Veemonroe's ratings

Pinsider Veemonroe has rated 107 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms Veemonroe's personal top 107.

Rating comments

Veemonroe has written 107 rating comments:

6 days ago
I’ve been wanting to play a Meteor for some time and was lucky enough to get the chance at Pinball Republic.

This is drop target heaven. Some really interesting drop target banks and I thoroughly enjoyed the smaller flipper at the top of the playfield. Unlike many drop-target-tastic pins of this era, especially the Sterns (what is Quicksilver about?), the theme is present and correct here.

I can imagine this would truly shine with the new code. A big thumbs up from me.
6 days ago
Played once at Pinball Republic.

This feels like playing Skateball if it was incredibly slow, incredibly floaty and had rubbish Tarzan graphics. It has the dubious privilege of being the most generic, slow-moving 1980s pin I’ve ever played in an era of adventurous layouts and challenging ball play. I got a tonne of points on my first game, got bored, and realised I was only on ball two.

In a venue that also plays host to a Flash Gordon, Paragon, Nine Ball, Harlem Globe Trotters, Medusa, Future Spa and Meteor, and has had an Embryon in the past - this was genuinely below par and a bit grim.
7 days ago
My view on the Bond Pro after 15 minutes of play @ Funland in the Brunswick Arcade in London:

The playfield looks much nicer in real life than on pictures. Stern haven’t returned to their MS Photoshop era;

The skill shot is reminiscent of DeadPool and the pin has a similar feel in some respects, i.e. some novel shots that need dialling in, but then give a great combination of flow and specific cradle shots. The playfield is a lot less cluttered than Deadpool, however (not necessarily a bad thing);

The car with the sunroof VUK is a GREAT toy. Looks much better in person than on a video;

The Bondo rocket with drop targets feels a bit like Littl’ Deadpool, but works less well. It takes up a lot of real estate on the top of the playfield, and the ball tends to dribble off the Bondo and trickle out from behind the drop targets. Literally the most unsatisfying thing in the game;

The video assets are a bit rubbish in some respects. Some really grim fonts;

Code-wise, there’s as much going on as a B/W DMD-era game and, if you assume that’s what you’re getting right now, you won’t be disappointed. I got two different multiballs and they were solid - not amazing, but solid. It might get repetitive if you are a good pinball player playing at home, but a bad pinball player onsite had a perfect good time;

Music could do to be more varied (not just a more frantic version of the theme when you get a multiball), but I like the Bond theme so it wasn’t a huge issue.

I personally wouldn’t buy one (right now), and I think I would probably always prefer Deadpool as the entire package, but the playfield feel is above average for a modern Spike 2 Stern and - if the code improves - it may end up in the same league as Deadpool (I appreciate the Katana shot has its fans. Personally, the car makes up for it).

I played the mighty JP2 Prem afterwards for comparison purposes and I prefer that, but I - personally - would rate Bond above TMNT, LZ, Rush and Mando.
25 days ago
Played multiple times at Pinball Republic and the Pinball Office.

AC/DC is hard to learn because the ruleset is non-obvious, but has strong, challenging gameplay once you learn the rules. I’m not a AC/DC fan and it’s not got the best artwork in the world, but it is among the best Sterns of this era.
25 days ago
Played several times at Astro City in Southend.

I have a PinBot at home and the layout feels identical (and is a great fun layout). Graphics and artwork are excellent on both pins.

The extra rules, such as gambling on shots, add depth and interest, and the DMD is cooler, but it’s not light years better than the 1986 pin.

My husband’s view is that the additions to PinBot do not inspire additional joy over the original pin.
25 days ago
Played at Astro City in Southend. It was poorly lit with a broken ramp, which didn’t help, but it felt like the epitome of a ‘good but not great’ pin - a bit like Stern’s Rush. Lots of stuff on the playfield that didn’t feel rewarding or add to the enjoyment, including a weird spinning little flipper that just slowed down play and got jammed.

I played for ages and got two extra balls, despite not being great at pinball, but I kept trying to hand off my extra balls to my son because I wasn’t inspired to finish even a five-ball game.

Probably pretty entertaining if you like the theme, but I’m a board gamer and didn’t feel like I was playing Monopoly (or any other tabletop title). Instead it felt like it was themed after a rubbish 90s game show.
31 days ago
Played at The Pinball Office. It plays surprisingly decent for a ‘dark-age’ Stern with fast shots and good flow. The Photoshop artwork is terrible, however, and I think NBA Fastbreak is definitely the better pin.
32 days ago
The pinball machine for people who want to play a really small, really bad pinball machine inside a pinball machine multiple times (it is nowhere as exciting as it sounds) per game, interspersed with knocking down drop targets that spell ‘FART’.

I didn’t find much else to do on this pin during my plays at The Pinball Office, and I did read the rules card.

About as enjoyable as a wet fart in a lift. Avoid…
65 days ago
We've had a Cirsa (Spanish knock-off) PinBot for a few weeks. It has a gimped skillshot with no switches and different shaped inserts, among other things.

It's novel for its era (1986) with a lot of variety and novelty in the playfield, in the form of the mini bagatelle upper playfield, ramps and visor. There are several timed shots, and a strong retro feel to the sounds and artwork. The visor multi-ball feels like an early implementation of the castle/saucer in MM and AFM.

For the quality of play, it's very good value for money and seems like something of an under-appreciated pin. My sons, aged two and six, really enjoy playing it. Unfortunately, it's stuck in a room with AFM and Godzilla Prem, and feels a little underpowered, as a result, but it's definitely better than a lot of pins from the 90s, never mind the 80s.

UPDATE: Our El Pinbotto (Spanish PinBot) was out of action for a while and I really missed it, and have been playing it quite a bit. It's good fun and excellent value for money. Really holds up well compared to later pins. The music and sound effects are both really strong as well, with lots of charm.
87 days ago
I first played Batman ‘66 at Pinball Republic and really enjoyed it, especially the Penguin crane. The campy theme is truly charming and the bat phone and crane are great toys. The rules are simple to understand and the artwork is clear and appealing.

Playing it again at Brewdog in Shepherd’s Bush, the charm of the theme had worn off, and the layout felt oddly workman and fanlike - shoot loops, etc. shoot phone, do mode, blah blah…

My husband, who hadn’t played it at Pinball Republic, found it extremely fun though. Presumably for the same reason I did initially.
87 days ago
I’ve played the Premium version of Game of Thrones multiple times in Pinball Republic and it’s good fun. Unfortunately, it was the Pro version I played at Brewdog in Shepherd’s Bush.

Genuinely, it plays like it’s been in Ramsay Bolton’s dungeon for a while. All the soul of this game is lost from the Pro due to the absence of the upper playfield (and the one I played didn’t have a dragon topper or a colorDMD either), and it could be literally any pinball machine with a fan layout. I played once, went through the replay, and gave the credits to my husband - it was that bad.
4 months ago
Probably my favourite early SS game.

I love the vibrant wizard artwork, the individual drop targets that can only be shot from the side (or by a careful rebound) and it even has multiball! Simply delicious, a wonderful shooter’s game and a brilliant test of skill. I would absolutely love one of these.
4 months ago
Played Elvira at the UK Pinball Open in the People's Bank.

It's basically the Medieval Madness castle (the castle shots, not the castle, we'll come to that in a minute) with a couple of crypts and boxes from earlier Elvira games. The layout is pretty standard fan layout, the shots are somewhat 'leisurely' (at best) and the castle doesn't move.

The result is somehow less than the Bally-Williams era pins it's copied off. It plays leisurely like Monster Bash and, despite putting up a mediocre score in the match (in the whole tournament in fact), I found it a bit dull and easy.
4 months ago
Played at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

I've got to say - this is a fun pin. It just has a great pub theme, lots of humour, and the various pin-games (i.e. skipping, punching the ball) are just great. The novelty rotating boxer is also a work of genius.

