mbaumle's ratings

Pinsider mbaumle has rated 30 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms mbaumle's personal top 30.

Rating comments

mbaumle has written 30 rating comments:

77 days ago
This is honestly one of the best modern sterns. The pro version feels full featured, and the layout is really unique. Great ramps, but some of the shots are clumsy and clunky.

Still, it’s simple enough to understand, and defeating your opponents is VERY satisfying. It has a Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat vibe and it works really well here.

Firepower sound effects are a fantastic fan service, and never get old.
1 year ago
I used to really dislike this game. I thought it was overrated, overpriced, and frankly, bland. “Hit ramp, shoot scoop, start mode” rinse and repeat.

Then I spent more time with the game. I hate to say it, but it’s as close to a masterpiece as one can get with a pinball machine.

It may be easy to light and start mansion awards, but to fight through them is terrifically difficult.

Thing used to annoy me, as I thought it slowed down gameplay, and was a one trick pony. In reality, it’s a cleverly disguised ball diverter that never allows the player to have a free shot at the jackpot. You really need to work for it! Brilliant.

The graveyard might actually be one of my favorite aspects of the game. Pops can be more lucrative than a jackpot with enough shots and hits, and slowly building its value only to nail a clean shot into the swamp without thing’s help is among the most satisfying feelings.

Throw in snapping flippers, fun callouts and music, and you genuinely have a fun game that will continue to succeed the test of time.
1 year ago
Jacks Open probably has one of the most unique hooks of all the Gottlieb drop target games. Making your way through the ladder of card hands is just as delightful as it is challenging, and requires genuine skill and aim. Flailing about won't get you much of anywhere here with the progressive ruleset.

Mastering the drop catch is your key to success in this game, as standard catches often end in failure with the open outlane configuration. A masterful game.
1 year ago
Taxi is a game that belongs up in the ranks of Whirlwind and Earthshaker. Great music, great theme, a layout that always keeps you on your toes, and forces the player to make their way around the playfield--giving every shot a reason to exist. There's no reason to spam the same shot over and over, which was a common flaw in many games of this era (looking at you, Police Force and Earthshaker).

I love the small details in the game, like the crossover ramp bonus, and the way the bonus countdown music changes depending on how large your bonus is. Playfield artwork is... Ok. Python's detail work is great, there's just a lot of stale looking gray, and many of the playfields have aged rather poorly, but the gameplay, rules, and music more than make up for the deficiency.
1 year ago
At first glance, Robo-War looks like an out of date game that spelled out the writing on the wall for Gottlieb back in the late 80s... and if you compare it to games like Taxi and Earthshaker, it absolutely was. This is probably the best game you’ve never played.

But with the advantage of hindsight, and without the need for the game to compare competitively for arcade space, Robo-War is an absolute players dream game.

The game has multiple strategies that can be stacked differently depending on how you want to approach the game. The first main objective is to spell ROBOWAR. The second is attaining multiball. When going to spell ROBOWAR, you want to advance as many letters as you can early on in the game--as your progress is carried over ball to ball. Each letter is worth 10,000 points. While doing this, you want to advance the multiplier. You can rack up as much as a 15x bonus, which is applied to each letter. The bonus advance targets move around the playfield, so it forces the player to make a various shots around the playfield at different times.

In multiball, the player's objective is to hammer down the drop targets. You get 3,000 points TIMES the multiplier for each target during multiball--so it behooves the player to really focus on building the bonus multiplier each ball before working on other objectives (you can theoretically work the target value up to 45,000 points EACH). This score is compounded, but not added to the players final score until the end of the final ball. A shot up the ramp during multiball scores the player’s multi-bonus, but doesn’t reset it. You are your own best jackpot. Simple, but effective.

There's definitely more than meets the eye on this game, and it's a shame it's often overlooked.

