spiroagnew's ratings

Pinsider spiroagnew has rated 161 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms spiroagnew's personal top 161.


Rating comments

spiroagnew has written 160 rating comments:


3.891/10
6 years ago
While I appreciate that another player stepped up and tried to produce pinball machines in the 1990s, Al's Garage Band misses the mark. "Original themes" are fetishized these days, but this game, if any, screams for a licence. The game could then have been beloved, and maybe a few of the gameplay shortcommings could have been overlooked. The shots don't feel good and the bagatelle blocks almost the entire left side of the playfield. The art package strives for Mad Magazine, but ends up being a knock-off Where's Waldo-inspired mess. I've tried to like the game the few times I've played it, but alas, it's lacking against the Bally/Williams and Gottlieb games of the day.
7.380/10
6 years ago
I like Big Hit, but World Series blows Big Hit out of the water.

I played World Series extensively at Allentown 2018, and I really, really enjoyed the game. I far perfer AAB games over the Replay cousins, so maybe that's why World Series stood out even having played the replay version Grand Slam a few times over the years. The kickout hole "bases" work way better here than the rollovers on Big Hit. Like most Gottlieb ball games, you can play for score or for runs, which adds another dimension to gameplay--two high scores to chase! While Big Hit's between-flipper ball launch is unique, I still perfer a plunge, which World Series provides. I'm not a big fan of roto targets (see my other reviews, I hate them) but it works well here, as the kickout holes, pops and targets compliment it, rather than it being the one-trick-pony that it is on other games. Big Hit may take the cake on the art package, as World Series' art is just OK. That said, the psychadelic hypno-art package that blends the design on the backglass with the paint on the wedged backbox wood is stellar, and should have been emplotyed more by Gottlieb.

This is a game I'll look to add to my collection in the future. Great sports theme, and interesting gameplay.
6.287/10
6 years ago
Impressed overall with Aerosmith gameplay.

It's not often I say that about a Stern game, but I was pleasantly surprised by Aerosmith. The unique ball lock/saucer combination is an excellent "difference" between this game and other Stern games on the market. Similarities in layout to Metallica can be made, or to any Stern Borg layout. The Aerosmith theme doesn't have the visual oomph in their catalogue, nor the cultural currency as Metallica or Iron Maiden does, which certainly goes a long way in overall acceptance of the game. Sure, Aerosmith is a great band, but their visual imagery isn't as impressive as the other rock games that have come before (or after in Maiden's case).

I know it's early in the LCD screen display integration, but the clip-art/Adobe Flash style animation does nothing for me, nor does it fit the overall package. The game tries to use what it has at its disposal. The toy-box clown is annoying, perhaps a step behind No Fear skull as the most obnoxious pinball character ever put into a game. The Dirty Donny art is okay...but the game is just too...blue? I can't put my finger on it. It isn't executed as well as Metallica by the artist. Fun gameplay, so-so everything else on Stern's Aerosmith.
7.188/10
6 years ago
Spiderman is a decent game. While Iron Man is a modern Stern that offers challenging punishing gameplay, Spiderman backs it off a bit, and offers a more enjoyable gameplay experience, as it's a tad more forgiving with shots that seem easier to make. Art package is acceptable, callouts are great, and the amimations are some of the best Stern was able to capture during the era. The game has all the hallmarks of being a Steve Ritchie game, but he did manage to go off the grid with a few features. An easy-to-learn crowd pleaser.
6.008/10
6 years ago
For this era of Stern pinball, I'm much more taken with Stargazer, Big Game and Quicksilver than I am with Seawitch. I realize I may be in the minority here, as Seawitch is the darling of competition players and collectors alike. The bonus collect during gameplay via the drops is a great touch, but the shots/layout isn't all that great compared to the other Sterns of the era. Things seem tight and claustrophobic; a widebody game squeezed into a standard body cabinet. The art is also a drag, it just doesn't appeal to me. I'll take a singular focus character (Stargazer), over the split focus of characters used here. Decent game I suppose, but overshadowed by the games that came just before and just after it.
4.234/10
6 years ago
One "BAO!" does not a good game make.

Like many of the European-made pingames, this one plays hard, and as a by product, has little regard given to design, rules and scoring. The flipper gap is enormous, so be prepared for some frustrating house balls. The art is a confusing mix between what Gottlieb was doing in the 70s with what Bally was doing in the 60s. The game sounds like an old solid-state cash register, with beeps in various tones. It seems people are really into the sound the pop-up dragons make when you knock them down. The game's mystique is built around the "BAO" sound, and the fact that many of these games, new in box, were discovered a few years back in Canada, meaning there are some really nice examples kicking around. The game is a disappointment--all hype, no substance.

Stand up and take a BAO.
5.207/10
6 years ago
It's nice to have a football themed game in the Gottlieb family, but it falls short of what Gottlieb did with wedgehead baseball themed games.

The game is nice to look at, but the four flipper setup is a bit cumbersome. It does however add a sense of frantic-ness as shots from the lower flippers are run-and-gun, because you can't trap. The darn vari-targets are here again, my least favorite Gottlieb feature, but at least they add to the overall theme of running the ball up-field. I think the baseball games Gottlieb made were executed better. The artwork here is better all-around than the wedgehead version of the game, Pro-Football. More gritty and realistic, better cabinet stenciling, too.
5.028/10
6 years ago
It's nice to have a football themed game in the Gottlieb wedgehead family, but it falls short of what Gottlieb did with wedgehead baseball themed games.

The game is nice to look at, but the four flipper setup is a bit cumbersome. It does however add a sense of frantic-ness as shots from the lower flippers are run-and-gun, because you can't trap. The darn vari-targets are here again, my least favorite Gottlieb feature, but at least they add to the overall theme of running the ball up-field. I think the baseball games Gottlieb made were executed better. Art is good, but I prefer the football artwork on Gridiron, the 2-player version of the game.
2.595/10
6 years ago
Poor all around.

Artwork is dreadful. A rare miss from Gordon Morison. The gameplay is dreadful, with only the spinner leading into a single pop bumper area being the only "fun" shot available to a player. Tying these two unique features together in one shot really is putting all eggs in one basket. And it really doesn't work to make gameplay meaningful. All of these Gottlieb multi-player games seem clunky and bare compared to the wedgeheads they were making alongside them (the game was remade as a wedge, with add-a-ball function, which I guess alters the rules to make them a little more meaningful...)

Avoid the 2- and 4-Players versions of this game.
2.595/10
6 years ago
Poor all around.

Artwork is dreadful. A rare miss from Gordon Morison. The gameplay is dreadful, with only the spinner leading into a single pop bumper area being the only "fun" shot available to a player. Tying these two unique features together in one shot really is putting all eggs in one basket. And it really doesn't work to make gameplay meaningful. All of these Gottlieb multi-player games seem clunky and bare compared to the wedgeheads they were making alongside them (the game was remade as a wedge, with add-a-ball function, which I guess alters the rules to make them a little more meaningful...)

Avoid the 2- and 4-Players versions of this game.
7.461/10
6 years ago
A neat little game with a couple of great scoring hooks pushes Tropic Isle into the upper echelon of Gottlieb 2-Inch flipper games.

The game is bolstered by a few ways to score. The most interesting of which is the A-B-C-D sequence to advance the lit monkeys on the backglass to the top of the tree. This will not only score replays but points as well. The centre rollunders are a nice feature with a decent amount of points that can't be ignored (50 per rollunder when lit). The playfield art is absolutely gorgeous; the backglass art suffers when unlit because of the monkey area, but looks great when you have lit monkeys. I'm sure the game would be more beloved if the monkey feature was represented through mechanical backglass animation. The backglass lights do the trick, but the game would have been an instant classic with a mechanical monkey(s) "climbing" a tree.

I'd rate Tropic Isle up there with Flipper Clown and North Star as one of the more interesting games of the era.
4.470/10
6 years ago
I don't think TKO has particularly memorable gameplay, but you'll certainly remember playing one if you get the chance.

GTB's last wedgehead produced in very scarce numbers, the only one I've ever seen, let alone played, is the one Tim Arnold built from parts which resides in the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas. TKO is one of the late-model GTB layouts that is weirder than it needs to be, think Strange World or Rock Star, with all the "shoot the ball and hope it gets a lucky bounce to hit some stuff" that would crop up in the early System 1 games. The Gordon Morison art is a sight to behold, and the design is reminiscent of the aforementioned Strange World in its odd-ball-ness. However, it's not particularly fun to shoot.

Play the game if you have the chance, but it's not going to knock your socks off.
3.370/10
6 years ago
Same review as King Kool...two-players, four-players...makes no difference, this game is a snore.

