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xTheBlackKnightx's ratings

Pinsider xTheBlackKnightx has rated 137 machines.

This page shows all all these ratings, and forms xTheBlackKnightx's personal top 137.


Rating comments

xTheBlackKnightx has written 137 rating comments:


7.189/10
2 years ago
This is generally considered an "above average" Ted Zale design for the period. It has a repeatable upper bagatelle playfield with rollover which constitute added bonus functionality as it comes out of the triangular upper section. Keeping the ball in play in the lower playfield can be difficult for those that to not understand "zipper flipper" functionality with the small mushroom bumpers. The key is very keen ball control, let the ball rest on the flippers and angle the shots back up the left lane orbit into the upper playfield.
7.054/10
2 years ago
The main draw is the "Spin-A-Score" rotary random scoring assembly and flipper center upost. Overall the game is an average title of the period. Below average success for production. Quite rare today overall, especially the German export special edition. Only a "must play" if you are a hardcore EM Bally collector.
7.656/10
2 years ago
Although like many of Ted Zale's "zipper flipper" designs they are not as well known today, much of his innovations he offered to Bally have been used by countless machines since the 1960s. The main draw is the "spinning bumper" which reflects shots to the various mushroom bumpers to score planets with R-O-C-K-E-T letters. It was not necessarily revolutionary, but did modify previous games will the constantly spinning motor. This is long before this feature reintegration with Fireball. The one downside of this feature is its accessibility. Once the game has been plunged into play it, it can be hard to be able to get the ball back into the spinning bumper to get more rapid hits. As far as all the Ted Zale "zipper flipper" games, it falls in the middle range of all his games in terms of fun. Difficult to acquire, as most were played out and many remaining are in poor condition.

"Little Known Fact": Rocket III was released two years before the actual Apollo moon landing in 1969.
7.797/10
2 years ago
Many long time collectors give credit to the concept of 'Mini Golf' (golf in a pinball cabinet) to Southland Engineering earlier in 1964 over Williams with the production of this bat game in September 1964 in later electromechanical form. However, the game itself has been made several times, including in earlier incarnations in the 1940s in penny arcade versions. Overall, WMS 'Mini Golf' executes the production of this amusement device slightly better with its cabinet design, mechanics, and coin control.

The golfer control turning is executed by a golf ball spinner handle. Construction is solid.
The game itself is a staple of most serious EM collections with other games such as pitch and bats right beside it.
Price reflects its rarity today, starting around $2000-2500 for a functional model with good cosmetics.
Artwork is functional, but not quite as colorful as Southland's 'Little Pro'.
Ultimately, the last game to ever to be made under this concept occurred almost 30 years later with Bromley's 'Little Pro' which included the "sights and sounds" of a solid state, harder miniature golf shots, and a controller board that was built using a Data East boardset. Unfortunately, in that particular case the cabinet is obtuse, and made out of particleboard and was a very low production game in 1990.

A game that is always fun for a group gathering, or little 'putt putt' practice by an individual.
This is a game I am interested in acquiring and restoring for historical reasons.
6.103/10
2 years ago
SWT is a clunky game that included a graphic Photoshop style artwork set, subpar sounds (even with stereo sound), poor playfield design, and weakened rule set. The 3D translite did not save the artwork. The cannon is not a good toy, and only will work in a home environment.

The only SW title that stands out is the Data East version especially with the updated "ultimate" EPROM set for rules and a PinSound board. Only one phrase sums up this pinball pinball and many of their titles, "Mediocrity was SEGA's watchword." Even Williams SWE1 Pinball 2000 machine, or Hankins Empire Strikes Back fair better.

Enthusiasts that believe that this is the "Best Star Wars pinball" have most definitely, NOT played all the games in pinball history. Move forward to other games or overpay for something that should have been redesigned at the original factory.
7.104/10
2 years ago
A middle ground title designed by Ted Zale.
Artwork is the typical "pointy sharp end" style that was predominant in the 1960s.
The game also had a German Export version with the same artwork and layout.
The gameplay is somewhat comparable to Joust (Bally, 1969) without the zipper flippers and replaced with an up post.
The flipper up post was another Ted Zale innovation for those that are not aware.
The other primary feature was the secondary "castle gate" up post on the right side which was used as a return to the shooter lane.
Gameplay is generally quite fast.
The left orbit to the top rollovers is a very tight shot.
Overall, an average title with slightly above average artwork.
Not Thaddeus Zalewski's (Ted Zale's) best effort.
7.346/10
2 years ago
Back in the 1980s, this game was considered somewhat of a turd.
In some ways, it still is unfortunately.
This is NO Eight Ball Deluxe.
Today, it has gained more of a cult following similar to games such as Fathom and Centaur.
In the close follow up of the "Super widebody" concept of games like Paragon, in order to complete with Gottlieb titles such as Genie, but it did not fair anywhere near as well in the market.

Overall, the artwork is eye catching, but the gameplay is slow, even if highly waxed.
I don't know what people are talking about in this area, since I have owned several examples.
The ruleset is a bit confusing without doing some research.
I have always liked the double captive ball strikes in the center of the playfield and the drop target bank in the right corner.
Most people may not realize there were actually THREE different backglasses made for this game.
The standard production games had a deeper purple tone, the early productions a lighter red purple.
The prototype had a different center artwork from the original artist, Tony Ramunni, of Black Knight fame.

I have owned two different Embryons.
The first was a routed machine, with typical minor wear in the right corner inserts.
The second was a "infant mortality" perfect example game that spent less than 3 months on route before the MPU -35 blew up and it was put back in the box for nearly 15 years before I bought it out of a warehouse. Once again, different time, and lack of interest.
Just recognize what you are buying on this title, play the game first, you may not like it in comparison to standard width games.
Keep your wallet in your pants and evaluate.

This is not some "$3000+ game".
Most pinball "connoisseurs" agree with me, if they have been around for a while.
8.208/10
2 years ago
Another "big hit" (pun intended) baseball pitch and bat machines that is packed with features.
The last of the Williams "Big Four" games I needed to review for coin operated history.
You can see the others in my list.
This is a hard choice, but the game probably ends up in the fourth position only do to comparison of features between 1962 'World Series', 1959 'Pinch-Hitter', and 1960 'Deluxe Official Baseball'.
Colorful cabinet and backglass, running man unit, 3X home run ramps, batting average hit scoring, and solid all wood construction.
They just do not "make games like this like they used to" overall.
A fantastic complement to any gameroom.
Plays "butter smooth" when tuned, and an early example of a game that used a plastic (formica) playfield for long lasting wear resistance.
If you own this game, DO NOT SELL IT, as you will regret it later, and you may not be able to find another for YEARS.
5.860/10
2 years ago
"Unimpressive it is, Nonapprove I do."
- Yoda

Data East's (AKA Stern) Star Wars game from 1992 has unequivocally retained its 25+ year champion title status as the continued "best choice award" Star Wars pinball machine in comparison to Stern release of this title.

Complete Stern "cash grab" complete with a stripped down game concept of the original design.
Mediocre features, recycled game layout from multiple Stern titles, uninspired toys, and poor artwork.
Ruleset remains confusing and video clips repetitive even for seasoned players and owners.
"Hyperspace" ramp was poorly designed from the standpoint of gravity shots and movement.
A person can get the same effect with HS II: The Getaway, or No Fear.
Now, people figured out that the game is poor example of executed theme design except for route operators, and games are already coming up for sale, whether Pro, Premium, or Limited Edition.
Just because a game "plays fast" or "new" does not make it a good game.
It is amazing how polarizing this game is for people they either "love it or hate it" auspious title.
Stern did not have a "strict budget" or "hands tied by Disney", go look at TSPP, LOTR, or the original SM Black in comparison, they look like "Super Limited Editions" in comparison.

It is basically the equivalent of Stern's 2008 Indiana Jones to Williams 1993 Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure in every area. It simply does not live up to any form of value for personal ownership. A Yugo versus a Mercedes.
As a barcade pinball, it is not that bad for a few rounds.

Stern, for the love of all that is pinball, stop removal of game features and basic functionality of your titles which has occurred significantly since 2012. Many veteran old collectors, especially those with more than 25+ years experience in the industry and hobby, are watching with disdain and boycotting Stern game purchases in the future. New enthusiasts and potential owners are starting to get smarter as well. This should be a serious concern as the latest market "stall" has already started, and economy has begun a recession with higher costs of living continuing to rise against static salaries.

Respectfully,

TBK
8.096/10
2 years ago
The replay version of Williams game with replay function. The novelty version is 'Deluxe Pinch-Hitter'.
The playfield is made out of formica, a composite laminate (plastic resin).

Another of the "Big Four" most famous Williams pitch and bat games.
The others being 1962 World Series, 1956 4 Bagger Deluxe, and 1960 Deluxe Official Baseball.

Another game with a few unique features as well.
Includes "P-I-N-C-H H-I-T-T-E-R" score up lightning, running man unit, 3X home run ramps, and another unique early first, SELECTABLE ball control of two different pitches, fastball and curveball (magnet).

Backglass artwork and cabinet is eye catching and colorful.
A true winner in larger collectors or get togethers with friends.
7.003/10
2 years ago
This is the German export of "Gator" from the Ted Zale "zipper flipper" catalog (1966-1973).
Gameplay and features are identical, the difference being the artwork and some specific electromechanics.
This game is quite rare today, however it is not particularly valuable except to Ted Zale collectors.
There has never been a verifiable production run for the backglass and playfield totals as it was rolled up with "Gator" production.

See my review of Gator for full details of this game.
7.003/10
2 years ago
A game that is not well understood in the Ted Zale "zipper flipper" catalog by most modern players.
The key aspect to the game is use of the six mushroom bumpers for "gate control".
The title itself shoots very well, but many people simply do not like the artwork.

Unlike other zipper flippers, it does have a VERY open playfield that if you want to have a good score the secret is keeping the flippers closed while shooting the gates to bring the ball back to the shooter lane.
Overall, closer to the bottom of the list in terms of gameplay and overall quality of all his designed games.

Alligator (German Export) is the more rare example of this title.
7.437/10
3 years ago
A solid design shooter from Ted Zale, "A Master of Pinball Innovation", but a weaker design.
The artwork package attracts players to the game with its Egyptian theme, and its most notable aspect.
The gameplay is very straightforward, but unfortunately is oversimplified, especially for a Ted Zale game with the multitude of fixed stationary targets.
Even the game rules are simple with spelling "King Tut".
If it was not for the 3 inch flippers, the game would be brutal.

This is NOT the EM "Mata Hari", Wizard!, or Fireball equivalency in terms of quality.
A game best suited for very large EM collections.
8.642/10
3 years ago
Look beyond the words, "It's just another pitch and bat."
Know the differences between difference pitch and bat games, they are not all equal.
United and Chicago Coin made some good games as well.

Probably the third most iconic pitch and bat game made by WMS.
Two games that achieve greater notoriety are WMS 1959 'Pinch Hitter' with multiple SELECTABLE pitch types and WMS 1960 'Deluxe Official Baseball' with animated pitching, 3D players, and foul lanes.
The fourth game of pitch and bat notoriety is WMS 1956 '4 Bagger Deluxe'.
ALL are great games.

This game contains threee homerun ramps, and a full animate 'running man' unit.
One of the major advantages of this game is the "mystery pitcher" that can use both a fast, slow, and curveball pitches at random.
It is one of the fewer games that use the "extended play" option with the super home run, which makes a game challenging and adds additional innings based on the operator settings.
Definitely one the better cabinet designs of the era with the dark greens, bats, and balls and backglass image.

The game was immortalized in coin operated history for the the following reason:
"The 1962 World Series matched the defending American League and World Series champions New York Yankees against the National League champion San Francisco Giants. It is best remembered for its dramatic conclusion; with runners on second and third and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey hit an exceptionally hard line drive that was caught by second baseman Bobby Richardson to preserve a one-run victory for the Yankees."
6.980/10
3 years ago
In comparison to many of the other Ted Zale "zipper flipper" designs from 1966-1973, this game is average. Yes, it has multiball, but the playfield layout and artwork is just not as aspired as other titles, especially *really* hard to find ones. You cannot judge this game well, unless you have played many of his titles side by side. Capersville as an earlier game has a superior ruleset. Many features such as gating, buttons, and bonuses were better integrated with later games such as Dixieland, Dogies, Four Million BC, and Nip-It and all have better gameplay value. I speak from experience as I presently own 13 of the total of 19 zipper flipper games that Ted Zale designed during his decade in pinball, including "The Wiggler".
8.079/10
3 years ago
Dixieland is another one of those Ted Zale classics that is not well known, and rarely seen today, mostly out of neglect and age, not quality of gameplay.

It has a combination of many of Ted Zale's earliest innovations that were then ported to later machines such as Four Million BC (Bally, 1971) such as the controlled ball gates in a slightly different manner, and mini playfield (without rollover buttons) that was used in Joust (Bally, 1969) and Op-Pop-Pop (Bally, 1969). The playfield may be asymmetrical, but the shot layout is very balanced based on rewards.

One unique feature is the spelling out of Dixieland via "Clarinet Bonus" lighting on the backglass.
People should recognize this specific feature as it was used in other later titles, most notably games like Eight Ball Deluxe (Bally, 1981). Yes, another example of a feature used decades before supposed "innovations".

Sometimes pinball history and developments are a circle, even if people did not know it happened or why.

This is another game from Bally that had its backglasses made in both 1/4" thick crystal (think expensive glass vases) and plexiglass.

One other notable area is the artwork.
Atypical of the period, it did not use "straight line" jagged artwork but rather cartoonish style that was not particularly common as it was not in fashion.

It is a easily understood, strong playing game that is enhanced with its proper use of "zipper flippers" and very solid shot flow.

I have uploaded high quality photos of my personal game that was non-routed and privately owned between two people for nearly 50 years. Additional photos can be found on the IPDB.
8.000/10
3 years ago
Another of Ted Zale's designs that gets little credit for the uniqueness of the design.
It uses FIVE color coded mushroom bumpers to control the multiple in and out lanes on the game.

The artwork for the period is better than many, and the backglass image captures in straight line format the "cattle drive" element of what you are trying to accomplish.
In essence the silver ball is the "dogie" (ie cattle steer) that you are trying to control to various locations through the playfield.
The "Cactus Juice" bonus is the real standout once you understand the ruleset properly and gives the game a solid challenge.

Rarely, I have seen a game today that works correctly due to the multiple switch lanes control and "locks".
I guess I just am confused how people cannot understand this game, but they understand the rules of Stern's "The Walking Dead"?

The backglass was another title similar to Joust (Bally, 1969) that was made in both plexiglass and crystal glass.

If you are a fan of Ted Zale games, this is another game that should not be missed.
A damn fine EM game.

I am proud to own this game in my collection after many years searching, and it is a worthy contender to Nip-It, Four Million BC, Fireball, Bazaar, and Joust, among many others I own.
I will try to get some corrected quality photos uploaded shortly, as what I see so far is complete and utter crap.
7.944/10
3 years ago
This is great example of a pinball machine and one of Ted Zale's designs that stands on the merits of gameplay, not the artwork.
The ruleset is cryptic for bonuses, if you do not understand it.
The description of the rule set below in a prior review is a good explanation for novices of this title.
This is a "spy" theme game reminiscent of the early James Bond days with Sean Connery.
Essentially, you are trying to solve a code mystery.
Jerry Kelley's straight line artwork pulls the game rating down for me as a collector, as I do not like this type of graphics on any pinball machine.
The gameplay is greatly enhanced by the use of the "zipper flippers", mushroom bumper targets, and right ball lane kickback.
It is the second game in pinball history to use 3 ball "multiball", a term not formally used until the 1980s.
The ability to keep the ball in play like all short 2 inch flippers games means you have to be on your toes, and requires a different type of pinball skill set to play.
A very collectible game in its own right, particularly since many of original games have been parted out at this point in history. However, there are still well maintained examples out in the collector's homes.
The game was very successful as a production run from 1966-1967.

If an owner is interested in Ted Zale designs, look for the rare German export version of this title with a different backglass and playfield fonts and wording.
9.189/10
3 years ago
If an enthusiast likes EM 'pitch and bat' baseball games, this is the title to own.
It contains the most features of any game of its type in history and makes you feel like you are at a major league ball park.
The only thing missing is the sounds and music from modern solid state titles like Slugfest!

This is the replay version of WMS game, with match feature. Generally considered the most collectible 'pitch and bat' baseball game ever produced due to 3D ball players on the playfield and animated pitching movement.
It also has a full "running man" unit on the backbox, along with proper 'foul' lanes on the sides.

Very rare to find in intact condition.
Very expensive fully restored game title in general that can easily exceed $6K or more for this 50+ year old game.
Very difficult to find a complete set of original replacement figures for the playfield as they get bashed by the ball.

Like almost all EM pitch and bat games is also honking huge and a very heavy unit, nearly 3/4 size of a Hercules pinball machine, but not as wide.
However, not quite as bad as shuffle bowlers.
Think of this aspect and be prepared to have a proper place for it BEFORE you try and move it into a house.
The good news is removal of the backbox for transport is quite simple.
7.769/10
3 years ago
If you are an EM collector is another of those "holy grail" games.

The EM Mata Hari version is a solid example of a well playing machine that has solid shots to the symmetrical playfield both in the center, left, and right sides. The key positioning of the saucer between the pop bumpers keep the ball moving, if you can score the bonus.
Yes, the game is quite simple and straightforward, that was the point in the first place!
Jim Patla was taught well by Ted Zale in terms of being to able to design a game that appeals to most, and easy to understand.
Backglass artwork is an absolute Dave Christensen paramount and the playfield and cabinet artwork is extremely complementary.
Scoring is balanced.
Although the solid state version is very common, something was lost in the translation to electronics.
Enthusiasts mix the two versions of the game up constantly, and it is highly unlikely they have ever played the EM version anyway.
Playfields on both versions are generally trashed in the center for good reason.
The game was extremely popular and played extensively, and remains so for those that appreciate classic designs.
6.190/10
3 years ago
Unfortunately, this game is another example of why potential buyers should wait to buy games instead of preordering titles out of hype. People are having to learn the hard way, and I don't care to try an educate anymore. Perhaps this objective review will save someone some pain, if money and have fun with pinball matters.

Other than the art package for the backglass and cabinet, shot layout, average ruleset, and general music quality the game is well below average in comparison to most of the BLY/WMS games of the 90s in terms of layout, rules, and features. Just pick any game from 1990-1998. They are all light years ahead, yet all were made more than 20 years ago. The lighting is especially terrible. Even most modern Stern games overperform this title. New collectors are slowly starting to "see the light of pinball God" but not without wasting anywhere from $7000-10,000 first in folly.

They are up for sale often now for a reason, even though some owners are trying to recover some of the loss.
Plenty of pinball price speculators bought them, and still have this title still sitting in a box.
The price just keeps on dropping, and I and other experienced collectors keep on laughing.
This was not the "next Big Bang Bar".

Skip it, avoid the fanboy reviews here trying to defend their ego and purchase.
There are literally hundreds of games both EM and SS starting from the 1960s that have better quality than this title.
"New" is not "better".
Spooky needs to seriously step up their abilities for future titles.
All their games look like they were designed in people's basements.
AMH was a good (albeit very slow) start.
RZ, Dominoes, and The Jetsons are just barebones games passing through as even used games overtake their efforts. They do not look commercially viable as a product. They need a get a serious hit title very soon if they want to remain in the manufacturing business more than another 2-5 years.

Keep in mind, I like Rob Zombie and listened to his albums when half the people here on this website were in elementary school.

PinSide moderator staff must have drinking heavily and listening to White Zombie when they rated this game.
Either that or they were paid by Charlie to shill the game.
Maybe they wanted to $#%@ a chicken with their dildo bonus?
Living dead girl is right.
The game did not "rise" to the occasion in this case.
Captain Spaulding should be ashamed and get out his Viagra, or scare some new pinball owners out of buying the game.
7.679/10
3 years ago
The predominant reason this machine holds its value and interest is the artwork and "flip flag" feature.
Last EM game to have the knocker in the lower cabinet.
Pop bumper spacing leads to some interesting trajectories from the left orbit shot.
It is solid EM with a competent ruleset of its day.
However, it certainly is NOT a game you would want to use in the tournament as the game score rolls over way too easily.
High end restorations easily fetch $4500.

I am not sure why people state you have to like "The Who" or "Tommy", as the game stands on its own merits.
If you only like SS, then you won't understand what the game has to offer anyway.
Perfect game partner to Captain Fantastic.
4.801/10
3 years ago
Since many may not ever have the opportunity to play this machine, I will provide an objective review based on both personal gameplay and history.

The game was "under development" for 5+ years.
It had three major periods of change and ownership including the licensing.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on trying to "jumpstart" the process from 2011-2017.

The direct end result:

The theme is outstanding and a combination of the features of ToM, TOTAN, and CV, but...

The game still does not work properly.
Physically the game shot flow is still clunky.
Mechanically the game needs redesign.
The game does not have completed code.
The current game has incomplete major features, and is missing playfield assemblies.
The simplest example, is multiball is impossible, because there is no means to lock balls, even virtually.
Not a good start.
The only thing that keeps this game from getting a "1 out of 10" is the artwork and baseline design, which you cannot rate as a low score.
People are being a bit non-objective, out of jealousy, anger, lack of experience or stupidity.

The artwork is the standout in all areas, playfield, translite, and cabinet.
These are all superb, almost breathtaking.
Animations and LCD images are also very good, but incomplete.

Sound quality and music is excellent.
Sound calls are incomplete.

The bottom line is this remains a prototype game, barely out of the whitewood stage, not much further progressed than the original prototype which was debuted in 2011. It simply was never fully playtested. American Pinball still rushed it out the door to not look like fools, close their involvement with Mr. Popadiuk, and try to provide a product as promised. There was not much else they could do.

In fact, there are LESS features that what was originally included, some of which previously existed, and somewhat worked.

A person cannot evaluate the original prototype to this game, and I say "played the game back in 2011", pintard reviewers, it is not the same game!
Also, rating anyone rating game BEFORE it was released and no one has played except a dozen people locked behind closed doors in the past 2 years is a complete bell ringer, a person is uninformed, and should not be believed.
In essence, that person is announcing to the world, "I am a pinball monkey spanker, hear me, hear me LIONMAN!"

Back on point.
Without significant overhaul by both technical mechanical engineers and programmers, the game is not a fully functional pinball machine, but a little more than an extremely expensive Christmas tree.

Original owners are selling the game for a multitude of reasons, but mostly to get their money back while the hype is alive.
I would.

Ultimate value of the game for pinball history is unknown at this time, but I would suspect between $20-25K for the next 5 years by "deep pocket" collectors who want to have bragging rights, not the original owners. It is hard to see respectable long time collectors who were not part of the original boondoggle to be proud of this title in their collection. It does have bad karma.

My nickname for this game is "The albatross of pinball".
When Ri¢hie Ri¢h is a better pinball game than this title, that is fairly indicative of the situation.
It will always have its place in pinball history, but not every story is a good one.
8.164/10
3 years ago
A game with an incredible artwork package by Kevin O'Connor (especially the backglass).

A solid design with an initial "ultra confusing" ruleset based on depth for its age.
"You must understand the all seeing eye..."
Many people still cannot score the gameplay on the first attempts, including the captured messenger ball.

