinner hit barely spins the Batmobile because of the dead space around it which causes the ball to deflect back into the spinner before it dribbles down the middle of the playfield. Often times it would tell you to shoot the phone and not have the phone facing you. The phone is also ridiculously loud and annoying. The ball often got stuck on the lip of the turntable, and it causes airballs too. Neat idea, but bad implementation.

The right ramp is weak. it's this tiny little climb up, which often gets made by ricochet (a ramp should never be a ricochet shot!). Feels ok to hit though. Feels good to combo from the left ramp and vice versa.
The right spinner is really poorly integrated. That target right behind it often stops the ball and causes it to roll back through the spinner. Other times you get just messy action as it bounces around up there as the ball has to make a sharp direction change right after hitting the spinner. Feels like it was just tacked on for no real good reason.
The half scoop on the right was a little odd. Feels like a full scoop would have been better. We had a screw fall into the spot and had to pull the glass to get it out.

The right orbit is the best shot in the game as far as entry goes, but it's still not as smooth as most orbits should be. I noticed that a lot of orbit shots fed into the slings often rather than coming reliably to the flippers. I hope that was just a problem specific to this machine, because that would be an unforgivable design flaw.
The gadget stand ups should have been drops. It's a shame that they went cheap there. Oh, well.

The game just geometry problems that aren't going to be fixed by code. Yes, the game will get MUCH better as the code evolves, but it's never going to be a smooth or great shooter. Gomez has really struggled to get a smooth game out the door in recent years. Transformers, Avengers, and now this are all rattly and kind of janky in their flow. I don't know what happened after Lord of the Rings, but everything since then feels pretty much half baked. Maybe he's not getting enough time, or maybe his attention is divided, but B66 definitely feels underdeveloped in many ways, mostly on layout. Had to pull the glass off often throughout the night.

I fear that this might be a casualty of just hurrying a game to production. It's not Avengers or Transformers bad, but it's not going to settle very high in the rankings of modern Sterns. Do your magic, Lyman, because this game needs it badly.
7 years ago
I will say that I had a ton of out of the box issues with my LE, but once I got them fixed, the game became about as addictive as any pinball machine I've ever played. At this point code is still evolving, but what's there is already fast and satisfying, and few games provide a more challenging experience without being frustrating. The layout is simply fantastic, and I hope the code keeps evolving to make the game as good as possible.

Obviously the art is a real winner. Zombie Yeti knocked it out of the park, and the sound package pairs well with it.

For hardcore players, the game will push them and challenge them. Casual players will love the game's sounds, art, and toys. It's a great game for all types of players.
7 years ago
Yawn. KISS is as pedestrian as it comes with a little bit of frustration thrown in. The game's feature toy is problematic, and the rules are devoid of anything special. For such a cool throwback with the art package, it's a shame that the gameplay doesn't measure up.
8 years ago
It's been a long time since I originally reviewed this game, and a lot has changed, both in regards to the code on the game and my experience with it. Here are my updated thoughts:

I still feel like this game is still best described as a spiritual successor to Twilight Zone. With a ton of modes that make use of a very packed playfield, there's always something different to see in Wizard of Oz. Whether it's layout or code, the Jersey Jack team threw all that they had into putting this game together.

While it's fun to flip from the first play, there is a bit of a barrier to entry to fully enjoying Wizard of Oz. Unless you're paying close attention to what the screen is telling you, the call outs, the musical cues, and even the status reports, you can find yourself a little lost in the game's progression. Once you're a bit more familiar with the way the game unfolds, however, few games will give you so much satisfaction as The Wizard of Oz.

The playfield layout is full of challenging shots, and the geometry is great for both flow shots and trapping up to take measured aim. The spinner and the Wizard shots are both challenging to hit, especially under hurry up situations.

The game lends itself to longer ball times, but it's no pushover. Modes are a fair challenge, but you have to be very deliberate in your shooting if you want to progress deep into the game. I suggest opening the right outlane up to the widest setting and giving the game a pretty steep pitch.

The sounds, music, and light show are simply spectacular. Whether they're aiming for humor, a bit of urgency, or just informative sound, the JJP team hits the mark. I often hear the sounds in my head hours after playing, which give me the itch to return to the game once more.

Like Stern's Lord of the Rings, there are smaller goals that feel like a real accomplishment to reach, such as trying to Melt the Witch. Finishing these feels a lot more satisfying than what many games offer for their main wizard mode, but there's still SO MUCH more to see in Wizard of Oz. It'll be quite some time before I exhaust all there is to see and do here.

