ALIEN PINBALL : Review...stop your grinning and drop your linen

(Topic ID: 202043)

ALIEN PINBALL : Review...stop your grinning and drop your linen


By mnpinball

1 year ago



Topic Stats

  • 41 posts
  • 21 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Kneissl
  • Topic is favorited by 8 Pinsiders

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Linked Games

  • Alien Heighway Pinball, 2017

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#1 1 year ago

With all the massive posting on the Heighway Alien thread I figured this post might get lost so I wanted to create my own and delve into the game itself and give it a review from top to bottom as far as the art, gameplay, hardware and the cabinet, things like that.

People that know me personally know that I love Pinball any Pinball, doesn't make a difference who the manufacturer is how old or how new the game is, I can always find something good in a pinball machine so no one can really say that I'm a fanboy of any particular maker, model or manufacturer or genre of game.

I've been watching the Alien Heighway project ever since the beginning when it was talked about at a seminar at Expo about three years ago. Now to be honest I was never a fan of Full Throttle, I really didn't like Heighway's design of cabinets I didn't like the theme of full throttle when I played it at expo it felt clunky and just never clicked with me. However it was still fun to play.

Also with the new company and that company being out of the states across the pond I really wasn't a fan of sending any money to a pre-order considering what happened with Dutch pinball and the Predator project so even though this was a dream theme for me I've vowed not to make a pre-order until I knew games were stateside for purchase.

I've recently taken possession of an alien game and have had it for 10 days in my collection I can honestly say I'm extremely happy with this purchase.

I wanted to wait to share my experience in a review until I've had enough time on the game and let the honeymoon wear off.

I'll rank these topics in sections.
Cabinet:
The cabinet is very well constructed and very solid. I'm not a fan of the head design it would be much easier if this was on a hinged platform for the head. There were no instructions included but between me and my son we were able to get the head on and figure it out. Only two plugs needed to be plugged into the head through the access hole.

Not a big fan of the magazine cassette style play field glass and frame similar to what you'd find on an early 60s Bally. It weighs like a tank, it's extremely well constructed but when you're playing the game it doesn't quite feel as comfortable as the other manufactures because the corners are so sharp on your palm. The corners are cut at a 45° angle and beveled instead of the normal lockdown bar that smooth and transitioned with a better feel to your palm.

Art:
For the theme everything fits just perfect I really have no negatives about the art it's well laid out, the font is crisp and easy to read. I will also say the play fields were extremely well produced I'm hardly seeing any divots at all in the playfield so whatever quality wood they are using is extremely good.

Hardware:
This here is a strong point with Heighway.
They are using a normal off-the-shelf motherboard CPU set up similar to Jersey Jack Pinball it gives the system lots of muscle and lots of room to work with including the sound. No fear of worrying about fixing or wondering how to get parts later down the line.

The proprietary thing is the driver board and the I/O boards speaking of the I/O boards there are four of them in the Alien and everyone is the same part number unlike Stern with their node boards that are many different part numbers that are game specific.

All of the light boards have through hole LED lights that are easily replaceable and can be repaired by a normal soldering iron and tools and skills.

There are even proximity switches underneath the play field on the left outer drain in the bagatelle area that senses the ball similar to like what you'd find on monster bash for the phantom flip. Very cool feature on Alien. And again these are through hole replaceable parts.

Flippers and coils and mechanisms feel great and not weak.

Sound:
This right here is the crown jewel and high point in this game. David Thiel in my mind is a master at sound and I think one of the best this generation has seen in coin-op gaming. He has literally created a mind blowing eargasmic overload to give the player a sense of actually becoming part of the game and immersing the player into the theme. Compound that with a very nice hardware system to use and exploit the sound system is a major plus. The subwoofer in this game and the speaker set up is top notch.

Game layout and design:
4 flippers, 3 ramps, a magnet, 3 drop target bank, a saucer, a ball eating toy, the game is loaded.
It's got the goods but is it good ?
Hell yes ! The layout of this game is absolutely fantastic it's got some great unique shots, it's got hella flow, it's very fast and not clunky. I really like that they got rid of the Queen's nest rotating chamber that really did nothing in the upper play field and replaced it with a small LCD screen to give the player some quick information and heads up for starting modes.

