lyonsden's ratings

Pinsider lyonsden has rated 139 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms lyonsden's personal top 139.


Rating comments

lyonsden has written 48 rating comments:


9.386/10
2 years ago
I owned one of these for a couple of years. The rules are surprisingly complex, given that this is an em. Depending on the number of SURFS letters lit or the value of the RING-A-DING, different features will activate such as the right ball gate to save the ball from draining (being diverted to the shooter lane) and the kick-back on the left. Of course as a Ted Zale game, it has three flippers and the bottom set are zipper flippers (which I aways enjoy). The artwork by Jerry Kelley is fantastic -- the angled 1960's characters are very well done.
8.164/10
4 years ago
I really like GoT for a newer stern. This is the first game to have a strong departure from the "classic" pinball rules, where strategy can make a huge difference in score (versus just completing modes to get to mini/wizard modes for big points). Which house to you pick to start makes a big difference on how you play the game, which houses do you try to bring to multiball make a big difference, the order of houses completed makes a big difference, etc. Also, the game shoots really, really well, and the physical ball lock is a nice added touch. I would definitely enjoy owning this game at some point (and the Pro over the Premium, even through I love the lighting effects on the Premium.)
8.124/10
4 years ago
I really like GoT for a newer stern. This is the first game to have a strong departure from the "classic" pinball rules, where strategy can make a huge difference in score (versus just completing modes to get to mini/wizard modes for big points). Which house to you pick to start makes a big difference on how you play the game, which houses do you try to bring to multiball make a big difference, the order of houses completed makes a big difference, etc. Also, the game shoots really, really well, and the physical ball lock is a nice added touch. I would definitely enjoy owning this game at some point (and the Pro over the Premium, even through I love the lighting effects on the Premium.)
7.948/10
4 years ago
For a sequel game, I think this one is great. Takes the great elements of HighSpeed and bumps it up several notches with a WPC system -- better rules, sounds, etc. For a Steve Ritchie game, this is one of his best. Three flippers, great flowing loops, and a wonderful toy with the super charger.
8.228/10
4 years ago
As the second game of JJP, I had very high expectations. While the game is definitely worth dropping quarters in to play, it wouldn't be one for my home. Basically, you have a crazy open open playfield with very long shorts to hit anything. Which is fine and fun. But there are four popup monsters that come up regularly that get in the way of shots. I'm a huge fan of 3+ flipper games, but the third flipper on this one is useless. There are no special shots that you can make with the upper right flipper, which makes it feel useless. While the code is phenomenally deep, none of the modes necessarily feel unique. Rather, I just work into multiball and try to keep the balls alive. While hitting things, modes stack on, points go up, and the game progresses. A lot of fun if you like multiball, and lots of lights and call outs, but hard to really develop a strategy.
5.747/10
4 years ago
Unique game and I like the three ball locks for multiball. However, if the game isn't shooting well, it will be hard to make the upper right lock. It is a pretty good System 80, but overall, I'm not a fan of those games. Maintenance can really suck, especially if there are any issues with boards, transistors, etc.
8.880/10
4 years ago
What a difference between playing a remake and a 20+ year old machine (even in good shape). The use of LEDs stock really help to brighten up the game. If I were to get one, it would be a remake the whole way. Just like a car, the miles of driven (or play put on the game) really make a difference.
10.000/10
4 years ago
This is it! My absolute dream machine. It is everything I every dreamed of in a pinball machine. The best art package, most incredible rules, and a layout that no one else can imagine. I can't believe that they managed to fit 10 flippers on this game, which makes the 99 ball multi-ball one of the most well thought out and epic events in all of pinball. If you have not had a chance to play one of these "Pinside Test Machines", go out and find one right away. At $10k+ it is a steal. Easily a $1M game.
6.042/10
4 years ago
Black Belt is definitely a one of a kind game. If you see one, definitely drop a few quarters in it. What makes it special? Well, it is the only game I've seen with a backward flipper that flips down the playfield (and up a ramp) to another upper flipper that lets you bat it back up a second ramp (sort of, it is actually the same ramp with two entrances) back to the backward flipper. From there, you can hit it back to the other upper flipper. Back and forth, back and forth. Pretty cool if you get the timing down.