I suspect it would get quite boring if it was your only pin, but - on location - I kept returning to it because it was such amazingly good fun. I imagine, if I'd played it in a pub in the 90s, I would have just been all over it all the time. Or, at least, all over it until I got better at pinball and it got a bit repetitive.
4 months ago
Played extensively on the Pinball Arcade app and then I FINALLY got to play it in real life at Pinfest 2022.

First things first, the music on this pin is AMAZING. I just love it. The backglass artwork, however, is rather weird.

I loved playing TX Sector on Pinball Arcade, largely because ripping the top right-hand spinner (with associated sound effects) is so immensely satisfying. I also love the simple rules with challenging gameplay, which is typical of these mid-80s Gottliebs. The upper pop bumper shot and spinners was a harder shot on the real pin, which made it less fun for me (as a mediocre pinball player). I'm not sure whether it would be equally fun as the online version if you were good at the game.

Either way, playing on the real game, I preferred Genesis, but this is still a satisfying and excellent pin.
4 months ago
Played a Bride of Pinbot with the Dutch Pinball upgrade kit in the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

Having played the original Bride of Pinbot, this is an improvement. There are more things to shoot for and the kit makes full use of the other shots. I like the speaker panel and LCD display. Unfortunately, the flashing inserts make the playfield state less clear, and - unfortunately - it is still Bride of Pinbot with the exact same playfield layout as the original. There is only so much you can do to fix the limited range of shots.
4 months ago
I've played Full Throttle at Pinball Republic and the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club (probably Mike's pin both times!).

There's lots to like about this pin. It's fast, very smooth ramps, and has a novel 'revs' skillshot using the flipper and the launch button. The full-screen backglass and playfield backglass is a nice innovation by Heighway Pinball and it's a shame they didn't survive as a manufacturer. The pin is also solidly built.

There aren't many toys, the artwork is a bit generic, and I'm not the biggest fan of plastic ramps, but overall it's a solid fun title.
4 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic and the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

I've been recommended this pin by several different people as it scratches a similar itch to Fish Tales. It is a fast and furious pin, which is reassuringly difficult. Shooting Whiplash is exciting and War Monger is also satisfying fun.

The problem, for me, with this pin is the terrible graphic design. The artwork looks like it was designed in MS Paint and the toys on the playfield have that cheap plastic look like they came in a kid's cracker. The whole thing is aesthetically terrible and not something I'd want in my front room (where I keep my pins). Superficial, I know, but the artwork on some early 2000 Stern pins is worse than on the much-derided 1980s Premier Gottliebs (I quite like the Premier Gottlieb art).
4 months ago
Played several times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

I’ve got to admit to quite enjoying this pin. Refreshingly, it doesn’t have a fan layout and some of the shots were relatively challenging. The rules were simple to understand - mostly about shooting the same thing again and again, which wouldn’t be especially fun if all the shots were a standard fan.

As with most Stern pins of this era, the artwork is awful Photoshop film stills. The lighting on the pin I played was terrible, and the Tesseract (which spun nicely) and the moving Hulk look like kids’ toys.
4 months ago
Played a couple of times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

People kept recommending this pin to me as an easy-to-play classic. Unfortunately, I found it really boring. The layout felt as though I’d played it before several times with a better theme laid on the top (the Sandman centre shot and ramps remind me of Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars). Achieving anything seemed to consist of making the same relatively standard shots over-and-over again.

The artwork is standard grimy movie stills from the dark age of Stern in the mid-2000s and, like other Sterns of this period, the playfield toys look like they’ve come from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

In short, aggressively average.
4 months ago
Played at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

I’ve played both an original and a remake of Cactus Canyon and the remake captures perfectly what made the original so… not especially interesting (to me, anyway).

Not sure what it is about this machine, but - somehow - despite having lots of cool ideas and toys, the disparate elements don’t come together as well as other pins of the same (original) era, such as Medieval Madness, Monster Bash, Fish Tales or White Water. As such, the whole package feels a bit ‘meh’.

I also strongly dislike the plasticky ramps. On both the original pin and the remake, they feel weirdly cheap and tacky. Maybe too much plastic there, I dunno.
4 months ago
Played several times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

A stone-cold classic gameplay-wise. Has loads of challenging drop targets - both on the target bank to the right and for the multipliers. The third flipper adds an extra dimension.

Not wild about the cabinet, theme and artwork, but it 100% has that “one more game” feel.
4 months ago
Played several times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

Great fun pin. Incredibly immersive with the full-screen graphics and the LCD and callouts mean it’s never unclear what to shoot for. The graphics are appropriately dark and scary. I played some of the Aliens mods and it was a real treat for an Aliens film fan.
4 months ago
Played at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

Genuinely, this may be the worst pin I’ve ever played. Or, at least, the most disappointing given that it’s new and has good artwork.

There is very little on the playfield and most of the gameplay seems to be hitting standup targets to spell character names. However, this was done better by Space Shuttle in 1984. There is what looks like an LCD screen, but it’s weird LEDs (or something) where you can hardly see the low-resolution pictures.

It genuinely feels that it was designed by a first-time designer in a ‘draw your own pinball table’ app.

It was actively worse than Thunderbirds, which was in the same room..
4 months ago
Played several times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

Got to say, I really enjoyed Stargate. It is a very good pin with excellent toys, especially if you’re a fan of the film. I liked the DMD animations from the film, shooting the pyramid “Shoot the Pyramid”, Glider multiball and the modes.

Very quirky graphic design that reminds me strongly of, yep, the film!
4 months ago
I had the ‘fortune’ to play Thunderbirds several times at the newly-opened Medway Pinball Club.

I was keen to play as I knew this is regarded as one of the worst pinball machines ever made. I was pleasantly surprised, possibly because I came in with such low expectations. The cabinet artwork is nice and colourful, and there are several mechs on the playfield, which worked. I quite enjoyed shooting the ramp to make it come down and then locking balls. The ramp in the middle of the playfield was also fun to shoot, although it didn’t seem to do much. There was also a moving target, which was relatively entertaining.

The bottom half of the playfield was weirdly floaty - rather like a widebody 80s Gottlieb (not like awfully, but sort-of). The flippers were oddly clicky. Also, the flipper buttons were beyond awful on an ergonomic level. They had very deep indentations in the centre, so you felt you had to stick your fingers halfway into the machine - very strange and not comfortable for extended play sessions (should you want them).

In general, it was relatively fun on a retro level, but is definitely within the average to mediocre range for 1980-era pins (and similar) and - as a 2020s pin - a definite throwback to an earlier period. The flipper buttons were also a serious low point.
5 months ago
Played at Pinfest 2022 in Daventry, UK.

I like card-game-themed pins, so tried this one. I must admit, it was, unfortunately, pretty ‘meh’. I did enjoy the pop-up ramp and the pegs at the top of the playfield, but there wasn’t anything especially memorable about it except the theme.

Update: Played at Astro City in Southend. Score has stayed the same. It feels like a below-average SS pin that plays like an EM with ramps. The shots and rules are a bit ‘been there, done that’.
5 months ago
Played this on the Williams Pinball app and then, briefly, at Pinfest 2022 in Daventry, UK.

It’s a great B/W-era pin packed with great sound effects, great features and toys (drop targets, planes, the temple), and some varied modes, e.g. the huge multi-ball multiball.

I suspect my rating would go up with more plays!
5 months ago
Played in a Pinfest Classics tournament (and got a high score).

A Stern with three spinners, and the bonus alternating between them, and three drop targets to complete. The shots are satisfying, especially the alternating spinners, but it does feel very much in the school of most early Sterns - and not sufficiently exceptional to deserve the praise (and pre-hype of this pin) due to its rarity.
5 months ago
Played on vPin and (once) at Pinfest 2022.

I played this because of the Star Wars theme and it's unfortunately a really bad pin. Based on a couple of plays (I wouldn't want to play more), I can't judge exactly why, but there doesn't seem to be a lot to do and most of the shots feel boring. The layout feels weirdly messy and incoherent, the artwork is terrible and the only decent thing about it are the Death Star and R2D2 mechs.