I admittedly failed to appreciate the depth and beauty of this game for way too long. It can be a little confusing or even intimidating if you have had limited exposure to Wizard of Oz, but keep at it. Eventually the game will just click for you and then you're in for quite an experience. We may never see another game so packed full of features and depth again, so make sure to appreciate what we have here.

***Old Review***
It feels like a bit of a spiritual successor to Twilight Zone, and that's a good thing! This game has some really fun shots, some imaginative modes, and top notch presentation. I need more time with it to understand it better, but it's a winner.
10 years ago
Truly a terrible pinball machine. I don't think that they could have cared less when putting this one together. This is easily Stern's worst effort.
10 years ago
I held off rating this game for a long time, because I wanted to make sure that I gave it enough of a fair shot. By now I've probably logged several hours on the machine, and I just don't like its layout or ruleset. A fantastic theme that is held back by a layout that just doesn't work well. The machine is also problematic and sloppy. You shouldn't have to sink 20 hours tuning a game to make it acceptable.
11 years ago
While it's not too different from the Pro, the LE really makes you feel like you're standing in front of a special machine. It looks, feels, sounds, and plays like the game that everybody has been asking for. I don't own one, but I hope to luck into a Tron LE at some point.
12 years ago
Wow, I really enjoy playing this game every chance I get. I like Iron Man, but I feel this is probably Stern's best game since Spider-Man. They did a real nice job on this one.
12 years ago
I enjoy the game, but it's not one that keeps me coming back too much. It's a downright beautiful art package, however.
13 years ago
The first time I rated this game, the code was fairly rough. What a difference that final pass made on this game! Iron Man is a very straightforward experience. It plays like a hyped up EM, to be honest, and that's a good thing! Within a few seconds of surveying the playfield, you already see the entire shot map. From there, you simply need to chain your shots together as safely as possible, because misses are quite punishing on Iron Man (if it's set up properly).

Code is very basic, but consistent and solid. Not every game needs the depth of The Simpsons Pinball Party, and putting that depth on top of this design would have been criminal. Iron Man rewards you for playing clean and knowing when to take a calculated risk.

In a time when Stern was cutting costs, Iron Man doesn't feel compromised at all.
13 years ago
Wow, this game is quite the rush. Steve Ritchie has always been big on fast flowing games, and this one certainly isn't any different. Very similar to Attack From Mars or Medieval Madness, this game has quick ramps, a dominant center piece, and lots of combo shots to hit. Pros will love the combo system, and newcomers will enjoy the theme and flashiness of the experience. Great pin for any type of player!
13 years ago
Truly one of the best pins out there. It's simplicity allows for unmatched flow and the theme is one of the best in all of pinball. I do like Medieval Madness, but I feel that Attack From Mars' more simple layout makes it the overall better game. I've been trying hard to get one of these into my collection, hopefully the wait won't be much longer.
13 years ago
I just don't understand why this game consistently sits in the top 10 lists or demands the kind of cash it does. Yes, it's very fun when you first start playing this game, but before long you'll be able to dominate it without much effort. The theme is fantastic, and the toys are great, but the game leaves a lot to be desired in regards to challenge. I don't dislike the game, it just doesn't do much for me now that I'm very familiar with it.

For visitors and casual players, however, this is sure to be a hit in a collection.
14 years ago
A fun game, but the theming could have been better. Obviously Family Guy fans will really enjoy it, but I still feel like there were better licenses worth chasing.
14 years ago
This is a hard game to judge since it really gets a boost from the novelty of it being both rare and related to Mario Bros. The game is actually surprisingly fun for how simple it is, and it's enjoyable to progress through the different worlds. It would have been nice to have had inlanes and outlanes on the machine, but they're not a deal breaker.

Mario enthusiasts can probably had a full point to the final score as it's plastered in fan service. As these are pretty rare, I'll probably keep mine around well after the novelty wears off. My nephews LOVE having it spit out tickets for them as well.
14 years ago
This is a pretty dang fun pinball machine that has a a family-friendly theme. You would be best to put the game on harder difficulty settings to limit the really long ball times. Just recently on one credit I ended up getting 3 replay games back to back to back. While I appreciated the free games, I would have preferred a stronger challenge.

Oh, and Donkey Pinball is great!
14 years ago
This is one of the best values out there. It's an affordable game that is very, very, fun to play and it looks great. I love the bell that's down in the cabinet. This is a great complimentary game to add to a collection or perfect for a first time pin buyer.
14 years ago
Much like Twilight Zone, Lord of the Rings is going to be a love it or hate it type of game. For those that are willing to study out the rules and pay close attention to their shots, there is a very deep game here with lots to offer. This game has combo shots, fun video modes, cool toys, tense time-sensitive shots, and several multiball modes. There are tons of challenging things to progress through in this game, so it's a great one for the collector that doesn't want machines coming and going too often. I know people who have owned the game for years and have only started the Valinor mode once or twice.