I guess pumping up the bonus through the spinners is cool, but there ain't much more than that going on here. Go figure, a one-dimensional Gottlieb 4-Player from the 70s! Perhaps a few drop targets could have saved the game. The backglass art is nice, the playfield art is the pits, but the vomit brown cabinet takes the cake...it was a poor choice. Avoid.
3.370/10
6 years ago
I guess pumping up the bonus through the spinners is cool, but there ain't much more than that going on here. Go figure, a one-dimensional Gottlieb 2-Player from the 70s! Perhaps a few drop targets could have saved the game. The backglass art is nice, the playfield art is the pits, but the vomit brown cabinet takes the cake...it was a poor choice. Avoid.
3.899/10
6 years ago
Yikes...this game came out about five years too early when Stern didn't know how to properly handle band licences. If they were to take on the Stones now, they'd probably have a lot more control, because they would be able to show them their successes with ACDC, Metallica and Aerosmith. Back when it was released, it seems Stern's hands were tied. Bad song choice and some really weird choices for shot associations and modes. There's just no takeaway, no feedback, no immersive-ness to the game overall. I have no problem with the Mick-on-a-Stick, but the idea seems so much more integrated into and well suited for the Big Buck Hunter game than it does here. If you can pick up this game on the cheap, because nobody really wants the oldest of the "old rock and roll bands" in their collection, it's a good entry level modern Stern. However, you'd be better served spending a bit more and grabbing a Metallica or ACDC. Hell, even an Elvis.
2.765/10
6 years ago
Same review as I've posted for the Sega machine. This is pinball at it's most basic. Easy shots to learn, easy rules to learn, lots of multi-ball action that's easy to achieve. Some really uninspired stuff from a dark period in pinball. I'm also really disgusted with the theme execution, which is probably Harley's fault. While the earlier Bally HD game catered a little more to the "biker", with a road trip theme visiting all the iconic bike rallies across the USA, this one takes a more watered down approach, making Harley ownership and riding feel like a non-threatening joke. The theme doesn't help the overall bland fan layout, but at a time when you had to make pinball machines for EVERYONE (since NO ONE was playing) I guess you can't really fault anyone for the dull design or overall execution.
2.765/10
6 years ago
Same review as I've posted for the Stern machine. This is pinball at it's most basic. Easy shots to learn, easy rules to learn, lots of multi-ball action that's easy to achieve. Some really uninspired stuff from a dark period in pinball. I'm also really disgusted with the theme execution, which is probably Harley's fault. While the earlier Bally HD game catered a little more to the "biker", with a road trip theme visiting all the iconic bike rallies across the USA, this one takes a more watered down approach, making Harley ownership and riding feel like a non-threatening joke. The theme doesn't help the overall bland fan layout, but at a time when you had to make pinball machines for EVERYONE (since NO ONE was playing) I guess you can't really fault anyone for the dull design or overall execution.
6.827/10
6 years ago
I've taken some heat amongst friends for admitting to "liking" this game. While it doesn't compare to the aura of the Bally original, Data East offers a simplistic and fun Playboy game that can draw in beginners. The game is simple, the shots are easy to make and the rules aren't complex. Like many of these early Data East games, they've just got something about them that makes them fun to shoot. The champagne popper shot is a crowd pleaser. The game sounds and looks terrific. Great for a casual flip in a large collection.
6.328/10
6 years ago
File Mystic under the "bingo card" or matrix style games from the 1979-80 Bally/Stern offerings. This one has a unique hook that every square on the card can represent two different symbols, thus making it two bingo cards in one. Stern's Big Game makes it a little more clear having three cards laid out separately on the playfield. Mystic is a bit confusing to get your bearings on, having each drop represent a square on the matrix, and each square being lit for one of two symbols, but it sure as hell isn't as confusing as Bally's Spectrum. The art package works for what it is, but how great would it have been to have had this as a Houdini theme? It's just a sidestep away, but not having that attached theme probably relegates this game to Bally's C-Squad of offerings from the early solid state era.
4.875/10
6 years ago
Quite possibly the most boring classic Bally layout ever produced. But paired with one of the most beautiful art packages of the era. The theme and art work for me, it's Dave Christensen at his very best, but why or why does this game have to rely on the same two shots over and over again? The "saucer all day" strategy is at work here, much like the "spinner all day" strategy rears its ugly head on Kiss. Neat to play if you can find it at a show or in a private collection, because one or two games will be enough for you.
3.787/10
6 years ago
A dreadfully boring offering from Bally. It follows the same pattern as the other Bally games of the era--a set of drops on the side, a hot spinner and a centre standup target sucker shot--but it all comes off a little dull...perhaps this is because of the lack of licenced theme? The left hand lane seems to just eat up space, without providing much in the way of rewarding feedback. The game drags along as a carryover from their EM era, with geometric playfield art to identify it as such. It must have looked completely trite and dated, sitting in arcades alongside Evel, Playboy and Kiss, with eye-popping artwork. Supersonic is a hard pass from me. Others that are into aviation may feel differently.
7.544/10
6 years ago
Another winner in the "Flipper" series, with add-a-ball action allowing for strategy in spades. A near identical game to Cow Poke. Cow Poke edges out Flipper Cowboy on the backbox animation (kicking Mustang edges out target shootin' rancher), but I like the overall colour scheme of Flipper Cowboy, it has a bit more style and swagger than Cow Poke. That carousel smack dab in the middle of the playfield is trouble any way you slice it--some entertaining danger worked into the gameplay. A great EM made in the early sixties that can stack up against anything made by any manufacturer in the fifteen years that followed.
7.034/10
6 years ago
Everything I've said in my review of Cow Poke, the add-a-ball version of this game, holds true. Less points because the add-a-ball Cow Poke is the superior game--it's an add-a-ball after all...it adds an extra element of strategy. Still, a good game of risk-reward packaged in a nice western theme.
5.547/10
6 years ago
Lots to see and do in AMH. A very deep game that rewards the home user who has time and patience to explore it. The overall theme of a fictional ghost hunting television show is quite weak. The art package isn't very well executed. The backglass is amateur-ish, with even the most basic element--the ghosts--needing to be better conceptualized. To me, there's a difference between kitsch parody done well, and kitsch parody for the sake of kitsch parody. I get that the game is a send-up, but it's trying way too hard. The voice call-outs, while funny at times, seem forced and the dialogue kind of lame. Huge points to Spooky and Ben Heck for pulling off a production game in this day and age, but it's overall feel is that of a homebrew game, and certainly feels out of place in a collection of Stern and WPC games.
6.555/10
6 years ago
Lots of flash and awe here. The game is beautiful with a terrific light show and artwork, and could have the best soundtrack of any pinball game ever made. I'm not really taken with the gameplay though. It seems a stunted and claustrophobic. Pair that with the System 11 "simplicity" of rules, and the game is a bit of a disappointment. The upper "WAR" rollovers seem a bit out of place and clunky for a Steve Ritchie design, but points for originality. I really wanted to like the game, given its appearance and overall theme integration, but every time I'm left disappointed when I get to play it.
4.109/10
6 years ago
Fantastic art package, dreadful game. Any game that relies on TWO vari-targets as its main hook is in big trouble. No drop targets also hurt the design. Gottlieb was showing signs of design exhaustion at this point, and basically allowing Bally to eat up their slice of the market pie. There just isn't any fun awkwardly working up the bonus multipliers and ripping a lit plastic spinner. Not much more to say here, just avoid Gottlieb Dragon.
7.059/10
6 years ago
An average offering in the Gottlieb wedgehead 2-inch flipper series. This is a gobble-hole game which is a bit of a drag in the home environment where the trade-off for losing a ball in order to get a free game isn't as intense as it was back when these games were on location. At least the gobbles are positioned at the far edges of the game, instead of smack in the middle, so they can be avoided, to a certain extent. This is a number collection game, based on rollovers, that can also be collected at the centre split standup target. The centre stand-up "sucker shot" hit it's high watermark with Flipper Clown, but is also used here for decent effect. I'm in the minority when I declare that Roy Parker's artwork isn't all that its cracked up to be, but I don't think he created a more beautiful and appealing playfield, with two pin-up girls set upon a silver checkerboard. Gameplay is average, with an above average art package.
4.683/10
6 years ago
A great licence to land, with an incredible cast of characters, but the design suffers from the setbacks that occurred when Trudeau and Python hooked up in the past: it's an exercise in style over function. In simpler terms, the game looks and sounds great, but it's an incredible drag to actually play. This game should really be a testament to Trudeau's legacy as a pinball designer: his off the wall designs failed more often than they were remembered as timeless. Let the non-pinball Looney Tune memorabilia collectors have this one. It's not suited for a collection of any size. By a wide margin, the worst game built on the System 11 platform.
7.777/10
6 years ago
The best early solid state pinball game made...perhaps the most fun and addictive widebody game ever? It's arguable. Harry Williams really did a good job designing the bingo cards into the gameplay, and made it more than a throwaway gimmick. Chasing the drop target numbers as the playfield mechanics cycle through the cards is a fun challenge. The far left spinner into the Big Game "pocket" is a super satisfying shot, and can be worth a decent amount of points. There are some neat angles to be shot here, and many lead through the pop bumpers. Just like all of these Stern games, the rules can be tightened up via DIP switch settings to be extremely stingy or liberal. Make sure your game has the rules tightened up for maximum replay value. I can take or leave the theme or artwork. It seems a bit irrelevant to the centrality of the bingo layout. It could have very well been outer space, sports or the old west and it would have been a bit cooler. The jungle theme stands out in stark contrast to Stern's other games of the period, so marks can be given for originality, even if the theme does seem a bit random. Arguably, one of Stern Electronics' best games.
6.634/10
6 years ago
Just an average game in the cannon of 1960s Gottlieb wedgeheads, and one of the last of the gobble-hole games. The game requires some finesse to maneuver through the two narrow areas around the gobble which lead back toward the upper rollovers--otherwise, you'll be playing the bottom half of the game, and draining quite frequently. Lots of risk/reward especially at the left and right standups which increase in value with collected cards, but overall, its not as fun as some of the other Gottlieb games of the era with similar layouts. I'm not a huge fan of card themed games, and this Roy Parker artwork really isn't his best--so a few points are lost there. Still, there is some fun to be had from this middle-of-the-pack game that edges out the likes of Gigi, but falls short of games like North Star and Cow Poke/Buckaroo.
7.619/10
6 years ago
This game , being the add-a-ball version, blows Buckaroo right out of the water. The centre roto-target is one of the biggest drain monsters and sucker shots in all of pinball, with much risk associated with it. It is much better suited for a game that will award another ball if shot at, rather than the chance of a replay, especially in the home environment. The playfield, plastics, backglass and backglass animation really bring the western theme home. Everything about it screams "DUDE RANCH". This game is a real gem amongst the Gottlieb two-inch flipper library.
6.473/10
6 years ago
Champion Pub is a little too gimmicky for my liking. I find myself frustrated standing around and waiting for modes to start, or the toys to set up as you progress in the game. None of the shots feel particularly satisfying. One bonus of the stop-and-go nature of the game, is that it gives the player plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful aesthetics of the game--the artwork and animations are absolutely fantastic. The theme, overall, is integrated very well, but the gameplay lays kind of flat in spite of it.
5.905/10
6 years ago
Same layout as GTB's Bowling Queen. Better scoring opportunities here than on Bowling Queen. In neither case do the backbox balls do anything other than provide some eye candy, they aren't tied to bonus like they are on a game like 300 or Super Soccer. Art is by far better on Bowling Queen, I've never liked Stenholm's artwork, to be honest. The marble theme does nothing to grab my attention. Nothing special here--a wedgehead that's neither exceptional or terrible.
6.978/10
6 years ago
Same basic review I gave the Cleopatra SS machine, with a slightly lower mark for the EM backglass which hinders the art, grouping the reels in the top right corner. Simple little game with great shots.
7.037/10
6 years ago
A very immersive game. The music, callouts, art and design work to convey the feeling of deep space. The alternate green GI lighting was a great feature, and something that should have been used again in other System 11 games. The shots on the playfield are a bit limited, while the top of the playfield is extremely cluttered which makes it hard to get a handle on what there is to shoot for up there. The game has just enough reference to it's predecessor Space Shuttle, without completely re-hashing the game. Even with all the System 11 frills, I think I'm still partial to Space Shuttle for gameplay...
5.883/10
6 years ago
The Simpsons quickly devolves into a one shot game (the millions ramp shot), but it is a game that does integrate its theme very, very well. The sounds and the art bring the player into a mini-Springfield that accurately represents the early episodes of the Simpsons series. The game seems to be missing that one signature playfield toy mechanism that would mask the fact that the game had a single dominating scoring strategy. This game, along with TMNT and Back to the Future, have become fodder for the hipster crowd who prefer style over substance.
5.463/10
6 years ago
Meow, meow. Meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow! Meow, meow meow meow meow meow? Meow meow meow; meow meow meow meow meow, meow meow. Meow meow, meow meow meow meow. Meow meow!
3.528/10
6 years ago
WARNING: Gottlieb Snoozefest. Lack of drop targets. Reliance on rollovers. Anemic playfield. Not for me. The game is an exercise in precision, as all of the targets can be hit from the flippers, leaving nothing to chance, which is a good thing. However, I personally obtain very little gratification from hitting a stand-up target. The backglass is a thing of beauty, and incorporates the card theme well.
7.767/10
6 years ago
No question about it, good fun to be had here. I give the edge to Medevial Madness in layout, theme and humour...but AFM is still a crowd-pleaser. Lots to achieve, even though it follows a simple fan layout. Could be one of the best sound packages in all of pinball.
6.692/10
6 years ago
Stern's IJ isn't as bad as everyone says. It is fun for what it is, and it really does the theme justice. It's a shame the Crystal Skull installment had to be included, but bad movies are a part of any movie series! The treasure chest toy is impressive--I always get a kick of seeing all the pinballs dump out. There's a lot going on in the game and the shots feel nice. Sounds are terrific, but the DMD has the horrible film clip style animations. Not a gem of a game, but certainly a solid offering from a lull period in pinball.
7.876/10
6 years ago
Not much can be said that hasn't already been said here. I will say that in the age old discussion of TAF vs. TZ, I lean towards TAF...maybe because I'm not that good of a player, and TZ seems to eat me up! A great game for sure, and one that's been duly canonized as such. A theme that integrates very well with gameplay. Add to your collection with confidence.
5.516/10
6 years ago
Millionaire captures the essence of the System 11 era, with the music, art and mechanics everyone has come to enjoy from the alpha-numeric display era. However, the gameplay is a bit lacking beyond all the flash and glitter. There is not much to achieve beyond multi-ball, and replay value is low. This can be said for many games of the System 11 era, however, games like Fire! and Road Kings seem to tighten up rules around achievement of multiball in such a way to make the chase, comparatively, more fun. The roulette wheel is an important part of the gameplay, however it slows down the flow of the game way too much...and is a bear to keep in proper working order. The music is great, the art is fantastic (as a product of the era). A lot of little elements like the rotating topper, reflective cabinet art and glitter material behind the backglass give the impression that someone cared a whole lot about this game before it went out the door into arcades...or perhaps, they were trying to mask the fact that the game offered little gameplay-wise.
8.310/10
6 years ago
At first glance, Old Chicago seems like a pretty straightforward game, but the amount of punishment and misery it can beset upon players is immeasurable! It is a game I've had absolutely no success playing over the years, but I'm drawn to play it each and every time I see it in a collection or at a show. THIS is the sign of a good game. The claustrophobic area around the flippers makes ball control difficult. I'm not sure what is harder to get the hang of--the lack of slings, the lack of return lanes or the two pop bumpers just above this area. It's really fun playing Old Chicago in a group and watching other players get taken to task by the punishing layout. Add a really beautiful art package to the game (boy, Dave Christensen was good at what he did) and the game is one of the best Bally EMs ever produced, with legs to make it hold up in a small or large collection.
6.571/10
6 years ago
Wizard! is a game that remains relevant because of theme and artwork alone. At one point I thought I liked the game, and the integration of the "flag flipping" feature, but then I played Bally's Flip Flop, which is twice the game that Wizard is, and is not nearly as canonized as this "Tommy" based pinball machine. Dave Christensen is at his best here in the art department, walking the line between trippy psychedelic and hard-edged rock. Wizard is a watershed game and an important landmark in pinball history, but there were certainly games that played a whole lot better than this one did. Perhaps this was the point where the worm turned--who cares what the game plays like as long as there is a killer theme and a flashy art package.
5.577/10
6 years ago
A very uninspired layout makes for pretty dull gameplay. It seems that Gottlieb put all their R&D and innovation into single-player wedgeheads of the era. It is nice to see a game from Gottlieb reliant on spinner action tied to bonus, however the vari-target, one of my least favorite pinball "toys" drags down the fun factor of the game. It just takes up valuable space, and depending how the game is set up, the ball's exit can put the ball into great danger. Great looking backglass, ho-hum playfield art. Not a game I see gracing my collection any time soon.
5.505/10
6 years ago
A popular Gottlieb wedgehead title, but overall, I'm not impressed with gameplay. Perhaps I'm just not a fan of roto-target games--Gottlieb did a much better game of employing them on their two-inch flipper games of the 60s. The game invites you to shoot for the middle roto and saucer, which is unbelievably dangerous and will send your ball into peril if not shot carefully. A decent colourful art package, and one of the best cabinet stencils going. Lots of flash, great theme, but not in the top tier of wedgeheads of the 70s.
6.732/10
7 years ago
A neat little game with a touch of psychedelica in the art. Its almost a marriage between the artwork of 2001 and the rules of Strange World--both great games in their own right. However, I do prefer the awkward layout Strange World versus the symmetrical one of 4 Square. This game has a few built-in scoring bonuses for completing the 1-2-3-4 or similar number sequences, so it goes beyond the bash-and-dash strategy of 2001's drop target bonanza. This is another great two-inch flipper game with a wide open gap between the flippers.
7.034/10
7 years ago
An absolutely beautiful 2-inch flipper game. It is enjoyable to play, however, the game's main goal of collecting all the "floors" is a tad to easy to achieve. A game like World Fair, released at this same time by Gottlieb, provides more of a challenge--its spin function is not always lit like the "multi-bumper" is in Skyline. Why bother trying to make the numbered rollovers, as the multi-bumper is easier to collect numbers off of. It is a cool little toy, but needs a "When Lit" function attached to it to bring another dimension of gameplay to Sky-Line. That said, there is a lot going on in this game, mechanically, to stimulate the senses--from the sliding elevator door to the moving floor number in the backbox. Roy Parker's art was never better, as he really brings the lavish party scene to life with ritzy costumes and hues that pop against the big city skyline.
5.368/10
7 years ago
I'm a Pat Lawlor mark, and generally like all of his designs, but this one is the exception. The game feels plodding and forced. And I don't know why, because all of Lawlor's signature stuff, that made his other games fantastic, is there. The Hole-In-One shot is the game's saving grace, as it is up there with the best shots in pinball. One shot does not a good game make, though. The generic, knock-off Caddyshack theme also hurts it a bit. The art isn't "classic cool" like the other games from this era.
7.254/10
7 years ago
Lots of love being given out lately for classic Stern games, after long being referred to as Sturds (Stern + Turd = Sturd). Nine Ball is one of the games getting lots of attention, being a low production game and having a fantastic ruleset. Lots of risk/reward in Nine Ball, compared to Bally games of the same era. The controlled drops are amazing to shoot for, and one-ups the drops on Eight Ball Deluxe, with the roving nine-ball shot to complete the sequence. The upper horseshoe is quite the gimmick--scoring the horseshoe without hitting the target at its center is a challenge indeed. The art, I could take it or leave it. Space wizards playing pool. I guess it paved the way for space gladiators playing pool (WMS Laser Cue).
7.749/10
7 years ago
I first played Strange World at the Pinball Hall of Fame, when my collection was exclusively solid state machines. This game really opened my eyes to the world of EMs. I've not looked back. Maybe the game only stood out because I put up a great score and racked up a few replays.

