uncivil_engineer's ratings

Pinsider uncivil_engineer has rated 4 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms uncivil_engineer's personal top 4.

Rating comments

uncivil_engineer has written 4 rating comments:

83 days ago
Operators must have loved this game back in it's hay-day. The up front targets make for brutal and fast game play (and lots of drains).

The good:
The game play. This game is all about those up front targets and using them to advance the ball locks and spinner values. This makes for a very fast game. If you ever get a chance to play a restored machine with a new playfield, you will see what I mean.

The ok:
It seems that williams of this era (both pinball and video game) used the same sound card and same collection of sounds. So I think the designers did the best they could with what they had at hand.
The Art package looks like some thought went into it, as we get space ships and a nice techo looking planet. This one could have easily gone bad, but I think it turned out ok for the era.

The bad:
Early williams solid state games all suffered from the issue created by the 40 pin connector. This game is no exception. Once you fix this and a few other issues (like the lack of fuses on the unregulated side of the power supply), this game is pretty solid.
83 days ago
This has been my go to system 80 game for the last few years.
The good:
Gottlieb created pretty good rules et considering the limitations of the hardware. The goal is to complete each drop target bank to light the base. Then you can lock the balls in the bases, and the balls are released when the tube shot is completed, or the ball is caught in the saucer next to the upper right drop target bank. This means for an early solid state, you have some strategic choices you need to make about when to release the locked balls. I find this pretty cool.

The sound board is the same board that was used in Black Hole, and a few of Gottlieb arcade games, and features an early voice emulation chip (the SC-01). This makes for an interesting sound package for an early solid state machine.

The OK.
Why use 2 flippers when you have room for 4! Seriously, this game would have worked with 2 flippers.
The Art package looks like it was thought up in an afternoon after a 3 martini lunch. This was the early 1980s when Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica ruled the movie theater and air waves, so I suppose we should expect some goofy sci-fi themes from this era. So I imagine the artist sitting back in his chair in a smoke filled room and thinking..."Romans, and space ships!" and well that is what we got.

The bad:
The side effect of being an early wide body, some times the game play gets slow. This game is no exception.
The back glass setup is not operator friendly. The inner back glass is attached to the inside of the head by small metal clips, and has to be removed separately before accessing the game boards. If you have one of these do yourself a favor and modify the back box to attache the inner back glass to the inside of the front door frame. This may save you a broken inner backglass in the future.
This game will always suffer from being a system 80 machine, and all the baggage that come with that hardware set. To be fair to the designers, I don't think they expect these machines to be around 40 years after they were built. These machines were expected to rake in the quarters for a few years and then to be junked, and so many were.
83 days ago
Ive wanted an Alien pinball since the originals were released by Hemingway. I had a chance to work with one of these original machines when I was a tech a the late great Pinball Museum in Banning, California. I thought the Hemingway machines were very poorly put together, with a lot of left over home-brew engineering in the factory released game. So I was skeptical when I heard the game was going to be re-released by Pinball Brothers. I then had a chance to look under the playfield at one of the PB Aliens machines at a show, and man the difference is night and day. The engineering has been greatly improved in the PB versions of the machines. So I pick up a used PB Alien in May of 2023, and I'm writing this review after one month of ownership.

The good:
The theme is a dream theme for me. I love both the movies these machine is based off of. The only downside is the fact that they could not get Segourney Weaver with the license. So we get Alien without involving Ripley. However even with this limitation I think the designers pulled it off.
The use of the video assets is pretty good even considering the license restriction sited above. The editing and the additions of the video 'noise' in the overlays seems to fit right in with the feel of the movies.
The sound is the best part of this game. Hemingway brought in pinball veteran David Thiel to do the sound, and it is incredible. David made good use of the original sound track and sound effects. There are not a lot of call outs in this game, but I think this is in line with the theme. The one bad call out in my opinion is at the end of the APC mode "We got problems.." and I think that one is a mixing issue (too loud) rather than a problem with the choice of call out. The in cabinet subwoofer is oversized compared to most pinball machines, and this just ads to the overall positive impression of the machine.
I really like the lighting in this machine. The use of the defusers for the GI tends to soften and spread out the light. Some people complain that the machine it too dark. I think the darkness goes well with the theme. This mood this machine tries to project would be spoiled if you added spots to it. I also like the use of the lights that are built into some of the targets. The light shows are well done, I especially like the show that goes with the hypersleep multi-ball.
This machine was designed from the start to be a wide body pin, and the layout works. The shots are laid out well, and there is only one shot that is really difficult, and that the sleep chamber shot off the upper right flipper.