I was playing for ages at Pinfest. Every ball seemed to take 1,000 years to play without actually achieving much and, despite setting off R2D2 jumping about like a mad thing, and having million scores scrolling everywhere, I didn't care. I only finished the game because it felt rude to leave a ball unplayed at a public pinball event.
5 months ago
Played on vPin and in real life at Pinfest 2022 (sneakily, in the competition area).

I must admit to absolutely loving this pin. The back-glass is hilariously bad (there are alternatives), but it is the definition of easy-to-learn, harder-to-master.

The game is about shooting the body parts of a robot to assemble it and, when it's finished, the robot flips over. I'm sure if I was a great pinball player, I could finish the robot, but - as it is - I had the pleasure of some very smooth ramp shots and the brilliant retro "zip-zip" sound effects and light show every time I scored a part.

Very easy rules, but great gameplay. An underrated classic!
5 months ago
Played in competition at Pinfest 2022 in the Classics Competition. I'd also watched a tutorial video before the competition.

Sorcerer was the standout new pin of the day for me. I really enjoyed the variety of shots, the shot into the ball lock, the cheesy fantasy theme, and the basic - but fun - sound effects. A lovely simple, but interesting, SS pin that left me wanting to play again.
6 months ago
Played a few times at Pinball Republic.

I knew nothing about Blackout when I started playing, and didn’t know either the history, the rules or about the ‘blackout’ lightshow.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the drop-down targets (especially the top right-hand set) and ripping the left-hand spinner. The shots were generally extremely satisfying and the playfield felt stacked with features for the period (multiple sets of drop targets, pop-out holes, etc.).

The sci-fi theme is cool and I liked the 80s artwork.
6 months ago
Played a few times at Pinball Republic in London. This is the definition of a ‘decent’ pinball machine. It has a strong focus on ramps and orbits, and some interesting modes activated by the skull but, sadly, nothing really stands out.

The extreme sports theme, which I found pretty exciting in concept, is underused here. The orbits and ramps could stand-in for literally anything, and the skull doesn’t really help out. It could do with some decent toys: a motorcycle jump, a 360 degree ramp, or similar.

Based on the recent sale of a No Fear pinball machine on the PinballInfo forum, I think this is great value for money for a decent solid pin.
7 months ago
Played a few times at The Pinball Office.

A good fun solid pin with great music and art, and a shootable castle. Had fun playing it, but no interest in owning and doesn’t really distinguish itself from other pins except in appearance.

It reminds me of a Zaccaria, for some reason.

UPDATE: Played again at The Pinball Office probably about 20-30 times. This is a great pin. The shots are tight, but interesting, and I love the upper playfield. Definitely worth persisting with this one :)
7 months ago
Played a few times at The Pinball Office.

This is a stunning pinball machine - probably the most beautiful pin of all time. It is solidly made and a true work of art.

It is fun to play on a walk-up-and-play basis, but the gameplay, especially the individual shots, aren’t as exciting on casual (non-ownership) play as its stunning appearance would suggest. I also find the old-fashioned theme somewhat off-putting, although my five-year-old son is a huge fan.
7 months ago
Played a couple of times at The Pinball Office and also lots of times on the Williams pinball app.

It’s too easy on the Williams Pinball app and a little boring. More challenging in real life, and very flowy, but I’m not especially wild about the theme.
7 months ago
Played a couple of times at The Pinball Office.

It’s a fun football-themed pin with a cute dog theme. It’s enjoyable to shoot the goal, and simple to understand, but doesn’t feel especially exceptional. A good solid pin.
7 months ago
Played a couple of times at The Pinball Office in London in a line up with some JJPs, a Spooky pin and a couple of American Pinball pins.

I’m a huge fan of BK2000 and was excited to play this. It plays very much like an update of the original Black Knight pins and I really enjoyed it, despite the amazing music being inaudible in the arcade.

Sadly, I didn’t get much chance to get very far into it as the shots are quite hard, but I’m keen to find another onsite somewhere.
7 months ago
Played a couple of times at The Pinball Office in the UK.

Beautiful-looking pin, but the gameplay feels weirdly average. It plays like I’ve experienced everything on the game before on another pinball machine, but Houdini wraps it up in a nicer modern package.

The Houdini I played was in a free play line-up with a Spooky pin, an Oktoberfest and a couple of JJPs and, after the initial couple of plays, I had no desire to play again.
7 months ago
Played once at The Pinball Office in the UK.

Honestly, this is comedically awful. It’s got about one shot and WAY TOO MANY modes involving the execrable Jar Jar Binks. One mode involving Jar Jar Binks would be enough and a mode about shooting Jar Jar in the foot [sic] was more than enough. One play was plenty.

If you want a video/pinball combo game, Revenge from Mars is way better.

In summary: Absolutely appalling.
7 months ago
Played twice at The Pinball Office in the UK in a line up including other JJPs, Spooky and American Pinball pins.

It was obvious there’s a lot of rules depth here, and the presentation of the pin (i.e. film clips, playfield, lighting and Smaug toy) are gorgeous.

However, I also found it desperately confusing and not especially accessible on a walk-up-and-play basis. There were lots of instructions in tiny lettering at the edges of the huge LCD screen, which were hard to read while playing, most of the insert lights were lit, and the game I played didn’t have an apron rules card either. I didn’t score particularly high because I was mostly reacting to stuff popping up on the playfield, and trying to lock balls in Smaug.

It was probably my second favourite out of the JJPs I played (Dialed In, G n’ R, WOZ and The Hobbit), and I’d be happy to explore it in more depth, but I wasn’t totally wowed by it.

UPDATE: Played again at The Pinball Office. I got some stuff going, e.g. monsters, modes and multiball. It seemed pretty fun with a lot of depth, although I still didn’t understand the rules.
7 months ago
Played several times at The Pinball Office in the UK in a line-up of Spooky, JJP and American Pinball pins.

I absolutely LOVED this pin on initial play and keen to explore it further. I understand what people mean by this is a sleeper hit.

It doesn’t have a licensed theme, which probably explains why it was so thematically delightful. You’ve got a mobile phone that generates disasters in the quantum realm, and which an evil corporation are trying to get back. The rules naturally follow - shoot the electricity guy to charge the phone, shoot the phone to trigger a disaster, shoot the quantum tunnel when you see a strange effect.

It is beautifully presented with useful lighting (i.e. the things you need to shoot), some lovely effects and toys on the playfield, and clear graphic design.

Really nice pin as an initial impression - reminds me of a modern version of Whirlwind or Earthshaker.

UPDATE: Played again at The Pinball Office. Still a hugely fun shooter, but less impressive this time. The modes were relatively simple and it didn’t feel like it has as great of a variety of shots.
7 months ago
Played twice at The Pinball Office in the UK in a line up of JJP, Spooky and American Pinball pins.

On a walk-up-and-play basis, this is a complete cluster f**k.

Pinball machines have lighting for the purpose of communicating the game state to players. This has been the case since the invention of pinball lighting. Every single insert is illuminated at exactly the same time in G n’ R and, what’s worse, they’re colour changing. It’s a visual nightmare.

The LCD screen, despite being huge, also manages to convey very limited information. The apron rules card wasn’t much help either. It told me to collect band members, but didn’t bother explaining how.

In short, the gameplay may be great if you had it at home and memorised a rules video (and love horrible strobing lights), but it fails on some fundamental design basics as a pin that you can encounter casually and learn to enjoy.

UPDATE: Played again at The Pinball Office. The owner, Chris, was kind enough to talk me through the rules, including how to collect band members and start songs. It was pretty fun on second play, but didn’t feel exceptionally unique to play - it is just about hitting standard features (e.g. spinner, pop bumpers) to start modes. Great lighting, but the flashing inserts make the state of the playfield less clear - you have to focus on the small arrows amid the light show.

UPDATE: Played again at the Medway Pinball Club and upgraded the rating. It's definitely an above-average pin. It just really REALLY suffers as a walk-up and play. Like most pins, it also doesn't work very well if you can't hear the music. The flashing lights work well when you can hear it sounds like a concert, although I still find there are far too many strobing lights for the pin to provide useful information - so, lights downgraded still to 'terrible'. Folks, lights on pinball machines aren't just there for decoration!