A fantastic low production game perfect for the home environment. For those who like to chase specials, making each of the sequences 1-2-3-4 at rollovers/targets will light special at the left side saucer. It's a tricky shot. Really tricky, given its location nestled between two posts and in relation to the right flipper. For those that like to chase score, making all of the same number will light each three of the same number rollovers/targets for 5,000 points. For me, this is the key to the staying power of this game. Many games, Sure Shot for example, offer little more for the player to do except to rack up the specials after the initial sequence is achieved--great for location play, but kind of anti-climactic in a free play environment. Giving the player increased scoring at twelve different locations around the playfield when achieving a sequence really gives this game extra kick. I'm troubled by the Green #4 rollover target at the top of the game, and the positioning of the White #4 and Yellow #2 rollovers where scoring one will 99% of the time score both. These design elements seem out of place and lazy given the fantastic layout otherwise.

The art on the game is second to none. Gordon Morison at his psychedelic, mind-melting best. I've not dropped acid and then tried to play this game, but I'd imagine it would be quite the experience!
6.894/10
7 years ago
A great looking game, to be sure. I'm not sold on the cramped layout, and the game devolves into a one trick pony very quickly. Points for being a unique game, with a mood and feel all it's own. The games Python Anghelo worked on feel more like pinball "attractions" rather than pinball "games". May have some lastability in a very large collection, but I can see the game getting old real quick. Sounds and light show are some of the best from the time period. Q: What's the theme of Bride of Pinbot? A: Purple.
2.629/10
7 years ago
The game has been dubbed one of the worst EMs ever made. With good reason. Gameplay is a drag, with little more than the top rollovers to shoot for. You can almost see the tumbleweeds blow across the barren playfield. The art is poor, with the plastics bearing some of the worst art ever on pinball plastics. Backglass doesn't make good use of the space it has. Avoid at all costs.
6.674/10
7 years ago
For a bare-bones street level game, this game is a blast. Lots going on, with two looping saucer shots that need to be hit on the button in order to score your hits. The Gottlieb flippers have a feel all their own that make the shots feel as smooth as butter, and nowhere is this more apparent than on this game. I'm so-so on the futuristic baseball theming, and would have much preferred a straight ahead baseball theme. The game is an absolute blast to play with multiple players, as you are playing for both score and runs (just like old Gottlieb baseball EMs). The music on Slugger is fantastically 90s, and get ready to be humming the tune all day long. Even the call-outs, while really low quality, have charm to them. Silver Slugger is a great alternative to Williams System 11 games, a fun game to play and affordable to boot.
5.742/10
7 years ago
I'm a pretty big wrestling mark, and I was hoping that the game played better than everyone said. I finally got a bunch of games on Wrestlemania Pro, and while I wasn't completely blown away, I wasn't completely disappointed, either. I thought it shot like a Stern game. But yes, WAY too much time is spent in the upper ring, and most of that time it feels like you are waiting for a lucky shot rather than a skilled shot to put the ball where it needs to go. This isn't something that could be fixed with code, I'm afraid, and that assumes that a code update is forthcoming (which it probably isn't). All of the features on the main playfield aren't all that inviting to shoot, and are dominated/overshadowed by the ring feature--you spend most of the time out of the ring trying to get back into the ring, just because it seems like the most logical shot to shoot! Perhaps there needs to be more modes? I dunno. Sounds and wrestler integration in the game are very well done, and the dots are great. The game has captured the feel of the WWE universe correctly. I wish I could love this game and go against the grain, but I just can't.
4.923/10
7 years ago
It's a good thing this game has a phenomenal art package, because if it didn't, this would probably rank as one of the worst games Bally ever released during the pinball boom. Top to bottom the art on the game is wonderful--the detail in the three colour cabinet art is some of the best stenciling from any manufacturer. And then you press the start button, and it all turns to mud. The game really has little going for it. I see where the design was a break from the traditional dual spinners with top kickout--the game offers dual kickouts and a top spinner. Shooting a direct shot to a kickout hole is never as satisfying as shooting a direct shot to a spinner, right? The captive ball is an ugly and useless addition to the playfield. It is a shame the art package was used on this game. If it were paired with a better layout, it would have been an instant classic.
7.604/10
7 years ago
I think of Playboy when I think of classic Bally games from the early solid state era: easy to learn, straight-forward goals, flashy artwork and a fantastic licenced theme. The art package on the game is easily in the top five of the era, with the edgy Bally artwork blowing away the cartoon corny-ness of the Gottlieb art packages of the same time. The pink and black that dominates the palate are presented in a visually pleasing way. I'm sure this theme would have drawn one or two adolescent boys to it back in the day, but is very tame by today's standards. The right orbit grotto shot through the pop bumpers feels so good when you make it, and not many shots like that exist in pinball from this era (that don't involve a spinner). Playboy comes out near the top of the heap for games released in the late-70s and early-80s.
5.574/10
7 years ago
Great theme, bland gameplay. The playfield design looks appealing at first, but has very little to offer the shooter. How can a game this interesting looking play much more bland than a game with a more "traditional" layout, like Playboy or Six Million Dollar Man? The art is too washed out with yellow hues, I would have expected a darker "space-like" palate with deep black and blues. A complete miss.
7.447/10
7 years ago
I'm not a fan of the band, but I really like the game. I'm not a new Stern booster, but I'll put this game at the top of my list, with Iron Man, as one of the best games Stern has produced since their transition from Sega Pinball. The fan layout works well for the "metal" theme, and keeping things streamlined and the ball moving. I like these sorts of Borg games better than the "packed" ones like Tron or X-men. When I first played the revised code, I was blown away...such a difference from its previous form in the years since it was first released. The game can be thanked for leading the "art revolution" on modern games, without this Dirty Donny art package, we'd still be swimming in Photoshop purgatory.
6.818/10
7 years ago
Lots going on...but it's all lost on me. Much like JJ's Wizard of Oz, the game is an assault to the senses. Looks good, sounds good, shoots fine, but dip my nuts in sweet cream and squat me in a kitchen full of kittens I have no clue what is going on. The game is an exercise in excess. I'm a guy that needs games to be a bit more simple. I want a dime store novel, but Hobbit gives you...well, the entire works of Tolkien. I have a feeling it has a lot to do with that backbox screen. Lots of information there, but I'm just not looking at it. I've been trained to focus on the playfield. Characters, clips, numbers and animations are all too much for my pea-sized brain I guess. No complaints of the "bare" playfield...it fills up nicely with the pop-ups, and they are used in interesting ways. Maybe I'm just a 35-year-old curmudgeon that can't keep up with the times...but the Hobbit is a bit too excessive for my liking.
7.839/10
7 years ago
Probably the top of the heap of the old Sterns. Great design, great game strategy, great spinner action, great art. The game has some good rules, but it isn't one of those more "sophisticated" Stern games like Catacomb or Big Game, where the rules are too esoteric for the casual player. It's too bad this game was produced in so few numbers. It's a gem.
6.749/10
7 years ago
I love Pat Lawlor designs...just not this one. The playfield always seems a bit too contrived for my liking, with little natural flow. Lawlor's games are known to be stop n' go, but even Earthshaker and Funhouse have better ball flow than Whirlwind. I find the "claustrophobic" complaint that others have about Lawlor's games fits this game well, with less obvious places to shoot from the main flippers. The game integrates the theme really well, but for me, it still falls behind Lawlor's other work.
5.768/10
7 years ago
I'll probably never own this game. And this game has way too much in it, for an average player like me to experience in ten or twelve plays in an arcade or a friend's home. The game itself is beautiful and attractive enough. The theme is...well, disappointing. The game is a bit overwhelming for someone who can't experience it in a home environment over the course of a long period. This is great for people who own the game, not so much for me. I'm not totally sold on the backbox screen next. I don't find myself using the information on it any more than I do a DMD, and again, I have no idea what to look at when I do look at it.
4.427/10
7 years ago
Another game that's been canonized in the past ten years, like BTTF and SMB, because of theme alone. The game is pretty bad with rules that don't advance game play or inspire continued play. If these things were the price of a Gottlieb Gladiators, maybe you could justify having it, but at the astronomical prices this game has been pushed by hipsters and more discreet millennials just makes this game a head shaker. People always say "All Pinball Is Good Pinball", and I always add the caveat "Except Street Fighter II"...but TMNT isn't that far behind. It's an uninspired Data East game they hoped the theme would save.
4.108/10
7 years ago
Beauty of an art piece, but a dog of a game. All pinball is good pinball, but this just isn't a very good game. Little flow from the King of Flow Steve Ritchie's first offering before he hit his stride with Williams. A big clunky widebody that doesn't use any of its space very well.
5.246/10
7 years ago
You gotta play it when you see it, I guess. It's an strange game that's fun to play in short bursts, but would be a bit too much of a one trick pony to own once the novelty wore off. It is kind of amazing to see what Stern had done mixing a pinball machine with a novelty game, and even more amazing when you get a look under the glass.
7.109/10
7 years ago
A classic Gottlieb "chase the numbers" game, that has you chasing specials at the lit numbers, much like Buccaneer. Unlike Buccaneer, there is the added bonus of collecting increased points at the lit gold arrow, which is a nice feature for home use where credits mean very little. The spinners tucked away behind the pops are challenging to consistently hit given their location, which is a positive and a negative I suppose. Another classic art package by Gordon Morison.
6.527/10
7 years ago
MNF is a bit of a one flipper game, but it is really fun to shoot...and I'm no football fan. I'd go out on a limb and say that this is the best football themed game ever made (not that much solid state competition though). The fieldgoal shot is awesome...I'm a sucker for lifting ramp shots. Organizing a multi-player game on MNF is where it's at. Playing for points and score rules. An overall very good attempt at integrating the theme of football into pinball gameplay. Rating loses points for the generic art. Not licencing the NFL teams is a real deal breaker, and the art suffers because of it.
5.524/10
7 years ago
The game has a unique layout, however the game rules as executed are poor. The Cactus Sam pop-up is neat, but you really just find yourself wasting time with the rest of the playfield until the target pops up. Neat repetitive background music and sounds. The art is ahead of its time with a comic book feel--if they had only grabbed the brass ring and went full comic book like they did on the flyer. A brown cabinet hurts the game as well. Nobody likes brown.
7.257/10
7 years ago
I'm a sucker for Road Kings. The art, the music, the theme, and the game ain't half bad either. It gets overlooked a lot being sandwiched in between High Speed and Pinbot in those early System 11 games. For those folks that like the history of pinball, it is neat to see Mark Ritchie's first attempt at a game, and how many ideas were carried over into his beloved later work like Indiana Jones and Fish Tales. The centre ramp is one of the coolest sucker shots in all of pinball. The game BEGS you to shoot up the middle...and you better hit it, or it's almost a guaranteed drain! This game is one of my guilty pleasures.
5.681/10
7 years ago
This game pales in comparison to System 1 contemporaries Joker Poker and Sinbad, but is head and sholders above Charlie's Angels. In short, middle of the road fare. I've never been a fan of games that relied upon the roto. It is a neat feature, and some interesting scoring possibilities are built in here, but there's no satisfaction for the senses in hiting a roto target. Lighting the spinner is a tough shot to the left, but its just that: one standup to hit and its lit...no sequences to complete, no bank of targets to shoot down. No satisfaction there either. The art package doesn't really do it for me. Needs a bit more to tie it to the Columbia Pictures licence.
5.439/10
7 years ago
Another case of a game from Bally's twilight with a good art package but uninspired gameplay. The "Xenon Tube" is a feature that breaks up the playfield monotony, but serves little purpose. I like the stand-alone drops that block the ramped area behind, but in the end, you are firing up to this area and hoping for the best. It is also a damn shame about the top ball entry area--an underutilized porition of the playfield. Much like Motordome, the art is aces...too bad about the gameplay.
6.552/10
7 years ago
I'm not really sure what to make of this game. It's a backwards hybrid--while most American games at the time had digital scoring paired with chimes, this EM has score reels and digital sound. It's an anachronism that messes with your mind! Snappy flippers and a decent layout make the game enjoyable to shoot. Those early electronic sounds can really grate on your nerves after a while. Fantastic colourful artwork. A neat little game that would stand out in any large collection because of its little differences.
4.957/10
7 years ago
This pinball machine is just like Andre the Giant late in his wrestling career. Imposing size and impressive to see in person, but slow, plodding and painful to experience. It is a game that you have to play a couple of times just to say you've played it, but it's really nothing to write home about, and offers little in the way of "fun" beyond having someone take your picture beside the game once your game is over. It fits in with the rest of Atari's bland pinball lineup. I can actually say I've tilted a Herc, not on purpose, in regular play trying to nudge a ball out of the outlane. I'm lucky I didn't pull a muscle.
7.275/10
7 years ago
As far as newer Sterns go, this is one of my favorites. I love the "customized" combos, that incorporate the different characters together, it is a very nice touch. Borg packed a lot of shots into this playfield space. Modes are also well executed, and stay true to the theme. While I do prefer the backglass art on the Pro edition, the limited models also have decent art to feature their respective characters. I'm not really bothered by the oversized Wolverine on the playfield, but I can see how it is a bit of an encumbrance, blocking the action in a very important area of the playfield. The voice actors used for the game are awful, simply put.