For this point alone, it did not always do so well when it was originally produced for operators.
It came out just a little too early before its time of the early Bally golden era.
Two different backglasses produced.
Two different cabinets produced.
Various differences between production and early models.
Compete keeper, no matter which version you find.

Don't underestimate this title if you like early solid state machines.
I am looking for another to add back to my collection.
7.815/10
3 years ago
Beyond the aspect that this is the first Bally game to use the feature, "zipper flippers" by the creative genius Ted Zale, the gameplay and artwork is completely solid.
In a time when most games used what was called "straight line" artwork, this title stands out as unique with its bold and colorful design by George Molentin.
He is underappreciated artist that did not participate in the art of as many games as he could have been.
This is only one of seven of the complete 19 library games that Ted Zale designed with zipper flippers (of the complete zipper flipper library of 30 games) that DID NOT have straight line artwork of the period.
The other notables are Fireball, Four Million BC, Joust, Nip-It, Dixieland, and Rocket III.
The game is straightforward, but rewarding.
Keep in mind due to its age, the backbox design is reminiscent of the Gottlieb wedge heads of the era before Bally transitioned to their standard square box of the late 60s.
The most difficult aspect is not only to keep the ball in play when the flippers are open, but manage to keep the one way gate open to be able to get another skill shot plunge from the shooter lane as there is no way to reach the rollovers again without accomplishing this feat.
In this respect this feature was reused in Bally's 1969 Camelot with an up down post for the same functionality for the "castle gate".
Another classic game from an age, most people no longer recognize.
The hardest aspect to find with this game is not the game itself, as I have actually two games being "Frankensteined" to build a single game.
It is the backglass that was made in crystal not tempered glass.
It has not been reproduced to date.
7.676/10
3 years ago
"What a low score, try harder."

There is a reason this game was made TWICE by Zaccaria.
It is a solid, fast playing game.
The ruleset is a little confusing for new players, but spend a little more time to enjoy the discovery.
Excellent art package all around.
Sound for the period was excellent including its taunting voice challenges.
The sound reminds me of a cross from Bally Vector and Eight Ball Deluxe.
Many people are missing out on pinball if they have never had the chance to play games from this Italian manufacturer.
They offered an incredible selection of 47 unique titles to choose from overall.
Although more difficult to obtain in the United States and generally low production, many were colorful, and had excellent replayability comparable to most Bally titles of the same age.
7.676/10
3 years ago
"What a low score, try harder."

There is a reason this game was made TWICE by Zaccaria.
It is a solid, fast playing game.
The ruleset is a little confusing for new players, but spend a little more time to enjoy the discovery.
Excellent art package all around.
Sound for the period was excellent including its taunting voice challenges.
The sound reminds me of a cross from Bally Vector and Eight Ball Deluxe.
Many people are missing out on pinball if they have never had the chance to play games from this Italian manufacturer.
They offered an incredible selection of 47 unique titles to choose from overall.
Although more difficult to obtain in the United States and generally low production, many were colorful, and had excellent replayability comparable to most Bally titles of the same age.
8.020/10
3 years ago
"Attrapez-moi, si vous le pouvez." (Look this up, if you don't understand the meaning)

An underrated title like Indianapolis 500 that is starting to finally gain momentum in the collector community.
Wonder why?
Its another George Gomez design, like Johnny Mnemonic!
Probably will price spike like Congo did in the next 5 years.

It has a balanced ruleset and good shot selection that reward a quality player.
There is a reason this game is used over and over in tournaments.
Game ruleset for scoring is solid.
Artwork for the most part is above average, and appeals to most car collectors.
Miles high above Stern's Mustang in terms of build quality and performance.
Toys are solid with the "revving" feature of the engine, moving engine, and car chase.
Gameplay is fast, and you have to be on your toes.
Flailing = ball drains.
Overall, if you like I500 and HSII: The Getaway, this is a perfect complement.
Rarely seen now on location.
Just watch for the game specific parts, as they are hard to come by now like most lesser production machines.
Worth every penny, if you are a Corvette collector.
I am looking for another example of this machine.
8.360/10
3 years ago
Stern achieves an outstanding design and success on this title.
The artwork by Jeremy Packer is a real standout.
Gameplay is challenging with a multitude of shots built into this standard width playfield.
Some shots can feel "cheap" due to balls jumping lanes or airballs causing SDTM drains.
Backglass image harkens back to the days of BLY/WMS designs.
Features and toys add to the appeal, but are not particularly innovative.
The lighting sequences and use of LEDs is truly exceptional.
The sound calls and music is appropriate canon use.
The integration of the magna-slings does make good sense in their "randomness" to make you believe ghosts are controlling the ball.
Code design currently needs to be tweaked a bit, as the latest release negatively reverses its progress by making the game much too easy, and introduces more problems than it solves.
Considering this is a 30+ year old license, Stern really did justice to the franchise.
It is no wonder the game continues to sell well, despite continued Stern quality assurance and control problems at their new factory facilities.
Stern continues to sell "less game for more money" regarding basic game features.
Given a small amount of time and the fans of the game, I would expect this will remain one of Stern's Top 10 modern machines they have created, not to mention their last to use a conventional DMD. It also may be one of the last games with semi-realistic pricing before the next market stall and closeout of titles somewhere between 2017-2019.
The primary "Achilles Heel" of this this game and all SPIKE system games like it is undeniable. The controller system is "undercooked", and does not provide long term reliability. Failure rates by operators and owners continues to rise. The reality is that every game made since 2015 has a lifecycle less than 10 years.
EDIT: The market stall has happened as I predicted in 2017, get wise.

"New pinball blood" is like people with "new money", lack of knowledge leads to inflation at all levels.
It also allows companies like Stern to get away with removal of features from basic pinball machines and turn their titles into less than "commercial industrial quality pinball machines".
People may not care now, but they will later, or perhaps not if they decide to move onto the next fad hobby.
Play more games, and recognize this game title will never be in the Top 10 games of pinball history predominantly due to the fact the the license is not anywhere near as recognized as others in its field.
7.937/10
4 years ago
Most people that like EMs think of either this title, Fireball, Four Million B.C., and few others from the 1960-70s
The "zipper flippers" and "Balligator" grabber assembly are what make the game so special.
Not many games used this "zipper flipper" concept successfully in the 1960s and 1970s, and even less than integrated the concept well in terms of really enhancing gameplay. The game was solidly hallmarked into pinball history forever with Bally's agreement with ABC regarding the title's use on "Happy Days" even though the game is completely out of context in terms of its use in the 1950s period sitcom, but still went on to be the highest rated TV show of the decade. There is another entire story regarding the use of this game and decision with Garry Marshall.

New solid state collectors are not generally going to "get it" as they think games of this era are too slow or uncontrollable, hence ratings below five or less. It is also unlikely they have ever actually properly played the game at all, as many were cannibalized for the Ballgator assembly, meaning the primary feature is MISSING. This is too bad, as they have lost out on a piece of pinball history which went on to creating more innovative features that people take for granted today that was used on games that other collectors do like. Ted Zale does not get the credit he deserves as one of the forefathers of modern pinball.

It can be tough to keep the ball in play with a bad roll out of the "Balligator" one way gate down open flippers AKA the "killer croc" feature that gets new players every time.
The game flow is solid, and the art package is exceptional colorful from the era.
Artwork will stay in your mind, especially the backglass with the "alligator bite".
I lean towards Fireball and Four Million B.C. in terms of overall better gameplay, but this game remains a "trip down memory lane" every time you play.

As Fonzie would say, "AAAAAyy".
7.172/10
4 years ago
Although considered by many as an "old school game" with modern technology, and not entirely innovative, it is one of the few later model solid state machines that remains considerably affordable in the current "market craze insanity".
It does NOT play like an EM (which I have no idea where this concept is contrived) and contrary to less inclined knowledgeable players, but does have similarities.
When produced in 1996 by Capcom it was moderately successful along the same level of sales as AGBGoaWT from AGC in 1992/1993.
You have to remember that many games starting in 1996 were beginning to downslide due to loss of operator sales.
The game play design is a good player shooter game with very good rules.
The playfield, cabinet, and backglass art is average.
Sound and music is EXCELLENT.
The mechanics of the game are simple to maintain with its single level playfield design reminiscent of games like T2 without the ramps.
The quality of manufacture was solid, but watch the power supply / solenoid control board for trace lifting due to heat and large capacitors from being cold solder cracked due to vibration.
Very bad things happen if the capacitors short, and severe damage can result to the main logic board and solenoid driver board.
For new players, this is a reminder that not every game needs massive ramps and ruleset that is deeper than the depths of the bottom of the Mariana Trench, making single games last 2 hours each.
Most owners that may become eventual long term collectors will be able to distinguish differences in quality.
It is not a Titanic boat anchor either to keep it grounded in such as position in pinball history.
In simple terms, it works in terms of theme to keep the player interested for the short time it was designed.
If you have the opportunity to play this game in good condition, you may fall into its simple charms.

Who knows, maybe I will buy another to go with my Pinball Magic or that elusive "drop a stack of Ben Franklins" on Big Bang Bar?
EDIT: Found one...sprinted to the purchase.
7.731/10
4 years ago
A Data East game with an incredible Paul Faris artwork package for the playfield and backglass, and an average gameplay design and ruleset.
Most owners have the game for exactly these reasons, and no other.
DE screwed up and really wasted the great potential of this game.
Sound quality for music and callouts is above average for most DE games.
The game is completely missing the original true musical orchestration, that would have greatly improved the game experience.
The organ takes up so much space on the right corner of the playfield it completely dominates the entire game.
The single ramp seems almost like an afterthought, similar to the repetitive ramp in Star Wars.
It just does not seem to provide the game with more comparable flow.
The "Magic Mirror" (trapdoor subway scoop) is the other main feature which controls the game speed.

Very difficult to find a game now that:
1) Does not have a delaminating backglass or scratches, particularly the Phantom's Mask
2) Does not have a worn playfield
3) Does not have a cracked wood planking cabinet
4) Does not have broken plastics / worn decals which need to replaced (repo sets are finally available)
5) Does not have a broken organ, motor assembly, or worn out trapdoor

It commands a higher price than it is truly worth, but if you a POTO opera fan this game is a must.
I have only seen ONE NOS playfield in nearly 30 years since 1990.
I have only seen FIVE NOS backglasses in the same period, although I am sure there still a few out there.
Many of these games did not survive past the late 90s into the early 00s.

If you do find a HUO game, buy it immediately, if not, skip it because it probably will not be worth your time to fix or own, as the theme is not conducive to most family collections and has little game depth.
7.975/10
4 years ago
"Earthshaker!!!" (Screaming LOUD voice)

One of the pinnacles of the System 11 machines of the era.
Outstanding artwork package by Tim Elliot.
Strong gameplay and ruleset design by Pat Lawlor.
Chris Granner masterpiece on the music.
If you own a Whirlwind, you have to partner it up with its sibling here, Earthshaker.
The shaker motor used long before it was popular today.
Backglass is an ACTUAL backglass with FULL mirroring, which was becoming more uncommon at this point in pinball history.
If you are going to buy an Earthshaker, make sure you go find one with a prototype sinking Earthshaker institute (or kit from Mark Davidson) and the proper Nevada/California split assembly feature.

An example of a machine that holds up well against most modern games of today.
You do not need fancy "doohickeys" to make a great game, just a great design.

Pay attention Pat Lawlor fans to my statement here.
The final trifecta of disaster pinball machines is coming soon!
8.020/10
4 years ago
"Operators... Start your engines!"

Highly underrated machine that is not well know in the community but gaining momentum.
Becoming desirable due to market stupidity of Stern and JJP NIB costs.
Probably Dennis Nordman's second greatest design beyond Whitewater.
Comparable to quality of games like Shadow, Congo, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Getaway or Fish Tales.
Very fast, great flow, but not an entirely difficult game with practice.
Ruleset is average, but getting GOOD SCORES requires understanding of the game and maximizing the races.
Ramp shots are good with gameplay.
Artwork is above average.
Toys are not revolutionary, but the variable lighted square targets are a neat feature.
Good complement to most medium size collections.
Superb complement game to Getaway overall due to theme and the speed, and significantly better than Stern's Grand Prix or NASCAR overall.

My best recommendation is CLOSELY look at the game specific parts on the game meaning the targets, ramps, and racing wheel track, as these are getting VERY hard to find now if you wish to own one.
8.421/10
4 years ago
"The storm is coming..."

100% Classic Pat Lawlor at his finest, just like its partner Earthshaker.
Hopefully, his "trinity game" get produced someday based on his concepted design.
Be patient, watch the pinball skies for an angel.

No, this was not Funhouse, RoadShow, or anything else he made.
Certainly not Grand Prix or Roller Coaster Tycoon, his two WORST games.

Solid shots, good ramp action, and the spinning disks.
Ruleset is easy to understand and follow, and fun.
Good windup challenge shot for jackpot during multiple, which he has used on many other machines such as The Addams Family later.
Good artwork, basic on the playfield, colorful and artistic on the backglass and cabinet.
NOT an overrated game, and a family classic.
The working fan on the game really is just a still extra pizza slice with full toppings, that Stern is TOO CHEAP to include in games today with their designs.

If you are Bally/Williams System 11 fan, this game is a must have.
8.216/10
4 years ago
"I am the Ringmaster. Defeat me for the Ringmaster marvel."
Who does not get the quote stuck in their head after playing this machine?
Eventually some people will go "$#@%, ARGHHHH, shut up already!"

One of the games new collectors blow serious loads on (outside their pants), but never play before buying the game due to low production availability.
Why?
"It looks so cool."
Simulations did not give a good impression of the complexity of some of the things this game has going on in terms of maintenance.
It is equivalent to buying a new car, but never testing driving the model.
This is the fully gear engaged definition of "pintard".

I give credit to John Popadiuk, who at least pulled some different tricks out of his hat on this game unlike ToM and TOTAN.
Phenomenal music and sound, but it grinds on you over time.
Excellent shot selection and gimmicks, however nothing truly revolutionary.
Even putting the DMD inside the game and using a bell shot in the backglass, could not save the game from being a moderate failure when produced.
An owner that states that a game includes a "real bell" installed in the backbox is a prototype, is LYING to you.

TERRIBLE route machine, due to maintenance requirements on assemblies, on the same level as STTNG and RS.
High wire lock, needs the upgrade kit, or it will just fail even in a home environment.
If you do not know what I am talking about owners, go READ the WMS service bulletins.

Time has been kind to this title, however.

Linda Deal did a great job on the artwork.
The ruleset has a lot of hidden secrets packed into the game, but is not particularly cryptic.

NOTE: It has become a collector favorite for BLY/WMS DMD enthusiasts, but it often does not last long in collections for people that are just looking for a "ticket to ride."
Just like TOTAN, the novelty wear off fairly quickly, and you are left with a machine that people will playing when you have been get togethers. There is a learning point here.

The machine will always maintain a high value for collector quality examples, due to the amount of game specific parts that get trashed on most of the games.
The neon tube may be replaceable, but a lot of the other parts are unobtainium.
Hell, I remember people fighting over a set of plastic purple backbox scrolls.

Some CV owners would give their left testicle for some NOS parts, and rarely share that "things are not working quite right".

Note for thought: If a PinSide member's screen name is related or rhymes with video games, they probably are not particularly experienced with rating pinball machines.
5.867/10
4 years ago
A game that will never be in my "Top 100" listing when finished for a number of reasons.
First, is the artwork. The playfield artwork is really bad and blurry, with washed out colors.
Even Stern's efforts are better with Photoshop artwork.
The backglass is much better, but the game is a spin take on "National Lampoon's Vacation" and the Chicago Gaming knows this very well.
They would have been better off actually getting the license for the movie, and including the proper voice work.
Second is the construction and electronics, they are just poor.
Chicago Gaming went a different direction when they decided to run everything from underneath the playfield, which was a bad decision. Too many things to go wrong in one area.
Overuse of infrared sensors also caused a lot of issues, as mechanical cherry microswitches as just more reliable.
Gameplay is a cross between High Speed and Road Show (without ramps), but does not really benefit from either games mentality.
Modes and ruleset is shallow, and are easy to complete, just follow the basic shots.
Overall, the game was a failure, and the only pinball game the company reproduced until the "age of remakes".
Value is worth less than the general listed price at under $600.
7.812/10
4 years ago
This is a very polarizing game when it comes to collectors, whether they have a preference to WPC or not.
Overall, gameplay is actually quite good, and has decent flow.
The game is FUN on game action and modes.
Artwork is well above average.
Backglass is average.
Ruleset is above average.
Ramp shots are good.
Difficulty is well BELOW average.
Callouts are very annoying, especially "Amy" being screamed at the most inappropriate times and does not always make a lot of sense.
Music is movie centric.
The game does have a few "achilles heels", notably the volcano VUK, associated plastics, and mini playfield gorilla kicker, but nothing that is insurmountable in a home environment.

Up until around 2010, nobody really cared about this title, and there are reasons.
Current collectors seem to be flocking to the game, think because is is "rare" it is "valuable".
You might want to actually PLAY the game, before buying it, which can be a little difficult I realize based on production numbers.
This is a game you REALLY need to try first, instead of relying on "Top 10" lists based on new collectors.
Make a private assessment.

The game is overpriced like most later model games on average by $1500-2000 right now.
Does the game have good value?
Yes, at around $2800, not $4000-6000.
WCS94 is a much better game than this overall.

But, for new collectors that have to "own them all" like children owning He Man and "Master of the Universe" toys, the results are fairly predictable.
7.544/10
4 years ago
Think of this as a "mini" basketball shooter that is common in most arcades today.
Not a pinball machine, closer to a redemption game, and it included options for ticket dispensing.
Modern solid state technology take on an very old concept used in county fairs since the 1930s.
Solid challenge, multiple game modes, mostly timed with DMD animations.
Excellent, sounds and music to make it "feel like you are court side".
Superb game next to SlugFest! and Bromley's "Little Pro" for novelty value exclusively.
Maintenance of the game is not overly complex, mostly on the hoop motor.
It is getting harder to find the properly sized NOS balls used in this game, and if the dome or ball return zone is cracked and broken, you are completely SOL unless you get one remanufactured for cost.
Another notorious "red fading" cabinet game.
Ball "punch" button usually is damaged and cracked from morons.
Ball catapult needs to be watched for damage as it is plastic.
Uncommon in complete condition, generally should not cost more than $1200, which brokers and dealers feel is "underpriced" and try to rob you blind.
Most have been parted out at this point for the WPC board sets, or hiding in warehouses for a lucky winner.

Private game photos were uploaded, as what was in the directory was sparse.
8.216/10
4 years ago
"Yer Out!"

Exceptional, but simplified take on the early "Pitch and Bat" machines from the 1950-70s.
Who really cares it is not a traditional pinball, as games in this category actually still apply.
The advantages are direct, modern solid state technology and sounds, and easy maintenance.
This game goes very well with Bromley's "Little Pro" (mini golf), and WMS "Hot Shots Basketball" games.
Playfield does not have a real "running man" units, but are instead portrayed with lights.
The different pitches calibrated are very effective, especially the slow pitch and curve balls.
Wonderful game for parties.
Fun to hit a "grand slam" into the bleach plastic.
Artwork is solid for the 90s black line era.
Sounds and music set the mood, call outs are EXCELLENT.
This game actually had THREE production runs.
You can sometimes even still find them NIB, today.
If you decide to buy one, make sure it has an intact bleacher plastic, proper targets, topper, card dispenser, and the ramp mechanism is not broke, and the motor assembly is not fried.
Notorious red fading on the cabinet, and tore up control panel overlays from sweaty fingers and palms by drunks.
The game has a tendency to be parted out for the board sets that are compatible with all era games.

I have owned one, and would buy another if I found one in time to scoop up NIB.

NOTE: If the mini ball is getting stuck underneath the spring steel flap, you need to adjust the cam arm, and reposition it, so the ball is stuck properly in the center as it advances in the trough.
7.124/10
4 years ago
"Queen of the High Seas"?
Unfortunately, not.

Another "hit 'n miss" title from John Trudeau.
Fun, but clunky.
Good for a few rounds.
The problem with the game design lies in game leveling.
You have to keep things like the cannon ABSOLUTELY level, or the game is just unplayable, with the ball hopping air balls and causing flying ramp shots.
The same goes for dialing in all the ramps.
I REALLY disliked the ramp down the middle of the playfield, as it obstructs the player's view.
The sinking ships gets repetitive quickly (ie center cannon shot), as progress seems uneventful, leading to comments of one dimensional gameplay, which is entirely correct.

When I owned the machine, I felt like always I was battling the machine in a poor way, even though it was in good shape.
If you have not owned one, you probably do not know what I am talking about here.
You won't keep the machine forever, you will sell it, but enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Dots and animations were above average for the time period.
Ruleset is average.
Shots are tight and achievable, but just do not offer the best satisfaction.
Strong flippers are required for both the whirlpool and backside ramp shot.
Artwork package all around is good, but the reds notoriously fade.

Game needs to drop below the top #100 quickly, there are many more better games from the same rough period out there.

Even today, it is roughly a $1800-2000 game.
DO NOT spend an Ebay $5k pricetag on this title, geezus!
7.528/10
4 years ago
Another game that falls into the "not a pinball machine" category, but extremely fun.
Overlooked due to unknown status in the world.
Mini "putt putt" golf simulator before the age of "Golden Tee" and a remake of Southland's EM version "Little Pro" game from 1960s.
Not a"pure" redemption, but a full game.
A game that goes GREAT with other games like SlugFest! and Hot Shots Basketball.
Playfield quality is solid, along with sounds and lights.
Boardset is repairable and does not use weird archaic unavailable ICs.
Shot variety is mildly challenging, but not really that hard.
The animated golfer IS a direct copy of the original 1960s version.
Very, very low production, although a few of the conversion kits can still be found.
If located, BUY IT, you will not find another.
It is not going to be that expensive, as it will be under $1200 at most.
Treasure the game from a period between modern and penny arcades similar to trade show steam shovel games and Zoltar Fortune Tellers.

NOTE: I recently found TWO of these games for sale. One functional, one for parts. Evaluating...
7.937/10
4 years ago
"Mayday...Mayday...Mayday...S.O.S...S.O.S..."

A unique, odd, mystifying rare game from Bally.
Not just "another standard 2 flipper fan layout", if you want to own something different.
The gameplay theme is fun, strong and reminiscent of 1950-60s sci fi movies.
Excellent quality sound and music.
The transporter ramp shot is challenging to keep building jackpots, and unfortunately is normally broken on most games today, until the ramp is reproduced.
The "U.N. Orion" spaceship lock area is HUGE, and similar to the lock system used in Flight 2000.
Although it dominates the playfield, it is a critical link in ball control for multiball.
Like Swords of Fury, once you play the game, you will never will forget the memory, especially if the game is left on running in attract mode.

No one really knows why this game did not sell well during the period, as sales in general were not terrible with some of the combined titles of the BLY/WMS conjunction period such as BK2K, BoP, EATPM.
Yes, some other near released had the same fate, such as Altlantis and Mousin' Around, but they were all very good games.

In 10 years, good luck trying to find one in great condition (or at all), as they are almost all played out.
Another machine that is going to spike in the market in around 2 years or so, from the date of this review.
Watch and learn.