UPDATE: Played at The Pinball Office and lowered the rating. Honestly, this game is tedious if you can’t hear the music. It has a limp short plunge that dribbles indecisively into the right inlane, flippers like a limp noodle, and this huge time suck of qualifying boring shots before anything happens. Not one of JJP’s best.
7 months ago
Played several times at The Pinball Office club in the UK.

I wouldn’t say this is a brilliant pin, but it is extremely good fun. You’re trying to score basketball points, often by shooting the middle ramp to dunk the ball.

Thematically excellent, it feels like you’re playing a game of basketball, and is easy to walk-up and play. Possibly more a novelty pin than a great one, it’s still great for casual play!

I loved the flipper, ball and basketball net in the backglass, as well.
8 months ago
Played several times on location at Brewdog in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

This is a simple pin with a limited ruleset that depends on the ship/kraken toy for its entertainment value. Compared to the other pins in the same venue (Stern Star Trek, Star Wars (Pro) and JP2) it felt deeply outclassed, as there wasn’t much to it and it didn’t feel like a huge challenge either: despite being a rubbish pinball player, I got to the kraken multiple times on each play.

I could imagine I’d get bored of it pretty quickly at home. I also found the Pinbot-esque path splitter up at the top right-hand side of the game really annoying. It took up a lot of real estate on the playfield, but didn’t do very much.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic, Croydon, London.

Probably the best Zaccaria I’ve played on site. Not sure why. There’s some weird alchemy about the artwork, music and range of shots (especially achieving the orange special) that makes it more than the sum of its parts whereas normally Zaccaria’s are less than the sum of their parts. Sadly, the one at Pinball Republic wasn’t in great shape - a large plastic was loose, and there seemed to be something wrong with the targets (maybe they were supposed to be like that, but they seemed to be in plastic casings).

Pretty fun to shoot.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic, Croydon, London.

I spent a long time playing GoT Prem. Not sure if I like it, or just find it enjoyably frustrating because the version in PR was so prone to outlane drains and I was practicing my nudging. By the last games, I was practically dragging it across the floor to stop the drains.

The layout is relatively interesting due to the battering ram shot and the large, prominent upper playfield with full-sized flippers. There’s a LOT of code, which is great, but requires some figuring out.

Not terribly impressed by the cabinet artwork, playfield artwork and backglass, Sadly, it’s a bit generic film artwork. GoT is also packed with plastic ramps - again, I’m not a fan.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic, Croydon, London.

Good pin to play, but I can’t get past the theme and artwork. It is extraordinarily ugly and, due to being about zombies, very unpleasant to look at. I’m viscerally repulsed by it.
9 months ago
Played multiple times at Pinball Republic in Croydon, London.

It’s a very attractive pin that is the epitome of average. It’s fun to play and weirdly similar to a very large number of other pins of its era, but that’s no bad thing because there were many fun pins made around this time.

Better than, say, Bride of Pinbot.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic, Croydon, London.

I’m sure the positive ratings for this pin are driven by nostalgia (and maybe that it was the first (?) pinball machine to feature a shaker motor) because it is not good.

The artwork is functional, the playfield is poorly visually signposted, and - thus - the rules are incomprehensible upon walk-up to the pin. I played it, didn’t understand it, watched three tutorials on YouTube after returning home… still didn’t understand it. I’m someone who, on the same trip, played TWD, GoT and multiple other modern Sterns.

Then, I read a rules sheet and realised that I simply had to hit the lit shots and then hit the side ramp - and that was it. So, the fact that I didn’t manage to work out what I should be doing while I was on site was a clear demonstration that it’s not well laid out or visually signposted by today’s standards.

The only fun thing on this pin is the shaker motor and, to be honest, to a modern player it’s a bit ‘meh’. So, in total, not a great pin in 2022.
9 months ago
Played several times at Pinball Republic, Croydon, London.

I found it bland. The layout feels weirdly bare and the playfield artwork is functional at best. I wasn’t remotely excited by the spinning disks nor the fan topper (my five-year-old son loved the fan). After playing, I thought maybe I’d missed something, so I watched a PAPA tutorial and, again, I couldn’t even finish the video because it was too dull to watch.

I’m sure this was fun and innovative when it came out, but it feels like it hasn’t aged well at all. It feels like a thousand other pinball machines, but with a cooling fan on a hot day.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic in Croydon, London. I tend to gravitate towards it when I’m supervising my five-year-old son on the pinball machines because it’s in the same row as pins he likes (Spirit, Genie and Black Rose).

It’s the epitome of mediocre. Visually, it’s got that horrible Stern combination of uninspired movie art, inserts that don’t colour match, plastic ramps and toys that look literally like toys.

The gameplay feels like it’s missing something. Maybe a ramp? There’s a couple of ramps and a suit of armour to shoot. I’m sure it has deep rules, blah blah, but it feels like I could be playing literally anything else and it would feel either be the same or better.
9 months ago
Played online and at Pinball Republic.

A very underrated pin with deep code (for its era) and a wide variety of shots. I personally prefer it to the Addam’s Family, but - like many people - I am slightly freaked out by the talking heads.

A brilliant buy given how much so-called ‘top-tier’ pins go for.
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic in Croydon, London. Like many Zacs, this has colourful playfield artwork (the cabinet art is terrible) and a big gimmick (pop-up robots).

Unfortunately, also like many of the Zacs I’ve played, the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts and it feels strangely forgettable compared to other pins of its era (e.g. Laser Cue, Space Shuttle).
9 months ago
Played at Pinball Republic (two different pins) and on Williams Pinball app.

I find this hard to rate. My husband loves it. It’s a flowy pin with attractive artwork, which - with modern lighting and mods - can be made stunningly beautiful.

Unfortunately, I find it a bit simple and shallow. I’m a terrible pinball player, but can routinely get to the multiball and that seems to be the entire focus of the machine. Despite absolutely loving Alien Poker, which has next-to-no rules, I somehow feel cheated by this one.

UPDATE: This pin is definitely growing on me. It has a great theme and getting the multiball is harder than it looks. I play it everytime I see one on route. A true classic of its time.
9 months ago
I played Galaxy at Pinball Republic in Croydon, London.

Galaxy is a solid 80s Stern, but not better - in my opinion - than Meteor, Seawitch or Nine Ball. The layout feels oddly uninspired and forgettable compared to similar pins.

Okay if it’s the only Stern, but not amazing in a line-up with others.
9 months ago
Metallica LE/Prem is a brilliant pin for people who prefer Bally/Williams era pins (because it strongly resembles one), but like to play something more up to date.

The hammer, snake and electricity toys are brilliant and I absolutely LOVE the inline drop targets. Why don’t more modern pins have them? It (obviously) has great music too.

The real genius of this pin is that it feels somehow familiar, yet modern, at the same time. Really great pin.
9 months ago
A wonderful Bally pin with a huge variety of targets packed onto the playfield, including inline, side drop targets and a challenging upper playfield.

The bumpers on the lower playfield, and the placement of the saucer above them, is a work of genius, adding lots of interest and challenge. Likewise, the bumper on the upper playfield and the drop targets add lots of interest and challenge - more so than the superficially-similar Black Knight.

Fully restored, this is also a stunningly beautiful pin with a colourful playfield and mirrored backglass. I also love the movie music (not intrinsic to the pin, but can now be purchased as a separate Squawk and Talk board),
9 months ago
Highly entertaining comic book pin with lots of toys on the playfield.

The side start button is a bit weird (there’s no plunge on the front), but the ‘super game’, which starts with a multiball, is pretty entertaining. I enjoyed the numerous ramps, the rotating ‘dead world’ toy and the little grab claw. That said, the gameplay felt strangely generic and I didn’t return to it after the initial play.
9 months ago
Played a few times at Pinball Republic in London.

I really quite enjoyed Corvette. The revving engine in the corner and the little cars that you need to race add fun and variety. I had fun with the multiballs and ‘hitting the flipper’ video modes.