All the flippers have nice unique shots, the ball flow to the outer Orbits is fast and smooth. For me it feels like a combination of Steve Ritchie's Spiderman and Dennis Nordman's Demolition Man, Dave Sanders has created a very nice game here.

Code:
What's here for the code is excellent thus far, there's five modes for each film which you can choose from at the beginning of the game via flipper button once you complete go through all those you complete the next film. Also there is five multi-ball modes. LCD animations are crisp and very well done, lots of movie clips culled and used integrated very well into the game.

I'm told there's going to be another big update before the end of this year.

This game is priced right around the same price as a stern premium and hands-down this game actually has the better value I feel. There is no reason why this game can't sell the numbers of a typical run say of 3000 units. The game is really well done and fantastic. The heart and soul is in this project, it's got some good people on it the quality of the game as well built.

So upon getting my game everything worked out of the box initially I was having some issues with the Xeno head, I took apart the long tongue mechanism and did some minor adjustments and put a very light film of Teflon lubricant on the slide. It was seeming to be binding just a little bit on the tongue extension the guide itself looks like it's made of a white Delrin material. It's now been working flawlessly since I've done that.

As with playing the demo games at the Pinball events for the last two years I noticed that the kick out hole always was having some chipping issues.

These games from the factory do not have any mylar on the playfield. There should be a Mylar strip on the ball kick out, there should be mylar on the drop holes at the ramps exits and possibly maybe a mylar circle around the magnet and inside the pop bumper area.

The ball launch auto launch ramp feeds the ball directly to the mini plastic ramp to the right flipper inlane. That ball drops on that plastic ramp I believe there should be maybe a spot mylar there or a hyperthin stainless adhesive square just to eliminate spiderweb cracking on that plastic from direct hits.

All the plastics are acrylic and can easily crack that's a negative for me because three days after I got my game one of my slingshot plastics cracked because there was no fender washers on the corners.
They should change to a PETG plastic.

So other than those few minor issues the game has been playing great and has been rock solid.

So really other than missing Mylar and the material made of the plastics I'd give this game a 9 out of 10 based on theme, design, build quality and presentation.
I think the more people get to see and play this game hands on they will be pleasantly surprised. This game is very special and definitely a turning point for the company

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#2 1 year ago

Thanks for the in-depth review. Despite all of the issues, I'm still really looking forward to getting mine one of these days. I hope they can start getting these out the door in larger numbers sometime soon. Sounds like some mylar and petg washers might be a necessary install even before the first ball is played though.

#3 1 year ago

Good write up, thanks.

#5 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing.

#6 1 year ago

This game is amazing.

#7 1 year ago

Nice review

#8 1 year ago
Quoted from nman:

Thanks for the in-depth review. Despite all of the issues, I'm still really looking forward to getting mine one of these days. I hope they can start getting these out the door in larger numbers sometime soon. Sounds like some mylar and petg washers might be a necessary install even before the first ball is played though.

Yes game is a true gem, so well done.

Who did you order from ?

#9 1 year ago

An LE from Heighway, prior to CT becoming involved. So I've probably got a bit of time left.

12
#10 1 year ago

Hey y'all... for those of who you've played an Alien that's working properly: If you love the game, please visit the Pinside Ratings page for the game and review it! If you hate the game... ummm, close your browser now.

Just kidding. Seriously, I'd love to see lots of honest ratings, good and bad, from players who've gotten to play properly working Alien machines. There's no question that too many Aliens have gone out with glitches; fortunately, that seems to be steadily improving. There's also no question that pretty much *every* pin sucks when it has significant glitches, and IMHO that shouldn't be part of the ratings. It'd be great to see lots more Pinside ratings based on games that are working the way the design team intended, so we can see what players like and don't like about the experience, and learn from that for future games.

Thanks!