Take my review at face value...I enjoy the gameplay of X-Men more than I do Tron! *gasp*
8.336/10
7 years ago
One of the true great System 11 games and Mark Ritchie's best game design. Python's art is no slouch either. This game, when properly set up, feels so great to shoot, and flows like butterscotch onto a sundae. Unlike the butterscotch, the game can be blazing fast and hard to keep up with--there's a delicate balance between flow and control unlike any other game I can think of. You can see how Taxi was born out of big brother Steve Ritchie's High Speed in Mark's previous game Road Kings. Taxi tosses aside the seriousness and gritty nature of those themes and really creates something special by concentrating on unimpeded flow. To pick up passengers requires shot accuracy too, and the game demands you do things in the proper order and within demanding time constraints. Oh, and the Taxi jackpot bell...one of the greatest attention getters in all of pinball. A true classic.
6.791/10
7 years ago
Typical early Bally solid state game, however, there's nary a spinner to be found, so I'm not sure how to properly situate the game. Similar in layout to Six Million Dollar Man, but that game does have the dual side spinners. Here we get two upper flippers, which I don't seem to use much in the game, I instead use them to direct the ball back down to the main flippers and set up my shots from there. The theme is fantastic, and the art is great...no matter how odd it is to see Bobby Orr wearing a Blackhawks jersey. This game gets lots of love for the theme, but those wanting a nice example of a period Bally in their collection could look elsewhere and get a better playing game overall.
5.888/10
7 years ago
One of the early Bally games to break the mold of the Bally recipe of double spinners + side drops + side standups, but not executed nearly as well as fellow mold-breaker Harlem Globetrotters. I have no problem with the theme/licence of country superstar Parton on the game, nor do I have a problem with the disconnect between Country-Dolly on the playfield and Vegas-Dolly on the backglass--I am however frightened by the image of her on the playfield, as she looks much like a present-day Dolly would (Dollywood?) if she hadn’t been under the knife as much as she has over the years. A truly frightening image created by Dave Christensen. The game offers very little to allow the player to get their rocks off. The game may be more beloved if the five “D-O-L-L-Y” stand-ups were drops instead. No difference in gameplay really…but people really, really like drop targets. It’s a different design from the other games of the era but needs a few more hooks to be considered a classic.
6.133/10
7 years ago
Cards, Billiards and Bowling. The big three of EM pinball themes. Bowling is probably my least favorite of the three. 300 is an okay game, certainly better than King Pin, Gottlieb's bowling wedgehead, but it's not a game I would go out of my way to play, let alone own. I'm a big fan of the spinner that stands alone in the middle of the playfield, but other than that, the layout is standard fare. The right side bagatelle just takes up space, and I'm not a fan of them on Gottlieb games overall. The double kickout holes that run underneith the upper plastic are a novel idea but I think the idea works better in design than in actual practice. Middle of the road game, for a middle of the road theme.
7.205/10
7 years ago
I am a huge fan of Melody, the add-a-ball cousin of this game, however I'm not as big a fan as Sing Along. There is something more magical about collecting the extra balls at the kickout holes rather than replays. I guess it is a general rule that add-a-ball games play better in a home environment than replay games, but it really shows in a game like this. Art is fantastic and layout is one of the best on a 60s wedgehead. Great game, just not as great as Melody.
2.577/10
7 years ago
If you check out my other ratings, you'll see I'm pretty objective, most of the time. I won't be here.

This game sucks. Layout sucks, art sucks, sound sucks, features suck. Possibly the worst game I've ever played. Useless features abound that leave the player scratching their head as to why they are there. Annoying callouts. Art that bears very little resemblance to the video game art that looks like it was done by a careless art student with a C- average. I've given this game a chance. I really have. I play it almost every time I see it. I kid you not, it's really tough to stick it out to the end. Imagine my disappointment when I played one that was set on five ball!

In summary, all pinball is good pinball. Unless it's a Street Fighter 2.

It just plain sucks.
6.276/10
7 years ago
Gigi is one of the toughest wedgeheads going. Lighting all the coloured bumpers scores you an advance and nets an end of game bonus. I'll be damned if I can get all the bumpers lit on a consistent basis. Other than the bumpers, there isn't much going on in the game. Your objective is working on those bumpers, and nothing extra is added to take away from that (except two top standups which add little to the game being tucked away at the top). The Roy Parker artwork is a bit of a miss here. Too many clowns.
7.433/10
7 years ago
All of the games in the "Flipper" series are okay, but I find something special in Flipper Clown. It is an early example of the player being put into direct competition with the machine--trying to beat the machine's number (red, left hand side) with your own number (white, right hand side). There is a lot of strategy that goes into playing this game, when to lock in the machine's number and when to cash in your own number for the added ball. I'm not really into clowns, so the artwork is a wash for me. The backbox animation is cute, but it really has no bearing on points...it's just some movement meant to catch the eye of perspective players. I'd classify this as one of the great wedgeheads of the 1960s, and I'd choose it over Buckaroo/Flipper Cowboy/Cowpoke any day of the week.
7.109/10
7 years ago
This game is all about the drops. Twenty to shoot for, but less than half of those are able to be made directly from the flippers. You'll have to rely on nudging and luck to get the rest employing the upper kickers and pop bumpers. The game embodies a really far-out futuristic theme, but the approach was executed better in later Gottlieb art by Gordon Morison (Target Alpha, Far Out, Strange World, etc). I'm disappointed that the playfield art was so bland, given the flashy nature of the backglass. The game is fun to shoot but can be a little claustrophobic at times--you are always shooting for the two open areas on either side of the middle target bank to get the ball back to the top of the playfield. A massive flipper gap works to keep the game moving quickly. The four targets in the bank are sucker shots, that will almost always result in a drain...so never shoot for them unless they are lit for special.
7.242/10
7 years ago
Best Bally game made without a spinner? Gotta be Eight Ball Deluxe! The game is absolutely charming, and serves the pool theme well by looking past green felt and pool balls, to include the experience of playing pool in a sh*t-kicker bar--guns, bull-riding, and cowboy hats. When I first stepped into Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, I felt like I was stepping under the glass in this machine. It feels real good to grab that eight ball shot from the upper flipper. The sounds only add to the charm of this game. I like other Bally games from this era a tad better, but EBD has a special feel to it, and no other Bally table feels quite it.
6.258/10
7 years ago
If set up correctly, this can be a punishing and brutal game. Playing the game reminds you that ball control can sometimes be taken for granted. Not really a fan of the Fonz backglass artwork or the ho-hum playfield art, but it all works to tie the theme together. The cabinet art is some of the best on any Bally game from the era. Like many other sister games, the key is lighting the spinner and making it sing. Chimes, instead of electronic sounds, are quaint. I still prefer Eight Ball Deluxe to this game, though.
7.741/10
7 years ago
Harlem Globetrotters has all the elements of a "Classic Bally" game--multiple spinners, in-line drops, a nest of bumpers protecting a kickout hole--but the game is important in as much as these tested and true mechanisms were starting to be used in more interesting ways. Dual spinners are placed out in the open in the middle of the playfield, the in-line drop targets protect a second kick-out, and a third flipper is thrown into the mix to give a varied shot geometry. This was a marked departure from the tested and true Bally formula of dual spinners on the extreme left and right, with mirrored banks of drops/standups on either side of the playfield (think KISS, Six Million Dollar Man, etc.) The game sold a ton of units, probably because it was a step away from the traditional layout, and paved the way for games like Paragon and Vector. The art is fantastic, and reflects sports characature art from the era perfectly. Great game with a kick-ass theme. One of my favorite Bally's from the era.
6.059/10
7 years ago
Of all the games I play casually at shows or in other collections, Kings of Steel is the one I always slay on. I can routinely boss the game around...granted, I'm using the right target strategy to amass points. The game isn't nicknamed "King of Right Target" for nothin', after all. Art package on this game is a favorite, even if gameplay is a bit ho-hum and hobbled by unbalanced rules.
7.265/10
7 years ago
One of the best, if not the best, Williams reverse wedgeheads out there. Fun to shoot but tough to complete the thermometer. The playfield is filled with danger; from the swinging targets, to the centre standup, to the massive flipper gaps. Getting the hang of ball movement off of the centre drain island is critical to success. Gottlieb is the darling of 1960s game collectors, but Heat Wave drives home that there are gems to be found from other manufacturers from the time period.
5.854/10
7 years ago
Yes, the Unlimited Million shot makes the game pretty one-dimensional. Yes, the theme of Zoo Cops is strange. But I've always had a fun time shooting this game when I've found it to play. The geometry of the layout is appealing, but why shoot for anything other than that center ramp for millions? A rare miss for a System 11 sound package--not on the same level as Taxi and Elvira and the Party Monsters and other games of the era.