I have owned several in my collecting history.
The first was a standard production model back in the early 2000s, excellent condition, but typical cabinet fading.
The second is a "floor model" HUO x prototype number #11 purchased at the factory, which is in my collection.
Basically brand new with an unfaded cabinet, but there are some differences between the production model and mine, including missing artwork on the upper playfield, the red light boards, different flasher locations, System 11 PCB differences, and extra holes in various parts of the playfield when they were moving posts around.
Photos were uploaded to gallery for PinSide.
Enjoy.
8.124/10
4 years ago
"Check fire, check fire, check fire" Stern enthusiast fanboys.
Over 50% of all ratings have NO COMMENTS, but rate the game 9+?
WTF?
Have these people even PLAYED this version of the game?
Most do not own the game either.
The number of released units of this game is SMALL, and not readily available for review.
I have played it via special invitation.

This is the same game as the original with marginally increased quality coding and DMD animations.
Artwork is a step down in my opinion with better plastics.
Toys are partially improved and partially worse.
The rest of the game is the same, and the score should reflect these equivalencies.

Original review:
One of modern Stern's "savior titles" from the pinball drought of the mid 2000s.
If it was not for this game, LOTR, and TSPP, Stern might not still be making machines.
Very well playing game with smooth ball flow.
Overall modes, ruleset, and game play are excellent.
The game has enough depth for experienced players to come back and continuing playing, and easy enough for new players to just bat the ball around and enjoy.
This game actually set the standard in terms of Stern's pinball design "layout" until this day, meaning two flippers, two ramps fan layout, bash toy, 3 bank target, magnet use, etc.
Music and speech is average.
DMD animations average.
Artwork is average, plastics are poor images, especially the slingshots.
A worthwhile addition to any pinball collection, especially if you can find a SM Black with its real backglass and side armor.
7.679/10
4 years ago
Jedi Pinhead Obi Wan Kenobi:
"This is not the Joust, you are looking for..."

Actually, this design is quite a well playing EM in terms of design.
Artwork is typical of the EM period.
Backglass is solid, just keep in mind two versions were produced, one in plexi and one in glass.
Layout is unique with its bagatelle mini game and the game does use "zipper flippers".
Saucer kick out really helps make the game enjoyable.
The challenge of the zipper flippers opening at the end of the bagatelle field makes shots much more challenging to keep the ball in play.
Very low production makes this game pretty much unknown now and most do not care for EM classics, and I seriously doubt there are more than a 350+ left in the world.
If you are an EM collector or like "zipper flippers" with mushroom bumpers, it is a keeper.
I uploaded some photos of a local machine.

If an owner is interested in other "zipper flipper" game classics here are others they should consider:
Fireball (Bally, 1972) (The best of the lot here)
Nip-It (Bally, 1973) (Second place with the "Balligator" feature as well)
Four Million B.C. (Bally, 1971) (Third place and a real keeper IMHO due to ball locks)
Hayburners II (Williams, 1968)
Cosmos (Bally, 1969)
Student Price (Williams, 1968)

and of course Medusa (Bally, 1981) the last "true" production game to use this feature.
Valkyrie (Jeutel, 1982) is just too low in production (roughly 100 machines) to justify, but is notable for its artwork related to the 1981 "Heavy Metal" movie.

NOTE:
Whether or not it is a game I have owned (including multiple times in some cases), still do own, potentially own, or have not yet owned regardless of title, every game I rate I have played extensively, and give a fair review. I do not base game ratings on routed games on location that are "beat to hell", as this tells a player/potential owner absolutely nothing regarding the quality of a title. Nor is every game is a "perfect 10", and should be based on the merits of its design, not technology or age. I don't believe in fanboy status, although I am very critical in deciphering attributes of gameplay and artwork.
If a game is a 9+ on my scale, there is a reason why it is there especially if a game is over 20 years old.
Unfortunately, Joust does not make the cut in this case, but is a good game for the era.

Little Known Fact:
The game was recently featured in the anti-super hero movie, Deadpool (2016). Quite rare for a 47 year old pinball machine. This was actually my personal game that was rented for filming.
8.476/10
4 years ago
A VERY LONG review that I did all the way back in 2004 during the first production run when I purchased the game NIB.
The review still holds complete accuracy today.
From 2003-2010 there were NINE production runs (which includes the LE), and constitutes the highest title produced of all machines Stern has built since their return to pinball in 1999 at the current moment of the time of this review.

LORD OF THE RINGS
(Stern Pinball Incorporated, 2003)

Art: Backglass - 9

The colors and artwork are really brought out, even with a single fluorescent bulb. It may not be an old style artwork backglass, but it's not cheesy and goes with cabinet and playfield artwork very well. There is a slight "halo" effect, but it does not reflect onto the playfield glass. The gold trim around the backbox adds a extra bit of class to the game, and looks quite professional.

Art: Playfield - 8

Silk-screened artwork, not terrible in any respect, ala Theatre of Magic cabinet style. A couple of small sore spots are the slingshots, which look awful and cheap, and VUK on the left side (ala Catapult from Medieval Madness). Toys are well balanced, do not expect them to be broken in 20 games. I can tell some where moved, to prevent this occurring from the proto version of the game. I still believe John Youssi or Doug Watson should have been assigned to do the artwork. I think I can add to the playfield to make it stand out more than it should, with a couple of well placed modification additions.

Sound - 8.5

Much improved, and no where are tinny as previous games. It's amazing what 16 bit sound can do for a game (as Stern should have done in the past). Well integrated in gameplay. Standout quotes from films are evident. Music is repetitive, but not annoying. Stern has still not mastered the art of balancing music with voice, but this is also limited basic on the software and hardware used. We will see for the next game they produce. Put in some high quality speakers, and a new subwoofer, and this game will rock.

Playfield Design - 8.5

Excellent flow overall, it in some ways reminds me of White Water, but is much closer to Medieval Madness than I expected. game shot flow is better than Indiana Jones in all respects. Shots flow from on to the next. I could get multiple loops, without many problems. A few shots are tight, but not impossible. The "One Ring" shot, is not anywhere as difficult as some people are saying, you just have to have good aim, and it is rewarding. I really like the light show provided, but I wish they would have used more blue, as the red and green are very repetitive. Overall, playfield design is dark, as the theme suggest, which is expected. The game seems very forgiving to a new player. I saw no imperfections on the playfield, but Stern does not use the clearcoat the Williams and Bally did, as it does not have the "shine" I am used to, which is a minor issue and is tiny setback considering the overall achievements, so I can overlook this.

If I had to say what some of the game concepts used and modeled after in this pinball machine,
they would be (in no particular order):

Medieval Madness (Gollum Saucer and "Hobbiton")
Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure (Game Modes)
White Water (Ramp Shot flow and orbit loops)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Overall ruleset depth, and movie theme type quotes)
Monster Bash (Left Ramp Turnabout)
Austin Powers ("One Ring" Ramp and Magnet)
Fishtales (Backside Saucer shot into Barad-Dur Tower)
The Getaway (Sword Ball Lock)
South Park (Barad-Dur Tower)
Attack from Mars (MULTI-BALL and Success Jackpot Shots)
Theatre of Magic (Balrog Target)
and couple of other machines......

WOW! That's quite a list!

Rules - 9

I have to give thumbs up in this area, there is more than enough to keep an experienced player happy for some time. Multiball stacking is addictive, and players who were watching were amazed. This is not a "keep six-month games and sell" in this department.

Longevity - 9

Based on a developed theme, this pin will see play for a long time. I do see some possible problems on location, but as a home use pinball machine, it will be rock solid. The Tolkien theme is everlasting, and the pinball machine has immortalized Lord of the RIngs.

Overall Assessment - 8.5

A solid pin release from Stern, the best in many departments so far! It may not have the depth of Twilight Zone or The Shadow, but it is a winner. The game is definitely no Medieval Madness, or even Indiana Jones or Star Trek: The Next Generation for that matter, but it is still damn good. If they would have done something instead of using silk-screened photo artwork on the playfield and already implemented a better quality sound system, I could have then rated it higher to an overall exemplary rating of 9 overall.

Overall a great effort!!
Congratulations Stern!
The games does have a couple of Achilles heels though that should be of IMMEDIATE concern to operators and home owners:

Sword Ball Lock Post

After many games this plastic post (Plastic??? This was stupid) will probably break. They need to make one out of stainless steel (ala Getaway). I have already seen ball locks fail, and will need to install a rubber post to absorb impact from fast moving balls. Additionally, the ball lock switches, if improperly adjusted or fail, will cause ball hang-ups. If this happens, the game will grind to a screeching halt, as the current software, does not account for proper ball searching. If the first of the three lock switches fail, there is the potential for all four balls to be "locked" on the sword, and no game can be played! Owner's please be aware, the game MUST BE properly leveled (do not trust the leveling bubble, they are sometimes inaccurate and only measure the incline level of the game, NOT the side to side leveling), to minimize balls falling off the sword (until they install a new wire guide on the sword) or the problem will be multiplied. Many sword problems can be fixed by this solution alone!!!!!!!!

The "One Ring" Shot and Magnet

This magnet shot gets hot, and starts "pulsing" to get the ball moving properly. Its bound to fail under the strain of a good player, and the fuse will BLOW, causing the magnet to not work at all. Some of my games lasted close to 40 minutes, when I got the hang of it, so these problems were evident (the magnet "pulsing"). This problem reminds me of The Addams Family magnets, or the No Fear: Dangerous Sports jump ramp. Another issue is the critical switches (optos) located behind the magnet. If they stop working, no game modes will be able to be completed.

Blue Rebound Rubber Pad on the Left Orbit

This part has a tendency to get loose with repeated hits, and causes the metal rail below it to grind and gouge the playfield. Additionally its positioning causes defected shots more easily and reduces gameshot flow to the Barad-Dur Tower, and makes the Fellowship of the Ring MULTI-BALL harder to obtain and start. Overall easily adjusted, by redrilling the pad and rail, and readjusting the mount.

Balrog Target (#89 Lamp)

This lamp which gives the incandescent "lava" red lighting of the Balrog, is easily burned out by the vibration of repeated hits. A simple solution is to line the area around the bulb socket with foam weatherstripping to reduce vibration to the bulb.
Stern currently has plans to re-engineer the lamp with an LED.

Balrog Target (Target Switch Sensitivity)

I am getting numerous reports (by other owners, distributors, and operators) of non-registered Balrog hits, when this target is struck. This could be caused by a multiple of different reasons. Based on the design the activation switch is considered in the pinball world as a "normally closed" switch, which when the Balrog Target is "struck", the target leans forward allowing the switch to open and register. This can be "good and bad" depending on usage in pinball design. It does prevent the switch from being shorted caused by multiple "bashings" of the target. However, it can cause false readings and hits not to register. There is also a strong possibility that the switches being used could be defective, poorly mounted, or misaligned at the Stern factory. Due to the difficulty of accessibility to this switch, this definitely a design problem which needs to be addressed. The primary solution is to "build-up" the target surface in front of the switch to allowed increased sensitivity. This is a "mechanical" switch, not an opto (ala Roadshow's Bulldozer), so my recommended solution is to put a piece of foam-weatherstripping tape on the target surface to absorb the hit (with a tighter fit) and increase sensitivity (a non-destructive modification) or replace the switch with a Bally/Williams/Capcom (wide "beefier" version). Its unfortunate, that Stern did not use a opto in place of this particular mechanical switch, as they could have used this is conjunction with an Eddy sensor to adjust the sensitivity of the switch from the underside of the playfield (ala Theatre of Magic).

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I have done similar modifications to my Theatre of Magic, and it eliminated all problems. This problem is NOT catastrophic by any means, but could be very disappointing to a person playing the game on location.

This problem reminds me of scenarios I have seen in games such as Roadshow (Bulldozer), Theatre of Magic (Trunk), Champion Pub (The Boxer), and the Cirqus Voltaire (The Ringmaster).
This is not a new problem by any means to pinball machines. Other problems of design have been much worse, such as the Twilight Zone clock, ball hang-ups on the high-wire on Cirqus Voltaire, or Medieval Madness Troll Carriages. An owner, sometimes has to be creative in the meantime, before the problem is finally solved.
5.429/10
4 years ago
A Data East retheme of Tommy, built exclusively as a movie prop.
Incomplete ruleset, poor quality artwork that was hand painted and never sealed.
The same thing for the plastics.
Cabinet artwork was tolerable for being unique.
Backglass was absolutely hideous, and not a real translite or glass, thereby being completely washed out by the bulbs. Another hand painted piece of garbage.
This is not a "real" pinball machine, in the true sense, as it was never meant to be played by anyone.
I was offered several times to buy the machine, and turned it down repeatedly.
More of a curiosity than anything else in pinball history, and the private owner still has it at his business for "show" predominantly for sales marketing interest.
Most collectors will never see the the machine, but this is not a big loss in this case.
7.786/10
4 years ago
Essentially, the game that "set the stage for the coming of Fireball".
At this point this game is becoming less known due to its age and the generations of pinball players, but all old collectors know the title very well.
This game is essentially Fireball (EM, 1972) as it uses nearly the same features (raised skill shot ramp, zipper flippers, multiball, rollover lane, etc. (minus the spinning wheel)), but actually does have better game play overall for locking balls in the top lane.
Fireball beats it out in quality of artwork, which is just not comparative.
Constant ball feeder as you rotate the ball locks to continue scoring, which gets rather repetitive.
Game play is solid, and rule set is logical.
No significant difference in terms of sounds, with its simple bells.
A fun title all around, especially for more than one player, and easily one of the better EM games of the 1970s era.
6.710/10
4 years ago
A relatively unknown, typical Playmatic quality game from the 1980s, but does not particularly stand out in most areas in terms of pinball history.
It does have a "sparkle" backbox with the motorized disk in the backbox, its one unique feature.
Artwork on the cabinet is very strong in terms of quality, which reminds me of any earlier day comparative to Pinball Magic.
Scoring ruleset is basic.
Playfield shot map is average, but does have a couple of tight orbit shots on the top of the playfield.
Sounds and music background "blooping" is average for the era.
Artwork is a little strange and colorful with the "Amazon" black woman in the middle of the playfield and backglass playing a guitar, but it was just trying to attract audiences.
I have no idea how many of these were made, but the Mr. Pinball 2016 Price Guide estimates <481.
Predominantly, a Playmatic collector game.
6.860/10
4 years ago
The game theme is great, the game play and flow is below average.
Definitely a "stop and go" pinball machine.
Pistol Poker just seems unfinished with its ruleset and features.
It definitely needed a a gun handle auto plunger for the "six shooter" card backglass feature, which would have improved the game.
Artwork on backglass is good, playfield is average, cabinet is below average.
DMD animations are average.
Sound quality as with all AGC games is outstanding.
There was a reason many of these machines were left "standing on the dock" with AGC closed.
At the time, nobody wanted them.
Today, times has changed, and it is starting to become a "cult classic" VERY SLOWLY.
You should be able to find this game very cheap in outstanding condition, because they normally get passed around from collector to collector and remained in homes or sitting in warehouse unused.
It does not seem to last long with individual pinball interests.
It also just not seem to fit into a lot of people's collections, although it has its merits.
Most suitable for an AGC collector, and I passed mine on, if that says anything about my interest in AGC, which is fairly strong.
7.720/10
4 years ago
"Hi Kids, I'm Punchy the Clown!"
"Get Ready!"

An AGC rare "kids redemption game" with adult pinball novelty (non-X rated kind).

Game is a little smaller overall in size than SafeCracker with a wider backbox, but not nearly as tall.
40 inches in length overall, 2/3 of the size of a normal playfield, but same width.
Putting the legs at the lowest level for kids makes that game playable by even a Snow White dwarf.
Literally, two feet off the ground.

If you turn off the ticket dispenser the game is a whole lot more fun, and will play properly as a "pinball machine".

Very good variety of shot selection with the drop targets and a bit of challenge (throw pies, dunk tank, ring the bell, cannon, Punchy).
Ruleset is very simple to follow, "have fun hitting stuff with a pinball".
Achieving good scores does require skill and fast reactions.
The basic importance is the score multiplier with the "P-I-E" rollovers (which hold over from ball to ball), and then simply keeping the ball in play, which is harder than most people realize if you play "bat the ball".
People that have actually played the game will understand what I am saying here.

The one hard challenge shot set is to get to hit Punchy's targets in order to score the jackpot, as the drop targets are very hard to hit individual unless you know how to backhand.

Outstanding artwork across the game (backglass, playfield, cabinet), and very well integrated plastics (especially Punchy and his mouth of teeth).
Alpha numeric display for scoring, no animations unfortunately.
Extremely high quality STEREO music and sound.
Manufacturer quality is still rough, as the cabinet is prone to cracking, and the playfield longevity has to be somewhat "babied" both in mechanics and electronics, but is not that unreliable overall.
You can make adjustments to most mechanisms to "dial them in" and common factory issues.

Punchy the Clown edges out AGB and MC in terms of artwork, but not in game play.
Predominantly a good game for AGC collectors, and not really a suitable candidate for the average collector because the cost of obtaining a superb example is not really worth it even for "family fun".
You are simply not going to find one that is unblemished now, as many of the small production were routed.
However, one good thing about this game, is just like SafeCracker, it can fit in places that normal pinball machines will not squeeze into overall.
8.436/10
4 years ago
"This just in...the Earth is being invaded...from flying saucers from MARS!"

As much as I enjoy pinball "fan layout" designs from BLY/WMS this does not have the same touch as Medieval Madness, however it is an excellent overall game package.
Artwork is superb, as I enjoy the black line lettering and edging.
Translite image is reminiscent of early periods from 1950s.
Music and sound is top notch.
Humor is present everywhere.
Ruleset has decent depth and a variety of secrets and easter eggs.
DMD animations are rock tight.
Basically, however the game is "bash the saucer" to advance the cities, which does not lead to a lot of creativity.
That is why MM edges it out in terms of physical mechanics with "bash the castle" even though it's design was finalized just a couple years later.
I passed on buying one NIB when it was released, but really do not look back in hindsight and feel like I made a mistake.
It was not an "instant classic", because the game concept had been DONE BEFORE on other titles, just not as an entire package.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: MM design was already under development at the time of AFM release and based on success of AFM is part of the reason the playfield design was replicated. Same design team, same software engineers, same sound/music designer. This was not rocket science to see what occurred.

I give particular note to "Strobe Multiball" which is exceptionally unique and fun, and the flailing martians.
It is hard to capture these effects properly, unless you are physically playing the machine.
If you own a AFM, I recommend getting the PinBits Blackout mod board to properly turn out the GI and key game play times, and the LED saucer boards to enhance its effects.

Overall game design is very strong.
It's best environment is the operator route world over home use.
If you really enjoy later model BLY/WMS games this is a "keeper" just do not overpay new collectors.
Many machines are completely beat to hell now, based on popularity on routes.

What most collectors fail to realize is copycat pinball collections really lead to boredom and getting out of the hobby quickly due to lack of knowledge to sustain interest.
Yes, you can have bragging rights you own an "AFM", but who really cares?
Most long term, seasoned collectors do not care as that mentality goes the "Way of the Dodo" somewhere after the first 5 years or so, and certainly by around 10 years. We are talking about people who own more than a couple pinball machines in their homes.
I started dealing with these types of people all the way back in the late 1990s, when I tried to help them understand pinball as a new collector. Most are long gone, and moved onto something else.

Brokers, dealers, and "flippers" LOVE this game, as they know they will always be able to sell them for higher than reasonable amounts of money just like TAF, MM, TOTAN, MB, and ToM.

I have seen this as I approach 30 years of collecting.
Just take a look at the game review ratings on this forum, they all show the same pattern.
Basically, the same type of new people approach the hobby with the "got to have" titles such as MM, MB, AFM, CV, and even CC and most of the last of the runs of BLY/WMS machines, and then sell out a few years later.
Pinball has a lot more to offer than just a bunch of MM/AFM clones.
I can give countless examples even on PinSide, but that really has no point.
Get out of the "cookie cutter" collection concept and discover what pinball has to offer.
EMs, old woodrails, foreign manufacturers, etc.
There are an incredible variety of machines in the pinball world not just Bally/Williams/Gottlieb/Stern.
Especially late model Stern.
And before it can be thrown out, "but you have all the same types of Top 10 games in your collection" comment, recognize most of my games I owned BEFORE there was a "Top 10" list as I already knew what I was striving for in terms of my lineup. As a result, I still own many of the same games 25 years later.
People asked me my opinion and still do, and it started off a complete revolution in the early 2000s with "off to the races" during the reimport era (2000-2005).

Look to the past for "innovation" as much of what has been accomplished has been done before, and many times better.
7.826/10
4 years ago
"Lionman! Defeat the Balrog!"
(As new young pinheads "shoot their loads" in their pants)

A game most widely known for its soundtrack.
One of the great examples of music in pinball history.
No one forgets this music after listening to the game for the first time.
Brian Schmidt's best work in this industry area.

Don't believe me?
Go here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMIp5nG-C3o

Gameplay is solid, but a bit repetitive.
Ruleset is mediocre, but it really does not matter in this case, the game was not designed to play for "hours".
Colorful artwork, and fun game.
Gameplay is similar to F-14 Tomcat including the right ramp shot.
Mini playfield targets and assembly get bashed pretty hard due to ball launch shot into the game.
Ramp takes serious abuse as well.
Multiball windup is pretty adrenaline rushing.

Collector's quality examples are on the rise quickly for this machine.
Mostly as stated previously that people in their 20s are getting serious hard ons for the machine.
NOS parts are getting scooped up for restorations.
Reproduction parts have now been made.

Guess what?
This game has been popular for over 30 years.
All "hardcore" System 11 collectors have one, restored with new playfields.
Not everybody is going to have one, as there just as not that many left in good shape to maintain.
I owned several, but passed my last restored classic example onto a friend, who still has the game today, 15+ years later.

If you are Williams Systems 11 fan, this is a great pairing with games like BK2K, F-14 Tomcat, Whirlwind, and Earthshaker.

FINAL NOTE: "LIONMAN!" is not a pinball review, and has the same value as the term, "New Out of Box".
7.804/10
4 years ago
A low production, rare AGC game, around 220 produced (give or take a couple of machines).
Think of it as a "chiller" haunted house "scavenger hunt" type theme.
Like most AGC machines, it's overall production suffered at adversarial hands of WMS.

Want to know how it was built?
Here you go:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clsGVAB5znU

It is a VERY FAST playing game, similar in some ways to JM or BSD, but has a wide open playfield.
Ramp shots are quick and come right back in your face.
Playfield, backglass, and cabinet artwork is very well integrated.
The base sound quality on this game, like most AGC machines, is completely superior to even most modern games.
Music quality is well above average.
DMD animations are better than other AGC games, but not remarkable.
Ruleset is understandable, but requires a bit of game play to really get into the depth of the game.
That is why it is better for home use than it ever possibly could have done in the operator environment.
If AGC had built this game today, it would have been successful based on changes of collectors.

Game technical design and maintenance requirements is below modern pinball standards, but perfectly fine in a home use situation. Protect those ramps and plastics you are not going to find replacements!!!
Flipper assemblies have hard to find parts are are prone to wearing out and EoS switches get pitted with sparking, but can be upgraded with BLY/WMS parts if you are in a pinch.
The left upper flipper shot is commonly reported as "impossible" based on design, but it just really need to be dialed in an adjusted with flipper angle and make sure the coil is at full power.