It also has the only explicit "hit the guy in the crotch" pinball shot I've seen. I'm not talking about something lame like the Optimus Prime shot in Transformers, I'm talking about a dead in the center playfield shot to a guy with his legs spread. It is unique and stupid fun for the first few shots. Then you start to feel a bit sorry for the guy. For a game from 1986, I just wonder how many shots to the crotch has that poor guy taken.

Rules: they aren't great, but they really aren't too bad. Complete all five shots to the body (including the crotch shot) to advance a belt. Each belt advancement is a playfield multiplier so you work those shots to get high scores. 6 drops to advance bonus multiplier. And. . . that is about it.

Layout: It is definitely unique. Again, not bad, but not great. Lots of things you'll never see on another game. Fun to figure out, but nothing really great that makes you want to play again and again. Except the back and forth upper flippers on the crazy ramp that has two entrances in opposite directions, but is really just one ramp. It is hard to describe because this is the only game with a ramp like it. And only 600 Black Belts were made.

Music: Fits the game, not bad, but also not great.

Skill shot: This is simply awesome. You try to get the plunge ball speed just right to hit a mushroom target while lights for score/extra ball light up.

Take home: Play this game if you see one. With 600 made, they hopefully show up at pinball festivals. I bought one and have had it in a collection with 10-12 other games. It is fun, but definitely not a game that you return to time and time again. I'm holding onto mine long enough to take it to the local festival so others can give it a play, but I can't imaging this staying in my collection for too long.
6.552/10
5 years ago
Had a chance to play this at Zapcon. Overall, a decent game, but not overly impressed by it.
7.780/10
5 years ago
I've spent about 4 hours on this game. Visually and auditorily impressive -- one of the best looking and sounding games. However, it is definitely a players game. The shots are tight, the flippers are set slow, the flipper gap is wide, and the outlanes are unforgiving. For me, my standard reactions for catching the ball or getting under control often lead to soft lops to the center drain, so there is a lot of "relearning" to get ball control. Also, with tight shots, if you are off, you spend the several seconds hoping that you'll get the ball back under control. This cuts down on the "flow" aspect of gameplay. Also, there are few shots that return to the flippers smoothly (e.g., left ramp), but there are some great shots that feel great to make. Otherwise, the game suffers a bit from a lot of shots feeding the pops, which have a center playfield exit that is often not controlled (with a chance of center drains). Also, getting the virtual locks lit (for the main multiball) requires hitting the left captive ball twice in a set period of time. Those shots are not safe and lead to a lot of randomized ball returns, but getting the main multiball going is rewarded with a great animation and light show.