The OK:
The rules fall into this category. The rules feels like it is about 90% polished, and could still use a little tweaking. I like the fact you can choose which movie to start with (Alien or Aliens), but I think the modes should be mixed up some more. Right now they only change order if you hit one of the ramps. I think they should change order more randomly, as most games I find myself starting with either drop ship or derelict ship.
The multi-balls are well implemented, as you can easily get some of them started (like Ambush or Sentry Gun), and a few are harder (Newt and Hypersleep). The best part is the fact that they are stackable, and you can set yourself up for big points by timing your mutli-ball modes.
The addition of the Weapons also works well with this ruleset. You can time the use of some of them (Like the shotgun to start Ambush) to extend the life of your ball.
The Artwork also falls into this category. The playfield is OK, and I know it was a challenge to fill in the void created by removing the screen in the playfield. I think the Sentry Gun ammo levels was a good choice, but it could have used some more polish with the graphics choice. The worst part of the art package for me is the back glass. The SV model just got an egg.. That's it. While this image was used in a few of the movie posters, I think the Zenomorph would have been a much better choice. If you have an SV, there is an aftermarket backglass out there that features the Zenomorph that goes along way to dressing up the machine.

The Zenomorph head mech on the playfield is a good idea, but the execution could use some more polishing. It only grabs the ball about half the time, and it has to be a direct hit that comes back to the magnet. So a lot of shots at an angle tend to not get caught by the magnet. However when it does work, it is sooo coool!

The Bad:
This machine reminds me of the late 1970's Saturday night live featuring the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players". This machine has so much potential, but PB is not ready to compete with the likes of Stern and Jersey Jack.
Some of the design choices I understand, as the machine is made in Italy. All the fasteners are metric, and that doesn't bother me any, but I do have to remember this fact when I go hunting for parts and fasteners for the machine. If you are like me and have bins of old part and screws, you will need to keep the Aliens stuff separate.
Other design choices made me scratch my head. The plastics are held on by T20 torque screws? The SV only has single stage flipper switches which I found odd.

I would not advise operators to run this game. There is just too much that needs tweaking for it to last on location long. The shooter coil assembly is held on by wood screws (these eventually shake loose), and not nut and bolted through the playfield like it should have been. The wire form on the ball launch is known to break. The trough is very problematic, and needs to be adjusted, and works best when the 3d printed plastic adapter is mounted to the exit. The post mounted at the bottom of the upper right flipper is undersized, and will break off. There are some issue with the game upper monitor not coming on when the game boots.

Also, the game does not support DBAs, which for this game to succeed on location is a must. Also the audits could really use a utility to clear the ball trough.

So even with these issues, why did I rank the game so high? Because the combination of the theme and game play make it one of those 'just one more game' machines. It's the first one I turn on in my game room, and the last one off when I leave.
2 years ago
As the last in the Pinbot series, this one is the best IMO.
The rules are unique and fun as they center around casino games. You are given the option of betting your score in some cases with ive never seen in any other game.
The DMD animations are excellent for the era.
The layout is almost identical to the original Pinbot. This layout when combined with the more powerful flippers sometimes leads to ramp jump issues on the main ramp. However, the inlane random award for hitting the ramp works very well.
The sounds, especially the music. It could have been so much better if they went with something more along the lines of the orignal pinbot.
Lastablitly may be an issue with this game as once you figure out how to hit casino games and ramp shot on the left side, there isn't much else in the game.

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