A decent pin :)
10 months ago
Played a few times on Brighton Pier in the UK.

If you’re looking for a Star Wars pin, the Mandalorian is definitely superior in terms of theme and playfield toys.

However, as a mechanical play experience, Star Wars is underrated. This is a very fast, flowing machine with a variety of clearly-labelled shots. It is highly enjoyable to shoot and play, and I’d definitely recommend it for that.
10 months ago
I’ve played this pin multiple times at both Pinball Republic and Plonk Golf in London (because there are loads of them).

I just don’t get the love… Maybe it’s nostalgia because, by modern standards, it’s a pretty average mode-based pin with some good toys (the hand grab mech is a highlight).

It’s fun enough to play, but not exceptional. I find the artwork a bit dark and grungy, but I guess that goes with the theme.

UPDATE: Have played this more times now. It’s very good for its era of manufacture and a charming package overall, although somewhat overpriced compared to other pins.
10 months ago
I've played Stranger Things (Premium) a few times at Funland in Russell Square.

I enjoy it, but only because it reminds me strongly of Medieval Madness/AFM.

Unfortunately, although I enjoy the TV Show Stranger Things, I don't really like how the theme is implemented on the pin.

The artwork, plastic ramps and so on always look a bit tacky compared to the charm of the B/W alternatives, and I keep feeling - when I'm playing it - that I'd far rather be playing MM. I also find that the projectors on the Premium version look terrible under day lighting.

That said, if you're a huge ST fan and like the overall appearance, and you like MM/AFM, you probably can't go wrong with this one.
10 months ago
I own a Godzilla Prem and this is, unarguably, one of the best pins of all time.

It combines a wonderful campy theme with deep rules, amazing toys (the building, bridge and mecha-godzilla), brilliant challenging shots and a fresh-feeling layout.

The artwork by Zombie Yeti is brilliant. Not my favourite pin of all time (that seems to be Fish Tales), but very very close.
1 year ago
I’ve played Harlem Globetrotters a few times at Flip Out in London, including at a league meet.

It’s a great fun 1970s pin with inline shots, spinners and scissor flippers. Although I don’t fully understand the rules, I enjoy the smooth play and the challenge it poses.

Just a great game.
1 year ago
I played a non-production copy of RUSH at Funland in the Brunswick Arcade in London.

It’s really easy to start up a mode by shooting the Time Machine. It’s actually easier than LoTR because the magnet on LoTR doesn’t always catch the ball. Qualifying shots is also really easy. If you shoot just about any three shots, you qualify an album (mode) and the ramp comes down. As a result, you can just fire the ball around wildly for the first couple of minutes.

The lighting is nice and the graphic design is okay. The callouts seemed to have been recorded by Rush especially for the pin and have a relaxed, chatty feel. The layout feels a pretty standard fan layout with the pop bumpers-on-a-loop from Aerosmith and Tron (two other John Borg titles). The dual scoops weren’t as exciting as I’d hoped and, in general, I was left with a bit of a ‘meh’ reaction. It‘s a good pin, but - unless the advanced code is REALLY REALLY deep and innovative - I’d predict it’s probably a top 20-30, not a top 5.

I’d definitely recommend it to a Rush fan who wanted a relaxed, easy-to-play design.
1 year ago
Played a few times at FlipOut in London.

This is a fun pin with a strong integration between theme and mechanics. Sadly, I’m unfamiliar with the film, which means I can’t appreciate this pin as much as an ardent fan.

It is hard to put in a bad word for it, apart from the recurrent fault notice on the LCD screen and the fact it reset mid-game. The rolling rug in the centre that sets off ‘rug mode’ is very cute. There’s some kind of lower playfield bowling game, which I didn’t manage to activate, and an upper playfield with some thematic toys. The actual rug that sits under the pinball machine is a particularly cute touch.

It’s nice to shoot, cute and well meaning generally, and reminds me a little of an updated Bally/Williams-era machine. I, personally, wouldn’t be interested in tracking one down to buy, but I can definitely imagine a Big Lebowski fan doing so.
1 year ago
I played Demolition Man a couple of times at FlipOut in London.

This is a brilliantly flowing pin ruined by a naff 1990s film licence. The pin I played was well illuminated in a dark room, which made it look cool and futuristic, but the playfield art on Pinside shows it’s not especially attractive.

I loved the triggers and I loved the claw. The flow was great. Probably one of the most enjoyable pins to shoot I played all afternoon - on par with Avengers: Infinity Quest.
1 year ago
I’ve played Big Buck Hunter on Pinball Arcade on iOS and, also, in real life at FlipOut in London. I prefer the pin on Pinball Arcade, which may not be a good sign…

The main joy of Big Buck Hunter is shooting pinballs at the buck who runs across the playfield on a rail. The folksy sound effects are amusing and the cow ‘match’ sequence is entertaining. Otherwise, apart from the buck, the pin is pretty mediocre. The real-life pin also had poor lighting and the playfield is pretty drab - not like - say - Fish Tales or White Water.
1 year ago
Played at FlipOut in London.

Great fun and innovative EM with controllable zipper flippers and a spinning disk. Unfortunately, the entire playfield and instruction card was in German, which made it hard to work out what to do. However, the intrinsic ‘fun-ness’ of the various bits made up for it.
1 year ago
I played Iron Maiden Prem multiple times at FlipOut in London along with Avengers Infinity Quest Prem and Godzilla Pro, which were in the same room.

Keith Elwin definitely has a signature style, which is about using loops and ball guides to create a wide variety of novel ball paths. As his first machine, Iron Maiden shows this style in its infancy, with several interesting shots off a third and fourth flipper. There are also some interesting mechs, in particular the ramp with bullseye that becomes a subterranean tunnel and a moving ball lock. For this title, Elwin did, however, stick to some traditional features, such as a ‘shoot up the middle’ shot and a trio of pop bumpers off to the right-hand-side.

Unlike Avengers Infinity Quest, which I’d rate lower than Iron Maiden, there is a well established theme and the pin is not simply a collection of (very interesting) shots and mechanics. The LCD animations provide lots of personality too. I can’t comment on the music because the Iron Maiden I played had the sounds hacked - it played I Will Survive in the Hallowed be Thy Name song slot. Having now listened to the Iron Maiden song that should have accompanied the mode, I much prefer Gloria Gaynor accompanying my play!
1 year ago
Played at FlipOut in London. The Shadow was in mint condition with an alternate (much better) translite and colorDMD.

This is a fun and enjoyable-to-shoot pin. Easy to see what’s going on and the mini-upper-playfield with ‘pong/block breaker’ game was a particular highlight.

I didn’t know anything about the theme when I played and, have to say, it did spark an interest as it seemed absolutely crazy. I was, at one point, dodging sentient knives in what appeared to be an Art Deco hotel - the mind boggles.

The pin I played had a full restoration and seemed ageless. It was only later when I Googled that I discovered that The Shadow was produced in 1994. It is pretty timeless.

UPDATE: Played a few more times and downgraded my rating. It's not one of my 'to-go' pins when I go to a pinball club, although it is still an excellent title.
1 year ago
I played TMNT Prem 10-20 times at Funland in the Brunswick Arcade in London.

It’s a bit of an odd cookie, in some ways. The graphics are cartoony, which would suggest it’s a kid-friendly machine, but the shots are non-intuitive and can feel quite hard to reach. The playfield feels quite cluttered, especially with the extra toys on the Premium model, and it can be hard to figure out what to shoot at first.

The pin is great fun (for casual play) as there are numerous episodes to complete based on the TV show. Each episode has an opening cartoon sequence and a resolution, good or bad, depending on whether you won or lost the mode. This gives a strong feeling of progressing through a story during play.

The spinning pizza multiball is impressive, as is the pizza van multiball (not sure of the official name) where balls spill from the doors of the turtle’s van. I also enjoyed how the Krang model bounced up and down when he ‘spoke’.