--The music package is OUTSTANDING. Gottlieb based the soundtrack off of Gustav Holst's Orchestral Planet Suite "Mars: Bringer of War" and it's depth and breadth is unparalleled when compared with what William's was doing. I don't think any other game has an early century orchestral sountrack.
--Visually, this game stands out as well. It has great light shows, and while I'm not generally a fan of LEDs in games, this game BEGS to have a conversion done.
--The game is a shooters paradise. Care must be taken to shoot the drop targets in order, and "sweeping" the beta drop target bank is always satisfying. Especially when coupled with a good spinner rip. Good risk and reward here, and the lock qualification shot, while always available, is NEVER easy.

--There's not much reward to completing everything, other than the crazy bonus score the player can accumulate when spelling out ROBOWAR and lighting special. Though, there is plenty of strategy.
--Speech is repetitive, but typical for the era.
--Flippers never seem strong enough. Luck and laser beam precision is needed to really make this game sing. Sometimes a successful lock shot feels more like luck than skill.

Overall, it's a real shame the game is so rare. People are missing out on a real gem. If you see one, play it.
2 years ago
As a huge fan of the Mario franchise, I wanted to give this game a fair amount of time before committing to writing a review.

Pros: A surprisingly good balance of shots in the game. Gottliebs are notorious for being horrifically unbalanced, but this game set in tournament mode is actually not a bad game. The left ramp is definitely the dominant shot, however, the game does a really good job incentivising the player to make the different shots to light multiball and play through the various modes.

Music is good, and there's a really nice level of attention to detail. Each island on the backglass lights up as you complete each "world" and destroy each castle. Nice touch. Each player also gets their own background animation on the DMD--another nice detail considering this was Gottlieb's first use of the DMD on a pinball machine. Luigi's got a spooky cave, complete with a ghost, which had to be a lucky guess, since Luigi's Mansion wouldn't come out for at least a decade longer.


The game lacks fundamental strategy that most B/W games had at the time. Really, it boils down to start the mode, play the mode, move on. You can stack some modes with each other or with being "super," but it's not really a strategic opportunity.

The speech is grating. It's cool that this was Charles Martinet's first public portrayal of Mario, but the speech is repetitive and difficult to understand at times.

Stopping to watch the roulette wheel spin is fun exactly one time. After that, it just bogs down the game with unnecessary stop and go.

Bottom line:

This game is a ton of pure fun. Fighting your way through the castles really is a good time. It never takes itself seriously, it's absolutely loaded with a ton of features, with a ton of things to shoot for, and has a great theme. Maybe not the best choice in a small collection, but if you're a Nintendo fan, or want to have something that really stands out, this game is a great choice.
3 years ago
This is a true player's game. Tough, and mostly fair. Through ball saves, the game gives you just enough rope to hang yourself with.

Gameplay and layout is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Fast playfield loaded with TONS of great feeling shots, with selectable flow. Lots of modes, and the game allows the player to determine different approaches and strategies to score well and advance through the rules. The battlefield is a mechanical version of breakout, and it's absolutely terrific.

My biggest gripes:

-The backglass artwork. Honestly, this is just a given.
-Horrendous airballs off of the yellow mongol targets adjacent to the left ramp. Missing the ramp, and hitting the targets is a one-way ticket to DrainTown, USA.
-When a ball to the left ramp is diverted to the right side, the switch is poorly placed, and doesn't always register skill shots or rings.
-The game is relentless. Sometimes it feels like a gruel to get to the final battle.

Honestly, replace the backglass with Aurich's art package, make sure the battlefield is in top working shape, and you've got a damn fine game. The gripes are minimal when it comes down to gameplay and strategy.
3 years ago
This game is basically an electromechanical White Water, but instead of making shots to advance the rafts, you're making shots to advance the numbers 1 -> 9 to light special. Simple, but brilliant.

Playfield is asymmetrical, yet balanced. The brilliance of the playfield layout stems from the star rollovers on the playfield. A sharp, accurate shot from the left flipper will simultaneously rollover the "on targets" button, light the advance standups, and then hit a standup target to advance the numbers. Conversely, a shot from the right flipper turns the targets off, but allows the player to hammer away at the bank of targets. Completing the bank resets the targets and advances your number. Oh, and the player is delightfully well compensated for shooting two targets at once. How many games give the player that kind of strategic opportunity?? I think maybe just Whirlwind with it's sweeping drop target bank feature.