Would I ever own it? No way. But I'll certainly not turn my nose up at it if available for play...it's appeal comes from how weird it is.
7.637/10
7 years ago
I figured this game out enough to do a review about it. It has a pretty steep learning curve, but the game is a blast once you get the hang of how to collect the centre “toast” numbers and how they interact with the backbox bagatelle. I can imagine the bagatelle was quite the draw in arcades back in the day (it is in my gameroom), but I also imagine casual players would be put off by the confusing gameplay. The game can be thought of as a “thinking player’s game”, along with Big Game and Spectrum. Careful planning and accuracy is needed when collecting the coloured numbers from the banks of targets. Collecting the A-B-C-D banks in order to claim an extra ball is a difficult task. I appreciate the hidden ball locks, and the fact there is not clean shot to lock the balls. Just as the voice call out states, it is more of a random “capture”, than a traditional lock. Multiball moves at a fevered pace when achieved, and kicks up the fun factor of the game. Fantastic spinner shot, as found in many Stern games of the era, that can collect drops on the top and side banks before rocketing back down to the flippers. Theme serves the game well, its earthy browns and greens add to the eerie atmosphere, while the metallic voice is as jarring as it is creepy. This is a game that absolutely requires a tutorial to be appreciated. An underappreciated title from the period.
6.609/10
7 years ago
Stars is frustratingly simple. Collect the five standup star targets to light “special” at one of the five star standups (hopefully special equals points, but can also be an extra ball or free game depending on the settings. Then rip the right spinner. Easier said than done, though. The layout is nothing to write home about, but the placement of the upper star standups around the pop bumper reward accuracy and patience. The ho-hum generic space artwork doesn’t do it for me, out of context—however; it surely is a sign of things to come from Stern in the following years. Stars marks the first true leap into the solid state era for Stern, as the bulk of the games that would follow would feature a sci-fi/fantasy lean to match the solid state electronics that were powering their games. The chimes are a bit of an anachronism, but that rapid-fire low clunk of fourth bar when the special is attainted is worth the price of admission.
6.343/10
7 years ago
Interesting little game in the same vein as Gottlieb’s 2001, except here we have stand-up targets instead of drops. A very claustrophobic layout urges the player to lob the ball to the top of the playfield to complete the number sequence, or chase the moving target for increased scoring. Getting the lit moving target to the parallel side targets rather than the perpendicular bank is the key to success (its very easy to drain off of that long centre bank). Granted, picking off standups isn’t as fun as picking off drops, but I quite enjoy the sheer overwhelming number of targets here and attempting to collect the pool ball targets off of the action of the pop bumper and the top kickers. Loses marks for the Stenholm art…his Rockwell-esque, laid-back realism of clean-cut college kids just doesn’t do it for me.
6.432/10
7 years ago
This game is a pleasure to look at, even with the “fake” digital score reels. Beautiful cabinet, backglass and playfield art really make this game pop. However, I find the game a bit too easy. As a novice player, at the VFW show in Brighton, MI, I had the game up into the 500,000 on ball two, with all the WOWs lit before a machine malfunction forced the game out of operation and had to be shut off. Perhaps the game would provide a bit more challenge on replay, rather than add-a-ball? I would love to own this game based on its rarity alone, however, its lack of challenge is a bit of a downfall.
6.541/10
7 years ago
Not a deep game by any stretch of the imagination (not many Sys11’s were, right?) but I think the theme carries this one—it is executed quite well. From collection of prizes to the blinking applause sign, I think the game is a blast. A nice wide open ramp in the middle—very welcoming to novice and expert players alike. The “Spin or Nudge” feature of the ramp is a bit confusing as displayed but a very interesting attempt at something different. The characters are a bit dated, as is the art, but it’s a product of the time period. Music leaves a bit to be desired, as it is one of the weakest System 11 sound packages, but that may be attributed to the fact that it was trying to recreate a "cheesy game show" feel. All in all, I love the attempt at “difference” that these 90s Bally games offered while operating under the Williams umbrella…they really attempted to set themselves apart in look and feel from the Williams games of the same period.
6.952/10
7 years ago
Great little two-inch flipper game.  The circle of pop bumpers integrate well with the theme of the Chicago World Fair Ferris wheel quite well.  Chasing the lit bumper to collect points and spins is a novel idea, and works to give players something to shoot for after the number sequence is completed.  Pops are quite lively if the game is cared for correctly.  The flipper gap on this game is ridiculous…getting a hold of the ball is difficult…I need not elaborate for fans of Gottlieb 2-Inch flippergames.   Collecting all of the numbers in the sequence is a challenge in itself, as the five top rollovers are difficult to hit after the ball has entered play given their odd angles.  Backglass artwork is beautiful and one of the best from the period—lots of little details and stories to explore.  I love that the World Fair depicted in this game isn’t the World Fair that was occurring in New York at the time of the game’s release, but of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, which celebrates the accomplishments showcased in the birthplace of pinball, the second city, and not the eye to the future that the New York World Fair was promoting. 
6.196/10
7 years ago
I was skeptical about this game upon restoring an example I received for free from a friend (it was a barn find and need a lot of TLC).  Surprisingly, it is a decent game with plenty of scoring opportunities.  The two instances of  bonus based on balls collected—during play at the saucers and end-of-ball bonus—are nice features.   On my example of the game, I have clearcoated the playfield, provided a steep pitch and opened up the outlanes, so Sure Shot provides plenty of challenge--collecting all fifteen billiard balls in one game is not a foregone conclusion…you gotta work for it.  Brutal outlanes on the game, for sure.  I’m not a fan of the art/theme, and it is one of Gordon Morison’s rare misses.  The early-century barroom scene really doesn’t do it for me.  It would have worked better with a greaser pool hall feel, a la Bally’s Eight Ball, and it looks like the side art adopts this style, but the playfield and backglass do not.  Just another instance of Gottlieb keeping their themes as wholesome as possible.   Once all pool balls have been collected, there isn’t really much to do except collect the specials at the saucers and upper middle rollover.  Fun when on location, but may leave the collector wanting more to shoot for once the main goal has been achieved.   This isn’t a game I would have went out of my way to own if it didn’t fall into my lap the way it did, and I can’t see it sticking around for too long, but it’ll be fun for a few months.
7.846/10
7 years ago
Theme is a total winner here. It incorporates the brand into the gameplay very well. Game progresses in a logical way, and scoring is pretty balanced (for a Data East game). Typical mode-based game with plenty to do, and a killer upper playfield that isn't just a throwaway or an afterthought. I'm not a fan of widebodies, but this game plays surprisingly fast for one. Backglass is an amazing work of art; playfield is the horrific, whispy thin-lined Data East garbage they were releasing at the time, but the WWF subject matter kind of makes up for it. At least there is a lot for the eye to look at. I'd go out on a limb and say this is the best Data East game ever made, or at least in the running with Tales from the Crypt and Guns n' Roses.
6.015/10
7 years ago
I own a Laser Cue, and prefer that game over Alien Poker, the layouts are quite similar with advantage to LC. AP is a good game in its own right. Great controlled drops in the middle provide a challenge. Lots of looping shots that bring the ball to the corners of the playfield. Tony Ramunni art is terrible, no need to sugar coat it. Speech callouts are creepy, and fit the theme. Theme of aliens playing poker is unique...however I've always imagined dogs playing poker to be a better theme (so many different art opportunities). One of Williams last great games before talking a nose-dive as video games took over the arcade space.
7.649/10
7 years ago
I don't know if I have this set up exceptionally difficult, but my Abra is dialed in to be one of the most challenging EM games I have ever played. Great drop target strategy with the moving bonus value target. "1000 When Lit" pops are the classic "downfall" of this game. However, my intentional shooting of the pop bumpers never goes well, and results in a quick drain, making for a good risk-reward aspect of the layout, rather than a game-ruining exploit. Climbing the bonus ladder is a challenge, and the center target is a sucker shot, but one that has to be made to reset the drops. One of the best art packages to ever grace a Gottlieb.
7.116/10
7 years ago
For me, the sequel beats the original. I'm a big fan of Firepower II, and enjoy playing it more than Firepower. The game was made during the Williams cost-cutting days, but the game feels loaded compared to other games of the period (looking at you, Laser Cue). The game doesn't directly copy the Firepower layout, adding a few more gimmicks, like the crossover ramp. FPII only offers a two-ball multiball rather than FP's three-ball, but it doesn't make the game any less exciting. Visual aesthetics of this game beat Firepower hands down, as early Steve Ritchie games always seem to be plagued with crappy artwork (looking at you, Flash). The game stands as a sign of things to come for Mark Ritchie, as you can see the early features and shots that he would hone into his design signature in later games.
6.232/10
7 years ago
I’ve sung the virtues of the Bally Six Million Dollar Man over Evel Knievel over in my 6MDM review, as the games are similar in design and artistic approach.  I won’t use this space to dump on Evel, as the game is good in its own right, but I much prefer 6MDM.  The alternating spinner (once lit) is a good feature to keep players on their toes and chasing high scores using the tap-pass.  The art is classic, and conveys the Evel brand well.   This game appears before Bally really hit its stride with innovative playfield features and rules.  The real innovation here is the licencing work, and how it captured the daredevil’s iconography.  The game is just one in a series of game with a top saucer, three pops in the middle, drops on one side, standups on the other and dual spinners.  A classic layout, but other games with the same design ideas pack a bit more punch and surpass Evel’s gameplay.
6.997/10
7 years ago
Six Million Dollar Man and Evel Knievel are very similar games, layout-wise.  Generally speaking, EK is the more sought after and beloved game.  But for my money, I’ll take Six Million Dollar Man any day of the week.  Chasing the 50,000 through the rollovers and side targets is a good challenge, and works to lure you away from any other strategy with the prospect of big points, because you’re always close to completion of the sequence by sheer randomness of the ball hitting rollovers or targets.  The play-more post and right drain ball diverter give players a false sense of security, but are good features to take advantage of if you can.  If Evel has the Six Million Dollar Man beat in one feature, it is that of the alternating lit spinner—drop sequence completion lights both spinners solid for duration of ball play.  You can rip the spinner from either flipper, which makes for an incredibly worthwhile strategy to employ while playing the game.  I wouldn’t argue that the art package is one of Dave Christiensen’s best, but it is certainly colourful and patriotic—very indicative of the television show of the same name.  Christensen adds his typical hyper-masculine touch to the game, so far as illustrating Steve Austin’s muscles ripping through his flight suit.  I will say that the cabinet stencil design is one of the best to come out of the Bally factory.  6MDM has all of the elements of an “early Bally solid state game”, and stands to be one of the best examples to represent the period.
6.599/10
7 years ago
The game may be a step backwards in Williams ascension to the top of the pinball heap, but I like the game anyhow. Williams games were capable of speech in this era, but Laser Cue cheaped out and didn't feature any...adding, much like Firepower II, a cabinet bell. So we've got a bell, reminiscent of 1960s electro-mechanical games, but a super-futuristic space theme mixed with a billiards layout. The game is reminiscent of Alien Poker, but the small things they've added to the layout and rules really does it for me. I like the game exponentially better than Alien Poker. I like the cross-playfield feel of nailing the left-hand side 6-ball with the right flipper which immediately sets up a left flipper shot to the 7-ball on the right-hand side. Having to hit the drops in order is a challenge. Being penalized by taking away a target if you hit them out of order is just ruthless (it's a dip switch setting)...and it'll make you a better player. Someone in my travels described the art and theme as “Homoerotic Space Pool”, which is spot on. I love the Pam Erickson art package—its a shame her work was limited to just a handful of production games as her style really gels with the medium of pinball.
4.931/10
7 years ago
Art is great. Theme is good. Gameplay is a snore. In-line drop targets on the left are a neat touch but can't save an otherwise bland layout. Ten years earlier, this layout was Bally's bread and butter—games like Evel Knivel, Kiss and Six Million Dollar Man relied upon hooks like the dual orbits and a top saucer. It also takes away one of the best features of the above games: the spinners. This game just seems tired and boring, especially if you remember the game was released concurrently with games like Space Shuttle. Greg Freres' fabulous art package alone can't save Black Pyramid. Just another example of Bally's 1980s futility en route to selling out to Williams.
7.314/10
8 years ago
This was my first two-inch flipper game in my collection. I'm not sure if this rating is skewed because of it. It is my belief that these Gottlieb two-inchers make you a better pinball player. Especially on this game. It is almost a requirement to think ahead to where the ball is going to travel as to set up your next shot. The center post comes into play big time. The mini flippers only allow you a split second to put the ball out of harms way...and cradling is a near impossible chore considering the outlanes right next to the flippers. The kickers give some great side to side action and really randomize the play around the flippers. Beautiful art...but I need not say that, GTB art from this era was on-point in pretty much every case. Hearing the specials rattle off when the ball is bouncing around inside of the pop bumper circle is pretty satisfying. Specials-abound, as more can be collected at the saucers when all left and right rollovers are completed (a daunting task when the playfield pitch is increased). Great game, and I'm glad to have it in my collection.
6.564/10
8 years ago
In the hierarchy of System 1 games with split banks of drop targets (a narrow category), I'd put Sinbad behind Totem. Whereas the targets light the rollovers on Sinbad, the opposite happens on Totem, and its more satisfying to collect from the rollover on the plunge and then shoot for the lit targets rather than lighting the top rollovers only after completing the drop banks. Sindbad's drops are dangerous, especially given that cradling the ball or minimizing trouble using the flippers is difficult—the four flipper setup is unique. I can appreciate it, and it provides quite the challenge. Most of the times I find myself flailing away trying to catch a dead bounce to gain any kind of control. Four-bank of drops are knocked down quite easilly (linked to the special), whereas the two bank is deadly difficult. The art is decent, but near the bottom of the System 1 catalog for me, with Close Encounters. A decent challenge with a maddening flipper layout...but overshadowed by other early Gottlieb solid-state games of the era.
6.942/10
8 years ago
Buccaneer is one of those games that needs to be enjoyed on location.  Collect all the numbers 1 thru 11 via the rollovers or the Spin N Spot feature, then shoot the rollovers beside the spinner for special as many times as you can.  Once you collect a number, you’ve got it for the entire game.  A miss of the spinner makes the ball travel in some very dangerous trajectories—a nudger’s dream (or nightmare, depending on the tilt tightness).  I would probably enjoy the add-a-ball version, Ship Ahoy, more in a home environment.   I really like the art package on this game; the colours really pop.  I have my Buccaneer set up so that the Spin N Spot only lights once every 4 turns of the score motor--collecting all the spots becomes more challenging, and chasing a score becomes a tad more lucrative.  As far as wedgehead rollover games go, this and Golden Arrow are tops in my book.  I may give the edge to Golden Arrow, but it would be a tight race.
6.934/10
8 years ago
File this one under Operation: Carbon Copy.  Gottlieb took a great game (in Jacks Open), and replicated it using more modern technology.  Not really much difference in layout or rules here.  Same great card playing rules with a few more bleeps and bloops from the sound card.  This game has the same great scoring strategies as its predecessor.  The background tune may annoy some, but I think it adds the right amount of novelty…but only if you are familiar with the original wedgehead.  The playfield gets a pass from me, as I’ve seen much worse, and actually don’t mind the font and card design they chose to decorate it with.  The backglass, however,  is extremely garish, one of the worst from Gottlieb, post-EM.  This wouldn’t have happened on Gord Morison’s watch.  If given the choice between Jacks Open and Jacks to Open, I’d probably lean towards the original EM, but if there were a shortage of those games, and all that could be had was a Jacks to Open, I’d settle for it in an instant.  It’s that good of a game.