#11 1 year ago
Quoted from Ferret:

Hey y'all... for those of who you've played an Alien that's working properly: If you love the game, please visit the Pinside Ratings page for the game and review it! If you hate the game... ummm, close your browser now.
Just kidding. Seriously, I'd love to see lots of honest ratings, good and bad, from players who've gotten to play properly working Alien machines. There's no question that too many Aliens have gone out with glitches; fortunately, that seems to be steadily improving. There's also no question that pretty much *every* pin sucks when it has significant glitches, and IMHO that shouldn't be part of the ratings. It'd be great to see lots more Pinside ratings based on games that are working the way the design team intended, so we can see what players like and don't like about the experience, and learn from that for future games.
Thanks!

The current overall score is a bad joke. I have a properly working Alien and I finally reviewed it (Go check out my review). Short version - It's the highest rating I've ever given...and no it's not a perfect 10 (nothing is).

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from Ferret:

There's no question that too many Aliens have gone out with glitches; fortunately, that seems to be steadily improving.

We have to see....only one group has gone out so far, correct?

#13 1 year ago

Our club has been waiting for many months on this one. Can't wait to play!

#14 1 year ago

One of the best in the Twin Cities tried out Alien for the first time. He loved it.
PEM

Noticed a bug tonight. When 2 people have to enter initials as a high score during game over it only let us enter one set of initials thus leaving the other high score name blank during attract mode.

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#15 1 year ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

Noticed a bug tonight. When 2 people have to enter initials as a high score during game over it only let us enter one set of initials thus leaving the other high score name blank during attract mode.

This should already be fixed for the next code release. Sorry 'bout that.

#16 1 year ago

Hey Ferrret, just a stupid question. When the new code is released, what web site would we go to since I have a hard time with Heighways web site? Of course I trust Pinside for notification from other owners of new code releases, so thanks fellas. Also, I have an easier time downloading files from Sterns web site than JJs for some reason, and it's not just me.

Also, will there be a readme file? Loving the pin and its shots, although my alien head mech messed up the other night. Magnetic wand got stuck and wouldn't go back in. Luckily I just turned off the game and pushed the rod back in and it's playing fine now. (Whew)

#17 1 year ago

That score is insane. I don't even understand.

#18 1 year ago

I am thinking about picking one up at some point. Thing I just don't get is why does it need three screens? What does the flush screen do differently than the mini lcd at the top of the playfield? Does the backbone monitor show the same info as the flush screen?

#19 1 year ago
Quoted from gliebig:

I am thinking about picking one up at some point. Thing I just don't get is why does it need three screens? What does the flush screen do differently than the mini lcd at the top of the playfield? Does the backbone monitor show the same info as the flush screen?

As an owner I was thinking the 3 was kind of overboard but after having it they are all worth it. Backbox is a no brainer but having that PF LCD is really nice as I don't need to look up (it shows the same display as backbox) while the back corner LCD shows mode based info (timer, etc). It all works really well.

#20 1 year ago
Quoted from delt31:

That score is insane. I don't even understand.

That's Paul Madison (PEM) for you. Probably his first time ever playing the game too. Damn, I wish I could have gotten out there last night. It's always a good time out there and I haven't seen Paul in ages. At least the December date is already locked and loaded.

#21 1 year ago

If they ever start producing these so they have a US stock at Cointaker, I'd definitely consider one. Congrats to HP for continuing the project. Make it better and make more and you have a winner on your hands.

#22 1 year ago

It's a winner, it's just a matter of getting enough out there so everyone has a chance to see for themselves.

#23 1 year ago

How did u get one? I’ve paid in full for both Full Throttle and Alien over 18 months ago. I’ve offered to buy additional Aliens if I can just get my game. I’ve tried everything to, at the very least, get my Full Throttle. I suspect that by paying in full, they don’t believe they can get any more money out of me, and therefore I’m being ignored. I even suggested I could make an investment in an American pinball manufacturer and help Heighway out by subsidizing the cost of goods in manufacturing the games - then pay a royalty to Heighway for each pin manufactured. But, so far my pleas and my money are being ignored. If carrots won’t work, my last resort is the legal process.

