*Superfriends Announcer Voice* Meanwhile, at American Pinball
2020 has already presented us with some exciting pinball releases and promises of more to come. That being said, one title I was really looking forward to was Hot Wheels by American Pinball. I am stoked to confirm my suspicions. Yes, it was as fun as I thought it would be when I shared the announcement in March. I left feeling like this game really communicated a lot of our Pinball Superfriends culture and values. Pinball is for everyone. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. It’s always more fun with friends.
This past weekend I took a socially-distant venture up to the American Pinball office in Palatine, IL. There I saw one of the most vibrant, happy cabinets I’d ever seen. This game is gorgeous and comes complete with the Mattel cars you know and love, art featuring those famed orange ramps, and lots of the characters you’ll meet in the game. The off-set display was a welcome change for me, personally. With the display off-set to the left, I could see much of what I needed to out of my peripheral vision, rather than looking straight up while I’m playing. It also cut down on the amount of reflection while looking at the game. In addition to all of that, there are even actual Hot Wheels cars on the playfield. You can switch them out with the ones you have at home! Now put your obvious fear to rest. I can confirm that, yes, both the Street Weiner and the Roller Toaster look amazing on this playfield.
I was really interested to take a look at was the 3D lenticular back panel, and it was one of the first things that caught my eye. Remember those very stiff rulers with pictures that would shift when you held them at different angles? Yes, the ones you and your classmates used as swords. I was taken right back to that when I saw the art shift as I moved around. It really gave a lot of life to the playfield. The revving engine sounds, the winding graphics… and THAT SHAKER MOTOR! It really is an immersive gameplay experience. It’s not just fun to play-- it’s so fun to just watch. Between the amazing light show, the display, the animations, the quality sound system… This game really has so much to offer. Seriously, play with a friend and just watch the game animations. You’ll lose track of time. I accidentally held an American employee hostage because I didn’t realize how long I’d been playing. *That* is how much fun I was having.
Those of you who have watched the Superfriends stream know that I enjoy working on tables, and I tend towards games from the 90s and before. Playing this game may have changed my mind about these preferences. The animations and playfield features on this game are beautiful, without being distracting. The asymmetric table offers a variance of shots unlike any I’ve played before. The lane constructions coupled with a well-placed center post make this game both challenging and forgiving. This game isn’t just for the seasoned player. It’s for someone who loves Hot Wheels but has never played pinball. It’s for someone learning different shots and mode stacking techniques. This is truly a different playfield construction, designed with accessibility for both the pinball novice and the pinball witch/wizard in mind.
I really, really like this table. American Pinball is only releasing one edition of this table. No pros, premiums, LEs...just one. I cannot relay specifics, but I can say that listing the features on this stock model are the same features I see included for some Premium tables. This table reads to me as having premium game features at a low-to-mid pro price point. I can see this table being very popular across many demographics. It’s a game appropriate for all ages (no profanity, etc…), a variance of skill levels can enjoy this game, and, most importantly, it’s fun. It’s one of the best theme integrations I’ve seen to date. I think that this game will appeal to both Hot Wheels and pinball enthusiasts, alike. The fact that this game is so accessible is something that’s good for today’s pinball culture, overall. It’s the perfect candidate to introduce your friend or kid or weird cousin to pinball… because everyone can enjoy playing it. Pinball should be for everyone. Part of making it for everyone is introducing new people to all these awesome games in a welcoming environment. That means we need games everyone can enjoy. I think Hot Wheels lends itself well to this philosophy, which is good for pinball. More accessible themes will mean more new players getting interested in this thing we all love. More (new) players will mean more voices and a more robust community… which is more likely to thrive than a homogenized one.
That’s really cool.
Peace Out, Pin Scouts!