A unique, original theme game is a good change of pace to all modern machines.
Recognize if you have a chance to play one, this might be the only time you will be able to do so, so make the most of it.
The majority of machines are now starting to fall into AGC collectors hands (or have already exchanged hands back and forth several times) as the game becomes more popular.
That is is really the only reason it is commanding a price tag of over $4k.
Don't build this game up to something it is not, it has good depth, but it is far from a "keeper" unless you own a full stable of other games in your collection.
More than that, and you are really getting burned, unless the offer is some hidden NIB game in a time travel warehouse (which could still exist).
Overall, I would rate this as the third best AGC machine being in order of AGB, PtC, MC, AGSB, and PP, among the considered 13 machines that were either built, prototyped, or cancelled.

If you have AGC questions, feel free to PM me.
There are only a handful of AGC collectors, enthusiasts, and experts in the pinball collector world.
7.823/10
4 years ago
Another VERY RARE prototype machine.
This is a vertical physical pinball machine with four flippers.
Game play is similar to a "Time Machine" falling ball clock with four levels of ramp gravity fall.

Production run was 12 prototypes, but it is unknown how many survive to this day.
I seriously doubt Williams made the 100 samples that were stated in IDPB as the game on test locations did poorly.
Predominantly because the original prototype had four flipper buttons and balls had to keep track of the all the ball simultaneously when playing.
Players got frustrated too easily at the time.
The game prototypes were modified to use two buttons to simplify the game function.

The objective was simple.
Get as many of the 3/4" steel balls to the top of the mountain with the alpine guides using the various located tiered flippers as much as possible to score points.
The game continuously feeds balls from the lower paddle wheel into the game until the timer expires.
Artwork was very comic book "Rube Goldberg" style.
Sounds were very basic.
Another pinball oddity in terms of quality on the same level as the classic "Ice Cold Beer" (but this is an arcade game).
I would give it a "10" in terms of fun factor, but a "6" in terms of lastability.
Generally a game for a serious collector, not the average or new collector.
Most likely many have never even heard of this game.

Your best chance to play this machine is at a major Pinball Expo, as Mike Pacak tends to periodically bring his machine for others to enjoy.
The other two examples remain in private collections, although one has changed hands a couple of times.
I uploaded ACTUAL photos of the machine to PinSide, because the photo shown is the original $#@!ing control panel. I also fixed a number of the statistics.
Value is between $8-10k, if ever one came up for sale.
Get on the silver ball, PinSide.
8.740/10
4 years ago
One of Stern's greatest game designs to date.
One of the three games that saved Stern to allow them to continue to make pinball machines.
Artwork and toys are spot on to the series.
I always like the nuclear power plant towers on the pop bumpers, truly iconic.
Voice work and music are also near perfection in integration.
Animations are superb.
DEEP ruleset with multiple wizard modes, and very challenging gameplay.
Shot selection is very engaging, worthwhile, and satisfying whether locking balls on the couch, hitting Bart on his skateboard, or Homer talking.
This is a game in which games can last for a long time with the right player.
Overall, I certainly give credence to the designers and software engineers.
Stern hit a absolute home run with this machine.

If you dislike this machine, then you might understand this Simpson's quote:
"Me fail English? That's "unpossible.""

¡Ay, caramba!
8.488/10
4 years ago
One of modern Stern's "savior titles" from the pinball drought of the mid 2000s.
If it was not for this game, LOTR, and TSPP, Stern might not still be making machines.
Very well playing game with smooth ball flow.
Overall modes, ruleset, and game play are excellent.
The game has enough depth for experienced players to come back and continuing playing, and easy enough for new players to just bat the ball around and enjoy.
This game actually set the standard in terms of Stern's pinball design "layout" until this day, meaning two flippers, two ramps fan layout, bash toy, 3 bank target, magnet use, etc.
Music and speech is average.
DMD animations average.
Artwork is average, plastics are poor images, especially the slingshots.
A worthwhile addition to any pinball collection, especially if you can find a SM Black with its real backglass and side armor.
8.197/10
4 years ago
"Release POWER Orbs"!
Not to be confused with the Inder, 1979 game or Cyclopes from Gameplan, 1985 (also a really good game).

Absolute rock solid Early Bally game.
Notable for its black and white artwork on the playfield, backglass and cabinet.

Challenging game for multiball, which many players did not even know it had, as the balls are "hidden" underneath the spring steel flap.
Getting the O-R-B-S targets in order to add a ball is a tough challenge.
Completing the "Queen's Chamber" is even more difficult.

What really set it apart was the "Say it Again" Reverb module.
When it works correctly, it really adds to the depth of the sound.
If it not rebuilt and PROPERLY adjusted, it sounds like a garbled mess (hence comments of "I cannot understand what the game is saying")

Significant price increases in this title in the past 15 years.
Day 1 Mylar saved a lot of original playfields from destruction.

A must play if you are an Early Bally enthusiast.
A must have if you are an Early Bally collector.
Some new collectors will not "get" the game, which is highly unfortunate until later when you do and it costs $8k absurdity. At the current rate, this will be around 5 years or so.
8.436/10
4 years ago
Overall an outstanding effort by Stern and Steve Ritchie.
No major real flaws on the game.

Excellent shot flow, although the game layout is a recycled game design from WMS STTNG.
"Roll the clock back", new collectors.
If you have ever done the "Picard Maneuver" repeatedly, you will know what I mean here.
It is not new, just a little different.
Enterprise instead of a Borg ship, new sounds, and a excellent light show.
The game is faster, because it is NOT a widebody.

Theme was well integrated.

Ruleset is similar but has more depth than STTNG with the updates.
Artwork is solid for the backglass and cabinet, not so much for the playfield, just simplified, but at least it was not more photoshopped clip art garbage.
LE phasers and light up backbox are good effects.
The game has a REAL BACKGLASS (one of the last ones).

"Best flow ever"?
Stop spanking Stern fanboys.
Not by a long shot.
That honor is retained by Whitewater.
4.123/10
4 years ago
Oh, Waterworld, you clunky "funny guy".
People say it gets a "bad rap" but it is totally deserving.
The game is NOT RARE and it is always available to buy for a reason!
It might become rare in another 10 years after they all get parted out.

Artwork is atrocious.
Playfield layout is below average, but certainly playable.
"Toys" are average.
Ramp action is decent along with "wave" atoll.
Sound is WAY below average for the period.
Music is below average, but not entirely grating.
Ruleset is decent, not threadbare.

However, if there was only one pinball machine left on Earth, I would rather make my own with rubber bands and blocks of wood.
This IS kindling.
Donor game.

There are SO MANY better Gottlieb games from the period.
This was 1995, folks, not 1985, most people forget.
In fact there are many EMs that are much better as well, even simple games like "Nip-It".
My lowest rating of all games to date, and even lower than Striker Xtreme.
You just need to trust me or you can waste money, and then sell the game for a loss.
Your choice.
6.126/10
4 years ago
Great backglass, below average pinball fundamental game.
The playfield inserts looks like there is a lot going on, but this is deceptive.
"One shot" ruleset (Right lane target).
2 inch flipper has minimized use.
Below average sounds and music for the period.
The layout is like a cross between EBD, Xenon, and several others but nothing innovative.
There are better games to "fuel tank up" your collection.
Unfortunate, as the backglass is quite beautiful.
5.859/10
4 years ago
We all know this game was designed with children in mind, even if you are in a complete state of denial with your TMNT bedspread comforter snuggled around you and smoking your "Cow-a-bunga" reefer.
Please, let it all go, or your will be buying a TMNT "bunny" pajamas next and move back to live in your parent's basement.

Don't believe me?
Think I am full of $!@#?
Here you go:

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/guy-transforms-apartment-into-an-arcade-fiancee-promptly-dumps-him/1100-6420186/

Some people might even recognize him by his avatar name.
Surprise!

Artwork is really the only redeeming feature on this game.
Ruleset is non-existent.
Game is below average, but has some decent ramp action.
Sound and music is average, but has that typical DE "recycle" of audio events.
It has developed a cult following in the last 10+ years due to its tie in with both movies, arcade games, and TV show.
The other reason for its mediocre rise in popularity is simple, it's CHEAP to buy like WaterWorld.
Oh, WaterWorld...a game I need to review...

New owners buy this title all the time, and realize too late.
"What was I thinking"?!
(See review below for understanding)

All this adds up to a very poor game.

If this game was a person in the Star Trek Universe, Dr. McCoy would be saying, "He's dead, Jim".
This game is an excellent choice to salvage parts for other DE games, and I don't use that term often.
"Underrated" game my a$$.
8.400/10
4 years ago
"Help, surface, surface – Fathom!"
Who can forget this classic Early Bally?

Greg Freres really outdid himself on this one with all aspects of artwork on the playfield and backglass.
It not a surprise the playfield and backglass have been reproduced, as the PFs were beat to $#@! on most games.
Gameplay is challenging and extremely satisfying with the inline drop targets.
Interconnected left bank target memory AKA Eight Ball deluxe which score inlines as well.
Good voice speech for the age.
Simple but memorable, "d-lup" water background tune.
Very collectible for a reason.
First price spikes were all the way back in the 2000, long before PinSide.

A must have if you like Early Bally machines, even if you have to build your own.
Collector quality examples are not going to be cheap now.
7.735/10
4 years ago
"Challenge Medusa..."

Another collectible Early Bally on par with EBD, Centaur, Fathom, and Xenon.
One of the few games that included upper level "zipper flippers" in the early SS era.
Outstanding artwork on the playfield and backglass, resulting in both being reproduced for collectors.
Solid game play, but less invigorating than Vector or Fathom in terms of difficulty.
Harder to find overall based on production, but worth the effort.
8.052/10
4 years ago
The "Gottlieb Widebody Paragon Equivalency of the Era".
"A game that plays as well as it looks".
- TBK

No major design flaws, rock solid game.
Timeless System 1 classic game.
Outperforms many modern SS games in terms of required pinball skill and general features.
If you want to kill zombies, this is not your game.

Great variety of game shots to master, including multiple rollovers and drop targets.
Great mini playfield flipper design.
Exceptional flow in order to work the machine and scoring.
Bonus scoring exceptional.
You need to learn this game's "tricks", to play it very well.

Solid sound and tune selections for the period.
Good "twinkling" memorable tunes in line with the theme.
Outstanding playfield artwork.
Historical backglass image, instantly recognizable.
Average cabinet.

100% perfect side by side partner for Gottlieb Star System 80 Circus which is a lot harder to find in good shape.
Once properly restored, it runs forever, but a lot of them need an overhaul with the PCBs with battery damage, blown transistors, rebuilding power supplies, etc.

I have a used superb playfield just waiting to be touched up and clear coated.
5.868/10
4 years ago
There is just no real way to score this game in a conventional pinball sense.
It was a marketing novelty experiment by Stern.
It failed.
Next to last game made before Stern initially closed.
Nothing really really disastrous in terms of artwork (if you can call what was on the playfield?), but you don't play art anyway.
Backglass is a redeeming feature with its 3D planets and plexiglass bubble.
This is of course contrary to all those opinions of pinball collectors who spend $600+ powder coating their games, and then say "Oh, shiny"!

I personally dislike the game because it is more random than even Fireball with its spinning disk.
That game at least takes skill, this one does not.
Its like wasting money watching a pinball fling around doing nothing.
In a home environment, what exactly are you going to master or play here?
You cannot aim for any shots due to the "moon crater" undulations on the playfield and and catapult speed "pop bumper" type sling wheels.

Interesting collectible from the standpoint of pinball history, but I would not want to try and find game specific parts for this title.
Unique designs don't make a game an "instant classic" folks...WTF x 10e6?
I never have ever seen that happen in any type of collecting.

Belongs in museums, or VERY LARGE collections.
If this is the only game you own, I feel REALLY bad.
Let me find you something better like a really good EM or inexpensive SS and expound your pinball experience.

If you think the game is the "coolest thing ever" you have not actually owned one.
5.875/10
4 years ago
I have disliked this game ever since it was first built in 1986.
I have repeated played it over 30 years, giving it a chance, and still walk away with the game still running.
I give the free games to kids.

It basically was an earlier attempt at Bride of Pinbot (BoP) under the same concept with minimal success.
BoP got it right, this game did not.
Hell, Strange Science has this game beat hands down.
If it was an arm wresting contest, the game would not even in the same room, let alone the table.

Gameplay was average, but did have shot flow and decent speed.
Strategy is minimal, just keep blasting the bank of three drop targets to add body parts, or the targets completely break.
Ramps got DESTROYED on this game due to weak design and no protection.
People do seem to remember the "purple ramps" (being broken, hence REPRODUCED).
Once you master the six shots, not much left to do on the machine.

Music is unremarkable, but non grating.
How is this amazing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=008nSfy_GMQ
It is like a NES rendition of Castlevania.

Compare this to games like BK2K or Swords of Fury soundtracks of the same era.

BK2K - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCKDvjVzpNQ
SoF - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMIp5nG-C3o

What the goddamn $#!# are people smoking?

Sounds were unremarkable.
Ruleset was very basic with no depth (I really do not know WTF people are talking about in terms here).
Artwork was below average because the rest of lighting does not fit.
Cabinet was unremarkable.
Translite was outright scary hideous, no wonder they are still readily available NOS for sale.
Light show on the back panel was pretty good.
Yes, it is "cheap fun" but so is a lady for "5 dollar to make you holler".

Multiball was anti-climatic and sometimes you really did not know when it was going to start.
Vari target was a nice touch, rarely used at that time and there after.

Redeeming feature was the "regenerator" was was not really that remarkable either for a gimmick, as it was just a panel, plastic chrome painted doll, and light show, and is not interactive in any way.

Contrary to to popular belief, the doll does lose its charm after the first time, that is the reason people do not play it a second time on locations, and it collects more dust than other games in collections.
The reason some collectors like it is they can installed "super bright LEDs" in the playfield window and let themselves be "blinded with science".
Personally, I have to use a modified welding mask in these cases.

Most likely the same people listen to this video while they play to be lulled into state of pinball trance and avoid disappointment:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x11lvw_thomas-dolby-she-blinded-me-with-sc_music

Maybe Gottlieb should have drilled a hole in the coin door for "personal use"?
Protection dispenser for extra coins and profit?
Vacuum device installed?

Recommendation?
Go get a Bride of Pinbot (BoP), skip this game.
Seriously, skip this game unless you find it in a "bargain bin" (ie barn) and then sell it after you hopefully fix it.
Some dry turds never seem to completely dry, and get remoistened with every pinball generation.
This is just one of those games.
Three generations worth now, going on a fourth.
An alternate translite is not going to fix this one either.
7.461/10
4 years ago
I have wanted to get around to rating this game for a while now.

The fourth best Gottlieb Star System 80 game behind (in order) Black Hole, Haunted House, and Krull.
Devil's Dare is *really* close in terms of over quality.
I mean *really* close.
Play more Gottlieb Star System 80s folks!
Gottlieb Circus, I DO NOT count in this listing, as it is a special case based on its design and was the breakthrough start of the series with some differences of the rest of the SS80 games.

Another example of new collectors being led astray over hype based on rarity.
Exceeding overpriced based on game quality for features.

Most people that have played the machine remember it predominantly for the Hypnotic backglass image with the rotating lights.
Even better in effects than Black Hole.

Double level playfield with variety of lightning bolt hand drawn artwork, target, and ramp design is very close in feel to Black Knight.
As a machine it plays solid and the drop targets feel satisfying with a good variety of sounds and effects.
Cabinet artwork is above average.
As stated the backglass is a strong 9 out of 10.

Its rarity makes it desirable for collectors.
Playability makes it well above average as an overall pinball machine design of the era.
Welcome to pinball collecting folks were hype and artwork does not make a great game.
Surprise!
If you want to pay nearly 10 grand for games that are close to 40 years old (one on Ebay recently was listed for $14k, WTF Batman! *Edit: Seller decided to finally come back down to planet Earth finally*), I have "yellow snow" I can sell you in the winter.
If you want a cup in the summer the snow cone maker work is extra.
Just ask, I will throw in the cup for free.
7.846/10
4 years ago
I put some hard hours on this machine to evaluate.

Currently this game is a piece of custom artwork, not an outstanding pinball machine.
This says a lot since I hate PhotoShop artwork in general.

Needs significant code work, no one really understands what is supposed to be going on or to do except "lock balls for Smaug multiball".
You here a lot of TH "will be great" or "WIP" in reviews, which means the game is UNFINISHED and INCOMPLETE.
People might as well be scoring whitewoods as "awesome" as well.
TimeShock! is a sample working prototype is that a 10 already too?

"Modes" do not make a great game either, RoadShow has 24 "modes" counting MBs and other secrets. More "modes" than most realize and they squeezed as much as they could out of the EPROM memory, and had to remove features. At least those "modes" where unique.
Right now, this is like play a pinball rendition of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" movie.
Overdone, slow, and a bit taxing on patience.
"Less is more".

Game play and design is average.
"Modes" won't save the game.
Overuse of the same shots with little sense of accomplishment.
It is just plain confusing, even to an expert player.

Assembly design is simpler than WoZ, so it should be easier to maintain for operators.
Physical design has more than a few "achilles heels" for 2+ years of development.
Uncertain future of JJP overall.

Only JJP "pre-order game jockeys" are going to defend their "investment" here, watch the reviews or people that have been involved in the hobby less than a few years.
"Best modern game"?
When did modern games start?
2000? 2001? LCD games?
I mean come on there has been less than a dozen games with LCDs, and many people have not even had to a chance to play the machines like Captain Nemo, which is quiet amiable from a boutique manufacturer (review later).
Scoring incomplete coded games along a flipper assembly that has no use on the playfield, "9+ out of 10", just shows lack of experience.
Don't jerk off too hard, you might get wrist sprain and don't forgot to clean your playfield glass afterwords.
History continues to repeat itself with not being patient, collectors.
Learn from the mistakes of others of the past.
I know, the learning curve is steep, but just get over it, instead of being bent over, grabbing your ankles, and complaining on the forums how you were "deceived" or "robbed".

Good luck, Jack, I hope you are able to improve your game.
If is gets fixed, I will modify the rating, PROPERLY.
It It does not get fixed, it is is going to flop on location as the game has to recoup its cost before making money, and collectors are going to bail and sell their brand new machine to try and recoup their losses at some inflated price. Many people have already cancelled their pre-orders, but that is a bit harsh and preemptive.
Games are starting to sit with distributors, predominantly due to the high cost above close to $9k or higher already. The economy has not quite caught up to the "price testing market".
Ride the storm to the end pre-order jockeys, don't bail out now, you have waited over 2+ years!
Beat that horse to the finish line! YEEHAH!

FINAL NOTE: There is only ONE, "Black Knight".
5.964/10
4 years ago
Extended WWE review.
An example of how LEs can go horribly wrong.
More money for more turd.
Valuable if you are a $%#@ collector.
Additional features do not justify an addition $ two grand.
Backglass (ie Stern's new creation attempt to shyster and defecate on the original concept) image is worse than the pro model.

Unfortunately, this is a Stern bomb, and not the good kind.
More akin to "sharting" in the real world.

I do not hate WWE, but this game does not make me want to be a "professional" wrestler.
Code updates are NOT going to save this title EVER.
The design is sloppy, and shots are not well designed and have limited flow.
There is "too much up the center playfield" with the ramps.
It is a "playable" machine, but was HIGHLY rushed title in design.
Artwork is more PhotoShop garbage.
The translite is horrendous, and the LE version is just as bad.
Everytime I see that image of the backglass I think someone has a "third finger" sticking out of their forehead.
I would be embarrassed to admit if I owned this machine.
If you have not picked up on it yet, I highly dislike this game, but am still trying to be respectful.
Thank God, Stern has already released GoT, so they can begin to forget...

NOTE: Look at the patterns on the reviews regarding this title in general? Notice any? Owned it, sold it...uh huh...

"Get out of your mancave's WWE wannabes, take off your wrestling spandex, just put on your "Superman cape" instead, and go play some real pinball", there are plenty of better choices.
7.397/10
4 years ago
This has always been a difficult machine to rate, however not because of its uncommon public appearance or low production.
It has an outstanding sound, music, and light show package.
It suffers from another John Trudeau "lack of flow" design in gameplay, but that is not a major drawback here, as he has his own trademark preferences.
Cabinet is unremarkable.
Translite is unique with its lithograph holographic image, but only better than Genesis.
The real standout on the playfield is the vitrigraph "molten glass" effects, which look great, but are not paired equally with the rest of playfield artwork.
The game feels unfinished and had much more potential.
The area that causes this game to be less known is the theming which does not have any means to make it recognizable to general pinball audiences.
It just does not stand out enough in a crowd of other machines, until you play it and crank up the sound.
7.848/10
4 years ago
Extended revisit of Black Knight.
Minor changes on playfield assemblies with microswitches in the ball trough.
Small cosmetic differences on the apron and inserts.
The game receives the same rating as the original 1981 Black Knight as the quality of the game is equal.

An important milestone in pinball history.

Most people are aware of the features of the double level playfield, Magnosave, speech improvements, and Multiball, but you have look beyond the design.

One of the first games that pushed the pinball world into a quarter a play, along with games like Black Hole.
Revitalized the pinball industry that was dying due to early video games like Pacman.

Artwork by Tony Ramunni is of critical importance.
It set the bar very high for future games.
Gameplay is rock tight even today, and multiball is fast.
Sound was very good for its age.
Music is basically more repetitive tones, which most turn off.
The one thing that really stands out in my mind is the playfield inserts.
They were very special as they were shaped like "gems" not the "starfire" ones that are common today.
Not even the reproduced playfields use them, as they have not been available for many years.
The bad part is most original playfield inserts are extremely heat shrunken.

The last machine I owned was a BK: LE.

People should never overlook machines that offer solid gameplay after 35+ years.

"Will you challenge the Black Knight again?"
8.020/10
4 years ago
"Introducing Al's Garage Band!" (Crowd goes wild cheering)

This is what should be called a "light fun" pinball machine.
It does not have extremely deep ruleset, but is VERY entertaining for most non-serious pinball players.
It goes to show that a pinball does not have to be MET or AC/DC to be worth your ball time.
The game brings in the quarters whenever on location, as most have never seen one..."Tour again, Dude".
You are not going to have a hard time understanding what to do on this game.
If players are STILL confused, the game explains the features and ruleset in attract mode (make a note, Stern).
Don't overlook this machine, it has unique history and a tribute to Alvin Gottlieb.

The artwork is a good standout with its bright colors and neon greens.
It can be best described as being "loud" (Hence the "Plug it in, Crank it Up!" flyer logo) and eye catching.
AUTHENTIC backglass with REAL mirroring (all over it).
Playfield back panel is an heavy weight plastic mirror (hey, "mirror blades" before they existed!).
Cabinet image is the "sticker crate" but still matches the theme well.
The cabinet is very DEEP in construction, over 4 inches taller than most later model SS machines, which provides excellent sound reverberation.
Durability of the cabinet painting is another story, as it is not really high quality, and prone to cracking.