Great game, but suffers a bit from the fact that each game turns into a bit of a pinball marathon. I do miss owning mine, but I was having 30-45 minute games on it, even with a tough setup. I'm still happy to play them on location or at a friend's house, but the super long ball times take a little cut out of the game's lastability.
14 years ago
This is a great game, with my only complaint being that the game has some really, really, long ball times. Even on the very first time I played the game, my ball times were each over 5 minutes. There's tons to do though, so you'll need those long times to see all that the game has to offer.

This one is definitely a keeper. There's so much to do, so much to see, so much to hear, and so many modes to get into.
14 years ago
This is a great game for kids to enjoy as the ball loops around the big ramps or gets juggled by the juggler toy, but for experienced players it will probably get old fairly quickly. There are some interesting shots to make, but hitting them doesn't take a ton of skill and it seems like there's a lot of time just watching the ball go wild on the ramps and rails.

I own this game, but I'd be open to letting it go for a fair offer. It's a great game to put the little kids on when they wander into the game room, but with it sitting between my Twilight Zone and Bride of Pinbot it doesn't get a lot of love from me too often.
14 years ago
This is another game that almost hits the mark, but it ultimately falls just a little short. Bummer, because the theme is a fun one and some of the shots are fun to hit.
14 years ago
This game is pretty disappointing outside of the artwork and backglass. I really wish it was better, but that middle target dominates the game way too much. The ramps are way too easy to hit, so the game becomes a loop fest and scoop shot frenzy. Bummer, because the theme is good.
14 years ago
This pin was close to being a good game, but it fails on a few simple things. First of all, the toys are a little weak, and the steamboat takes FOREVER to bring your ball up to the ramp, so waiting for that really kills flow. Some of the target shots are fun, but the game could have used a few more tweaks. The massive DMD is cool, but there's not much interesting happening there.
14 years ago
This game is a lot of fun, provided your flippers are strong and up to the task. The sounds and speech are great and the lightshow is nothing short of spectacular. I think this one is easily the most fun to play in the Pinbot series, and it's definitely the most challenging.

At first the game can frustrate you, but keep playing and you'll learn to love it.
14 years ago
A fun machine that probably could use a bit more pop. The toys are great, but they lack a certain flash to them. I liked the shots to start and complete modes and the multiball lock was great! Not a bad game, by any means.
14 years ago
I was surprised at how fun this machine is to play. The basketball toy is really cool, especially when the machine flips the ball 1/4 of the way across the playfield and into the basket. The ball times were really long, but that seems to be more common with the newer games these days.
14 years ago
This machine is just okay. As of right now it's incomplete, but I just don't know how well Wheel of Fortune translates to pinball to be honest. Ball times are obnoxiously long.
14 years ago
This is a fun pinball machine and I think it's actually a better overall game than The Getaway. At first glance it looks a little simple, but there are some great shots to hit.
14 years ago
This was a fun game, but make sure you're wearing comfy shoes because ball times are very, very, long. I liked the toys on the machine and some of the way things move is impressive.
14 years ago
This is a really underrated pinball machine. The game is dominated by the elevator shot a bit too much, but there are lots of other good shots to hit if you're paying attention. Solving the cases is fun, and it should keep visitors glued to the machine once they figure out it's more than just a point chase.
14 years ago
I'm just not that into this game. Walking up to it, it looks really impressive and seems like you're in for a wild experience, but there are actually a lot of dead shots and seemingly unfair drains right down the middle. The ramps and toys are really neat, however.
14 years ago
The game is fun, but I feel like some of the shots feel just a bit "off". I like playing this pin, but the satisfaction of completing the modes isn't quite there for me in comparison to other titles from the same time period.
14 years ago
I like all three of the Pinbot games, but Jackbot might be my favorite due to the combination of the theme and the skill needed to make some of the shots. I like the "double or nothing" chances that pop up...those are always a fun gamble.
14 years ago
Aside from the loop when putting the ball into play and the passing mechanic, there really isn't much that stands out here. The game is okay, but every one I've ever come across has had issues with the ball sitting in the trough or with the ball hanging up somewhere on the playfield. It just feels like the game needed another few weeks in the testing and fine tuning stages.

This game is worth trying if it's out on location, but probably not a keeper in your collection.
14 years ago
This is by far my favorite pinball machine of all time. It's so deep and solid that I can play it over and over and never get sick of the game. The shots are challenging but fair, the modes are tons of fun, the toys are great, and the gameplay flow is just perfect. I believe that this game belongs in every serious collector's collection.
14 years ago
I guess I really didn't just get this game. I felt like the ball spent a lot of time away from the flippers and just about every flip was into a ramp shot. I didn't find anything particularly challenging to hit and my games lasted very long. The pace was just too slow for me to really get into the game.