7.994/10
8 years ago
Jacks Open is among the greatest card themed games Gottlieb ever made.  The idea of collecting card hands, one at a time through the drop targets is fantastic.  Resetting the cards after each hand is collected is pretty slick.  Mix in that the top rollovers add sort of a “multiplier” to each target collected and you’ve got a winning formula for scoring.  I’ll never get used to the open wire guides at the ends of the lanes—every time I play this game, I know they are there, and I still try to quick-flip cradle the ball and it ends up dribbling out of play.  The target bank is obvious, and doesn’t leave new players guessing what to shoot for.  The frenzy of collecting the special from that dangerous bank of targets is fun an challenging.   I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m automatically drawn to any Gottlieb game that uses that iconic baby blue colour in the backglass: this game, Volley, Buccaneer.  The playfield art leaves a lot to be desired, but you can only do so much with spades and clubs, right?  A fantastic wedgehead that will be a crowd-pleaser in any collection: easy to understand, with subtle scoring nuances to keep the seasoned players coming back for more.
7.525/10
8 years ago
The age old question: Target Alpha/Solar City or El Dorado.  Both have the same layout, with differences in number of players and scoring strategies.  The edge in gameplay goes to El Dorado…I like chasing the 5,000 target around the bank of drops, and having control of where the lit spot moves.  I’m also partial to the drops resetting if you manage to knock them all down, which only happens on El Dorado.  However, I lean towards TA/SC in art and overall presentation.  While the cowboy thing is well done and fits the idea of a six-gun sharpshooter downing the targets, I like the future/future-past theme and art of Target Alpha and Solar City so much more.  You can’t go wrong with any of these games.  The challenge and fun of a slew of drop targets can’t be beat.
6.736/10
8 years ago
What do you get when you mix the relatively one-dimensional nature of late Bally 6803 games with the charm of a Williams System 11?  You get Truck Stop.  Designed in the Bally factory, and polished in the Williams facility after Williams bought out the Bally pinball division, the game plays like the orphan that it is.  I played the game at the Allentown show years back and I rolled it, nearly twice.  I'm not a good player, and this was my first time playing the game.  So, I'll say the game is a tad simple to master, however very easy to learn for new players.  Riding the ramps is fun, and flippers need to be in top-notch shape to ride the long ramps.  In-line drop targets on a System 11 is a rarity, and neat to see--especially out in the open like these are.  Art and sounds are typical top-notch from Williams. Speech can get a little repetitive and obnoxious.  History says the design was saved from the Bally scrap pile and the Williams “pizazz” was added for release, and that certainly looks to be the case.  If nothing else, these early Bally games from the Williams factory were unique and had a certain flair about them…even if they were a little shallow, simple and repetitive.
7.501/10
8 years ago
Odd flipper setup and spinner layout (side-by-each), but an extremely satisfying game to play. Have only ever played (or seen) the add-a-ball version of the game at Clay Harrell's VFW in Brighton, MI. Late model wedgehead add-a-ball that was made for export. Perhaps the game is satisfying at the ease of accomplishing the goals and achieving extra balls. Setting up the spinner at maximum points and ripping it for all its worth feels REAL good. The art package connotes a Tom Jones, Dean Martin or Conway Twitty version of a “rock star” and not Mick Jagger, Sid Vicious or Iggy Pop. Gottlieb was never known for its edginess. Regardless, its worth a try if you can find one.
4.259/10
8 years ago
Max bonus, collect bonus. That's about all that is going on here. A lot of luck shots make the game a luck box rather than a skill box. The horseshoe lane in the middle is fun to shoot for, as it is on games like Spanish Eyes, but overall it's a bland layout. Pair that with a bland art package (a rare miss for Dave Christensen) with washed out colours, and its an overall underwhelming game.
7.669/10
8 years ago
By far, John Popadiuk's best design and most challenging game. His other games are prettier, but this one gives the most pop for the price and demands the most from the player. There are still a few of Jpop's “party tricks”--magnets, big spinning baubles—but they are integrated well and serve the overall theme. The game runs the spectrum: it can be set up super-challenging or easy for beginners, much more so than other games of the era. Its a hit with kids and newbies alike. The art package is so-so. Love the soccer theme, don't really care for the dated World Cup USA integration. I guess you couldn't avoid putting that big stupid dog mascot all over it. The animations on the DMD are some of the best the 90s had to offer. The game has long been considered THE bang-for-buck game, and its only a matter of time before it becomes a bucks-for-bucks situation...
7.212/10
8 years ago
Same layout as El Dorado, but doesn't pack the same punch as the classic wedgehead. But THIS game is half the price. So its a trade off. The El Dorado layout proved so popular it re-appeared later in the decade as Solar City and Target Alpha. Gone are the roving bonus “spots” of El Dorado, replaced by the bonus count at end of ball for each drop downed. Not as exciting having the chase of the spot removed, but it sure is fun bashing fifteen targets on the playfield to grab a big bonus and a possible extra ball (adjustable setting permitting). This Target Alpha review will be the same as my Solar City review, as the game are the same, however, I prefer the artwork of the future-past Solar City more than the futuristic Target Alpha so the rating values will reflect that. Also, Solar City has less switches to mess with since its a two-player, and its the more rare version of the two, so its got that going for it. If you want a great looking game with legs in a smaller collection, but don't want to shell out El Dorado prices, Target Alpha/Solar City is a viable and more affordable substitute.
7.321/10
8 years ago
Same layout as El Dorado, but doesn't pack the same punch as the classic wedgehead. But THIS game is half the price. So its a trade off. The El Dorado layout proved so popular it re-appeared later in the decade as Solar City and Target Alpha. Gone are the roving bonus “spots” of El Dorado, replaced by the bonus count at end of ball for each drop downed. Not as exciting having the chase of the spot removed, but it sure is fun bashing fifteen targets on the playfield to grab a big bonus and a possible extra ball (adjustable setting permitting). My Target Alpha review will be the same, as the game are the same, however, I prefer the artwork of the future-past Solar City more than the futuristic Target Alpha. Also, Solar City has less switches to mess with since its a two-player, and its the more rare version of the two, so its got that going for it. If you want a great looking game with legs in a smaller collection, but don't want to shell out El Dorado prices, Solar City/Target Alpha is a viable and more affordable substitute.
7.005/10
8 years ago
What a special treat it is to play this game. I can see how it would have confused the bejesus out of location players during its initial release (resulting in many of the games going directly into the dumpster). Armed with a knowledge of the game from Internet research on how to “guess” the colours and advance the gameplay, this game is a pretty neat novelty. It is a game that benefits from watching someone else play (who knows what they are doing) or watching Todd Tuckey go through it on his fantastic Spectrum tutorial YouTube video. Its not something you'll be able to pick up by reading the apron card in a dimly lit arcade. I'm amazed at the “magic” of the kickout holes to serve the ball to the flippers and return balls back into play. The art, while pleasing, does nothing to make the game less confusing as it takes on an overwhelming, chaotic tone. I'm not sure if I'd be all that enthusiastic to own one of these, but to play it a couple times per year, it sure is fun!
7.837/10
8 years ago
Perhaps my favorite EM game of all-time. The design is similar to other designs of the 1960s, but this game has more panache. The theme does little for me, but chasing the 16 numbers around the playfield to score extra balls is great fun. Having to lose a ball to score the number 4 of each colour is an interesting money grab from Gottlieb. Watching the ball move from kick-out hole to kick-out hole is extremely satisfying! I perfer the AAB Melody to the replay Sing Along, especially in a home environment.
5.838/10
8 years ago
A rare ho-hum offering from Dennis Nordman. I respect that the game unifies his oeuvre by using characters from past games (Monsters, Dudes and Animals) but I get the feeling that the game is TOO MUCH of an inside joke, leaving causal players out in the cold on much of the humour. Capt. B-Zarr will never usurp Rudy as the most famous pinball talking head. The game comes off as a bit too obnoxious for my liking. Not even Nordman's uniquely shaped ramps can save this one.
7.880/10
8 years ago
This is an absolutely unique game, that I believe was under-appreciated in the era it was released. Say what you will about John Popadiuk, he has an interesting approach to design and added some unique features that were at once both innovative and a throwback to the designs of yore (the inset raising pop bumper is a good example of this). I'm confused as to whether games like Voltaire are just a cheap collection of party tricks. I'm drawn in regardless. Cirqus embodies the wonder and excitement of pinball that was lost in 1998. Too bad it didn't earn money, and was left relatively unfinished. The art is fantastic. The music fits the theme. Gimmicky or the result of a unified vision, the game is great.
7.916/10
8 years ago
A rare game you don't see too often (less than 1,000 made) and one I am lucky enough to own. Not sure why I have a soft spot for this game. A combination of nostalgia, art and design. I played this game a couple of times as a kid, and the art really stuck with me. And by “stuck” I mean scared the living hell out of me. The game creates an eerie sci-fi mood unlike any other game of its time. There are some interesting design elements, and the game is packed with stuff...leaving a few of the features (the X-Value target and the Transporter saucer) totally obscured by the upper level accouterments. Has perhaps the best physical ball lock in the Orion space ship, however it is one of the main reasons everything is obscured—its so big! Hitting the drops in order to score the jackpot is a challenge. Rules are straightforward, but plotting out where everything is on the crowded playfield takes a while.
6.858/10
8 years ago
I'm not as excited about this game as everyone else. Granted, the game is packed with lots of nooks and crannies, and plenty of eye candy, but I find the gameplay a bit clunky and confusing at times. I like the idea of more talking heads on the playfield, but my allegiance lies with Rudy, not Red/Ted. The redneck theme is acceptable, however, the country music is a bit annoying, and I could do without it. John Youssi art fits the theme, and is an asset to the game. Casual players may be overwhelmed with the sheer enormity and complexity of the game. Not a fan of widebody games...but this is one of the best despite its faults. Being a System 11 guy, I think I like simplicity...
7.714/10
8 years ago
Not the prettiest EM going, but its beautiful in its design simplicity. Light each bank of coloured targets, and knock'em down for big points. Chase the special at the top rollovers. Not much more to know than that. Its fun to “volley” or ricochet the ball off of one bank of targets to its adjacent one. Whereas a game like Centigrade 37 has depth and is a borderline work of art, Volley takes a much simpler approach and executes it well.
6.893/10
8 years ago
Pretty standard fare from Williams here on Spanish Eyes. However, the first time I played the game the ball made a perfect 360 bouncing around the pop bumper between the flippers and bounced back into play. I was hooked! The art package is love or hate...I love it. Its different that Marche's pointy people he put on most of his games. The center horseshoe and kickout hole are where most of the points are generated. Game can play very fast and controlling the ball can be difficult, given a properly adjusted center pop bumper and a fresh set of rubbers. The game is definitely more fun on add-a-ball rather than replay. Single chime is a bummer...it sounds tinny and weak. All in all, I perfer my EMs to be Gottliebs but this game is by far my favorite Williams EM.
8.099/10
8 years ago
Easily at the top of the heap as one of the best late-model wedgeheads ever made. Great little bagatelle-style area on the right hand side, and lots to shoot for everywhere else. Kickout hole, drops, rollovers, this game has it all. The art package is among the best ever to grace a pinball machine. Animated thermometer in the backbox is a nice touch, and a departure from the static backboxes of the time. Its just one more extra little touch that makes the game special, and shows it was treated as something special. A crown jewel of any EM collection.
7.648/10
8 years ago
Love this game.   Challenging when set up correctly.  Putting on standard flippers (instead of segmented) makes a difference.  Game can play really fast...the ball doesn't skip a beat when arriving from a ramp return.  Blink and it's in the drain.   Cheese trap ball locks and mouse hole are ridiculously great and integrate perfectly with the theme. Great music, varied, some of the best on a System 11.  Bright and vibrant colours and characters in the art package.  Probably in my Top 5 System 11 games.
4.713/10
8 years ago
Some interesting ideas here  (the Time Machine being the best of them) but nothing cohesive.  The game is an assembly of ideas rescued from the junk heap.  And they don't work well together as a whole.  Toilets, angels, devils,   toaster guns, women in showers, hippie buses, time machines....it just doesn't present well.  The game carries many of Oursler's signature designs (raised orbit, centre bash toy) but add nothing to depth or interest.  Game often gets a pass because of the Williams logo on the speaker panel...it shouldn't.
4.512/10
8 years ago
This game's layout was the test platform for the System 1 operating system, thus, it was a game without a theme, probably, from birth, only to have the Angels slapped on it as a marketing tool. The fun begins and ends with wailing away on the drop targets. Lots of dead space on the playfield, exemplified by the one-way space that leads behind the pop bumpers: you can't shoot it back up to the rollovers! The art package is okay, if not disjointed with a few different art styles butting heads, which just makes things super confusing (the dancing girl in the bikini and the cartoony police officer don't mesh with the realism of the Angels themselves. Read the whole story I wrote about this game at: http://creditdotpinball.com/2015/03/02/featured-game-gottliebs-charlies-angels/
6.552/10
8 years ago
Totem is in the top half of Gottlieb's System 1 heap, certainly not the best though. Interesting scoring strategies with the drops tied to the rollovers. Once the targets are down you'll be fighting with the standups behind them. The left vari-target is a killer, avoid it at all costs lest you'll be fighting against a drain. The off-set flippers are unusual and take some getting used to. The game marks the dawn of Gottlieb's “Multi-Mode” sound (meaning it plays more than three blips/bloops) and does a bit to give the game character...as much as possible. The art is a fantastic mix of colour and native artwork (although I'm told the native heritage depicted is a mish-mash of subcultures). Bright art from Gordon Morrison makes Totem's style a winner. Design isn't far behind, but the interesting approach to layout may wear off quickly.
7.057/10
8 years ago
The EM spirit is alive and well in Gottlieb's first solid state machine. The layout is typical fare, with the expected drops, kickout holes and rollovers. The five drops in the middle provide some challenge: hit them with care or you are headed straight down the middle. Neat pairing of the coloured top rollovers with the coloured drops. Art package is beautiful. And the bonus of chimes! You can avoid the later Gottlieb SS blips and bloops! Would rather own the EM version of the game, but I wouldn't sneeze at owning one of these. Sure there are better System 1s out there (Joker Poker) but the first in the series isn't that bad!
6.192/10
8 years ago
Great theme, classic art package, yet incredibly boring gameplay. Spinner all day once it is lit. Great for casual players looking to spell KISS over and over and over again via the matrix in the center but further than that, the game leaves a lot to be desired compared to other games of the era. One of the best art packages on a classic Bally, from a company that created the idea of an in-house art department. It would a few years before the idea of art agreeing with game design was introduced...as Kiss proves wonderfully. Prices on this game have been madness for years now given Kiss Kollectors valuing this as the ultimate Kollectable. If it held a reasonable price, being a fan of rock n' roll, I'd consider owning the game for a spell, but not at current market value...!
7.043/10
8 years ago
Banzai Run has a really interesting concept that was way ahead of its time. These days, I see it as too gimmicky for its own good. The bottom playfield is really a snoozer—very bare bones. The backbox playfield provides an interesting challenge, but it’s a hook that wears out its welcome on me very fast. I love the art package of the game, and the overall design is interesting, but I’m not compelled to play this game more than a couple of times when I find one…gameplay just doesn’t grab me.