Lower production makes it harder to acquire, especially with the factory topper (but the topper can be picked up fairly cheaply as they come up often on Ebay).
Owners don't lose the backglass and protect it carefully, you are not going to find replacements easily, but there are still a few left.
(NOTE: There is a Gottlieb "adult theme suggestive" running gag joke that is on the backglass and was on purpose by the graphic designer, Dan Hughes, and approved. Let's see if you can figure out what it is, hmmmm?)

I think I have seen maybe 20-30 total machines since 1992, including those on locations.
The remaining overstock models were scooped up by employees/friends/acquaintances of Alvin G., large distributors, and pinball brokers.
Production numbers of this machine from the Mr. Pinball 2016 Price Guide are WAY lower than what has been shown in the past. 350 machines produced? Seems unlikely here.
Majority were shipped overseas due to Williams blackmail scheme to distributors, A LOT.
There are still some floating around NIB in a few "time travel" warehouses, which pop up very rarely.
I found one, and bought it immediately (with a extra NOS playfield + parts + boards) for HALF the cost of a new Stern machine!
I posted the photos of my game in the gallery. (Amazing? Not really, you just have to be diligent.)

Music and sound calls are good, just repetitive, but are in STEREO pinheads.
Yes, that is right a STEREO pinball machine in 1992, Stern want to take some tips here?
Callouts are very clear in quality.

"I'm calling the police!" (which was normally turned off by operators)

Rarely have manufacturers done the stereo sound feature, and just "cheap out".
Another example of Stern still being "backwards" and retro perspective in pinball design just like DMDs.
Catchy main themes and drum solo beats, both during main play, ball locks, multiball, and jackpots.
How many people can keep their game going to hear the cow bells?

Decent amount of shot variety, I personally like the city "world tour city loops" on the orbits (fast), "Metal Monster" guitar inclusion with the rollovers, and the center spinner ala Whirlwind or Dr. Dude "Mixmaster" which is random from the start and during certain feature modes. The "drum solo" video mode is kinda stupid (and cannot be cancelled out), but there is an additional feature added with this I included below.

You can fix most of the "sticky" spots, where a ball can get stuck fairly easily on this game, it is not a big deal, and removes any "clunkiness".
For example, balls bouncing out of the "record a song" back panel? Install a large piece of rubberized foam to absorb the impact on the metal panel, problem solved.
An owner needs to take the time and "dial" this game in, because from the factory it needs a burn in test and close scrutiny. For example, in my NIB machine roller posts were missing underside T-nuts and most of the microswitches needed serious adjustment. Those are just starts. Poor QC.
The way the game is coded and the playfield designed, microswitch adjustments are CRITICAL on this game, if not, the game becomes COMPLETELY UNPLAYABLE, especially the VUKs, ball shooter, feature kick outs, and kick backs. (Hence the non-owner comments)
Otherwise, the game comes to a "screeching halt" and is unfun.
Amazing how small adjustments can remarkably change game opinions, new collectors.
The spring on the outhole kicker needs to be replaced with a stronger, higher resistance version to avoid ball trough "jumping" over the wireform that leads to multiple balls being fed into the shooter lane at the worst possible times. The coil is way too overpowered from the factory for a 6 inch ball feed.
People that play the machine are not the same as those that own and know the machine.
It just not that hard to tweak and correct, "new generation pinball enthusiasts that cannot change a fuse". It is a good time to learn, folks, do it.

Some say I am critical of the changes in the hobby and the industry, but if you understand the past you can predict the future of pinball. Most people that have been in the hobby for over 20+ years have figured out what I am trying to say here.

This is not a "Barracuda Speed Queen" with perfect flow, it is a "stop and go" pinball machine which is fine for its design. If you want that go play a Steve Ritchie game or WhiteWater.
Multiball gets pretty frantic and is generally short lived.
Jackpot shots are challenging with the spinning CD Player, but worth BIG POINTS.
Learn to cradle the balls, but shoot quickly, because if you "stall" the game knows you are holding the flipper up, and the jackpot counts down in value, most people do not know this fact.
More games should use this feature.

This is one game where LEDs actually have use to fix (and that is quite rare for me to report) and improve what the factory designers did not do with proper general lighting, which is "terrible" to be nice, it just needs to be updated. An owner can accent much better, without resulting in a "unicorn pinata diarrhea".
Even the GI needs fixed with more lighting required, as the game looks like crap in the dark.
Multiball lighting is much better on all corners of the machine with the flashers, you really do need more colors just brightness in this case. (NOTE: Standard 1 LED #44 bayonets DO NOT work on this game due to the way the lamp matrix voltage is strobed).

Not a highly innovative machine, but the entire package is well put together, and the software is polished, but straightforward, no real hidden secrets. Contrary to common belief there is a wizard mode, which is called "brain damage", but is not overwhelming in terms of gameplay, but hard to achieve if the game is waxed, as if you flail, you drain.

Mechanical design is solid, but it is not BLY/WMS manufacture quality in terms of being "heavy duty" on location type machine. Overall build quality is a little lower than current Sterns, but even in a route environment is survivable. Maintenance of the machine is easy and accessible, but you have to use an independent lock prop bar, not the "cheater bar" in the game, or you will warp the playfield and break things. The locking hasp mechanisms on the playfield is a NECESSITY, along with screw locks on the front during transport, or the playfield can fall off the rails and get busted up badly.

The one standout feature is the "bump buttons", solenoids that send "pulses" through the flipper buttons when the pop bumpers and bass is played. Fun stuff, idea by Alvin Gottlieb himself, they are not "lock out coils" or "why the hell are manufacturers still using these". A lot of pinheads are not aware of this feature.
There is no other pinball machine that has this installed via factory specifications.
If I am mistaken feel free to correct me.

My only concern for new owners would be replacement parts both game specific and electronics.
The game system is not very well known for repair, and has some "soon to be" hard to find board sets.
Once the IPB parts are gone, that is it, be ready for repair, owners.
Board design had some amperage "Achilles heels" points you have be careful with overall, or you can have shorts.

Know what you are buying.

It is a historical low production machine with significant value in the long term (and trending on a continued rise), but hard to find parts, similar to "Mystery Castle", but edges the game out in quality. "Punchy the Clown" might actually beat out this game, I need to reflect a bit, AGC definitely learned from AGBGoaWT.

A good production machine from Alvin G and Co.
Give it a try, if the game is well tuned, you will have a lot of fun.
Best played with the stock speakers turned up around 3/4 max volume, most people then go, "holy #%$@!".
If the game was more readily available for people to play, it would probably be ranked in the low #100+ range.
Most people will never get a chance to play the game, let alone a properly working version now.
7.229/10
4 years ago
One of the rarest games I ever owned to date in the past quarter century+ collecting pinball machines.
I purchased this machine while stationed overseas in Europe in the 1990s.
There seems to be some sort of misconception by some that less than 10 were built, but I have no idea where the idea came from in the first place. Based on my Zaccaria production data, somewhere less than hundred, but never confirmed to be 60, including original sample prototypes.
As a pinball art collector, this game really stood out with its neon colors and animated illumination backglass ("Tootsie Roll Mr. Owl"), which is by far its most remarkable feature.
Cabinet is actually a fairly good standout with "Ms. Nosferatu face" on the side.
Good lighting for the plastics on this machine, and definitely the backglass.
The game plays like a cross of Haunted House (it almost pays homage to this classic machine) and Strange Science (inverted ramps) at the same time.
Upper drop targets get blasted by the pop bumpers, and have a short life span unless reinforced, and is complete random luck.
Ramps are not very durable and a little awkward.
Ruleset was never finished, sounds/music are incomplete, or at least they seemed incomplete to me.
Ultimately, I sold it to make room for other machines.
A "must have" predominantly if you are a Zaccaria collector.
If you do find one for sale, you will only have one chance, so don't kick yourself later.
8.044/10
4 years ago
Another great pool one ball game that plays phenomenally with a TZ Powerball™.
Paul Faris / Margaret Hudson Artwork and "crackshot" Christian layout make it the classic that is in pinball history. You really have a hard time beating the combination in this case.

The game looks like an early SS, but sounds and plays iike an EM with a bit more flipper "umph".
Classified by new collectors as "boring" (although they have never even played the game), yet was the second highest produced game in the history of pinball by over 20+K units made for specific reasons.

The target memory feature was one of the few "gimmicks" the game had overall, which is taken for granted today.

Requires patience and practice to achieve high scores.
"Ball flailing" = "Failure".
Practice this game, a lot.
Know the targets, and call the shots.

A great choice game for Xpin 7Volution display sets.
This game needs to be revamped for new EPROM sound and music calls someday.
Future Pinball creators Popette and SLAMT1LT did a phenomenal take on this game using modern sounds and music with their Eight Ball ULTRA 1.04, just to give a testament to what could be done with a little creativity.

http://www.pinsimdb.org/pinball/table-6050-eight_ball_ultra

Somebody would have to make a new MPU board similar to Pascal, however.
8.227/10
4 years ago
"Re-entry attempt has FAILED".

One of the best known Gottlieb System 80 machines for a number of reasons.
Absolutely the "Number One" of all the Gottlieb System 80 machines of the entire series.
Set the new standard for cost per play, which was 50 cents at the beginning.
The game before "bulletproofing" was a real PITA for operators, which is the other reason for it being notorious.
The tube kicker was poorly designed, and the improper grounding on all System 80 machines caused coil shorts.
It can be a hard machine to work on as well in regards to lower playfield, as the it is not operator friendly, and the lower playfield essentially has to be removed from the cabinet to be properly worked on, trying to "flip it up" does not work out real well...
It is a tight fit into the cabinet either way, and alignment is very important, or the ball is not going to make it back up to the top playfield.
Owners you probably already understand.
If you do not, there is your simple technical tip for the day.

Very challenging to maximize score multipliers.
Very challenging game for high scores.
Very challenging to achieve proper multiball.
The shot to the lower playfield through the spinner is always satisfying.
The game as large as it is is very fast especially with the rebound kickers and seemingly overpowered pop bumpers on "super power" voltage setting.
If you rate this game less than 6.5, it probably because you just completely terrible at playing pinball.
Improve your skills, and give it a try in a few years, you will find you were mistaken.
If you cannot find a real machine, use Pinball Arcade, it is $5 title.
This will increase your "pinball IQ" for next to nothing in cost.
Most new players have a love or hate relationship with this machine, mostly because they do not understand the ruleset.
The flipper on the upper left side is IMPORTANT to scoring and multiball.
Learn how to USE IT.

Artwork for all areas is superb (backglass, playfield, and cabinet).
Rotating disk in the backbox with double mirrored backglass and lighting is hypnotic.
Ruleset is SOLID for the era.
The reverse flipper lower playfield design was innovative as used, it was not just a "gimmick", it set new standards.
Contender for many modern machines even today.
Better than 80% of all modern Sterns.
A "keeper" for every collection, as long as it maintained, corrected and if you like the era.
8.394/10
4 years ago
This is one of the TOP outstanding Gottlieb System 80 games.
The "Cirqus Voltaire" of the 1980s.
Challenging, beautiful, AND fun.
Playfield layout is outstanding with a multitude of different shots to practice and achieve.
Rotary target at the top left corner is the pinnacle of the scoring.
Backglass and playfield artwork is beautiful.
Cabinet artwork is average.
Ruleset, sounds, and background music is typical of the period, but not annoying not some early SS machines.
The machine is a fantastic partner for Gottlieb Genie.
The only real negative I can find about this game is its low production.
It is very rare now to find one it superb condition outside of a collector's home.
Trying to find a replacement backglass for the game title is an absolutely nightmare, because 99% are flaking, veining, cracking, or peeling. I am still looking for one in near perfect condition for my collection. So much mirroring on this glass...sigh...

Deserves to be remade.
6.054/10
4 years ago
A "pinball sharpshooters" dream game on drop and stationary targets.
Challenging game for the targets only.
Playfield layout is average.
Playfield artwork is good.
Backglass artwork is very good.
Cabinet artwork is mediocre.
Music and sounds are not memorable.
Ruleset is basic focused on diamond scoring and bonuses.
Flipper layout is typical of the period ala carte Paragon and many other early SS Gottliebs.
Harder to find title of the Gottlieb System 80 era that is not played out.
Ranked well above 10+ of all Gottlieb System 80 games.
A game that really only has value in Gottlieb System 80 collections.
7.592/10
4 years ago
This is fairly straightforward pinball design reminiscent of many of Steve Ritchie's other machines.

Basically, it is upgraded HSII: Getaway machine with a few extra extended features.
The talking skull is a "dumbed down" Rudy, Red, or Ted with only a moveable jaw and center "gobble hole".
It has a "inside track loop" around the head, which I do like during the Nascar mode.
The jump ramp is a modified supercharger with a flipper, and is fairly easy to master.
The ruleset is basic, but the game is VERY FAST when you really get going.
Playfield artwork is good in terms of color and matching the theme, but very busy.
Translite artwork matches the theme.
Modes are not incredibly deep, and the wizard mode is achievable with a bit of practice (without buy-ins).
Scoring is outrageously unbalanced.
Cabinet artwork decals is notorious for red fading and magnet "melt down" if not maintained.
I recommend installing in line fuses on the magnets on this game, if owned or operated, IMMEDIATELY.

Overall, an above average machine, and good for beginning pinball players.
It fits well into larger collections.
I will buy another when I find one at least in superb+ condition with a non-faded cabinet.
No rush to buy on this title, it gets traded a lot between collectors.
7.507/10
4 years ago
"Death Star approaching..."

Everybody seems to have played this machine at least once in their lifetime.
Most non pinheads say, "but do you own a Star Wars"?
I just start laughing.
Hopping A2 D2, spiral Tie Fighter ramp, rotating Death Star with the BIG yellow rectangular target, and Jabbas and Force "gobble holes".

Auto Plunger handle with the button is fun.
Darth Vader plastic flimsy topper is alright, but a voice changing mask is better (and cheaper).
Playfield artwork is good, classic Data East for the times.
Translite is iconic.
Cabinet artwork is good.
Lighting is a$$.
Sound clips are EXCELLENT for the shots (but repetitive, "Shoot the Death Star!")
Understanding what shots are supposed to be made is pretty clear...
Music is average, and is the typical recycled Data East tunes with a SW theme.
Ruleset is practically non-existent.
Shoot the Tie Fighter Ramp until you get bored for decided to go for ramp champion.
Playfield shots are very tight for loops.
If you completely suck at the game, wait for the third ball after letting the first two drain quickly, and depend on operator setting, you will see multiball anyway.
YAY!
The multiball wind up and animations is probably the best part of the game.
The game needs more Boba Fett action instead of him just flying around on the DMD screen and one action shot.

Basically, if you are a Star Wars nut, you will really like the game.
As a pinball machine design is above average mostly for iconic use of the theme license.
PinSound REALLY improved this machine overall.
The anniversary roms balanced out the game, but it won't fix a 24 year old design.
This is essentially why I rated the game higher than a 7+.
Without the new EPROMS it is a 6.8 at best.

Don't mod this game with cheap new Star Wars Walmart toys, nerds (who generally rate this game 9+), it makes this game look worse beyond imagination.
Markus Rothkranz just laughs at you.
It is like jerking off on the playfield and covering up the decent artwork.

"Choose wisely you must" and "do or do not" try to spend an absurd amount of money on this machine.
Yoda will otherwise scold you for your pinball wisdom incompetence.
6.483/10
4 years ago
The two things that always stand out immediately when you see this game in the "real" are the blue colored cabinet and the Gottlieb Premier weird shaped backbox. Premier always seemed to want to be able to stand out in a crowd. It must have a been a marketing decision.
The playfield is almost like a linear "tunnel" with your entire focus being the center of the playfield and the ramp shot.
Variety is not really the name of the game here.
The backglass image although "unique", just does not fit the playfield artwork.
It was like it was designed for another machine.
Sounds are average, music is a little odd from what you might expect.
Fun game to play for a few runs, and reminds me of Data East's Robocop in some ways with the ramp shot but simpler in ruleset.
"Cheap quality entertainment" and fun, but nothing really remarkable.
Most likely it will still be found very reasonable in cost, even for the low production.
7.267/10
4 years ago
This is one "rare bird" of a pinball machine (pun intended).

I have had the opportunity to play this machine ONCE.
UPDATE: On 14 May 2016, I had a SECOND opportunity to play this prototype game, but it was NOT the original prototype. A pinball collector BUILT an Atari Road Runner using a partially wired playfield, cabinet, and boards on display at PAGG. The game played just as well as the original game, but the owner did not have a NOS backglass.

I really could never understand why this game never made it into production.
Maybe it was a design license issue?
Either this or Atari's bankruptcy woes.
Not a lot of historical data exists now, mostly as this was "before the internet".
It is a solid single level design that is a cross between Paragon and several other early Bally games of the period to provide a comparative example.
When properly angled, it actually was quite a fast game along the outer orbit loop, particularly for this era.

The shot angles for the orbits are very TIGHT, which makes for some required skill to play the game correctly.
Pop bumpers always seemed oddly placed in my opinion.
The double captive balls behind the drop target bank was a neat idea.
This idea was reused in BBB years later.
The other captive ball seemed like an unneeded "extra".
Sounds and music are unremarkable, typical of Atari games of the era.
Ruleset basically recycled, and really do not know if the game actually was even finished in this era.
Excellent backglass image.

Just another "hidden gem" from pinball history.
It would be nice to see this machine at a pinball show again, and now I did!
I wonder where the original is hiding now...
6.444/10
4 years ago
Everyone pretty much knows this was an Atari novelty pinball machine, but it still has historical value.

It is not as much that it is a "turd" as people think in terms of gameplay (but it is VERY SLOW), but it is hard to find replacement parts for machine.
Gameplay is average, if the game is well maintained, but most are not.
Reliability is average, but many of the assemblies were not really designed well for this game.
Game code is below average, and sounds and music is minimal.
Basically, it is like any other early Atari SS game.
Backglass makes a great wall hanger though, if you can find a parted out game which has reached an equilibrium these days.

It uses a cue ball as a proper ball, if it shipped with something different from the factory, I don't know, because I never saw one NIB, as this was just a few years too young before I started tech work.
Maybe gameplay could be fixed with a new improved polycarbonate or ceramic ball in the modern age?
Nah, not really.

When I owned one, I had to get specially built machines assemblies when something broke like pop bumper assemblies, yokes, and such. That was the real PITA.

As a game it has plenty of value in museums or businesses.
Really draws the crowds and makes good money.
Still REALLY EASY to get $1 a play.
No change in mentality today.

It is not always about pure collector value, this game was never meant for that consideration when designed.
If you have the space, a full size pick up truck, and a small wad of Benjamin Franklins, certainly a consideration, but make sure it is COMPLETE, as many seem to be missing parts these days for the reasons I mentioned.
8.176/10
4 years ago
Some people call this game the "The Fake Theatre of Magic", but the amount of error in this statement is unbelievable.
It offers twice the "tricks", gameplay, and variety than ToM, all for 3X less the cost than a ToM.
PM completely embarrasses ToM in terms of game design.
Additionally, you can buy TWO PM for ONE ToM! (If you can find two for sale quickly).
It is just a better quality machine overall.

The game kicks off from the skillshot "hat trick" and improves from there.
It has an outstanding backglass image and cabinet.
Yes, ToM has a better cabinet that PM.
So what?
Do you play a cabinet?
Playfield artwork above average.
Gameplay is varied and the magic show tricks are superb.
Ruleset is above average as it is linear, but this is a Capcom...
DMD animations are very good, and music is in line with the theme.
Sound quality is average, but get rid of the damn stock Capcom speakers, they are a$$.
Build quality is excellent.
Maintenance is higher than many machines due to some assemblies complexity.

Personally, I wish Capcom would have made many more, so new collectors can learn to appreciate the game.
Many collectors have never seen one in good working condition, let alone actually played one.
It is ALWAYS a big hit at every pinball show, and played constantly.

Negatives?
Spare parts, as this game has unique assemblies and plastics that have not been readily reproduced and NOS is getting scarce. Boards are still available, thank god. Games have literally been "gutted" and parted out to make two games into one at this point.

"Bang for the pinball buck"?
It is here.
If you have the the opportunity to own one, buy it, you will not be disappointed.
7.848/10
4 years ago
An important milestone in pinball history.

Most people are aware of the features of the double level playfield, Magnosave, speech improvements, and Multiball, but you have look beyond the design.

One of the first games that pushed the pinball world into a quarter a play, along with games like Black Hole.
Revitalized the pinball industry that was dying due to early video games like Pacman.

Artwork by Tony Ramunni is of critical importance.
It set the bar very high for future games.
Gameplay is rock tight even today, and multiball is fast.
Sound was very good for its age.
Music is basically more repetitive tones, which most turn off.
The one thing that really stands out in my mind is the playfield inserts.
They were very special as they were shaped like "gems" not the "starfire" ones that are common today.
Not even the reproduced playfields use them, as they have not been available for many years.
The bad part is most original playfield inserts are extremely heat shrunken.

The last machine I owned was a BK: LE with the upgraded trough switches, extra decal, and a few other small changes. In games of this age, always check the cabinet glue for delamination.

People should never overlook machines that offer solid gameplay after 35+ years.

"Will you challenge the Black Knight again?"
7.831/10
4 years ago
I have had the opportunity to play this machine several times via shows, and it always been enjoyable.

The game design and shot flow is solid.
Theme integration is excellent.
Artwork was atmospheric.
Backglass is eye catching.
Color choices were good.
Initial design animation quality reminds me of BBB.
Callouts are incomplete.
Ruleset is incomplete.
Music and sounds are incomplete.
Modes are incomplete.

If the game was overhauled and finished, it would get a better rating.
Intelligent basic question to pinball "enthusiasts".
How can you rate an incomplete prototype machine a 9+ when the code and design is not finished?
Answer?
You cannot.
Do you seriously live in another pinball universe?
Clearly people do here on PinSide.
You might as well start scoring games in whitewood stage as well.
"Stern Ghostbusters, 10/10, absolutely"! (sarcasm).

It deserves to be remade and completed, but should not be put on a gaming pedestal.
Why?
New collectors are just going to get disappointed like the first time they play BBB.
It is not a "holy grail".
6.252/10
4 years ago
The lackluster sequel to Eight Ball Deluxe and the original Eight Ball.
It tries to be different and emulate more of a "real" pool table shot flow and fails in most levels.
The shots are not poor, it just does not work well in concept overall.
The playfield is just a wide open space with the need to strike a few well aimed shots.
Artwork is quite dark, and the backglass has a lot of "black line".
Sound and gameplay is below average, not to mention recycling ALL voices from EBD squawk and talk, which in my book is a HUGE NO NO as this is being LAZY.
The deeper ruleset does not save this game.

To add to the challenge this is a 6803 Bally, which for a long time was virtually unrepairable due to availability of parts and understanding of the electronic circuit board design.
The knowledge was almost lost, and recently revived.

The one thing that I truly remember about this game was the cabinet and backbox.
Most were made out of particleboard not plywood.
One drop of water, and they swelled up like a balloon.
Protect those cabinets!!!

Stick to the first two titles, either is far superior in gameplay.
In comparison:
Eight Ball Deluxe (any version) you will play until you wear holes through the playfield.
Eight Ball is right behind it, with an excellent spinner shot and addictive bank shot that will make you come back for another game.