Also, I felt like the ball was moving about at a snail's pace in comparison to other machines. I had just come off of playing Junk Yard the first time I tried POTC, and it was almost a shock to the senses to see how much slower of a game it was. The game isn't a total failure, but I can't see it being one I'd either seek out to play very often or want to have in my collection.
14 years ago
This is one of those games where you just want to rate it a 10 and move on. It's a great game. It's a real bummer that since it's so highly rated by collectors that it's very rare to find one on location anymore.

The only reason I don't give this game straight 10s is because it does borrow quite a bit from Attack From Mars, so maybe it's not quite as original from a gameplay standpoint as it is from a theming and artistic one. Either way, it's an excellent game that I wouldn't hesitate putting in my collection if I had the money and means to get one.
14 years ago
One of my favorite machines ever. It might be my #1, but I'm not sure yet. I guess I would have to give it a tie with Twilight Zone.
14 years ago
This was one of the first pinball machines that I really was aware of. My uncle bought one and had it in his house, and whenever I'd visit I'd glue myself to it. Over the years I've come to better appreciate it, and I'm pleased that it holds up so well after all this time.
14 years ago
This is a license that could have been utilized so much better, but sadly it's kind of a cheap feeling game. This one feels rushed to cash in on the Street Fighter name, and while there is an occasional neat thing to see, it's largely a downer of an experience.
14 years ago
When you first step to this machine it has a great WOW factor, but the gameplay doesn't quite match it over time. It's pretty fun for a few games, but after a while it feels a little repetitive.

This is a game that you probably wouldn't hesitate to drop a few quarters into as you passed by, but it would probably get a little old in your collection after a while. It makes great use of the Star Wars theme, but this one might have been better served with some more gameplay variety.
14 years ago
I'm really not into this game at all. This is one of the most boring machines that has been put out in the last 20 years. Sure, if you love South Park the theme is going to carry the game for you for a little while, but the gameplay is extremely shallow and there isn't a single difficult shot on the playfield.

The first time I played it, I spent over 20 minutes on the game and I was still on my second ball, with an extra ball in hand. Scoring the bonuses was far too easy, most shots are very wide open and far too forgiving, and the progressions to complete modes was pretty weak. Games last so long that you hear pretty much each audio clip several times per ball. By my third ball I just asked a kid in the arcade if he wanted to finish my game.

Unless you're just playing for a high score, this one won't appeal to you for too long. Fun for South Park fanatics, a dud for pinball players.
14 years ago
I feel that this is one of the most underrated games out there, mostly in part due to it being a Data East machine. This game really does a phenomenal job with the theme from top to bottom. The art is solid, the music is great, the sounds are spectacular, and the DMD animations are top notch.

Aside from solid gameplay, this machine is just plain cool. Everybody gets a kick out of the T-Rex eating the ball or shooting things up on the DMD with the gun plunger.

The game offers a deeper rule set than a lot of other Data East licensed games, and getting through all the modes will take some mastery. The 6-ball multiball ball is pretty intense, so buckle up when it's coming.

I highly recommend this game, and don't plan on letting it go from my collection at any point. Kids love it, adults love it, and it works for both pinball vets and casual players.
14 years ago
Even a few years after the sweet spot for pinball has passed us by there are still some good games coming out, and Simpsons Pinball Party is definitely one of them. This game even does a better job on the theme than the older Data East game, but it does lean a bit heavy on its toys.

The music, sound, and theme all work quite well, and I think that a Simpsons fan will be more than happy with the overall presentation package found here.

If you see this on location, don't pass it up without giving it a few plays, and it's definitely worth having in your collection if you're looking for something a bit more modern.
14 years ago
This was the first pin I ever owned, and it's still one I enjoy playing. For a Simpsons fan it has some nice episode references, some great voice work, and pretty good art on the backglass and playfield. There aren't tons of ramps or toys, but the single ramp provides a very fun mode (Millions Mode) that is very fun, especially in multiplayer games.

This game is kind of an in-between era game as it was at the end of the pre-DMD era. It plays much like the DMD games, and I think it's one of Data East's most enjoyable games. There are a few technical shots, and while it only has a 3-ball multiball, it's pretty satisfying to earn it.

This game isn't super technical, so real pros will eat it alive on the high score board, but casual players, especially Simpsons fans, should have some fun with it for quite some time. Heck, just the battle to stay the loop back champ (it tracks consecutive ramp shots) will make sure you fire it up every once in a while in a home setting.

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