4.867/10
8 years ago
I spent a decent amount of time on Black Belt at Clay Harrell’s VFW and in a friend’s private collection. Not a horrible 6803 by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing game changing either. The flipper that shoots backwards (karate chops?) up the spiral ramp is a neat touch, and fits the theme. A decent set of rules advances you through the belt colours, but why bother learning the rules, when you can just shoot the center saucer over and over and over and over again, repeatedly kicking your “opponent” in the nads. It’s a neat little matrix of intertwined shots that simulate sparring with an opponent, but the game really lacks the staying power of the Williams games of the same era. Gentle touch scores much.
7.128/10
8 years ago
A lot of game to keep you busy for quite a reasonable price (whatever a "reasonable price" is, these days!). The game feels, plays and looks like a comic book, which is quite an achievement. It has a lot of the goofy John Trudeau hooks that take a while to get used to: like the right side in-lanes and the cluster of business that packed into the right rear of the game. Its a crowded playfield, to be sure, which may be a negative for people first discovering the game. I'm still not sure what I'm shooting for up in that right hand corner! The natural SuperPin comparison to JD is Demolition Man, and to be honest, I'm not sure which one I like better.
7.211/10
8 years ago
Not a fan of Stern games, but as far as Stern games go, this one takes the cake for me. Simple fan layout with plenty to shoot at. No playfield clutter or wasted space. Absolutely love Iron Monger multiball--fantastic toy. Great immersive music and sounds. A shame the dot matrix animations were movie clips instead of actual animations, a la X-Men and Avengers. This is a game Stern got right.
7.136/10
8 years ago
Another rating skewed by childhood memories? This game was right in my wheelhouse, playing it in arcades alongside Funhouse. I was the target quarter-dropper, and this game took lots of my loot. The game may come off as a bit rudimentary in its overall historical context, however, it’s a Steve Ritchie flow game when you can loop ramp shots over and over again with kinetics that feel as smooth as soft butter. The cannon launcher is a neat touch, and something that made the game unique at a time when plunging the ball was standard fare. Great multiball approach where balls can be re-locked to multiply the jackpot shot to the side targets. The art package is a bit frazzled, but captures the overall feel of steel that is associated with the T2 theme. Say what you will about Steve Ritchie, he has a way of leading pinball change and innovation, and T2: Judgement Day stands as a perfect example of this.
7.191/10
8 years ago
TOTAN has a beautiful art package with rich colours and a lot to look at. Neat ideas and toys that are well integrated to gameplay. However, this game is an exercise of style over substance. The phrase “The game is too easy” may be overused in his climate, but it absolutely fits here. I guess a positive, is that it makes bad players, like me, feel good to walk up to it and reach the wizard mode on a regular basis. Jewels are given away far too easily. If you are looking for eye candy, this game is it. If you are looking for a game that can provide long term challenge, this isn’t a game for you. (And at the price it commands, you can get two or three challenging games that would work better in the home environment.). It's a great game...for your friend to own.
5.294/10
8 years ago
As a company, how do you follow up High Speed, a watershed pinball game that sold a ton of units? Apparently with Grand Lizard, a game whose layout is a copy of Solar Fire, which was in turn a near copy of Black Knight. It may not be fair to compare this game to High Speed, but how can you not? Everything about this game seems lazy: from the copied layout to the simplistic jungle drum soundtrack to the disconnected art package. Python Anghelo, bless his soul, really missed on the backglass design. The playfield art works, and it is a shame the original “matching” backglass wasn’t used in the production run as it gels better with the overall package and is head and shoulders above Mr. Anghelo’s work. The changes in gameplay make Grand Lizard a step above its copied predecessor Solar Fire, however the game pales in comparison to other early System 11 luminaries like High Speed and Pinbot.
7.917/10
8 years ago
Everyone you talk to claims they love Rollergames, however, there isn’t any love for Rollergames on the Pinside Top 100! The game is basically a re-hash of everything High Speed did years earlier, however, it embodies all the traits of early-90s excess: neon, catchy music, big hair, spandex! It may be an exercise in style over substance, with the music and art package carrying the bulk of the positive things to say about the game. After all, it’s a System 11 game with simple rules revolving around big points in multiball. However, in typical Ritchie fashion, he’s created a fast, kinetic game that can be challenging if set up properly. The orbits are lightning fast. The left orbit to top flipper to side ramp shot will score the bulk of the points outside of multiball, and is difficult to master thanks to the speed at which the ball careens around the orbit. Getting the multiball side ramp jackpot shot timed properly can be quite the task as well. The “Pit” to “Deep Freeze” VUK is a neat little toy, and is pretty impressive when working properly. Dan Forden’s music and sounds are absolutely spot-on. The chanting of “Roll-er-games, Roll-er-games” before each multiball pumps you up for the three-ball frenzy (and gives you time to catch your breath). Perhaps the theme kills the game’s appeal, being based on an unsuccessful TV licence. Smack a WWF or American Gladiators licence on this and it’s an instant classic. Regardless, in my experience, this game gets the most play and most positive comments from visitors to my gameroom, especially non-pinball enthusiasts. It may be High Speed on rollerskates, but it is executed well and remains one of the best value pins of its time.
5.009/10
8 years ago
I'm surprised this is a Lawlor game. I'm a Pat Lawlor fanboy, I thought he could do no wrong...until I got some time on Family Guy. The game plays like an exercise in style over substance, showcasing the theme above any sort of meaningful gameplay experience. While the Stewie mini-pinball is a novel idea, but I think it cuts the game off at the knees: there is a lot going on beneath and around that area that is blocked from view making for a very frustrating experience. In sum, there are a couple of neat modes, clip-art FG artwork you've come to expect from FG branded merchandise and the overall Stern build-quality cheapness of the era...kind of a shame Lawlor has this one in his oeuvre.
5.065/10
9 years ago
Yikes...this game is just a mess. I don't want to keep piling on, but really. My time on two different versions of the Pro model, I was hampered by more stuck balls than you could shake a stick at. Very little to shoot for, even less to shoot for that rewards you for your work. Stern has reopened talks of (perhaps) revisiting code, and maybe that is what the game needs to pull it out of the dump. There is nothing to be done about the build quality though: the game rattles around like a bucket of bolts held together by masking tape...thus, there is no satisfactory heft to the shots. This could have been a slam dunk of a theme that was really mismanaged (and then given up on) by Stern.
6.381/10
9 years ago
No, no, no, sorry...not a fan of the game. Another jam-packed Mark Ritchie playfield with unforgiving, cramped shots. I'll make the same caveat I do when I talk of Fish Tales and Bram Stoker's Dracula: I'm not an exceptionally good player, thus I find these games are way more punishing and frustrating than fun to play. I play pinball to have fun...and I just don't have any fun playing IJ. However, the game is packed with decent modes and has quite a bit of depth. The theme and art are a fanboy's wet dream, no complaints there. Ball lock kickout ranks up there with the best in all pinball. Overall, the game isn't for me, but I can see why it is the cat's meow...
8.274/10
9 years ago
In my humble opinion, Party Monsters takes the cake as best Elvira game, beating Scared Stiff hands down. Some will side with Stiff for the simple fact that it has a DMD, but judgements like those are not made here. Designer Dennis Nordman designed both game with quite rudimentary rule sets, with both games dependent on "riding the ramps" to score big points. Party Monsters adds quite a bit of depth by offering multiple one million/three million jackpots, achieved by shooting ramps, the skull or the BBQ saucer. Chasing these jackpots is the key to big scores, as not much else is worth mega-points--the game was released before mode-based play became the norm. Chris Granner puts together one of the most memorable sound packages in pinball history: a groovy soundtrack with lots of bottom that sets the haunted mood quite nicely. Greg Freres adds an art package that stands head and shoulders above anything else he has ever done. Insert lighting is mesmerizing however the overall lighting in the game is quite dark, which some have argued adds to the atmosphere, however, with so much packed into this playfield, it is easy to see why lighting was either squeezed out or forgotten. To make up for the general lack of light, there are flashers abound that give off a blinding blink with nearly every hit of a switch. In sum, some may be bored of the "ramps-all-day" strategy, but there are many achievements to collect and any lack of depth will quickly be erased with the sheer FUN of experiencing this game's total package.
7.160/10
9 years ago
Who says Gottlieb didn't make any good games after they switched to solid state technology? Joker Poker stands the test of time, and remains one of the best, if not THE best, card themed game ever made, and certainly the best Gottlieb of the post-wedgehead era. Multi-player play can be quite a ball. The unique "five-ball" aspect of the game as it relates to bonus, at a time when games were moving to three-ball, adds a bit of deepness to an otherwise straightforward game. King drops on the right hand side are tricky, and you have to rely on a little luck from the slings to get them all dropped. Gordon Morison art has that wedgehead 60s vibe going for it...lots of colour, sexy girls, and hypnotic patterns. Great addition of the extra flipper, replacing one of the pops, compounds strategy when trying to complete the ace/joker bank. Great System 1 game that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser in any collection.
7.110/10
9 years ago
This game was a few years ahead of its time. It stands head and shoulders above the other Bally and Williams games of the era. Quite an advanced ruleset that forces the player to slow down and focus on the task at hand rather than adopting a "spray and pray" mentality. In an era when the Bally machines were hulking monsters that jammed as much as possible onto a widebody frame (sometimes at the expense of gameplay), Centaur uses its space wisely and offers some very unique shots. Fantastic art package that creates an overall nihilistic mood, and actually does not scream "Mad Max Ripoff" all these years later...it is a theme able to stand on its own merits. Overall, a fantastic, yet sometimes punishing, pingame.
4.799/10
9 years ago
This is a love it or hate it game. I fall solidly into the latter camp. Theme isn't for me, rules and gameplay are not for me, either. Layout is cluttered...as tends to be the case with Mark Ritchie games. The center crossover ramp seems right on top of you, and you can't see anything that is going on with the ball in the back half of the playfield. Brutal game that demands the shots get made, otherwise, a lost ball is coming your way. Lightning flippers add "challenge", but add that with the punishing MRitchie layout and it becomes a game that is no fun to play. I'm not a skilled player, maybe that is why games like FT, IJ and BSD are not appealing. Artwork is bold and colourful, but so-so by Python standards. Soundtrack and sounds pale in comparison to other Williams releases of the same era. Have given the game ample opportunity to redeem itself, but I always walk away with a bad, fishy taste in my mouth.
7.309/10
9 years ago
What a great theme. They built pinball in Chicago, so what better theme than the Great Chicago Fire? Perfectly symmetrical playfield makes for a pretty simple game. No pop bumpers is disappointing, but so much is done with space. The orbit shot flies, and the same shot lock balls with a lowering ramp. A neat feature that I'm surprised wasn't used more often. The playfield is like a mini diorama of old Chicago under glass. Mark Sprenger's art is fantastic, one of the best packages that Williams ever put out. Rules are simple, standard Sys11 fare...may not have legs in a small collection, but can hold its own in a larger one. Not a fan of Oursler games, but this one is underappreciated.
7.162/10
9 years ago
First, the film. This futuristic action romp doesn't stand the test of time like Robocop, Total Recall or The Running Man. It's dated and tired when watched with a set of current eyes. So that hurts the theme of the pinball machine. If you can get past the disastrous theme, and the much maligned backglass, you'll find a decent game. Didn't much like this game the first time I played it...there was just so much to do hidden within a mess of lights. The game seemed to big with too much open area to bounce around. Turns out, it is probably one of the most fun games to combo in all of pinball, and you need to use that floating space to your advantage. Once you know what to look for, its very clear what needs to be shot, and you are rewarded nicely for fast combos. Half the fun of getting to know the machine is navigating the ball through the maze of ramps and wireforms. Playfield art is absolutely fantastic, and makes up for the shortcomings of the backglass art. Cinematic score totally fits with the grand futuristic theme, callouts are so-so. Swear ROMs spice it up a bit, but are not necessary. I think there needs to be more modes or bigger rewards for the Cryo-claw. Seems to be an awfully elaborate, expensive and hard to maintain toy for something that could have been done with a light matrix on a playfield plastic. Regardless, it is a good game. Love smashing the cars, even though little is gained from doing so. Plenty of multi-balls to keep the attention of the newbies. Love playing with the chrome handles. Seems to give more control...more control in nudging, for sure. Give this game a chance, you'll be rewarded.
7.307/10
9 years ago
Wow...a watershed game. When I think of pinball, I think of High Speed and Pin*bot, two games that would influence the course of pinball for the next twenty years. Still get excited every time I play High Speed. Sound here is top notch...I love how you get rewarded for achieving multi-ball with that unbelievably catchy theme song...the lead-up is a simple percussion beat urging you to progress. Bless Python, but the backglass does nothing for me. Mark Sprenger's playfield brings the freeways of California to life. Easy game to learn, hard game to master. Beautifully executed.
4.232/10
9 years ago
The machine has a commanding presence with its widebody frame and bright orange cabinet, and even though the art is just so-so (a typicall Constantino Mitchell mess), it works when you place the machine in the correct time period with other early Solid State offerings. It is easy to realize why players balked at Algar upon its initial release, however, with a game as rare as this one, you’d be silly not to put a few games on it if you were able to find one. Crazy they created this a follow-up to Gorgar and didn't include speech! Check out my full feature here: http://creditdotpinball.com/2014/05/24/featured-game-williams-algar/
5.182/10
10 years ago
Can't get a licence for Star Wars or Heavy Metal? Just subtly steal their space themed art! That's what Solar Fire did. Part of the Fantastic Four of two level games, its basically a complete ripoff of Black Knight's layout. In itself, it would be the basis for Oursler's Grand Lizard a few years later. A game so nice they remade it thrice, I suppose. This game has the usual bag of sounds used on Williams games of the era, leaving a lot to be desired. The bright orange cabinet makes the game really stand out. Mitchell's artwork is passable, but is a bit of a convoluted muddy mess in its execution (a mishmash of Star Wars and Heavy Metal imagery). Game needs to be in tip top playing condition to be a gamer, and even then it ain't much fun. Solar Fire came out in the dark dying days of 1980s pinball...which partly explains why the game is a cop-out and a bit of a dog.
8.840/10
10 years ago
What can be said that has not already? Theme is great, execution is amazing. Sounds and music really dazzle. One of the best multiball intros in all of pinball. Also, the most satisfying solenoid "THUNK" in all of pinball when a ball is locked via Thing into the swamp. I love that incidental music from the old Addams TV show is used as incidental music in the game...a really nice nod to the Addams roots by Lawlor/Granner. I own the game and it sits next to a Funhouse, and the games are pretty much a backwards mirror image of each other. TAF obviously has more bells and whistles. As history shows, Lawlor tended to stick with a layout that worked, and then beat it to death. Good thing both themes are unique enough to carry them both on their own. TAF holds a special place in my childhood arcade memories, and its a true keeper in my collection even if others poo-pooh it as "overrated".
4.254/10
10 years ago
Not a fan of Oursler games. So you can already tell where this review will be going. Who Dunnit is a stinker. For me, its down at the bottom of the WPC pile with Popeye and Fish Tales. Game feels clunky and unorganized. The whole casino idea seems to be an afterthought added to give the game more punch, even though it does not neatly fit in with the hard boiled detective theme. Catching the murderer gimmick gets old quick once you have been through the scenarios once or twice. Callouts are lame, and I never, ever want to hear the Peter Gunn theme again in my entire life after a half hour on Who Dunnit.