FINAL NOTE:
Not all EBC machines were made in the USA (Bally-Midway)
Some were made by Bally-Wulff in Germany.
Nobody really knows what the "production split" was overall.
Production numbers are skewed regarding 1500 units "confirmed".
The reality maybe a few hundred more or less.
8.269/10
4 years ago
In my opinion, Zaccaria's greatest title in terms of design.
Solid two level playfield layout with multiball.
Who does not like blasting drop targets so they can shoot a ball up ramps?
A special nod goes to using a clear upper playfield to see the pop bumpers and the ball while is it returning to the player, which is not as common as people may realize.
Great artwork.
Integrated animated backglass.
Well thought out sound calls and basic music.
Light show is average in a dark room.
Good depth of ruleset for its age.
6.597/10
4 years ago
Checkpoint is solid in gameplay, and it actually is better in terms of shot features than games like High Speed or Getaway, and cheaper as well.
Not as good as Corvette or Indianapolis 500, however.
I cannot compare Stern's Mustang to this machine, because it is not really a good game in terms of design comparison or quality.
This is a "stop and go" machine however, not based on speed of action like the others mentioned.
You will understand when the left ramp is fed from the kicker, rather than fed from the right side flipper shot.
Good challenge in trying to achieve and keep multiballs going. Primary tune is "ok".
Artwork is quite good.
Checkpoint has a lot of "whizbang" if you are a car nut like the tachometer and key start.
6.087/10
4 years ago
The original 1991 Batman is somewhat clunky, I prefer Batman Forever from Sega.
I have found this machine to be very prone to broken parts, because the nature of the ball shot angles.
It seems like everything is made out of cheap plastic (the Bat Cave is always broken).
Not really a good challenge in terms of gameplay, and game design is below average.
Artwork is average.
It uses recycled sounds and music from other period games like Star Wars and Tales from the Crypt, which really brings the quality of the game down.
The bottom line is there just many better games out there.
7.858/10
4 years ago
Very innovative machine in terms of adding features all together to create a solid package, NOT a "new" pinball way of thinking in terms of design.
The most recent example of pinball design to "raise the bar" not from the standpoint of toys or gimmicks but the combination of gameplay with goals.
The theme and playfield are VERY WELL INTEGRATED.
It reminds me of Road Show in terms of attempting to "do it all".

However, hardly the "future of pinball", unless you count the overall cost of the machine.
Do collectors know that this concept was applied against Road Show as well?
Nope, most were not around, 20+ years ago.
The only thing that was different is WoZ uses an LCD and includes munchkins MB as a play feature.

Exceptional ruleset now, since the code has been updated.
"Black line" artwork is very good, and blends very well with the theme, not "amazing" but very good.
They should have used hand drawn art for the characters not digitized recreations.
Cabinet art accentuates the machine very well.
Animations on the LCD monitor are complementary and well used with the game modes.
Music is repetitive.
Sounds are above average.

Maintenance upkeep is temperamental on locations, based on complexity.
This MUST be considered in terms of the game quality for a review.
Mechanical design is solid.
Construction and clear coat, not so much, as in less than 3 years, the first part of the runs has already been WORN DOWN TO BARE WOOD in pop bumper and inserts on routes!
Not the best quality here, JJP...
Works best as a home collection machine.
NIB private owners will defend their machines to the "last dollar" and remain in denial, but then why do they keep turning up for sale all over the market including many LE versions?
Gee, I have no idea...

The whole "different collector versions" of this machine seem to be a huge push at a cash grab.
There just is not that much unique about each variation to justify the additional cost.

The only unfortunate thing is this title really accelerated the "run to the hills" NIB game pricing.
The game cannot justify the extra $2k for a LCD monitor, but I will give credit for additional cost in terms of boutique design costs. However, not $2k a machine.
JJP set the bar to raise prices artificially early, and Stern jumped on the band wagon.

"Best game I have ever played, period"??? Really???
Play more games, please, especially more than one time.
Oh PinSide...and new collectors that have played a dozen machines in their lifetime.
"Tis be the best ting since toylet paper, yes sur, it shur is"!

Final note: "Flippers are weak" is not a $#!@ing proper review comment. That means you played a poorly maintained game and shows player/owner/collector experience incompetence.
7.596/10
4 years ago
A respectable design effort by Stern.

Solid, deep ruleset and great variety of shots.
The game design was definitely a tribute to Pat Lawlor's creativity, and did not constrain him.
The game is generally very confusing to new players, as the callouts are not always clear.
The talking shrunken head and announcer voices dominate the game, which some do not like.
Music is uniquely identifiable from other pinball machines.
Build quality is average.
Mechanical design is above average
Artwork quality is average.

If you do not mind the artwork, it is a very good player's machine, but still has that Stern "cheap production" quality feel about the construction unlike most Bally/William machines.
4.481/10
4 years ago
The "homeless pinball fan's" World Cup Soccer '94.
Obviously this was the title that marked the "return" for Stern pinball machine production as an ORIGINAL title (not the remake of Sega's Harley Davidson), but the design is just completely flawed.

People who rate this game "9 out of 10" have absolutely no practical experience whatsoever in this hobby or just have no discerning interest in quality, and deserve to be forced to watch pinball reruns of Williams pinball promo videos tied to a chair for 24 hours for education.

John Borg must have been asleep at the design wheel or his arguments to the game engineers went unheard.
Certainly game aspects were copied from WCS '94 POORLY.
Kevin 'O Conner must not have been allowed proper creativity.
Keith Johnson must have been busy on other projects.
It just did not come together into a good, tight project.

The gameplay is average along with the shot flow, except the main right ramp...doh...
The code quality is average.
Build quality is well below average.
The artwork is unappealing with the entire playfield covered with flags.
The cabinet and translite artwork is just plain fugly beaten with an ugly stick X20 over.
The sound is incredibly annoying and poor quality.

Bottom line is if you like soccer, stay away from this game, save your money, and go get a WCS '94 instead.
An average price of $2500-3000 is INSANE for this title on the used market.
This has 100% NOTHING do to with "Stern versus Bally/Williams games" bias in terms of quality.
Just thank me later.

If soccer great, David Beckman took a BIG steaming dump onto the middle of the playfield, the game might be worth a bit more to everyone.
It might then even become "craptastic".
To most they might not even know who I am talking about in the USA.
As it stands in pinball history, it remains only one tiny step above fireplace kindling.
I truly mean this and will shout it from the mountaintop and every single pinball expo from now until eternity.
Stern's WORST game since their return to manufacturing pinball machines.
Stern knows this as well.
It is not like it is being showcased on their factory floor as an accomplishment.
Why Stern continued to reuse the same layout and design for their NFL games is beyond my personal comprehension, except to try and recoup the design costs of this failure on non pinball collectors and target NFL fanboys.
7.672/10
4 years ago
This game as UNOBTAINIUM as it is overall, really boasts several really unique features for the period.
I have had the opportunity to play it ONCE for a couple of hours and conduct a detailed analysis.

The first feature and the most notable, the hidden animated (rotating) "Loch Ness" monster in the playfield window which is "revealed" during gameplay and during multiball.
John Trudeau took inspiration from this game when he developed Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The second was the integrated artwork inspired both on the playfield and backglass.
This machine was Seamus McLaughlin's greatest artwork pinball contribution with a secondary notability to Cyclopes produced the same year.
The backglass is just completely stunning and amazing in every respect for a pinball machine.
Almost too good to be in an actual game.
There were a number of confirmed additional backglasses (~15) made for this title, but the machines were never built.
Most have been lost to time, and they have never been reproduced.
I own one of the additional spare backglasses (and will NEVER sell it), but would fight to get a copy of the original drafted hand drawn version from the artist himself.
I *might* be willing to let CPR borrow it someday for reproduction if needed.

There have been reported rumors there was a second FUNCTIONAL prototype was made, but I have never confirmed the information after exhausting all efforts with network contacts.

Nearly everything on the existing lower bottom half of the playfield was either "handmade", or cobbled together from existing parts from other titles, but actually is very well polished for a prototype.
The top level of the playfield does NOT look like a prototype either with the playfield itself or plastics.
It looks as though the game was "ready to go" into production, as is equally well polished with its nautical theme.
The significant number of drop targets is quite unique for a Game Plan machine, and has some playfield game shot and layout similarities to Bally's Fathom.
Sounds of the prototype are average as most were recycled from other Game Plan games of the period.

This certainly could have been Game Plan's greatest accomplishment but was at a period of the company's waning success.
Game Plan will remembered predominantly for their "cocktail" pinball machines, which certainly were not terrible machines but many had various reliability issues.

I uploaded 86 photos from the second owner.
7.865/10
4 years ago
The TRUE "legendary myth" of the Gottlieb System 80 machines.
The third best game in the the entire series lineup, which is only beaten out by Black Hole and Haunted House.
The reduction lense lower playfield window is by far its most notable feature, but should not be forgotten that is has an upper level playfield as well just like Haunted House.

The game shot flow for the entire playfield is VERY GOOD, and the sounds and basic music are excellent.
Playfield artwork is good, but the plastics really mesh well with the overall theme, making things seamless.
It is so rare, I have only had the opportunity to play the machine TWICE in over 25 years.
Yes, the game is heavy, but all Gottlieb System 80 machines are HEAVY!
Ever try moving a Gottlieb Caveman (1982)?

It was unfortunate the game licensing caused the production of this game to fall apart.
The movie was a partial bomb, and that did not help matters, and the project was dropped.
It certainly would have been successful for Gottlieb if the timing had been correct.
There were just too many other good titles at the time, and pinball was not really selling well at that point in overall production.
It could never compete with games like Black Knight that were so popular at the time.
It was just too late.
Most operators were holding their ground with their current stock.
Unfortunately, it turned into one of those "ghost stories" of pinball.
Just like King Kong for Data East, and Big Bang Bar for Capcom, it was dream never to be realized.

For many Gottlieb System 80 collectors, this is their "holy grail", and for good reason.
Most of the current owners have death grips on their machines.
These days when one comes up for sale, expect to see the price take a serious shark bite out of person's wallet.
8.248/10
4 years ago
Another one of those "must haves" if you like Early Bally machines.
Fits right in with the game lineups like EBD, Centaur, Fathom, Medusa, Vector, Flash Gordon, Embryon, Spectrum, Elektra, Mystic, and several others.

The game is notable for its "tube shot" with strip incandescent lighting (long before LEDs) which was one of the earliest attempts at a "double level" playfield feature and had a separate patent just for the design.
It was NOT the first pinball machine with a "ramp" which was in the 1930s.

Artwork by Paul Faris is OUTSTANDING.
Double piece backglass with mirroring is PHENOMENAL with its ringed lighting.
Only a few games from the era did these type of backglasses correctly.

A game that actually looks even better with proper use of blue LEDs instead of bulbs with blue "condoms".
The game female voice is sexy and sensual, especially with the pop bumpers.
I generally turn the "music" off, because it really does not exist from this era and is garbage tones.

This is one game that has held the "test of time" well, and remains popular.
People that dislike the game should be blindfolded and play the machine, as it outperforms in sound alone to most modern machines, not considering a repeatable outstanding spinner-top saucer combination.

Most people that overall do not like this machine are under the age of 30, and were not even born when the game was made.
Good luck affording a Xenon in 10 years when you figure out the quality of the game.
7.785/10
4 years ago
This is underrated unknown machine which deserves a bit more credence because it has some unique features.
Next to last designed System 11 machine before the age of the Williams Pinball Controller (WPC).

The playfield multiple "minigames" of blackjack, roulette, poker, and alpha numeric display slot machine are VERY well integrated into the theme.
Artwork is another "Linda Deal" special, and is colorful, eye catching, and "prone to fading" (a little humor of truth).
The main game music is catchy and blues style and great quality, although a bit repetitive after a while and will eventually get "stuck in your mind".

The really notable feature in the Roulette wheel in the backbox and "chip betting" risk versus reward feature.
One of the few machines that integrated multiple lockbar buttons for interaction.
Only a few other games did this feature, and no other with FOUR buttons.
You can win big for jackpot or lose it all.

"Ridin' on that lucky riverboat... Ridin' on that lucky river boat... Take a chance, make a bet, try your luck, you might win yet... Ridin' on that lucky river boat! "
You are not going to easily forget this quote.

FINAL NOTE: Around 500 or so of Riverboat Gambler machines had Diamond Plated (DP) playfields and are EXTREMELY hard to find in superb+ condition coupled with the fact this machine has a number of "unobtanium" game specific parts that have a tendency to get broken, especially the main ramp.
Many parts have never been reproduced for this machine, which makes matters more problematic.

I would not even consider another machine without DP and no factory mylar (which was installed on some machines).

Production number on PinSide is completely incorrect, a little over 3000 were produced not 1280.
Early production (~250 or so) do exist with a different playfield set of inserts.
General low production makes it hard to find in an general decent condition anyway, as many were heavily played into submission.

Nice examples will fetch good prices for those that like the overall theme.
8.080/10
4 years ago
One of the stronger Gottlieb System 80 titles from the 1980s.
Definitely the best well known, next to Black Hole, but Black Hole edges this game game out due to depth with its multiball lock system and additional challenges.

Artwork is exceptional, particularly the backglass with the hidden "lightning bolt strikes".

Playfield was revolutionary at the time due the backwards level play or lower level "spider web" playfield.
The baseline music tune of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor will stick in your mind after you get done playing.

Relatively fast game for its size as well, especially with the kickers.
The trapdoor and center rollover targets to the basement were always a nice touch.

When the game was introduced, it was a complete $#@$@ to maintain.
Operators really hated it.
All sorts of electronic problems due to the edge board connections and lack of ground mods on coils.
Up kicker from the basement still can be an "Achilles heel" if not fixed correctly.
Overall, a solid game and nostalgia at its finest, but it is one heavy monster to move around.

Make sure you LOCK that main playfield with STRAPS or a WOODEN LOCK BOX when working on the lower playfield or you will be in for a nasty surprise!
8.278/10
4 years ago
One of the greatest early BALLY "widebody" pinball machines made.
The Paul Faris artwork is the complete standout, both for the backglass and playfield.

Challenging game if you are trying to complete the "Valley of the Demons" with the in lane drop targets.
Although the game has electronic sounds, the simpler version of just using the electronic "chimes" improves the game tremendously especially when completing "P-A-R-A-G-O-N".
Just switch the settings on the game, you will thank me.
Tough ball control due to the right side "flipper lift" mistake that players make and the "Beast's Lair" on the left side with its unpredictable pop bumper.
The "waterfall" on the right side of the playfield is always a fun shot to make from the upper left flipper.

If you like Early Bally machines, this machine is a must for a collection.
I have owned FOUR machines withe last being a DOCUMENTED HUO version from a single owner.
Reproduction parts are finally available after so many years including the backglass (although it has color issues from the NOS ones), playfield plastics, and eventually a new CPR playfield.

Once again, "game too slow"?
USE 2X4s under the rear legs!!!
7.815/10
4 years ago
If there was a game of late that I wish I could rate higher, this would be it.

The game code was polished, and progression to "The Portal" ranks similar to "Valinor" on LOTR, but not anywhere near as hard to obtain.
OUTSTANDING lightshow and effects, especially with the lit ramps.
The rest of the toys, not so much.
Moving Recognizer, 3-Target Bash Gate, Spinning Disk, a Static Tron Game, and Light Cycles.
All pretty much "staples" of Stern now, in EVERY single one of their games in one fashion or another.
Not a single innovation in this title.
Yes, I know all this can be improved upon via modification (the amazing miniature TRON video game arcade cabinet with video screen and controls upgrade comes to mind), but this was supposed to be a LIMITED EDITION.
Screened cabinet artwork is superb.
Backbox art is excellent, especially with the 3D effects.
Playfield art is COMPLETELY terrible, AGAIN.
Taking Photoshop digitized people's faces and plastering them on a piece of wood is not art.
Shot indicators and progression can also be a little confusing at times.

Overall, a very fun game with excellent sound, flow, and ruleset marred by some cheap graphics and overused toys.
Stern could have done so much MORE with this license.
Even a "interactive" backglass would have been nice, which became an aftermarket purchase.
Instead they "lunchboxed" the license into something much more simple than the original design plan.
TRON fans would have been BLOWN AWAY if the original plan had stuck, unfortunately the game probably would have cost an EXTRA $2000 on the base price for an LE.

There continues to be too many hillbilly Stern fanboys with "Them ther Stern pinbals masheens r ust awsum, 10/10, Yep ser, thats fer shur!".
Guys please, for the love of God and all that is Holy, go play some other non Stern games first , before you tout each one of the ONLY three pinball machines you own in your collection as the "the most amazing thing since toilet paper". The ratings continue to get completely skewed as a result of inaccuracy. You might as well just drill a large hole in the coin door for "personal use".


Stern games are good (in most cases), but nearly ALL WMS/BLY games are better, with ONLY a few exceptions.
Spiderman is a better design, and yes, it used the SAME BASH TOY AND TARGET BANK!
Hint Hint: Anybody notice a pattern yet?
Local fanboys will not because they were not even around when the game was released.

FINAL NOTE: A Vault Edition might really bring this title to new heights if they fix the artwork (novel idea use the original movie...), and improve features back to the prototype game versions, including the LE features. It will piss current LE owners off something fierce though as the cries of "my game is worthless, wah"! resounds across PinSide. Pinball machine are not investments, and this would be helpful in bringing new collectors out of the clouds.
7.870/10
4 years ago
This is one of those EM woodrails that stands out for its primary feature of the animated boxing ring in the upper middle of the playfield.
Yes, it is dominating, but actually focuses your attention on the playfield while you play.
The boxers are not distracting, and really add to gameplay along with the "bell 10 count".
It makes you WANT to play the game again.
The backglass is EXTREMELY colorful, and has even been reproduced since most are flaking beyond belief.

It was a VERY popular machine when it was released.
It is unfortunate so few exist now, as most have turned to dust.
Most are relegated to pinball museums, and a few hardcore EM collectors.
If you have the chance to play this machine, do so, as it is a part of pinball history.

If I have another chance to own one in good shape, I will certainly buy it, if for no other reason than nostalgia and good memories.
8.838/10
4 years ago
This is an edited UPDATED review of the original 1981 version, aka Eight Ball Deluxe "Classic".

There are no gameplay differences, but there are design differences.
Notably, a decaled plywood/particle board cabinet (which looks better, especially airbrushed), a slightly smaller hinged backbox and backglass, black "Bally Midway" apron, insert light boards, and wiring differences inside the backbox and playfield as they apply to the PCBs. Nearly all of this version were day one mylar coated. Basically, slightly upgraded in terms of technology. Other than that, it is the same game. I had to give it a *slightly* better rating, due to the improved cabinet artwork design.
What people need to realize is all three versions have more than just cosmetic differences.

If you are interested in learning about the list of the other major differences in this particular design go here:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/eight-ball-deluxe-differences-and-prices#post-2966222

The LE version in my opinion is the worst due to the mini backglass and displays with leftover Rapid Fire cabinets.
It was just an experiment like Centaur II and a couple of other machines from this era.

To revisit, many EBD "Classic" cabinets are ACTUALLY particleboard not plywood in construction, or a combination of both (which is in my particular case) and something to watch for if you decide to buy one.
This was common because they were produced by Bally-Midway (video game production style cabinets), not Bally.
One drop of water and the cabinet will blow up like a balloon.
My Eight Ball Deluxe "Classic" has some notable differences including a numbered brass plaque (#527), but I actually built this game from the ground up using a proper wired playfield, backbox, backglass, spare parts, harnesses, boards, transformer, assemblies, and cabinet.
My serial numbers do not match.
Production run is estimated at 2658 based on the latest 2016 Mr. Pinball Price Guide, which is a LOT higher than it was originally percepted.
It is more like a "Special Edition" than anything else, which is the other common name it is known by in the pinball world.
A perfect non-faded, solid cabinet, superb+ playfield version of this game will go for easily $4k, but they are RARE.

One of the games that defined the 1980s generation of the Early Bally Solid State Era.

This was one of the "go to" games in the arcades in the day alongside games like Black Knight, Black Hole, and Haunted House, during the 80s revival period.
This is a "one more game" title.

A great game for novices and experts alike.
Straightforward ruleset, nobody gets confused.
Fun horseshoe targets bank to shoot the pool balls, very addictive.
Outstanding artwork by Margaret Hudson, her best work IMHO.
Great competition game as well, or up to four players.
This is a good choice for a collector which can stand well on its own or a collection of 100+ pinball machines.

A lot of people say the game is "not fast enough". (See another example above...)
REALLY?
If you do not feel challenged, put a PowerBall™ into a EBD (hey, a "mini" cue ball, novel idea!), raise the back legs up up as high as possible, and jack the game up on 2X4s.
Players were overjoyed when I did that.
Stop making the game play like a woodrail, the flippers are MORE than strong enough to make all the shots.
The game then REALLY rocks, outlanes and center are deadly, and ball time is less than 15 seconds unless you are EXTREMELY good.
EBD at its finest.
"Long live the artwork of Margaret Hudson."

I have owned FOUR EBD in my lifetime, 2X original, and 1X 1984 version, including building one from scratch from a wired playfield, and the fact I still carry a NOS glasses on my wall. Yes, it is that GOOD.

"Stop talkin' and start chalkin'"!

NOTE: If you do the modification I mentioned above, make sure you ADJUST the tilt bob (or remove it), or the game will be UNPLAYABLE! (The incline angle is well above 10+ degrees)

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Classic, fun for all skill levels, "Suitable for any collector!"
8.152/10
4 years ago
Yet one more of John Popadiuk's overrated pinball machines by new players whose rating is skewed on PinSide.

^^^^
See EXAMPLE of another pinball chuckle house nimrod above with a "10/10" experience.

Simply put this is "Theatre of Magic v2.0".
It is the same game, same tricks, same layout with different artwork and sounds, and a *slightly better* ruleset but still is very shallow, although the modes are at least entertaining in terms of theme.
It even uses the same magnet design and essentially the same dot matrix animations (especially MB windup)!
Compare this yourself, and prepare to be "surprised".

Cirqus Voltaire at least is more slightly more creative.

Don't get me wrong, this game is a STUNNING and FANTASTIC piece of artwork.
Absolutely one of the most beautiful pinball machines ever made.
Theme integration is exceptional, especially with the lamp, genie, and "princess in the bottle".
Linda Deal, "saved the deal".

However, artwork does NOT make a PERFECT game, pinball "experts".
CFTBL makes TOTAN look like it is wearing its "$#% for a hat".

Again, if you own the game, you WILL eventually get tired of it, and sell it off hopefully for equal or more than you paid for it in the first place as the prices rise to pass it off to the next new collector, and then the cycle begins anew. It has been that way for 2 decades with no sign of stopping. History proves me right for this title as well. "The dollar is strong with this title". If you keep it, it is because you have plenty of space in your game room, or cash to burn, which is never a bad thing I suppose.

Send me a PM when you figure out what I just said, and feel free to donate to my pinball fund after you make a profit from selling the machine. Don't do a Bill Engvall with "Here's your sign".

A great game for an occasional play after you have owned the machine for less than two weeks, and phenomenal for "party guests". It is "fun" if you have no idea what you are doing and "learning" the game. This only takes a few games for now what $8-10k of fun? Seems a little steep...