I'm left with one major feeling after playing this game: I need to get a lot better at playing pinball to really enjoy all that GB has to offer.
9.340/10
5 years ago
This is the top rated Stern for good reason. Excellent integration of theme, movies, and pinball combined with great rules and depth. The only complaint I have is that I need to take long breaks from the machine. The one I own gets traded with friends for 6 months at a time, and each time it returns, I remember why I love it so much. Unfortunately, after playing it for several months, it is time for it to leave again. The main reason is that I find myself playing the game with one goal in mind -- getting to Valinor. Once I get obsessed with that goal, I tend to not have as much fun with the game. Once it returns from being out of the house for a while, I can enjoy exploring the rules, appreciating the sounds and lights, and enjoy getting to the mini wizard modes again. LE vs regular? No reason to have one over the other unless you like spending cash and want the bragging rights.
8.368/10
7 years ago
Fast an punishing. The Williams equivalent of IM. But with fish. Probably not the best game to have if you can have only one, but definitely a nice one to have in a smallish collection. Heading off to work and only have time for a 3 minute game -- hop on Fish Tales. Also, this game will make you a better player, and force you to get your shots dialed in and get your nudging perfected.
7.491/10
7 years ago
This game is punishing! It has a lot of great shots, a lot of unique features, many things to accomplish, several multiballs, and three flippers. Everything I love in a pinball game. However, it is hard, unforgiving, and will punish you again and again for every missed shot. Definitely a game worth owning if you want to build your pinball skills and you don't get so frustrated that you smash your fist through the glass. When compared to Ironman, which is also fast and punishing, I found that I had a lot more fun on IM than I did on the Shadow. IM would call to me to play again and again, while shadow would chew me up, spit me out, and leave me on the floor looking for another game to play.
7.528/10
7 years ago
This is a unique game. Definitely fun to play and enjoy the animation overlays on the playfield. I think it would get boring and repetitive in a home environment. While fun, I would NEVER own one simply for the fact that I've moved them for a friend. Too heavyl too difficult to navigate through doorways. I cannot imagine getting this up or down stairs.
8.272/10
7 years ago
A classic PLD with incredible theme integration. This is a fun game to play once in a while, but owning it becomes tiresome. There are two ways to play for points -- tour the mansion or multiball jackpots. For a game with so much going on, just chasing those two goals gets boring. Between the regular ROMS and the SE ROMS, there are some differences in animations, sounds, and call outs, but not enough to really warrant a massive difference in the games. The SE is a collectors game based on price alone. Everyone else can get by saving a some cash with a regular one.
7.983/10
7 years ago
Classic PLD and one of the originals that set him up as a great pinball designer. Of his designs, this one ranks middle for me, but it is an older game with less ability for him to program various effects. Still, it has 6 pops, three spinning disks, two scoops, and a great setup for multiball.
8.212/10
7 years ago
CC is a fun game and being from Tucson, I really like the theme. Unfortunately, the rarity and collectability of the game prices it beyond what I think it is worth based on gameplay, which is a bit repetitive. So, I put it as more of a pinball collector status game. If you have the cash and space, why not add it?
8.417/10
7 years ago
I have mixed feelings on this game. This is a classic PLD with great shots and great shots. Unfortunately, it has a creepy clown head on the playfield that insults you. But you can bash him with your pinball. Steven King's IT mixed with great pinball.
7.604/10
7 years ago
This is definitely a fun stern with some great toys and playfield features. Overall, I have found that the ball times can be very long.
8.920/10
7 years ago
One of my favorite PLD games. Much better flow than most of his designs with a great theme, callouts, and good, silly fun. Keep in mind that this is not a very "deep" game with a lot of randomization due to the spinning disk and gophers popping up, but it is a great game to walk up to and play pinball for fun. Also, it has one of the best (if not the best) shots in all of pinball -- the slam ramp to the hole in one. One of the best feeling shots regardless if you make it in normal play or nail it for a super jackpot during multiball.
9.400/10
7 years ago
XMLE is a game that I liked when I got it, and like more and more the longer I've owned it. For the depth, variation, and quality of game play, along with the great set of features (pop-ups, spinning disk, ramps, scoops, upkick, lighting) it is incredible value for the money. This will probably be in my collection for a long, long time (not to mention that it is one of my wife's favorite games that we own.)
9.340/10
7 years ago
Brutal, fun, and keeps you coming back for more. One of the best two flipper Borg games. Fast and flowing shots (when you make them); punishing returns if you miss. This game is worth owning because it is not only fun, but will make you a much better player.
8.540/10
7 years ago
Another great Star Trek pin by Steve Ritchie. Upside, captures several of things that made STTNG great. Also has much, much better lighting. Downside, all the shots feel the same. All the modes feel the same. But it is fast and it flows and the ramp shots are wide so it makes be feel like I am a great pinball player (even though I am not).