The bagatelle lanes on the right give the player the chance to nudge their way to success, but since a tilt ends your game, you *really* need to be careful.

Artwork is striking, gameplay--while not terribly complicated--is easy to understand and delivers the "just one more game" feeling in spades (gotta advance your way to the special, but you're always so close yet so far away from doing so).

The game is masterful. 10/10. Would Atlantis again.
3 years ago
The Good: Really excellent asymmetric playfield. Decent rules with good strategy: Hit the drop targets to complete certain hands to maximize your bonus. Each joker that's hit increases the drop target value by 1000, and advances the kickout hole. The "scanning" bonus is really unique. Probably one of the deeper multiplayer EM games out there. Still things to shoot for after you've hit all the drop targets down.

The Bad: Playfield art is lackluster, and the backglass could use more lighting here and there. Hitting the jokers doesn't always require skill, and from a maintenance perspective, the tiny fragile AS relay must be in perfect working order to have the bonus work correctly. The drop target logic would have been more interesting had it used the "Jacks Open" logic, but this game is tough as nails as it is.

Takeaway: They didn't make +10K of these units for nothing. This game is fantastic. Considering they made so many, it's surprising how few pop up for sale. Rules are VERY similar to Cleopatra.

Update 1: I've had more time on the game, and the more I play it, the more I appreciate it's idiosyncrasies. The key to a good game is careful shot planning: I.e. You want to first focus on collecting the jokers before hitting the drop targets. Each joker increases the value of the drop target by 1,000 points. Considering you MUST complete certain hands to rack up a good bonus, it's easy to drop a ton of targets, and only light a single bonus award, so you really want to ramp up the value of each drop target first. Random flailing about will result in a drain.
3 years ago
This game really caught me by surprise. First appearances are deceiving.

FAST! Super fast.
A SWEET ramp jump
Great lighting and effects
Brutal difficulty
A spinner begging to be ripped
"Dead or alive, you're coming with me"

Shallow rules--granted, this one isn't so much a dealbreaker. It'd be nice if there was more structure though in the way villains are captured, like if Boddicker was the last guy you capture in a little wizard mode of sorts.
Right shot to the kickout hole is super clumsy.
Music is repetitive and tiresome.
Playfield art is clean, but there's a lot of dead space.

Honestly, I thought this game was going to be a dud, but it's layout reminds me a lot of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and that's always a good thing.
4 years ago
Simply put, this game kicks butt.

Simple, straightforward rules, but devilishly difficult gameplay. This isn't a game you can just flip your way to a random high score--you have to earn it. Stacking the three multiballs is absolutely critical to scoring well, and doing so requires skill. No luck.

Outlanes are mean, and the two banks of standup targets are dangerous red herrings that mislead unsuspecting players into short and disappointing games.

Art is disappointing, but gameplay more than makes up for it. Mist multiball is a sight to behold, and so satisfying to get. Despite the rules being rather shallow and repetitive, the punishing gameplay, and the multiple ways of approaching the game more than make up for it. Overall, a fantastic game.
4 years ago
Where Cleopatra really shines is it's artwork. The backglass in particular is stunning, and flanked with four large electromechanical score reel units, this game doesn't mess around. The playfield is a little less stunning, perhaps even a little dull, with light green and yellow dominating the color scheme.

Perhaps the best feature of the game is it's main gameplay strategy. The player must match colors on the bonus unit by rolling over corresponding rollovers and hitting the drop targets. There is a significant amount of risk/reward strategy--the most valuable targets are not only the hardest to hit, but also the most dangerous, but the player MUST hit both targets of the same color to score the bonus value, otherwise, no score is awarded. The way the bonus is "scanned" at the end of each ball is really neat. Very reminiscent of games like Royal Flush.

My only gripe come from the symmetry of the playfield layout. It'd have been nice to have some asymmetry to make the game a little more diverse, and shots back up to the top rollovers are often stifled by a poorly placed post. Still, the game is mostly fair, and very fun, especially when playing against others.
4 years ago
This table's artwork is fantastic. Roy Parker really knocked this one out of the park.