I base all said above opinions on the fact, I have owned TWO.
Once for 3 years, and once for 2 years.
The second time round, I kept beating the game with ONE BALL!
I had to disable the bazaar scoop, so I COULD NOT collect jewels and make the game harder (but their really is not much you can do based on the limitations of the ruleset software).
7.940/10
4 years ago
There really are no "Achilles heels" on this particular title.
Good flow, fun ramps, balanced scoring.
Artwork, music, and sound is above average.
The two "toys" (soccer ball and goalie) are not highly prone to problems once properly serviced.
Taking the time to make the "little adjustments" counts on this machine.
If you do not do it, the game can feel like a Peterbilt truck.
Service and repair really comes down to the motor assemblies and they have been reproduced now.
It is a game were a COMPLETE plastic protector set is a REQUIREMENT, if you want to protect your game.
The soccer ball causes all sorts of flying air balls, leading to things breaking.
Even if you do not like soccer, you will still enjoy the game.
You do not need to be a "Captain Obvious" here, because you will be surprised at the fun you will have scoring goals.
Overall a very solid title.
If I had a chance to buy a collector quality example, I would own the game again.
7.818/10
4 years ago
Another one of John Popadiuk's overrated pinball machines by new players whose rating is skewed on PinSide.

The game is an AMAZING piece of (f)art (for collectors).
I did decide to keep a NOS translite on my wall as a keepsake.
Artwork does not equal a good pinball machine, folks, go study some pinball from PAPA and come back after watching around 50 videos, and you will change your mind.

A VERY WEAK ruleset that appeals to people who "think" they are pinball aficionados.
It has the ruleset depth of a rain puddle that you will know from memory in less than 20 games.
Do not get me wrong, it is NOT a bad game, however Capcom's Pinball Magic (PM) makes ToM look like it has its pants around its ankles, and getting spanked repeatedly the whole time.
PM has better "tricks" too, immediately starting with the "skill shot", and it just keeps getting better from there.

This game is notorious for magnetizing balls and getting them stuck all over the game including just below the trunk, not just the trough. It really sucks when you have to constantly jiggle the game to play it.

99% of all people who play/own this machine really like the game...for the first 100 games or so.
Then they realize the game is just "shoot the trunk", "shoot the ramp", and "shoot the trapdoor".
After that they go, "what was I thinking"? (Insert Bill Engvall)

If you own the game, you WILL eventually get tired of it, and sell it off hopefully for equal or more than you paid for it in the first place as the prices rise to pass it off to the next new collector, and then the cycle begins anew. It has been that way for 2 decades with no sign of stopping. History proves me right. (See the review below...)

I owned mine for over 4 years as a serious collector, mostly for the artwork and the fact it is a good game for beginners or non-pinball guests, and then let it move on down the river...for profit.

Good overall shot flow on the ramps and orbits.
Good DMD animations, excellent sound, classic Popadiuk "windup" to MB, and then POOF! that is it.
The music starts looping again.
The artwork saves this game from being a 7.5 or less overall.

Absolutely one of the WEAKEST wizard modes in the history of pinball, for those that actually have one in the code.
There is NO "Grand Finale", it is a joke, and can be obtained with very little practice.
Some people do not even know they played it, let alone completed the game.
It is almost like Jeff Johnson said "ah $#%@ it, they will play the game anyway, who cares about a wizard mode".

"Must play"? Yes.
"Must own"? No.
"Deep gameplay"? 1 * 10^6 HA + HA.
"Must be a 9+ out of 10"? No $#%@ing way.

Bottom line, go buy a Capcom Pinball Magic.
It is $3000+ cheaper and 10X the overall game value.

"You have the MAGIC"!
Actually, it does not, and if you rate this machine 10/10, you have been collecting for less than 4 years, decided live in your parent's basement or at the top of a mountain as a hermit, or have just not sold the machine yet. You will.
Get out of your basement and stop fapping on this machine.
"Fap, fap, fap, this game feels so good, fap, fap, fap".
7.852/10
4 years ago
I have had several opportunities to play this somewhat rare and unique pinball machine.
I never believe in "hype", I play the game FIRST (repeatedly), and then make assessments.
Some of the greatest successes were initially "bombs", and some of the greatest failures were "amazing".
More on this perhaps in another review.
Knowledge is power, experience is key.

Both significant opportunities were favorable, and I had an in detail look at the design and functionality, which in my opinion a *MUST* to see how it compares with both late model WMS/BLY games and current Stern releases.

Build quality is well above average, and for a privately produced pinball machine is very remarkable.
It is clear a lot of though and care went into its design.

The artwork is unique and above average as well.
The "ramps with railings" is a a great touch, I cannot think of too many machines that did this aspect to "blend" into the playfield.
I have never been overly favorable to photogenic artwork on playfields, cabinets, or translites.
In this case, the translite saved the artwork category by boosting it a little bit.
Game play itself is *somewhat* varied, sound quality is excellent.
The humor is definitely a strong point and charm.
DMD animations are average.
Code improvements may boost this game in the future.
Shot variation for mode play is WAY TOO repetitive, which brings the game down (reminds me of ToM or CP...)

The only thing that concerns me is the the reliability in the long term.
From both owner's perspectives, they seem to feel it is "temperamental", meaning you really have to watch to see if there are problems.
I would hate to see the ghost magnet lock on and burn the playfield.
Seems like some additional private owner electronic modifications for protection are needed, similar to what was done with "Feel the power" on TAF.

Certainly a collector's game, and enjoyable by most, but more attuned to younger audiences.
I am just not a type of collector who enjoys the "ditsy blond" Buffy the Vampire Slayer type seances.
It was not meant to be a "Rob Zombie" game, pinball enthusiast nimrods.
If anything, this game reminds me of "Ghost Master", the PC game by Sick Puppies in 2003, which was just completely amazing in use of iconic movie B titles and even Ghost Busters.
8.016/10
4 years ago
I will keep this review very short, as this game needs no "introduction".

"I'm locked on...[+]...FIRE!!!", Adrenaline pumping music score, *Rotating Beacons*, FAST ACTION game.
The Jagov kicker surprises every single first time player.
The response is always "WTF"?

CLASSIC Steve Ritchie design.
The first "superb condition" used pinball I EVER bought in 1988.
I have owned FOUR (I don't know why I kept selling them).
The one (and LAST) I currently have is a unused prototype with different colored playfield "arrow inserts".

Great cost versus fun pinball machine to own.
Very good first pinball machine to buy, maybe even a older children family title.
Still obtainable for well under $2k.
Don't use LEDs in this case, new collectors, unless you want to be completely blind in 30 minutes.
You really do not need more "blue" in this game, guys, geez...(see archive photos).
8.013/10
4 years ago
The unique ramps, theme integration, playfield artwork, and sounds make this pinball machine extremely SPECIAL.

This is a game where the comment, "who cares about the scoring" should be noted, and points should be thrown out the window, as it is ridiculously unbalanced, especially during Multiball. The scoring COULD BE FIXED with improved software code. This drags the game rating score down quite a bit. The cabinet artwork is "basic terrible", and if improved would have allowed it to have been more successful. Anybody want to take a shot at fixing either of the areas?

If you have the opportunity to play this machine in a private collection, DO IT!
The atom smasher and anti-gravity ramps are just classic.

The sound voice of "Strange Science" reminds me of a period such as Xenon, it sticks in your mind, long after you play.

It is simpler, fun, addictive game that will keep you going back into your game room just for the light show, similar to more modern games like Cirqus Voltaire.
Shot and game flow is relatively tight, and takes some practice.
Remade neon pinball toppers can be made to bring back the original factory "sparkle".

A game that is GREATLY enhanced via use of LEDs in just the right places to augment the design colors...just do not use "unicorn diarrhea" non-purists unless you do not want to see the playfield art.
6.171/10
4 years ago
Unfortunately, this is a Stern bomb, and not the good kind.
More akin to "sharting" in the real world.

I do not hate WWE, but this game does not make me want to be a "professional" wrestler.
Code updates are NOT going to save this title EVER.
The design is sloppy, and shots are not well designed and have limited flow.
There is "too much up the center playfield" with the ramps.
It is a "playable" machine, but was HIGHLY rushed title in design.
Artwork is more PhotoShop garbage.
The translite is horrendous, and the LE version is just as bad.
Everytime I see that image of the backglass I think someone has a "third finger" sticking out of their forehead.
I would be embarrassed to admit if I owned this machine.
If you have not picked up on it yet, I highly dislike this game, but am still trying to be respectful.
Thank God, Stern has already released GoT, so they can begin to forget...

NOTE: Look at the patterns on the reviews below. Notice any? Owned it, sold it...uh huh...
If you like the game so much, why did you sell it?

"Get out of your mancave's WWE wannabes, take off your wrestling spandex, just put on your "Superman cape" instead, and go play some real pinball", there are plenty of better choices.
8.532/10
4 years ago
This is just one of "niche" pinball machines that some people are going to like, and some people will not.
Predominantly because it is a "limited time play" machine, and even if you know the rules it still have be unforgiving.
Games can be over VERY VERY FAST, if you are just randomly unlucky.

It is a collector type of pinball machine.
The artwork is excellent, but the integration of the backglass is superb into game features.
It has SO MANY "hidden" game features going on inside the machine, it is boggling.
There is significant strategy involved in "breaking the bank".

Collector's quality examples go for big $$$ for reason.
The wings, dome, and proper token dispenser with the plethora of different token styles is IMPORTANT.
If you only want "one" pinball machine in your collection, this is NOT the machine you are looking for overall, especially if you are starting out in the world of pinball.
If you want to augment your collection to include a unique machine from pinball history (and its small stature) this is a good choice.
8.804/10
4 years ago
I am going to repeat my review of this title, because even with the slight upgrades in code, lighting effects, and features, it is the same game as TAF. Upgraded "gold" parts, make little difference in today's collector world. You are paying to be the "1 of 1000". The original collector's edition parts even had some defects, that had to be worked out. If you want to own one and are willing to pay the price tag (not all TAF:Gold are created equal...), make sure you have the proper verifiable certificate of authenticity and gold plate.

Classic game that is still going strong (This "short" review is worth reading, folks, I have owned THREE).
It is never going to drop in value contrary to the wealth of uninformed new collectors out there.
LCDs will not change its popularity.
Absolutely timeless pinball machine for a number of reasons.

Here are some of them:
#1 Operators continue to make money on the game, even though it is over 30+ years old
#2 It has a collectible theme, that is recognizable
#3 Easy for new pinball players to pick up and play
#4 Family Friendly
#5 Fun game modes with varied styles
#6 Good use of technology in design for the period (thing flipper, hand, Feel the power)

What does it not have?
A deep ruleset, but "Tour the Mansion" wizard mode is good.
Getting harder to find one without magnet burns or mansion insert issues, unless a reproduction playfield was installed.
Expect to GROSSLY OVERPAY for most machines, because all owners think TAF is made of "pure gold" (including the gold versions) instead of a being an expensive, novelty toy, even if the machine is beat to hell.
There are still plenty of naive new buyers that take the bait. A LOT OF THEM.
If you are paying $11-12k for a TAF, you just got robbed blindly, unless it HUO that was bought NIB, and there are not THAT many of them out there. In fact, it is more likely you will find a gold version that is HUO, but some of the gold parts were inferior in quality to the standard version. WMS started off the whole "Limited Edition" thing over 20 years ago Stern, and their quality control, parts consistency, and engineering did not suck, sorry Stern, you lose BADLY, I will never buy another late model SS Stern game again for the rest of my life.

"Feel the POWER"! (of overpaying for this machine)
Other than that, rounds out a "keeper" collection quite well.
I give it a high rating for what is to COLLECTORS and PLAYERS, not the price tag.
If this review was based on "bang for the buck" it would drop to #60.

I will probably buy a TAF Gold (versus regular TAF AGAIN) at some point down the road, but I am not really in a rush.
I will find the one I am looking for eventually.
Why?
This machine gets flipped out all the time, when people go broke.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Humor keeps this game alive, as well as the price tag for collectors, can you say CHA-CHING?!!!
8.055/10
4 years ago
This is what I call the "overloaded playfield toy" pinball machine.
Jump rope, heavy bag, punching bag, boxer.

The playfield is VERY CLAUSTROPHOBIC.
Gameplay is very straightforward with "bash the boxer", but does have some strategy with scoring.
The use of an actual backglass (not the translite remake) makes the game unique.
Getting through all the boxers and "building up up your training" can make for some long games, especially with the video mode and other "game flow interruptions".

Low production for a reason, it tanked due to its release period at the end of the WMS/BLY final "second golden age" era. It ended with a slight overstock due to cost point...

Sound is excellent, music is repetitive.

Best suited for a LARGE collection of machines.
Hard to find NOS parts for everything.

VERY HEAVY machine, and needs tender loving care to keep running properly and be "dialed in".
Definitely not a pinball machine that lends itself to every type of player.

"10/10"? You have to be $#%@ing joking...
7.812/10
4 years ago
"Arnold, Arnold" (cheerleader chant), One of the first DMD games, ball shooter cannon.

This is just one of those classic Steve Ritchie games that are based on left/right ramp action.
This was a tipping point transition game between System 11s and pre-WPC era.
Some models were actually *closer* based on board design towards a System 11 based on parts and electronics.
Sound effects and Arnold's voice are perfect tie-ins from the movie.
Not a ton of depth, just fun for a few quick games every now and again.
Suitable for a multi game collection.

I always liked the end game music with "I'll be back".
The game really shines with a SOLID upgraded sound system and solid bass.
Its booming...
5.379/10
4 years ago
I don't like to be harsh as I give every game its fair share of equality in time for evaluation, but simply put:

This is an overpriced, "electro mechanical" retro homage, copy-catted game design, hybrid pinball, steaming pile of Whizbang/Stern co-produced TURD. (See below for video link of the quality of the game in action)

Curiosity of pinball history, no doubt.
This is NOT Dennis Nordman's finest work of pinball design.
Stern knew, as the list prices have already fallen well below the original retail.
Distributors know, but are staying quiet to reduce losses.
Operators are wondering how long it will take to recoup their investment, but has been doing well profit wise due to reduce maintenance requirements that a modern SS pinball machine, it is colorful, and has a unique shaped cabinet, woodrails and lockbar.
Simple to understand from a non-pinball player standpoint.
How many non-pinball players/enthusiasts/collectors read these type of forums?

If it was a time bomb, it would not explode.
If it was a fart, it will kill people.

Fortunately, there will most likely be minimal overstock due to Stern's ability to refocus production and the fact they do not keep warehouse stock themselves.
This title brings a new meaning to the pinball term, "novelty toy".
It is a niche product that was designed as an experiment to fruition.
It is just not that well done overall to warrant the development time that was spent on designing it (over ten years in concept? Seriously?).

Was this meant as some Stern new collector "fat wallet" joke?
This is coming from a collector who REALLY LIKES EM pinball machines.
You can own at least SIX great EM games for this price of this garbage.
This game SHOULD NOT BE in the Top 100, lordy people, have you played more than 10 games in your lifetime?
Play it once, say you have played it, and move on.

The redeeming features are the retro artwork, sound quality, playfield shot layout (for an EM type design which was not original), and unique cabinet which saves this game from being a 3/10.
All those areas are very good.

Who cares about opinions of "equal opportunity" of the contestability of the "juicy melons" women?
It is a entertainment device, not a piece of satanic artwork.

Whoa Nellie! "quality game design" in action (great job Stern!):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTwjrdMYYXA
Watch the video and you will understand...

The sad part is collectors are going to end up selling for a loss when they get rid of it.
Might work if a collector specializes in EMs however, so somebody will get a really good deal.
Hell, I would buy one for less than $2k, just to resell it for some other clueless new collector at price inflationary costs.
Do yourself a favor, buy some strawberries instead of the melons.
The melons are VERY sour, like a candy "Warhead" when you make the mistake of biting while in your mouth.
The aftertaste lingers...
7.649/10
4 years ago
The best simple description is a "cheap collector" Eight Ball Deluxe/Cactus Canyon combination pinball machine in equivalency.
FIRST major manufacturer pinball machine to use alpha-numeric displays (Hyperball does NOT count).
Wico's AFTOR should count, but most people do not even know the game.
Yes, BLY/WMS fans, Gottlieb was the "fast draw" in innovation (or integrating ideas) again.

The backglass is outstanding.
The playfield artwork is excellent.
The bonus rackup on scoring with the six gun firing is addictive.
Although it does not have conventional drop targets for most of the game like EBD (ie standups), it does have a one shot challenge timed "Cactus Sam" drop target showdown, which makes it slightly unique.
If you think the game is too slow, put the game up on 2X4s and adjust the plumb bob, guys.

Beyond that, is remains a niche game for most collectors.
Not bad as a tournament game if the incline is cranked up, but unlikely to be used these days.
If you are good player, you will be able to "roll" the game score with practice.

Hard to find in good condition mostly due to backglass delamination.
I am not aware of many NOS glasses left.
I bought one a LONG time ago, just in case, and put it in a frame, if I ever decide to own this game again...

NOTE: Do not play this game for more than 30 minutes unless you want to here the background bass tune in your head for the rest of the day!
"Duh na Duh na Duh na, Duh na Duh na Duh na, Duh! DUH!"
8.660/10
4 years ago
A game that remains "out of reach" for most pinball collectors for more reasons than cost.
It would have been Capcom's greatest pinball success with no doubts.

I have had the opportunity to play (and own) multiple versions of this machine over the nearly 20 year history, both original prototypes and the remake.
Both types are NEARLY identical in construction, but the remake has some advantages, previous noted.
However, standards of construction are less than a standard Bally/Williams game, but not poor by any means.

New pinball enthusiasts generally are let down by the game, as they think it is some "holy grail of pinball" which it is NOT. This is the not the "elusive white whale of Moby Dick". On the other hand, a lot of other enthusiasts $#@! on the game because they cannot afford one out of complete envy, which is completely pintarded and not a impartial analysis either. It is a GOOD ORIGINAL game, otherwise why the hell would it have been reproduced in 2004 (and shipped in 2006)? There was no shortage of people in 2003 wanting to buy the game either when the consideration of remaking the game was discussed.

This was not some type of fluke or means to generate addition income like MMr through PPS.
It was a Gene Cunningham dream that came to reality through a long and arduous process, that has a great story and history. It was not because "spare parts were just laying around" either.
MANY people were involved to make it happen and most do not understand or were not around to know.
Most of the remake parts had to be remanufactured, ultimately at a loss.

Overall, a solid effort with a colorful playfield, unique theme, and above average playfield shots. The DMD animations and sound calls are the true standouts of the game, not the "tube dancer".

If you like this game, but cannot afford it, go buy a Pinball Magic. It is just as good, and 3x the quality of Theatre of Magic.

However, anybody that says this game is worth $20k based on "bang for the buck" or a "perfect 10" should be locked up and have their head examined. These same people probably snort a lot of cocaine.
8.656/10
4 years ago
Not an innovative pinball machine, but still very fun to play and challenging.

Certainly one of Stern's best titles in the past 10 years, especially based on the work that went into the updates of the code. MB stacking does not seem possible with everything based on current software (coffin is the only MB which stacks, I can see based on v1.64) which is unfortunate, because it would give additional depth to the game AKA BSD.
The scoring strategy for use of "F-U-E-L", "Lady Justice", and "Snake" either as multipliers or add a ball somewhat make up for some of it, however.
I bow to Mr. Sheats here though for his efforts, he did a lot of work to tweak this machine up now.
We are only missing finality with band members.

MANY features have been reused from other pinball machine titles in the past long before Metallica (*cough* Al's Garage Band Goes On a World Tour *cough* Monster Bash *cough* Guns and Roses *cough*, the list goes on).

Good use of LEDS for a colorful light show and effects for those versions that have them, almost seizure inducing.
Fun variety of shots and gimmicks (Grave, Sparky, Hammer, Snake).
In line drop targets are ALWAYS a good thing.
Excellent quality original hand drawn artwork that does not use photo screen scanning (for all but one version translite), a huge benefit via creative use of the Metallica license and creative talent of "Dirty Donny".
The DMD animations/dots really are a standout, on par almost with Capcom's BBB.

I really enjoy watching Sparky animations and the "electrocution".

Ruleset for depth of play is below average as it all focuses around different modes of multiball and not much else. Basically, "keep playing until multiball starts". Not a large amount "mode strategy" other than scoring, but most of the scoring is balanced. The "extra" Crank it Up modes are the real bonus for big points.

How about a "Rock the House" MB and a special song when you get more than two multiballs going with Sparky going crazy?
How cool would that be Stern?

Sound calls are entertaining and appropriate.
Music is repetitive, but only grating if you do not like the band.
Very pleased Stern included the famous "jukebox mode" with this machine as they have with other titles.
It actually lets you here the "End of the Line" tune, as many will never see or hear it.

There are WAY too many hillbilly Stern, "I only buy new machines, because I cannot fix anything", fanboys on Pinside with ZERO historical pinball design and development knowledge to properly adjust the rating of this machine.
Stop smoking the Stern chronic and get out and play some other non-Stern classic titles, ladies and gentlemen.
It is NOT a "10/10" in any shape of form.
Best used to augment an existing collection.

Stern's factory quality control in manufacturing and design remains suspect at times.
Coffin lock design for the LE and Premium regarding the disappearing magnet should have included a circular eddy sensor to detect the ball, which was never fixed, although modifications were made to the code.
The "newton cube" get DESTROYED after under 500 games, and the newton ball (which is FAR CHEAPER and more common), works better for target detection, as it has for decades.
The whole "sparky coil catching on fire" if the game is shut down with the coin door open and repowered was SHAMELESS, and still exists as a problem.
Additional air ball protector shields were added to later games, but were never included in the original design.
Many plastics are still VERY breakable.
There are a lot of little things after 2+ years Stern should have caught in the latest final run.
They are not new to pinball design.
It is not the requirement of aftermarket designers of mods (such as target splints) to fix all these kinds of little things to protect games or make them play the way they should from the factory.

If you are going to be serious about this machine, the Premium/LE version WITH SHAKER MOTOR and latest corrected software is the only way to go to get the most out of the title.
A ColorDMD is beneficial as well, but you pay the price for the bonus.
Be prepared to make adjustments and corrections out of the box (like the snake head), new owners, this is NORMAL.

Definitely a "pimp my ride" vx.xx pinball machine with mods, many of which are ACTUALLY GOOD.

This game reminds me the opportunity consideration when I bought my Al's Garage Band Goes On a World Tour, but the parts future for the boards was more problematic, and Metallica actually has more depth...
8.860/10
4 years ago
This is one of those games that has a "love and hate" relationship from collectors versus players.
New players HATE the game, because it can be a brutal SDTM with a high WTF! factor, especially when plunging the ball into play.
Outstanding art package.
Excellent sounds and voice calls.
Superb theme.
Decent flow and shots.
VERY DIFFICULT to achieve jackpots.
The real problem is it is another "drain monster". (Pun intended)
Ball control is essential or you never see the creature.
Learn to shoot the whirlpool ramp!
Additionally, multiball can be anti-climatic because it can be over in literally less than 10 seconds, requiring you to start ALL OVER AGAIN for the build up, and it is a lot of work to get everything set.