Is the Premium/LE worth $1k+ more? That is up to you. Same great game with a little less of the lighting magic.
7.520/10
7 years ago
Some people really like this game, some people don't. I am in the middle. I'll definitely play once in a while, but something about the layout starts to bug me. Everything is condensed to the front of the playfield with long curvy ramps that obscure the back of the game. Still, it has some unique rules and a fun progression to find the creature, but . . . and it is a big but . . . after playing a game or two, I have no urge to play it again for some time.
8.968/10
7 years ago
Had a pro in the house for a couple of months and was blow away by it. Lots to shoot for, nice integration of toys and magnets, four multiball modes, good ramps, excellent lighting and light effects, and, well, the music is good if you like Metallica. Fortunately, I went through a Metallica phase in my youth and the music strikes a nostalgic cord. My general strategy was to shoot sparky, get multiball. Take down the grave markers for another multiball. The try to shoot for the coffin/snake for their multiballs. Occasionally shoot a ramp if it was lit. I like the magnet/hammer toy in the premium, but don't miss it in the pro. Game flow was excellent. Could hit many shots on the fly, capture ball as needed to make a specific shot, and had no problem passing. As the code has improved, so has my love for this game. Many strategies to use which may be changed in the middle of a ball depending on what shots you are making. Also, I love the strategy that some multiballs can be stacked, while others cannot. The only complaint that I have is that it takes a while for the game to "get going" (takes an incredible amount of hits to get any multiball going), but when I have a great game, I want to play again immediately to repeat the feeling. A lot of fun, but sometimes it feels like it is too much work to get the fun started again.

While I like the premium version more, I can't justify the cost difference and would get a pro if I was in the market.
9.100/10
7 years ago
Deep, beautiful, and has one of the best lighting shows (ok, the best) in all of pinball. I also like the throwback to lower scores where if you break 10000 your first time, you feel like you have achieved something. For a modern game, this game is feature packed -- wide body, lots of flippers, multiple upper playfields, magnets, LCD screen, etc. While expensive, it does deliver and keep me entertained wanting to progress further and further into the game.
8.360/10
7 years ago
This is another "great" game that has grown on me the more I play it. Definitely not deep when compared to modern Sterns, but there is something about the flow (pun intended) that really works well. Lots of unique shots and the upper flipper is truly an upper flipper. You have one or two chances to make one of the two upper ramp shots, and I like how you need to alter making them to progress through some aspects of the game. Also, the advancing rafts is a unique set of rules as well as what it take to get to the wizard mode. Also, the music is very cool as it varies, a bit, with each raft advancement and seems to rise in intensity as you make it further down the river. This is definitely a game I wouldn't mind owning.
8.568/10
7 years ago
Another great Star Trek pin by Steve Ritchie. Upside, captures several of things that made STTNG great. Also has much, much better lighting. Downside, all the shots feel the same. All the modes feel the same. But it is fast and it flows and the ramp shots are wide so it makes be feel like I am a great pinball player (even though I am not).
8.472/10
7 years ago
One of the most interesting, unique, and beautiful machines. Simply put, my wife wants one because of the artwork. While it has a lot of unique toys, sounds, and magnets, it is very stop and go -- especially waiting for the animations to play through. Very neat the first few times you play it, but then it starts to drag. Fortunately, there is a home version of the ROM that lets you skip through these, which makes the experience of repeated play much better. Of the big three JPop games (ToTAN and ToM), this one has some very special features that makes it stand out, but I would rank it below ToM and maybe on par with ToTAN.
9.100/10
7 years ago
Star Trek, superpin, Star Trek, three flippers, Star Trek, Steve Ritche, Star Trek, custom voice work by original actors, Star Trek, lots of modes that are all unique, Star Trek, dual cannons, Star Trek, combo shot that has become its own thing (Picard maneuver), Star Trek, great wizard mode that can be plunged to start, Star Trek.