One area this game really shines is in the dots. Great animations. Captures the excitement of the chase and over noir feel that is lacking in the rest of the game.

Unique kick at the can, but the kick was a total MISS.
8.250/10
10 years ago
If HS ushered in a new era of pinball, Pin*Bot was a game that definitely solidified its new roots. Space themes will do that every time. Without the character of Pin*Bot interacting with the player, I don't think we'd have seen Rudy. Pin*Bot remains the most prolific pin-character having appeared in many games over the years, so it speaks to this game's place in arcade culture. Lifting ramp and bagatelle are the stars of the game. A game that is very frustrating in its difficulty...yet keeps pulling you back for more.
8.952/10
10 years ago
Fun as all get-out. Stop and go gameplay draws the player into the world of the drive-in. FANTASTIC theme integration...could have simply made a Creature from the Black Lagoon themed game...but Trudeau turned it into a meta-pinball by placing the player as a drive-in patron attempting to start the 3D feature presentation. Sit back for a moment and ponder how genius this is. Simplicity may be its only knock against it: spell FILM to get multiball, then do it again, and again. However, everything from music to artwork to dot animations work in a way that makes the journey worthwhile and entertaining every time. Well executed "simplicity", if you will...yt's a theme straight out of the 1950s, which was a "simpler" time after all...
8.720/10
10 years ago
What can be said that has not already? With FH, Lawlor ushered in a few era of pinball rules, design and toys. Would have liked to see more cohesion of Rudy in the artwork...he looks different every time he's drawn in the art package. A very accessible game for players of all ages...its stop and go nature give novice players time to breathe and examine the aura of the game. It was the game that drew me into pinball, and still captivates me to this day. It may not have the legs of 90s DMDs, but its a watershed game that I hold very dear.
8.052/10
10 years ago
A bit easy for the old hands and pros, but for beginners or folks who play to have fun, you can't beat this game. Elvira isn't the main star here, its what Greg Freres did with the artwork...colourful and dark all at the same time.
8.532/10
10 years ago
Awesome original theme. Knocked it out of the park with music and sound. Backglass art isn't my favorite. Fan layout works here. Less flow yet better playing than AFM.
8.636/10
10 years ago
Nordman's best design. Granner's best music. Youssi's...well...great art, but probably not his best. Excellent game overall, fun factor is off the charts. Top ten game, without question.

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