Gameplay-wise, the goal of the game is to light all 4 pop bumpers by hitting their respective colored targets. Easier said than done. Above the spinners, you'll have to rely on careful nudging, and below the spinners, you'll have to rely on careful aiming. Problem is, the dang flipper gap is miles wide, and more often than not, the ball goes straight down the middle. Playing alone, the game is a bit of a snooze fest, but when playing against someone, the added competition really kicks things up--especially when a game like this relies heavily on nudging, and a tilt only disqualifies the one player who tilted the entire game.

Personally, I like it for it's artwork and timeless style. There's definitely better playing games out there, but this one certainly isn't a wasted effort.
5 years ago
White Water is an excellent game. It's all around high in quality, and has very few flaws.

The game design is brilliant. The game has more flow than your typical pinball machine, with nearly all shots returning smoothly to the flippers. Shots are varied, and the table has many layers without obstructing the players view. Every nook and cranny is utilized to it's fullest capacity. Rules are a little linear, but they contain enough depth to keep things interesting.

Artwork is typical Youssi. Rich environments with plenty of depth of character. Sounds and music are deceptive. At first, the game's audio sounds shallow and disappointing, but quickly gathers depth and momentum as the player begins playing through the objectives. The only real disappointment stems from the sound quality itself, but I'll give it a pass since the soundboard is early 90s by design. Big Foot is perfectly integrated into the game.

Overall, this is easily one of the best pinball machines out there. I rank it very highly, and it compares very favorably to classics such as Addams Family and Twilight Zone. It's really that good. It's a shame William's didn't sell more of these--they aren't too common. This game was from an era where a lot of creative design went into making these games. A lot of love was put into them.
5 years ago
A decent game that doesn't show up frequently. This was Stern's first title with electronic sound, and it shows. Some of the sounds are fun, but they wear on the ears quickly.

Playfield layout is average. It's got a fun shot through the spinner that, when hit strongly enough, ideally steers the ball right around into the left inlane. Bonus multiplier drop targets are difficult to hit without risking a drain, the the bonus collection lane at the right really slows down the gameplay.

Overall, this game is a below average player. It's only value is in the very unique artwork.
5 years ago
Not a bad game from the late 70s. The placement of the pop bumper right below the drop targets takes away an element of skill, and replaces it with luck--without the pop bumper (or placing it elsewhere) could've made this game a shooter's table. Instead, the pop bumper frequently helps knock down targets through pure luck. Otherwise, the spinner begs to be ripped, and the captive ball is satisfying to shoot for.

I do like the chimes on this game. William's was able to implement several tunes using the software and chime boxes to be played at various times. Including the 1812 Overture, Goodnight Ladies, and a few others. However, the flat sounding chime boxes that William's used pale in sound quality compared to what Gottlieb used.

Overall, this is a fine game to add to any collection. It's as average as any other average game out there.
5 years ago
This is a real solid pinball machine. The artwork is grandiose, and the music is lush. The game is pretty linear, and easy to understand. The wizard mode, however, is disappointing. I really enjoy the flow of this game, but the variety of the shots needed to complete various tasks seems to get repetitive.

In a way, I wish the designers implemented more "tricks" into the design of the playfield. Vanish is neat, so is the mirror behind the bonus rollovers, and the magnasave over the inlanes catches you by surprise. Other than that, though, and the rest of the "magic" falls flat. By comparison, Capcom's "Pinball Magic" has a lot more interesting things on the playfield: a levitating ball, magic wand, magic trunk, and one of the coolest skill shots around.

This game excels in artwork, sound and music. The gameplay is somewhat lackluster.
5 years ago
Pros: Unique theme with great artwork. Gameplay is strong, rules are just deep enough to keep you interested, but not so deep that they're impossible to understand. This is a game that requires shot accuracy to do well in.

Cons: 2-ball multiball is underwhelming. I do, however enjoy how tactful the game is while in multiball. Sounds and music seem "tinny," especially when compared to other soundtracks at the time.