Okay -- this is a Star Trek pin. If you don't like Star Trek, that would be a bad thing if you owned this pin. Otherwise, one of the greats in pinball.
8.024/10
7 years ago
This is fun, silly game that, unfortunately, fits in the overrated category for me. Very fun callouts with Elvira double entendres, and great toys (backbox is fantastic). I'd imagine that this game get boring in a small collection, but it is always worth playing when I come across one.
8.240/10
7 years ago
Another beautiful JPop game from an era of greatness in pinball. Great theme and flow, with some neat toys. Where as ToM has mastered magnets, ToTAN has some similar uses and then some new ideas for the out lane saves and genie disappearing ball. However, among Cirqus and ToM, any one would be great to have. For me, it is ToM.
8.412/10
7 years ago
This is definitely a lot of pinball stuffed into single cabinet with only two flippers. A lot of things to shoot for and a good set of modes that are both worth the points to complete and often can be completed. While the theme is great and there are some amazing effects on the game (ball lock and multiball start), it is not a game to which I return to play again and again. The main reason is that a lot of the action is compressed to the front half of the playfield with a couple of long shots to the back and ramps that always seem to be very hard to hit. Also, the POA, while a neat idea, isn't very fun, often isn't working correctly, and takes up a lot of playfield space (everything under it feels like wasted space.)
7.952/10
7 years ago
A classic PLD with incredible theme integration. This is a fun game to play once in a while, but owning it becomes tiresome. There are two ways to play for points -- tour the mansion or multiball jackpots. For a game with so much going on, just chasing those two goals gets boring.
7.604/10
7 years ago
I get why people love this game, but for me, it just isn't my kind of game play. I do like how there are several ways to play this game depending on the song order you are playing, how you stack or stagger multiballs, and which shots you have dialed in. Also, it is a rush to have a big song jackpot ready to go and then nailing the shot to collect it. But in the end, after playing a great or poor game, I just feel stressed and realize that I didn't have a lot of fun. I usually end up playing a game or two when I come across one of these, but then won't feel compelled to play another game for a long, long time.
8.456/10
7 years ago
One of the best of the best. Not necessarily deep, but great fun, great flow, and great humor. Of the top BW games, this is my favorite.
9.332/10
7 years ago
I really, really did not like this game the first 100 times I played it, but for as I played it more, I started to like it. Then, I started to really like it. I'm not sure if I'll ever love it, but for a classic PLD (shoot ramps then scoop to collect door panel), it has it the best feel. Unlike TAF, which has a very similar design and flow, TZ forces you to work both ramps and collect door panels (vs rooms) at two different scoops. Also, with has several ways to play for points which makes the game feel very well balanced, letting you switch strategies mid ball depending on how well you are making specific shots.
8.164/10
7 years ago
This is a venerable classic and one of the best games of its time. While the art, theme, and voices work very well together, the gameplay gets repetitive with too much catch ball on left, bash castle, wait for ball to return, catch ball on left, bash castle. Then, if you destroy a castle, wait longer for the ball to return.
8.252/10
7 years ago
Highly underrated game. Great programming, shots, layout, and objectives. Theme is definitely not for everyone. Also, the best dot matrix bikini action since the days of ascii porn.
9.120/10
7 years ago
This is a great B/W classic. Of the JPop three (Cirquis and Tales being the other two), this one is my favorite. It is beautiful with a great theme and flow. Also, this game has some of the best magnet use -- spirit ring, trunk, and out lane saves. However, it is not the deepest game and may suffer in a small collection, but it is one I enjoy owning and playing regularly. But I think I'd get pretty bored with it if it was my only machine.
8.920/10
7 years ago
If BoP was the pinball game that originally hooked me into pinball as a kid, Stern's SM was the one the hooked me as an adult. This game is a masterpiece of art, toys, flow, and gameplay. Great strategy and options for game play, with a good amount of risk/reward for shot doublers and triplers. The only complaint I have about the game is that I have never made it to the wizard mode, and I have tried. A lot. So much, that it starts to ruin the game for me and I need to take a good long break from playing it (e.g., 6-12 months). Like LoTR, this is a game that I enjoy in stints, but that getting some time away from it makes it all that much sweeter when I get to dedicate some time on one again.
9.400/10
7 years ago
The LE is a status game. While just as fun as the pro, the added drop targets, daft punk multiball, stock ramp lights, and moving recognizer does not justify the thousands added to price. But it is Tron and it does completely rock, so if you can afford it and don't mind spending the cash, why not?
9.104/10
8 years ago
This is the top rated Stern for good reason. Excellent integration of theme, movies, and pinball combined with great rules and depth. The only complaint I have is that I need to take long breaks from the machine. The one I own gets traded with friends for 6 months at a time, and each time it returns, I remember why I love it so much. Unfortunately, after playing it for several months, it is time for it to leave again. The main reason is that I find myself playing the game with one goal in mind -- getting to Valinor. Once I get obsessed with that goal, I tend to not have as much fun with the game. Once it returns from being out of the house for a while, I can enjoy exploring the rules, appreciating the sounds and lights, and enjoy getting to the mini wizard modes again.
9.503/10
8 years ago
Played a premium and was blow away by it. Lots to shoot for, nice integration of toys and magnets, four multiball modes, good ramps, excellent lighting and light effects, and, well, the music is good if you like Metallica. Fortunately, I went through a Metallica phase in my youth and the music strikes a nostalgic cord. My general strategy was to shoot sparky, get multiball. Take down the grave markers for another multiball. The try to shoot for the hammer/snake for their multiballs (never got all balls locked in the grave). Occasionally shoot a ramp if it was lit. I liked the magnet/hammer toy -- neat effect. Game flow was excellent. Could hit many shots on the fly, capture ball as needed to make a specific shot, and had no problem passing. Only complaint was the translite. Staring at a bunch of old white guys is not my thing. Also, I'm not much of a fan of road rat art, so the other translites aren't much better IMO. I did notice more than the normal amount of air balls, which can ruin a good game if they hop into a drain. Even not liking the artwork, this one plays so well and was so much fun it is one of the top pins I would own. Since I played the first version of the software, I can only imagine it getting better and better.