"Little known fact":

The primary reason this game was moderately successful in arcades regarding production was not due to gameplay value but due to artwork by Kevin O' Conner. If it was not for the artwork design, animation, music, and sounds, the game would have ultimately been a failure. Even the designers admitted this fact. Time has been kind to this game as an iconic nature of John Trudeau and one of his few true "hit" titles.
8.890/10
4 years ago
A timeless classic from a bygone era, and a father of many of the features of modern pinball.
"A wonder from the electro mechanical pinball age".
In fact, it is STILL better than many modern machines to this day.
Every pinball enthusiast needs to play this machine at least once in their lifetime.
If you really like this game buy a CPR reproduction backglass just for the memories.

The artwork from Dave Christensen is absolutely unmistakeable and stands out in the crowd from backglass to playfield, to cabinet.
It was completely identifiable in arcades of the time.
There was an enormous amount of thought that went into the playfield design with skill shot, captive ball, saucers, spinning wheel, return gate, and "zipper flippers".
Not much else you could possibly ask for in a game of this age.
Yes, other games used its features, but only a couple were able to "pull it all together" into a tight package.
4 Million BC comes to mind.

You know you have something special when you plunge the ball into play immediately, when you go "what"? with the skillshot, as many are not aware the playfield was heat warped into proper shape. This starting ball skill shot just never seems to get old, even after you master it, and you get your 3 bells, 3000 points, and most likely the zipper flippers closing from the mushroom bumper shot. There is strategy in this game...

What makes this game so significant to me is its SILENCE.
Modern machines are very vehement and boisterous.
This game needs none of that, and stands on its own charms from simple bells.

A game that seriously needs to be remade PROPERLY to allow so many people to understand the history of pinball.

Any other Fireball version than the original EM game is complete a$$, as it is not the same experience in regards to game play, scoring, or sounds.
You are not getting the same experience.
This is not another "crappy EM", novices.

So few are left now, and even less so in superb+ condition as they reside in pinball museums and the tight hands of serious collectors. In 10 years, probably less than 500.
Good fortune if you find one without a beat to hell, wood cracked, and peeling paint playfield.
The positive news is the "tuff coat" lacquer playfield coating has held up well.

Not everything pinball machine needs a fancy DMD and lots of flashing lights and sounds...
People that rate this game poorly, probably do not know how to play the machine or have never played it at all.
8.038/10
4 years ago
Good quick "romp" game.
Its one of those classic action games like F-14 Tomcat by Steve Ritchie.
Another game some players "hate", and then realize it is good out of ignorance.
The ZZ Top music makes it completely stand out in a crowd and attract new pinball players.
It essentially the original High Speed pinball machine on steroids.
One of several car and motorcycle games to use the flipper buttons to "rev" the motor, which I have always enjoyed showing new pinball players and children, which they have more fun doing than playing the game.

Original short 2005 review:
Can you say FAST ACTION?, "Supercharger" Ramp, ZZ Top Music, beacon light, "RUN the Red Light!"
8.072/10
4 years ago
A game that really stands out from most other 1980s machines.
The innovative "face" lock ball system itself as part of the theme and combination of techno music track along with the sound clips are really shine here.
Only a few machines are equal in quality, namely Black Knight 2000 and Swords of Fury.
Most people know this was the first pinball to feature the "One Billion" shot.
Not-overly repetitive because the game is challenging, and can be tricky in the outlanes.
I hated to get the "machine going" only to have multi-ball end quickly due to drains and have to build up momentum again.
If you have to choose one machine between Pinbot, The Machine, or Jackbot, this is the one to get.
Its one of those "keeper" machines, if you have one that DOES NOT have a fully mylared playfield.
8.800/10
5 years ago
One of the games that defined the 1980s generation of the Early Bally Solid State Era.

This was one of the "go to" games in the arcades in the day alongside games like Black Knight, Black Hole, and Haunted House, during the 80s revival period.
This is a "one more game" title.

A great game for novices and experts alike.
Straightforward ruleset, nobody gets confused.
Fun horseshoe targets bank to shoot the pool balls, very addictive.
Outstanding artwork by Margaret Hudson, her best work IMHO.
Great competition game as well, or up to four players.
This is a good choice for a collector which can stand well on its own or a collection of 100+ pinball machines.

A lot of people say the game is "not fast enough". (See another example above...)
REALLY?
If you do not feel challenged, put a PowerBall™ into a EBD (hey, a "mini" cue ball, novel idea!), raise the back legs up up as high as possible, and jack the game up on 2X4s.
Players were overjoyed when I did that.
Stop making the game play like a woodrail, the flippers are MORE than strong enough to make all the shots.
The game then REALLY rocks, outlanes and center are deadly, and ball time is less than 15 seconds unless you are EXTREMELY good.
EBD at its finest.
"Long live the artwork of Margaret Hudson."


I have owned FOUR EBD in my lifetime, 2X original, and 1X 1984 version, including building one from scratch from a wired playfield, and the fact I still carry a NOS glasses on my wall. Yes, it is that GOOD.

"Stop talkin' and start chalkin'"!

NOTE: If you do the modification I mentioned above, make sure you ADJUST the tilt bob (or remove it), or the game will be UNPLAYABLE! (The incline angle is well above 10+ degrees)

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Classic, fun for all skill levels, "Suitable for any collector!"
8.076/10
5 years ago
"I wonder if I can play the accordion too?"

Ramps, Ramps, and more Ramps.
Good flow, but not White Water level quality.
Great machine, but not the best license usage.
The whole backglass image shenanigan between Stallone, Snipes, and Sandra was "Bullocks".
WMS squeezed pinball juice as much as they could into the game.

One of the few machines to use alternative flipper control strategies (gun handles).
I never understood why operators removed them, unless they thought they would get ripped off the machines.
Great use of the extra SUPERPIN playfield space with actions, ramps, and features.

The "Huxley Award" is one of my favorite difficult shots in pinball, and now rarely known even by owners of the game.

LITTLE KNOW FACT: You score EXTRA points for use of the gun handles on modes and shots.

Probably the FUNNIEST Williams promo videos in the history of pinball.
If you do not know what I am talking about, go watch it, and then you will understand.
You are going to laugh your $%# off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgG8wQ3Msqw

"The actress who appeared in this promotional video went on to a less humiliating career as a street $@#!@ and childrens party clown. Often combining the two for 10 memorable years."

Old Simple 2005 Review:
The "Cyro Claw" feature, gun handle flippers, and unique captive ball targets make this an entertaining game
8.804/10
5 years ago
Classic game that is still going strong (This "short" review is worth reading, folks, I have owned THREE).
It is never going to drop in value contrary to the wealth of uninformed new collectors out there.
LCDs will not change its popularity.

Absolutely timeless pinball machine for a number of reasons.
Here are some of them:
#1 Operators continue to make money on the game, even though it is over 30+ years old
#2 It has a collectible theme, that is recognizable
#3 Easy for new pinball players to pick up and play
#4 Family Friendly
#5 Fun game modes with varied styles
#6 Good use of technology in design for the period (thing flipper, hand, Feel the power)

What does it not have?
A deep ruleset, but "Tour the Mansion" wizard mode is good.
Getting harder to find one without magnet burns or mansion insert issues, unless a reproduction playfield was installed.
Expect to GROSSLY OVERPAY for most machines (I recently turned down another for $7k, in which the machine was in excellent overall condition, but I notice every single little nuance, and I will not be offensive to a seller), because all owners think TAF is made of "pure gold" (including the gold versions) instead of a being an expensive, novelty toy, even if the machine is beat to hell.
There are still plenty of naive new buyers that take the bait. A LOT OF THEM.
The problem is more are arriving every year and jacking up the prices of this title, only to sell the game a year later, and the process continues.
If you are paying $11-12k for a TAF, you just got robbed blindly without even being at gunpoint, unless it HUO that was bought NIB, and there are not THAT many of them out there. In fact, it is more likely you will find a gold version that is HUO, but some of the gold parts were inferior in quality to the standard version. WMS started off the whole "Limited Edition" thing over 20 years ago Stern, and their quality control, parts consistency, and engineering did not suck, sorry Stern, you lose BADLY, I will never buy another late model SS Stern game again for the rest of my life.

"Feel the POWER"! (of overpaying for this machine)
Other than that, rounds out a "keeper" collection quite well.
I give it a high rating for what is to COLLECTORS and PLAYERS, not the price tag.
If this review was based on "bang for the buck" it would drop to #60.

I will probably buy a TAF Gold (versus regular TAF) at some point down the road, but I am not really in a rush.
I will find the one I am looking for eventually.
Why?
This machine gets flipped out all the time, when people go broke.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Humor keeps this game alive, as well as the price tag for collectors, can you say CHA-CHING?!!!
8.460/10
5 years ago
Two words: "Mode stacking". This is game were knowing how to play it makes it worth your while. The gimmicks are nifty like "Mist Multiball" are impressive, but the blood red DMD and animations and sound clips are seal the deal for quality. Not the best first pinball choice for a collector due to difficulty, and not being family friendly. Very dark theme, like it SHOULD BE. Quality is WAY better than most modern Stern SS games.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
"Mist" Multiball, Stackable multiball feature, Blood Red Dripping DMD, Top Notch sound selection
8.636/10
5 years ago
A sleeper hit, and a "thinking man's" pinball machine. You need to understand the ruleset THOROUGHLY to get the most out of the machine in terms of scoring and features, particular creating items out of junk. Its more complicated than most realize, and that nearly killed it at the factory from the start. Operators did not like it, because it did poorly in "bar scenes" (really? No kidding, dumb #$@#!) Yes, you can just bat the ball around, but if you want to get out of the Junkyard, you will need to learn how to play pinball, WELL. Low production makes it hard to find in really nice shape now. Maintenance is not bad at all, but protect those PLASTICS! I sold my last one in 2007, and this time I am not letting this one go.

What collectors are going to realize fairly soon just like games similar to BSD, FT, WH20, RS, and several others, the cost of machine titles like this one are going to rocket upwards as people figure out the game does not "suck".
Unfortunately, at that point, certain game specific parts will already be unobtanium, and owners will be SOL.
You will left with a bunch of subpar quality versions of the same title and no way to restore them back to their former glory.
We got really lucky for a while when the Junkyard "Car Plastic" was repoed in PETG.
I have watched this phenomenon over and over again over the past 30 years.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Understand how to combine junk or get out of the yard.
8.229/10
5 years ago
Another great game hampered by bad licensing, and a terrible backglass. Replace the backglass with an alternative one, and you immediately will be overjoyed. "A title that grows on you, as a pinball player".
A temperamental mechanical operational beast title that can have a lot go wrong, and whole lot of things to break as the balls are flying all over plastics, toys, ramps, mini playfield, and melting on magnets. Good versions are hard to find. Protect those PLASTICS! (notorious areas to break all over the place, especially below the mini playfield). If you have one, MYLAR the lock area, PERIOD, and put a breaker on the magnet, just like TAF.
You will thank me later, if your game starts smoking cigars inside the cabinet. The player controlled diverters are the shining star of this game.

Interesting history about this game in terms of collecting. The game basically sat "dormant" on collectability until collectors got more experienced all the way up until 2010. Now, it seems everybody wants one like Dr. Who or Congo. A lot of initial collectors dumped their machines on others due to playfield and part issues.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Stunning game, Great Ruleset, selectable ramps, Amazing Ball "Lock", Challenging "Battlefield" Subgame
8.128/10
5 years ago
"A game before its time". This machine did not do well in production because the movie was TERRIBLE. The pinball machine is FANTASTIC. Basically, its the Matrix about 10+ years earlier starring the same actor with WORSE special effects and NO bullet time. Game play is FAST, so fast that the ball can start moving at over 120 mph around the orbits and ramps, and you have very little reaction time. The glove gimmick and tic-tac-toe is good for variety. Its a players game, no doubt. Comparable to "The Shadow", in terms of quality.

HINT: Crazy Bob's tells you what rewards on what number on the phone dialer. Its random, and it changes.
This game actually did have some overstock when production ceased.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Excellent "bang for the buck" pinball machine, controllable magnetic data glove with the "tic-tac-toe" matrix
8.280/10
5 years ago
Some people just do not "get" this machine. Essentially, it was the sequel to Funhouse on steroids. Its actually less complicated in terms of mechanics than STTNG (on the underside), but overall complexity is on par with TZ.
A well-oiled RS is a slight to behold when the heads start fighting. It has a deeper ruleset and easter eggs than most WMS machines, but the concept of what you are supposed to do is straightforward. The music can be annoying to some players, but I personally like the country rock and Carlene Carter. If you like Funhouse, you will like RoadShow.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Everything but the kitchen sink game (shaker motor, multiple ramps, two talking heads) UNDERRATED
8.823/10
5 years ago
The license tie in of this particular machine is spot on for the movies, particularly the modes from each of the films.
The game has great shot flow, and has a very challenging wizard mode to achieve. It beats the Stern version of Indiana Jones with its pants around its ankles, blindfolded, and upside down. If you have a Stern machine which is a complete wet soggy noodle, just get rid of it, go find a nice one, spend the money, own this title, and you will thank me. Mechanically, it is not that big of problem to maintain, as the motor assemblies, plastics, ramps, and other parts have been reproduced. I have owned my machine since 1998, if this gives you an idea of its overall quality of the title. It is not leaving my collection.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
What can I say, Indy all the way! Perfect translation in sound, meritorious translation from all three films
7.833/10
5 years ago
The difficulty of this game is not hard unless you have an amputated right hand, the ruleset not complex, but that is not what makes it so special. Its the music, sound, and light show. It has a ridiculous amount of relay boards used to control the flasher effects and solenoids, more than most machines of the same era. The only machines that really rival it in terms of sound quality design are The Machine (BoP) and Swords of Fury.

EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to find one in collector quality condition due to most of the machines had factory installed FULL mylar on the playfield that causes bubbling and cannot be removed without damaging the playfield. NOS playfields are practically non-existent. The double knight loopback tunnel is wicked fast. Drop targets reset is the same trick used in the original Black Knight.

Best owned as a augment an existing collection.
If this is your only game you are going to get bored really fast.

"You got the POWER"!
"The Black Knight RIDES Again"!


This is MY NAMESAKE, for a reason.
I have a full size back glass image tattooed the size of a Frisbee on my back (without the text).
Can you spell R-A-N-S-O-M?

Old Simple 2005 Review:
True pinball COLLECTOR'S (not players) game, Phenomenal techno-orchestrated music (IMHO).
8.469/10
5 years ago
A tough, punishing game that is not for novices. New players have a tendency to dislike this game, and kids definitely do not like it as first time experiences. Notorious drain monster in the outlanes and center. Phenomenal music score and light show, especially during game over, but terrible backglass image if you do not like Sir Patrick Stewart. Technically and mechanically this is a REAL BEAST. Not recommended for new pinball collectors. There are so many assemblies and optos used, phantom switches and playfield shorts are common problems. Phasers generally need new cable assemblies because the wires get twisted and break. Shopping this title is a complete nightmare, and operators HATED this machine, which I can attest as a pinball technican in my early days. I cannot imagine doing a NOS playfield swap on this game, as I would rather have 10 root canals (in a row). If someone asked me to do it, I would charge them over $2000+.

If you dislike this game because you play poorly, "learn to control the ball", that does not make it a "poor game design" new collectors. Otherwise, the game will just hate you back with a vengeance.

Good luck trying to find one that ACTUALLY works on a route (versus a collector's home), because at this point they are RARE to find in the wild as a Chinese Panda.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Deep ruleset, long shots/ramps, great voices (All eleven members of the cast), Fast Multi-Ball.
8.052/10
5 years ago
"Are ya gonna talk or are ya gonna FISH?!"
I will fish, so I will keep this review short.

The ULTIMATE pinball machine partner to White Water and a game that is equal to that game in quality.
Extremely FAST game, and PUNISHING with "lightning flippers".
Make sure it has the proper working pinball TOPPER and dome!
Watch the cabinet side art as many look like nukes went off beside the game.
The toe tapping music gets me every time.

Seems like a lot of reviews on the game are rated by people who have never really played the game thoroughly or are terrible at pinball. There are also a substantial number of what looks like to be pinball "fart in the wind" players, as there a lot of inactive members who rated this game. This is both a players and collectors game. Crying about a missed monster fish, captive ball, or multiball lock shots does not make a game "bad", that means YOUR skills are poor.

Go buy one before it decides to go up another $2000 in price after CPR PFs are all sold out.
If not, you have been warned now, no crying allowed.
You will thank me later and give me a contribution to my pinball "cookie jar" fund.

"You are not going to eat that one are ya"? (Insert innuendo here).
"It was THIS BIG"! (Insert second innuendo here).

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Excellent game shot flow, toe-tapping music theme, animated fish marquee, perfect companion to WhiteWater!
8.036/10
5 years ago
Underrated classic. Most collectors do not catch on of what this game has to offer until the have been in the hobby for a while, and then realize they want one for their collection. Several abused shots reduce the challenge, hence go for multiball. Not all the best games have to be the late model WMS/BLY SS machines. Much better than games like TOTAN, NGG, NF, and many others with more flash in the pan than straightforward game play, because its stacking scoring is solid. Certainly better than games like Stern's "Family Guy". Geez, collectors wake up!

SONIC BOOM!!!

If you want a "wobble head" prototype kit, get the REAL one from Basement Arcade, not the cheap knock off. They are still available if you want to buy one.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! The doctor must be destroyed!" A game with an original three level mini playfield and fun loopable orbit.
8.296/10
5 years ago
The machine that demonstrates the finest ramp design in pinball history. Also sports one of the longest ramps in pinball history as well. The game truly has "flow", just like its market slogan. One of Dennis Nordman's greatest design achievements. The music heats up the further you get down the river with each level of raft. I have owned three of this title is 25 years of collecting, and I am done selling it now. Learn how to backhand flipper the ball into No Way Out for maximum scoring, and max out your scoring multiplier with Insanity Falls practice BEFORE multiball, if you want to here the Wet Willy dog "howl" and "TRRRRIPPPLE JACKPOT!". ARWHOOOO!

If you think the game is too hard or you do not under the ruleset, learn to play pinball.
This game is not that complicated, if you know how to bounce pass, backhand, and the machine itself is in good repair. I have a tendency to crank my incline angle on this machine around 11 degrees.

"W-E-L-C-O-M-E to Wet Willie's"!

Old Simple 2005 Review:
RAMPS, RAMPS, and More RAMPS! Strategic "thinking" pinball at its best! Welcome to "WET WILLEY'S"!
9.560/10
5 years ago
A game that stands the test of pinball time with "Bash the Castle".
Many "old time collectors" who have owned their machines for over a decade (or more), can vouch for that.
Most knew this when the game was finally released, even when operators were still skeptical.
Very entertaining title for new pinball players, hence its "overrated" status by some.
You have to look DEEPER, than the first 100 plays.
Make your own decision if you can find a proper working one on location.
This game has a tendency to get "flipped" when new collectors go broke, bored, or want a new motorcycle (which happens frequently).
INSANELY OVERPRICED now, and I thought I overpaid for mine in 2005.
Literally the cost has TRIPLED in 10 years alone.
Its a novelty toy, folks, not made of platinum.
If you agree with the rater above then I must assume that $20k is an acceptable "bang for the buck" price for a Big Bang Bar as well?
The "bang for the buck" comment is usually reserved for new collectors who bought a MM remake...
In fact, I guarantee it.

The remakes are NOT "better" than the original.
WTF? What kind of technical assessment is that?
In fact, it should have its own title entry instead of the original like TAF or EBD.
Its not a Bally/Williams game!
The parts used are more susceptible to breakage than the original.
The light boards are completely different (and the inserts with LEDs instead of bulbs are causing issues)
The technology used is not remotely the same on the remake.
Here is a wonderful question, "how many people here have replaced a LED on a MASTER surface mounted PCB?"
Answer? Almost no one.
"How many people here have replaced a #555 bulb in a lamp socket?"
Answer? EVERYONE.

Simply put, the comparison is "apples and oranges", and nonsensical.

The game play is nearly identical, if that is what is most important to you.

The debate rages on by less than knowledgeable collectors, and completely new people in the hobby that have no full understanding of the games and their development.

Think about this one:
If Chevy made a new Corvette 1967 Stingray (without the Chevy logo HINT HINT) and used new types of parts, an electronic ignition, and improved computer controlled fuel injected engine would it be an ORIGINAL Corvette Stingray?
Would you pay the same amount of money for it?
Education in this hobby seems to have take a down turn.
The good news is the remake allowed collectors to own a "copy" of the original, which is wonderful for the hobby.
Fanboys need not apply here.

I am not a Bally/Williams purist.
All machines have equal value in terms of their place in pinball history.
Do your homework.

Is it the "greatest pinball machine ever made"?
Absolutely not.
"Holy Grail"?
$#@! no, there are prototype games that are much more desirable.
But, it has the replay-ability that many pinball machines do not fully have in terms of game play.

Old Simple 2005 Review:
One of the RARE (in design) pinball machines that gets it ALL RIGHT, EXTREMELY overpriced however....
9.800/10
5 years ago
Near perfect machine design for many reasons, but...
POOR choice for a first time pinball buyer for his/her/family "collection", due to the complexity and things which can go wrong.
Reliable once squared away in restoration. Know what you are getting into here. Many collectors do not. WAIT, get your feet wet, understand basic pinball functioning, care, and maintenance. Difficult to find in superb+ condition due to popularity. Extremely overpriced now in comparison to what it used to be. Every "hardcore" solid state pinball machine collector eventually owns one, that is just the way it is, unless you collect wood rails, wedge heads, EMs, and/or early solid state machines exclusively.

It was labeled "one of the most complex pinball machines ever made" for a reason. That does not mean programming code and ruleset, tournament players. Availability of replacement parts is excellent now, however. I do not recommend installing the "third magnet mod", as you can damage your machine, if you do not know what you are doing. Just let it go new collectors, it really is not that important, and it does nothing to improve game play.

Another personal quote from me: "The most garbage modded machine in pinball history".
This is the game that brought out all sorts of people from the woodwork putting all sorts of ridiculous crap on their playfields, and sellers charging INSANE amounts of dollars for plastic toys for this $#%@. Get wise, and go find them in the Toy-R-Us first, if you want to do it. TAF is right behind this machine under the same circumstances.

My personal #1 machine which I purchased NIB in 1994, owned for over 23 years now, and better than Medieval Madness with "shoot the castle".

If you are SERIOUS about pinball, go buy one, you will understand later because of the ruleset depth, as many people never get to play a PROPERLY OPERATING machine that works correctly. New collectors will finally "get" the game if they decide to stick around for more than two years collecting pinball machines, just trust me I have heard comments like "I don't get it, it is just not that good" since 1993...
Guess what?
Time has shown otherwise, years later, and it remains in the "Top 10" list on every website.
People that rate games like TOTAN at 9.1+ are not privy to the balance between collectibility, gameplay, and rulesets. I can beat TOTAN with one ball. It took me 15+ years to master TZ for everything backwards and forwards to get the most out of the machine.


"Get lost in the Zone"!

P.S. BTW, the three holes for the legs are important, bottom two always on front and back while installing, otherwise your game is going to play like a woodrail! (I have seen this, and it was quite humorous).

Old Simple 2005 Review:
Complex ruleset, cool toys, long term appeal, great music and sound! THE "PERFECT" PINBALL!