Takeaway: This really is a great game, and certainly worth several plays. One of the better games from this era, but it still leaves something to be desired.
5 years ago
Pros: Balanced playfield with a unique layout, a fair challenge, shots to the wrecking ball are satisfying, plenty of modes and collecting junk adds a strategy element.

Cons: Playfield artwork is busy and sometimes distracting, angel and demon facet is out of place here, and the music is forgettable and repetitive. The many video modes often distract from actual gameplay.

Overall: A very fun game, definitely recommended. Seems to be overlooked by many.
5 years ago
Game Design: Very good layout, especially when compared to other offerings from other games from the same time. Depth of rules is good: upper drop targets advance pit value, lower ones advance pop bumpers; when combined, they advance the eject hole for progressive rewards. 1-2-3-4 targets and "D" "E" rollovers advance stars for playfield special and light the pit for maximum value for one hit. Aiming is critical, but not always possible. The magnet and flashlamps used with the pit make it a fun and rewarding shot to make. The game's biggest flaw are the voracious outlanes. This turns the lower playfield into more of a game of luck than anything else, which is unfortunate considering the rest of the game is brilliant.

Sounds, Music and Artwork: Artwork is busy. Very busy. Not in a "Captain Fantastic" busy, where there is plenty to look at and discover, but in a confusing, hard to follow sort of way. The benefit to this, however, is that there is plenty of detail. While the game doesn't have "music," the heartbeat that progressively increases in speed is probably one of the most brilliant uses of a continuous background sound. Whereas other games at the time used a stagnant sound that would simply increase in pitch or speed, Gorgar's heartbeat is truly immersive, especially for a game released in 1979. While the vocabulary only consists of 7 words, William's used this to it's advantage, working within the hardware limitations at the time by making it believable to the player that a barbaric monster would only be capable of producing 7 words.

Overall Impressions: For me, this is one of the first games from the era that really worked hard to make a pinball machine really cohesive. Game design, artwork, and most importantly, sound quality all work well together to create a game that is truly immersive. At a time where all games sounded like a spaceship shooter, this one easily forged trails to give designers the ability to produce better games in the future. I highly recommend this title.
5 years ago
Game Design: The game's similarity to firepower in layout is it's strongest feature and also one of it's greatest downfalls. The sniper drop targets are fun to hit and aim for, but everything else on the game falls flat. The ramp shot is tough to make, and not rewarding enough, and the layout just makes you wish you were playing a Firepower. Lack of multiball is disappointing, and spotting a standup target with the scanning lights is more luck than skill. The helicopter that spins it blades when you hit the spinner is a neat gimmick, though.

Artwork, Sound, and Music: Bad translight, underwhelming cabinet artwork, and a poor focus on sound make this game as disappointing to look at as it is to play. The only redeeming feature is the playfield art: It is detailed and well thought out. It's a shame that the rest of the game doesn't follow suit.

Overall: This is certainly a below average game. Definitely a dud. Worth playing only for the sole reason to say "I've played that game before!"
5 years ago
Game Design: A thoughtful playfield with plenty to shoot for. Off center, and asymmetric design allow it to stand out from the crowd. Rules are deep enough to keep players occupied, but not so deep they confuse others. Fun to play, and plenty of flashing lights to keep the novice player interested.

Artwork, Sounds, and Music: While the backglass is not something I particularly care for, it is perhaps the best use of Gottliebs photographic translights from the era. Cheesiness to the absolute extreme. Unlike Raven, where the artwork is just plain bad, Hollywood Heat's artwork is so bad, it's good. Obnoxious colors, obnoxious flamingos, hot pink, and a hideous dated car. You're immersed into the perfect archetype of a stereotypical 1980s Floridian dream. Sounds are good, diverse, and varied. The absence of speech on this title gives the game more room for sounds and music. In terms of quality, it has the typical "tinny" Gottlieb sound, an unfortunate circumstance that knocks a few marks off of the score.