Update: as the code has improved, so has my love for this game. Many strategies to use which may be changed in the middle of a ball depending on what shots you are making. Also, I love the strategy that some multiballs can be stacked, while others cannot. The only complaint that I have is that it takes a while for the game to "get going" (takes an incredible amount of hits to get any multiball going), but when I have a great game, I want to play again immediately to repeat the feeling. A lot of fun, but sometimes it feels like it is too much work to get the fun started again.
9.820/10
8 years ago
A wonderful game by Borg with incredible theme integration. If you have to read my review to decide whether or not to get the game, what is the point? Seriously -- this is Tron and one of the greats from a more "minimalist" time in pinball. Fast, great flow, wonderful theme and integration, great sounds, and more awesome mods than anyone sane should spend cash on. But if you own it, you will mod it, and you will be happy.
8.013/10
8 years ago
Beautiful machine -- hard pressed to find a better looking backglass, cabinet or playfield. Yes, the rules are shallow, but it is hard to beat the satisfaction of metamorphosis, spin big wheel, and nailing the billion shot followed by "welcome to the billionaires club". Beginners and casual players love this machine.
8.540/10
8 years ago
Second pin in my collection, purchased because of the deep-rule set and theme. Have been very impressed by the machine and have noticed a marked improvement to my playing skills. Definitely a game that will keep you thinking and planning your next several shots. All modes stack on top of one another which means that the ability to score big can happen through various different strategies. Multiballs are some of the most rewarding I've experienced on any machine. From 2 to 5 balls, with standard or reversed flippers.

Also, I love the Simpsons, so really enjoy having it in the house along with the ability to add more toys to the playfield.