I would recommend this pin wholeheartedly to 80s/90s childhood fans of the TV show. It’s also a decent pinball machine. I didn’t get to try the cooperative mode, but I’d say that was a positive - especially for kids or grown-up friends.
1 year ago
Avengers: Infinity Quest Premium is a very enjoyable game with great Zombie Yeti artwork. The ramps are fast, exciting and flowing, and it combines this with some enjoyable fighting modes.

However, I always feel it’s a bit like Keith Elwin at his most workmanlike. The game is, after all, mostly a handful of metal wire form ramps with few toys or other distinguishing features, and - if you buy one for the home - it’s not 100% clear what you’re paying for. The austere design of the playfield lays bare the procedural nature of most pinball machines (shoot ramp X, shoot scoop/target Y, activate battle Z, rinse and repeat).

So, it’s a paradox. It’s very enjoyable compared to many other pinball machines because Keith Elwin is a genius designer (it’s probably in the top 5 of 50 at FlipOut), but - at the same time - it’s not the best pinball machine by Keith Elwin.

UPDATE: Having played this many more times, I’m enjoying it more and more. The ramps are barebones, and not connected well to the theme, but it is exceptionally fun to shoot with very deep rules.

FURTHER UPDATE: A:IQ now ranks among my favourite pins. The playfield has barely any toys, but the entire pin is carried by the interesting shots and the deep programming. I have cycled 40 minutes to play this pin!

FURTHER UPDATE: Still keep playing this A:IQ. The animations, lack of toys, and total disconnect between the superhero theme and pinball mechanics are an issue (probably more to other people than me), but the shots and ruleset are a work of genius. Now considering buying one.
1 year ago
There’s a Cactus Canyon Continued in FlipOut in Croydon (just outside London). It shares a warehouse with several other pinball machines that it’s compared with, including Monster Bash, Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars.

I’ve played MB, MM and AFM on iPad, which may explain a slight bias, but I personally found CCC a bit ‘meh’. It had a couple of decent toys, including a bandit and a moving train. It also has a cute Western theme, but - speaking as a woman with kids - I found some of the animations a bit sexist and not entirely family friendly.

I’d definitely place it in a second tier of 90s Bally/Williams era pins and I suspect some of the people shelling out for the CGC remake are going to be very disappointed.
1 year ago
I’ve played Black Rose on the Williams Pinball app and in real life.

Black Rose is better in real life - the shots feel more interesting, possibly because the third flipper works better on the physical machine, and it’s harder to just shoot the broadside over.

However, the layout feels oddly crowded and the main event seems to be the cannon. It’s not bad - it’s just not gripping enough for me to want to explore further.

Also, I hate the animations.
1 year ago
I’ve played Monster Bash on iPad and the CGC Special Edition remake in real life.

Monster Bash has a great theme, with catchy music, great toys and some of the best callouts in pinball: “I hope the monster is as studly as you, doctor,” “I love that minty formaldehyde taste” and “IT’S ALIVE!”. The CGC Special Edition remake only improves this visual detailing with a large screen and remastered animations.

The game itself is ‘okay’ IMO. It’s very accessible rules-wise, mostly involving shooting certain shots to ‘assemble members of the band’ and trigger their special modes. However, despite having creative toys, including a vampire who leaps from his coffin and a Frankenstein’s monster who rises from the playfield, the actual shots feel oddly generic and shallow.

So, fun to play on site, but not something I’d like to own (my son may differ, but he is only five years old).
1 year ago
I’ve played Twilight Zone at FlipOut in London several times, mostly because it has a reputation of being GOAT and I wanted to understand why.

It is a very innovative pinball machine. It’s mode-based, every mode is different and they involve a wide range of ‘toy’ elements, including a ceramic ‘powerball’, a working gumball machine, a clock, and a mini playfield with magnets. I can see that when this pin was released, there was a real WOW! factor from the ceramic ball and the ball that disappears beneath the playfield.

Playing it for the first time in 2021, I question how good the underlying machine is beneath the gimmicks. It’s evidently a very good machine, but it’s unclear whether it’s better than Medieval Madness, Stern’s Jurassic Park or even something like Fish Tales or Black Knight 2000. It doesn’t help that the theme is a mystery to me - you’re collecting hitchhikers, robots and trying to load a gumball machine. Why? And what is the significance of all the doors?

UPDATE: Revised my thoughts on this, but not my rating. I've played this loads of times at Pinball Republic in Croydon, UK, trying to understand the love. I, personally, aren't wowed by the gimmicks coming to this pin in 2021/2022, and the underlying machine isn't 'flowy' enough for me. There's a lot of 'shoot ball, ball disappears into a gadget, ball returns a short time later'. I prefer more of a tense adrenalin rush.
1 year ago
It’s hard to believe that Black Hole (played on Pinball Arcade) is older than Farfalla!

It’s an attractive pin, but the Farfalla I played at FlipOut was sluggish and boring. It felt very similar to countless other pins from the same era, except for the stunning artwork, and I had no desire to play it again.
1 year ago
I tried BK2000 at FlipOut in London because it had completely captured the attention of my five-year-old son.

Great artwork, great music and sound effects, really interesting layout with the upper playfield. Unfortunately, during my plays, I wasn’t sure of the rules and how to do well - but I am keen to explore the game further. That is usually a sign of a very good pin!
1 year ago
I’ve played Genie on Pinball Arcade and at FlipOut in London. It’s a fun pinball machine that feels like a super-big EM with a huge variety of different shots and an isolated playfield off at the top left.

It’s bright yellow, enormous and very eye-catching.

I don’t really understand the rules, but it is fun to shoot nonetheless and would not be unhappy if one parachuted its way into my front room.
1 year ago
I played this multiple times at FlipOut while keeping an eye on my four-year-old son.

It’s the epitome of a decent pin. The layout is pretty standard for a pin of its era. The shots are… decent. The animations are… decent. What raises it over the mass of ‘decent’ pinball machines, however, is the music - especially the eponymous ‘Pinball Wizard’ track.

Music apart, there’s nothing wrong with it and I happily played it over several other things in the vicinity (e.g. Simpsons Pinball Party and Flintstones).
1 year ago
I played Led Zeppelin (Premium) at the New Brunswick Centre arcade in London.

I suspect that the major appeal of Led Zeppelin is playing it, at home, with the sound at full volume. As an example, you can choose which Led Zeppelin music you want to accompany each game. Unfortunately, the music was turned down in the noisy arcade and I’m not a fan of Led Zeppelin. In fact, I couldn’t name a Led Zeppelin song if my life depended on it.

The result was that I was playing a somewhat mediocre pin with a near-empty playfield, some flashing lights down the side and a lot of abstract artwork - often featuring zeppelins (and angels). The only spark of interest came from a ball lock that rose out of the playfield with a spinner on it; this was mildly entertaining.

In short, I’m sure Led Zeppelin fans love this, but - otherwise - there are better pins to play.
1 year ago
I’ve really enjoyed playing Star Trek: The Next Generation at FlipOut in London. It’s a nicely-flowing game with multiple different modes and some interesting gimmicks, such as the cannons on the side of the playfield.

The ST:TNG at FlipOut has amazing PinSound that evokes the original TV series and puts you at the heart of the action.

I’m not a huge fan of the psychedelic purple playfield and associated artwork - it feels oddly ‘non-space exploration’. It’s probably one of the only downers, apart from the infamous repair workload, on this otherwise exceptional pin.
1 year ago
I played Dolly Parton at Plonk Golf in Hackney. I’m happy to report that it was a surprise hit with me - a wonderfully fluid machine with enjoyable inline ‘superstar’ drop targets. For comparison purposes, it was better than both Hook and Bride of Pinbot in the same venue…
1 year ago
I played this at Plonk Golf in Hackney, London, and promptly forgot about it…

I’m unsure if it was poorly maintained, or whether it is normally grimly grey and dimly lit. Either way, I got someway to transforming the bride and felt there wasn’t much else to do. The playfield is dominated by a very large plastic ramp and a series of pegs on the right-hand side such that it felt, on initial inspection, that the only place you could shoot was the left ramp over and over again.