Overall: Certainly a decent pinball machine to add to a collection. The unique playfield design, light shows, fun multiball, and horrendously good artwork allow it to stand out in a lineup of games. Definitely worth a few plays.
5 years ago
Game Design: Simple layout that is easy to understand. Spell "shuttle," and lock some balls. Aiming is key, and with a bit of luck from the "shuttle" score value, you can do well. Smart programming eliminates straight down the middle drains by popping up the ball saver when the game senses an incomplete ramp shot. Light shows are fun, the game is balanced, unique drop target placement, and overall the gameplay experience is very good.

Sounds/Music/and artwork: This is where the game really misses the mark, in my opinion. Stagnant background sound wears on your nerves. It doesn't fluctuate with ball time or score, and it never changes. Even games like Firepower and Gorgar before it had background sounds that would change as you played. Worse still is the speech. It's hard to understand, muffled, and not diverse at all. It is clever that the game yells at you when you drain down an outlane when a high shuttle reward is lit though (special or extra ball), I'll give it that. Artwork is so-so. Cabinet artwork is utilitarian and clean, and the backglass is near photorealistic, not something I'm particularly a fan of. But on the playfield, the astronauts are firing guns. Why? What are they shooting at? Why does the shuttle program have guns? What's the conflict? How is firing an artillery gun even possible in space when there's no oxygen to act as an oxidizer? For a game that banks on it's realistic theme, this factor alone really misses the mark. What is neat though is that the artist cleverly future-proofed it by adding a drawing of the Hubble Space Telescope, something that was still under development at the time, and wasn't launched until the early '90s.

Overall: I can overlook the artwork annoyances, but not so much the sound ones. The game does have killer gameplay though, especially when compared to offerings from other manufacturers at the time, and that alone is worth the ticket price.
5 years ago
Game Design: Overall, this game is excellent, however I feel as though too much emphasis is placed on the upper playfield in an unbalanced manner. Game goals are simply to lock balls by bashing the drawbridge. If the ball falls to the lower playfield, then a left ramp shot from the right flipper is needed to bring it back up again. This isn't a bad thing, but one could make the argument that this game is a "right flipper one shot wonder." Sometimes it gets to the point where using the left flipper feels awkward--like you're doing something wrong. It would have been nice if the designer could have placed more rewarding shots on the right hand side of the lower playfield to balance things out.

Artwork/Sounds/Music: Artwork is good. It's what you'd expect from a game of this era. A futuristic medieval horseback rider that steals things is certainly creative. It doesn't make sense, but then again, who cares! Sounds and music is where this game really stands out. Considering sound limitations at the time, this game leads the pack in terms of what could be done. Even today's new games lack the memorable music experience that this game delivered in spades.

Overall: This game is fast, fun, and easy to understand. While it does have it's flaws, they're by no means deal breakers. Left kickback, and right magna save are nice additions, and timed drop targets pay a nice homage to it's elder brother. I just wish the playfield was more balanced.
5 years ago
Design and Rules: This game flows well, and has a great variety of shots to make. While the rules for this game are relatively shallow, it's simplicity makes it easily tangible for new players. The playfield and scoring is balanced, never unfair, and brutally fast for a game of this era. the spinner shot to the upper playfield kickout hole is infinitely satisfying. One flaw, is that once multiball is attained, there's nothing to do other than bat around the balls. It would've been nice of the designers to light a difficult to hit target only during multiball for a satisfying reward.

Art: Interesting. The artist was definitely attempting to capitalize from the success of Star Wars on this one, and it works. I like it. Early '80s at its finest. The cabinet artwork is confusing though, and doesn't relate all to well with the rest of the game.

Sounds: Hard to beat. Typical sounds from William's at the time, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Overall: This is a great pinball machine, and a surefire crowd pleaser, just as long as the game is set up properly.
5 years ago
Buck Rogers is a pinball machine that could've easily been better, had it not been produced using Gottlieb's poorly designed System 1 boardset. The theme revolves around the future, and all things space age, but the design and feel of the game lack in both respects. It's a classic example of a title that would be excellent had it been an original theme built around the layout, instead, the theme seems forced upon players.

Sound is good for an early Gottlieb, and the futuristic sounds fit the theme well, but the lack of a continuous background sound makes it significantly more boring to play--remember, this game came out at the same time as Gorgar and Firepower.