Watching tutorial videos afterwards, it seems that - yes - the game is mostly about shooting the left ramp over and over again.

Either way, I had believed that Williams could do no wrong in its 90s designs. Bride of Pinbot got this notion out of my head - I could hardly believe the Williams ‘W’ on the speakers because this is total tosh (at least to someone who walked up to casually play).

UPDATE: Played a nicer version at Pinball Republic in Croydon, London. Still of the same opinion on this one - it’s a single shot game with not much to do after completing the Bride. I also hate the sexist call-outs. Sorry to the many fans of this game, but ratings are my opinion and, personally, I’d rather play a huge range of other pins.

UPDATE: Played the Pinball Republic version again and increased its rating, largely because it is better than Star Wars Episode I. It is fun activating the Bride but, unfortunately, after several plays (I’m not a great pinball player), I’d seen most of what this pin had to offer.
1 year ago
It’s hard to rate Lord of the Rings as I purchased it without playing it first. As a result, I’ve never known it ‘on site’ - only in my house.

The artwork is a bit grimy and pixelly, but it totally nails the theme. The Balrog (‘ballrog’) is one of the best toys in pinball, and it combines the wonderful magnetic ring shot with flowing ramps, numerous modes and multi-balls, and evocative callouts from the original films.

UPDATE 1.0: Owned for two months. Lowered the rating slightly. It’s a good pin, but I find the artwork a bit grimy for my tastes. The Balrog, Aragorn sword lock and Frodo ring shot are amazing fun, but most of the other shots feel a bit mediocre. Unlike Fish Tales in which every shot feels like it places you in peril of draining, Lord of the Rings is a long game where mistakes are largely recoverable. As such, it tends to start to feel like a long slog.

UPDATE 2.0: Owned for almost a year. Lowered the rating again. We now own four pins (Flash Gordon, Godzilla and Fish Tales) and it compares poorly with them - both in art style, but also because the individual shots are pretty tedious. You’re shooting a series of basic fan shots over and over and, so, it feels very procedural when you’re playing - rather like how Sam and Frodo must have felt climbing Mount Doom, but in pinball form.
1 year ago
Played at Plonk Crazy Golf in Hackney, London.

I’m not sure whether the illumination was off and it was just badly maintained, but it was entirely forgettable except for the fun spiral ramp and the skull in the centre of the playfield. The epitome of ‘meh’.
1 year ago
I played Royal Flush several times at Plonk Crazy Golf in Hackney. It was quite entertaining because of the drop targets, but I felt I was missing something in terms of understanding how to play.

Watching a tutorial later, it became apparent that the way to score big was to shoot the jokers at the sides of the playfield and *then* shoot the drop targets. This wasn’t obvious from the card on the pin, unfortunately, and I feel it was non-obvious how to play well - unlike, say, Jack’s Open/Lucky Strike.
1 year ago
The Beatles is a fun remake of an early SS machine (Seawitch) with better music, graphics and some extra modes.

I’ve enjoyed playing it at London’s New Brunswick Centre Arcade, but it feels weak compared to Total Nuclear Annihilation (which does the ‘remake of a SS game’ much better). Otherwise, I prefer other early SS machines, such as Black Hole, Spirit and Haunted House.

UPDATE: Played again knowing the rules of Seawitch. This pin is a work of genius, which combines old school pinball with Stern’s mode-based gameplay. It’s a wonderful, charming and mellow shooter that provides great music while challenging your accuracy. I am officially charmed by this one.

UPDATE: Played again after getting a Flash Gordon, and it’s not really as good as FG. Feels a bit generic in comparison TBH, although - obviously - the LCD screen and Beatles music adds a lot..

UPDATE: Lowered the rating again. I tend not to play it on-site anymore now I've got a beautifully-restored Flash Gordon with LEDs and a film music sound board. It's just not as good layout as Flash Gordon, and I'd rather play something else.
1 year ago
I’ve played several games of Mando (Pro) at London’s New Brunswick Centre Arcade. This is a venue that has multiple new Sterns.

I’m a fan of the Mandalorian TV show, but the pinball machine is the epitome of ‘meh’. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not mega-exciting either.

The artwork is functional rather than attractive and the static child/Grogu figure is a missed opportunity. The plastic ramps are an abomination. The music is taken from the TV show and is, obviously, great.

My four-year-old son really likes playing it, to the point where he’s now obsessed with YouTube videos of Grogu (he’s too young for the TV show). However, I think that’s because it shoots fluidly, which is a good thing, but it doesn’t really compare to the Keith Elwin machines (JP2 or Godzilla Pro).

I think the best summary I can give is that it’s okay and it’s fine in isolation. If you buy it for the theme, you’ll probably enjoy it. However, it’s not comparable with great pinball machines like JP2, GZ, Attack from Mars or Medieval Madness, and if you put it onsite with something actually good then it’s probably going be dead-on-arrival.

UPDATE: Played again in spring 2022. I’m now slightly better at pinball and got a couple of longer games going. Sadly, the longer I played it, the less I enjoyed it. In the same way as Bowen Kerins described Kings of Steel as ‘Kings of Right Target’, Mando is ‘Razor Crest’. Shoot the Razor Crest central shot constantly, with the occasional digression during modes, to start multiballs and just about everything else. Also, the clusters of multi-coloured lights at the bottom of the playfield strobe blindingly everytime anything happens in a way that is, at best annoying and, at worst, can cause you to lose the ball.
1 year ago
I’ve played Jurassic Park Premium multiple times at the New Brunswick Centre Arcade in London.

It’s a highly enjoyable pinball machine and among my personal GOAT. The layout is novel and challenging, there’s a strong narrative of progressing through the paddocks and rescuing workers, and - of course - it has an animatronic T-Rex.

On the less enjoyable side, the dull playfield artwork and lack of movie assets detract slightly, and the ball-eating T-Rex could have eaten and thrown balls in more situations/modes.
1 year ago
Played Godzilla (Pro) multiple times at London’s newly-opened Brunswick Centre arcade.

I really enjoyed this game. It combines a wide variety of shots and fast-moving play with a fun campy theme and monster battles (seriously, who *doesn’t* like monster battles). The graphic design is colourful and the music is decent (although I couldn’t really hear it in the arcade).

The only downer was that I was playing a Pro!
1 year ago
I watched a PAPA tutorial on Alien Poker before playing a physical copy at Flip Out in London. It’s a real shooter’s game, thanks to the drop targets that have to be hit in sequence, and I really enjoyed the challenge.

The theme is…. Original. It is definitely the best pinball machine with an aliens-playing-poker theme. Obviously, it’s somewhat dated in theme and the artwork looks like it was drawn in MS Paint by a toddler.

However, great game and definitely better than many games that succeeded (and preceded) it.

UPDATED: Increased my rating. I have a minor obsession with this pin, mostly to do with the extremely simple but challenging gameplay. It is just a really good way to practice making accurate shots at drop targets, and with an absurd cheesy 'aliens playing poker' theme to boot.
1 year ago
I’ve played White Water on the Williams pinball app and, also, on a somewhat broken/un-shopped White Water at London’s Flip Out venue.

I love this machine. Largely to do with the theme, which is perfect for the lakeside holiday cottage that I will never own in a US national forest somewhere. The shots are challenging and I enjoy the raft progression through the game and the skill required to make key shots.

I especially love the ‘rapids’ left ramp, the whirlpool and the upper playfield skill shot. The Yeti/Sasquatch toy is a little tacky/naff, which is a shame, because the rest of the playfield toys… or, rather, the playfield mountains, are great.
1 year ago
I’ve never played a physical version of Black Hole, but love this machine on Pinball Arcade.

The lower playfield is a work of genius - not least because it’s not a ‘safe’ bonus area, but a perilous hazard that you must navigate and successfully escape. It fits the theme of escaping a black hole and places it above similar games of the same era, such as Haunted House.

I’m really looking forwards to playing a Black Hole in person one day.
1 year ago
I’ve only played this on the Williams Pinball app, but it is a complete turkey.

Small range of shots, dated and annoying theme, and generally very dull to play.

1 year ago
I’ve played Ghostbusters on both the Williams app and in real life in a local arcade.

This is a great pinball machine, which looks brilliant in person due to the colourful artwork and wide array of playfield toys. I love the animations and, when the game gets going, it gives a real feel of Ghostbusters. 10/10 on theme.

The gameplay itself is fun due to the array of shots and things to do (early on, this can be setting off a mode, capturing ghosts or activating extra functions through the scoops). It can feel a little repetitive and linear, as the Scoleri brothers and ‘Who brought the dog?’ come out every time, but this is definitely an above-average pinball machine.
1 year ago
I had high hopes for Deadpool due to its high rating on Pinside when I played it at a local pinball arcade.

It’s, well… a mess. The shots don’t flow terribly well and there’s nothing obvious or interesting to shoot at (e.g. the boat on Fish Tales or the castle on Medieval Madness). The mini-Deadpool is seriously boring, as it isn’t actually a bash toy - it just sits on the top of an enclosure. The plastic stand-ups would be better off not being there, as they just remind players that this is a ‘pro’ machine.

There were only three ‘modes’ - Mystique, Sabretooth and Juggernaut - and they all just required shooting some ramps in order. It felt a strangely slow and clumsy process compared to the modes on, say, Stern Star Trek, as you had to shoot a scoop first and then try to hit specific shots - often buried at the back of the playfield and difficult to reach due to the mini-Deadpool enclosure.

The whole thing felt like a clunkier version of Tales of the Arabian Nights.

It wasn’t all bad tho’ - I liked the Katana lock.
1 year ago
We played Stranger Things Pro at a local pinball arcade and I REALLY liked this game.

Unfortunately, I only really liked this game because it reminded me strongly of Medieval Madness/Attack from Mars, which are two of my favourite pinball machines.

Stranger Things has a great bash toy/centre shot in the form of the Demogorgon. Personally, I think the Demogorgon would be better if it wasn’t behind an ugly plastic display (it’s a projector in the Premium version), but it’s okay. The Demogorgon itself is fun and exciting to shoot.

The side ramps are also smooth and entertaining, and I got a lot of modes going during my play - mostly, again, because it played really similar to two earlier Brian Eddy games and I evidently had muscle memory.

Stranger Things is noticeably uglier than either AFM or Medieval Madness. The playfield is covered in mediocre movie screenshot-type stuff. The LCD screen is pretty thematic, however. The theme is also, unlike Medieval Madness, not remotely child friendly and is somewhat scary, which means - sadly - however much we liked this game, it’s not something we could buy for our own home.

Thoroughly recommended for the gameplay and it’s 100% made us consider checking out Stranger Things on Netflix.
1 year ago
Attack from Mars is effectively a reskin of Medieval Madness, so my comments on that also go for AFM. I personally prefer the sci-fi theme, but the castle in MM is a better toy.

The callouts are great B-movie cheese, and the playfield is clear and easy to understand. Simply a great game. One of the best pinball machines ever made IMO.
1 year ago
“I am the Ringmaster! Defeat me for the Ringmaster Marvel”

My four year old loves Cirqus Voltaire on the Williams app. He loves hitting the ringmaster - he even repeats the callouts!

I was equally enamoured with the game when I first started playing online pinball, and even considered forking out the massive cost to make it our first machine. Having played one in real life, however, it’s nowhere near as impressive. The ringmaster isn’t as tempting a target and the playfield and shots, feel somehow limited and a bit incoherent. The floating ball takes up a lot of space, but doesn’t quite work, and - given the choice - I’d rather play another machine on-site.

That said: great theme, beautiful graphics and not the worst machine. I do think it’s possibly overrated and it’s certainly overpriced.
1 year ago
I’ve played this game numerous times on a real life machine and on the Williams Pinball app, and it is unequivocally, in my view, one of the best pinball machines of all time.

The definition of easy to learn and hard to master, the main rules (shoot the castle) are easy enough for a four year old to understand (I have a four year old). However, destroying all six castles is a serious challenge. The trolls and easy-to-activate multiball add to the fun.

The theme is engaging and family friendly, with fun callouts inspired - I suspect - by Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

In short, I can’t imagine a better pinball machine that is more suitable for everyone, old and young.

Totally lives up to its reputation and exceeds modern Stern machines.

UPDATE: Having played MM multiple times on location, I increasingly don’t play it when there are other pins in the vicinity. There just aren’t a lot of interesting shots. It feels like it is mostly hammering the castle again and again. Watching a PAPA video, there’s more to it than that, but it doesn’t even hold up against Fish Tales in terms of interesting strategies and it certainly doesn’t compare with our GZ Prem.
1 year ago
I’ve played Junk Yard twice on a physical machine and countless times on the Williams Pinball app. Most of the Williams plays have been daily challenges because I would never choose to play this game.

The theme is incoherent. Most of the callouts are someone’s girlfriend nagging him about raiding a junkyard (who knows…). She’s chased by a dog while in the bath (in the junkyard?). The video modes are random. There’s a time machine… And a devil…

Anyway, there’s a huge void in the centre of the playfield with a crane in it, which is the best bit, and most of the rest of the game is shooting some not interesting orbits.

The lighting on the physical version was also rubbish.

Honestly, my husband, for whom Junk Yard was the first Williams machine he unlocked in arcade mode on the app, now uses Junk Yard as the epitome of a bad pinball machine. For me, it’s in the sour zone of aggressively rubbish, rather than so-rubbish-I-can’t-be-bothered-to-be-rude.

We played it in real life, when we saw one, to see if it was that bad in reality. Reader, it was…!
1 year ago
This may be the best pinball machine I have ever played (on free play). It is like an early solid-state machine, if it was speeded up 10x and had thumping music and a shaker.

Unlike a lot of modern machines, it’s all about the speed and the shots. Completely nails the retro 80s neon vibe, as well.

Simply perfect.

UPDATE: Put my money where my opinions are and have ordered a TNA 2.0. I play TNA every time I go to Pinball Republic in Croydon, UK. It is one of the best five pins I’ve ever played and a pure gameplay pin.

The rules are simple: you just need to fill the grid and shoot the reactor. However, this is harder than it sounds because this pin is FAST and furious. Like simple arcade games, the simple rules and difficult gameplay give it a strong ‘one more game’ feel. To add to the overall appeal, it has a cooperative mode for fun gameplay with friends. The thumping music and disco lighting is also amazing and adds to the Adrenalin-pumping atmosphere. It’s a game that appeals to people who like a challenge and who enjoy banging their head against a wall in the hope of succeeding next time. So, Shovel Knight fans should apply :)

TNA has no toys and barely any theme and, as such, it is unlikely to appeal to ‘collectors’ (which may explain the lower ratings on Pinside). However, if you’re a player, rather than a collector, try to play a TNA on location. I would suggest trying to buy one, but Spooky are making this very hard.
1 year ago
Fish Tales is my first pinball machine and has swiftly seen enthusiastic play in our house - including by our four year old.

It has great flow with the orbits and ramps, and enormous character and humour (“how big was it?”). Underrated pin, from my experience on Pinball Arcade and Williams Pinball, presumably because it’s quite unforgiving with very difficult jackpots and an unfashionable Redneck fishing theme.

UPDATE after five months: Love LOVE LOVE Fish Tales. This is an amazing pin. It has a range of exciting shots, including the accelerating cross-ramp shots on the boat and the ever-difficult Caster’s Club, and play is fast and furious, with the constant peril of an outlane drain. The video mode (“Look Papa, Waterskiers”) and callouts (“You gonna talk, or you gonna fish”) never cease to make me smile.

UPDATE after eight months: This may be my favourite pinball machine of all time.

UPDATE after more than a year: Do these pinball ratings GO UP TO 11? Genuinely, we play this pin every day. It is my go-to pin. I want to do a playfield swap at some point and cannot imagine our Fish Tales being out of action for the duration - it will be too emotionally traumatic!

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