Rules and layout are decent. It's significantly easier to get the special than the extra ball on this game: a fatal balancing flaw in the rules that makes this game less fun to play in a home environment. The game focuses on the vari target, and it's neat to see how the game counts the amount of times its required for the player to reset it, and it gives out better or worse rewards based on how many hits it takes, but again, that feature feels better suited to a golf themed game than a buck rogers theme.

Artwork: This is the highlight of the game. Colorful, vibrant, and depth all make for excellent artwork that is engaging and interesting to look at.

Overall impression: This is a game one should have if they are a fan of Buck Rogers. It isn't a bad game, but when compared to other games from other manufacturers that were released at the same time, Buck Rogers really misses the mark.
5 years ago
Solid single player game from the early '70s. The simplicity is what makes this game so great: Just knock down as many drop targets as you possibly can. Easy to understand rules trump the otherwise simple layout. Toss in some short flippers and some brutal outlanes, and you've got yourself a winner. Classically nostalgic for anyone who grew up with this style of pinball. Press start, slap a few balls around, be happy. This is how pinball was meant to be played.

The only real drawback, in my opinion, is the playfield artwork. Large chunks of solid colors get boring to look at, especially when it's sister game, Galaxie, has much more depth and color to it's playfield artwork.
5 years ago
Overall a very strong game. Some call this game a one shot wonder for the sole reason that the center ramp can rack up points. The ball diverter and shaker motor make this a favorite among many. Light shows are plentiful, action is fast, and the gameplay is intense.

There are only two major flaws in the game, in my opinion: 1) The scoop shot it a tough shot to make and poorly labeled, and 2) After the jackpot has been awarded, there is nothing left to do in multiball.
5 years ago
A largely underrated game, in my opinion. The game doesn't have type of smoothness and flow you'd get from a William's game from the era, but what it lacks in flow, it more than makes up for in depth of ruleset and skill required to complete "scenes." Timed shots can be brutally difficult, and the various modes are intelligently designed around the playfield.

Backbox animation is striking and great fun for the causal player, but the repetitiveness and ease of the gunfight can get annoying for the repeat player.

The mystery award can be a bit unfair. When playing in multiplayer, someone can get lucky by winning excellent mystery score values, where the other person can get lousy rewards. This factor alone makes it unsuitable for tournament play. The catch up feature is neat: It allows the person in dead last to match the score of the next highest scoring player. However, the feature should only apply to players scoring poorly, but it often rewards players in first place with an extra million.

Overall, this is a great table for skilled players. The scoring is very unbalanced, but that can easily be overlooked if you're playing for completion of modes, not points.

Update: I've found that this game has 3 ROM revisions. The only differences I've found regarding them is how the mystery awards are awarded. In the most recent revision, the mystery sequence and gun fight sequences are much faster and more difficult to win under the hardest setting. The frequency of the more lucrative awards has also been decreased. It also gives each player an equal opportunity at receiving the "catch up" feature. While the game is still completely unsuitable for a tournament setting, the game is far more balanced with the newest ROMs.

Still a great game, and easily one that is among the most popular with guests.
5 years ago
Gameplay and Design: If it weren't for so many rules and layout similarities to Earthshaker, one could easily mistake this game as a product of Steve Richie. Gameplay is fast, fluid, and at times, brutally difficult. The challenge is always fair, and the spinning disks on the playfield can either work in your favor, or against you. The use of the "stargate" ramp is a brilliant way of changing the layout of the game with minimal effort. The shots on the playfield are varied and balanced, and seldom get boring.

Artwork, Sounds, and Music: The theming is excellent, and ties well into the playfield design. It's a cohesive experience that makes sense, and I feel a lot of pinball machines lack in this regard. Sounds are clear, and music is catchy. The cabinet artwork is a bit uninspired, but I'm willing to overlook that as the rest of the artwork is exceedingly well done.

Overall: This is a game you shouldn't miss. When properly set up, it is a surefire blast to play. Few games fully utilize the theme, artwork, and playfield layout as well as Whirlwind does. It's big, somewhat goofy, and has plenty of things to do for longtime lastability.