I will post here the demand letter that my law firm sends to Heighway. The firm I will use has won some high profile cases against unscrupulous game companies. If anyone else has been similarly defrauded like me, send me a PM and I will see that you get added to the lawsuit. I wish it had not come to this, but Heighway has been acting in bad faith and I’m tired of the silence... and rare (very rare) communication that I have had... communication lacking substance, only vague, vacuous reassurances...

#24 1 year ago

great review!!!...just found this thread, and appreciate it's focus...on the GAME itself. I can say after playing Kneissl's, it's an absolute amazing machine, exceeding my expectations at several levels. Very excited to get mine!!!!

#25 1 year ago

That sucks davidus56 I pretty much only communicated through Morgan at heighway. Did a deposit early this year and then paid in full through PayPal nearly two months before receiving the game. If they need more buyers like me to make whole you guys who've paid in full long ago, I hope they have enough to pull it off.

#26 1 year ago
Quoted from Kneissl:

That sucks davidus56 I pretty much only communicated through Morgan at heighway. Did a deposit early this year and then paid in full through PayPal nearly two months before receiving the game. If they need more buyers like me to make whole you guys who've paid in full long ago, I hope they have enough to pull it off.

Completely agree. davidus56, can I request you post your info in this thread I started:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ok-an-alien-refund-request-for-clarity-thread

Trying to tie a real #$$$ to this situation, and an easy way to gauge how they respond. I'm "old money" as well (3 years), so quite sure it was long absorbed. Now that games are going , we will hope the new money catches up. Putting it all in one place, will give us a nice metric to work with......Aliens for everyone!!!

(not meaning to derail this thread, but this issue will haunt all of them until we know what is going on)

#27 1 year ago
Quoted from Kneissl:

That sucks davidus56 I pretty much only communicated through Morgan at heighway. Did a deposit early this year and then paid in full through PayPal nearly two months before receiving the game. If they need more buyers like me to make whole you guys who've paid in full long ago, I hope they have enough to pull it off.

completely agree...davidus56, can I request you put this info in the thread I started:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ok-an-alien-refund-request-for-clarity-thread

trying to approach this from a pure cash standpoint, and might be a good way to gauge how much $

#28 1 year ago
Quoted from Davidus56:

How did u get one? I’ve paid in full for both Full Throttle and Alien over 18 months ago.

I bought through Cointaker, the game I received was channeled in conjunction through Nitro Canada. One came available so I took it. Whether it was an extra unit available in their bulk first shipment or it was one that a customer declined to purchase I have no idea I did not ask.

#29 1 year ago
Quoted from Davidus56:

How did u get one? I’ve paid in full for both Full Throttle and Alien over 18 months ago. I’ve offered to buy additional Aliens if I can just get my game. I’ve tried everything to, at the very least, get my Full Throttle. I suspect that by paying in full, they don’t believe they can get any more money out of me, and therefore I’m being ignored. I even suggested I could make an investment in an American pinball manufacturer and help Heighway out by subsidizing the cost of goods in manufacturing the games - then pay a royalty to Heighway for each pin manufactured. But, so far my pleas and my money are being ignored. If carrots won’t work, my last resort is the legal process.
I will post here the demand letter that my law firm sends to Heighway. The firm I will use has won some high profile cases against unscrupulous game companies. If anyone else has been similarly defrauded like me, send me a PM and I will see that you get added to the lawsuit. I wish it had not come to this, but Heighway has been acting in bad faith and I’m tired of the silence... and rare (very rare) communication that I have had... communication lacking substance, only vague, vacuous reassurances...

I don't understand this b/c Cointaker has another shipment coming in and they have extra (last I heard) so why wouldn't you get one? Did you try calling Melissa? I'm just confused. I've been speaking to Morgan almost daily with no issues.

#30 1 year ago

I hosted a party yesterday and game was played pretty much non stop 8 hours. Absolutely Zero issues. Xeno working perfectly, no ball traps and code excellent.
Game has been a big hit.

#31 1 year ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

I hosted a party yesterday and game was played pretty much non stop 8 hours. Absolutely Zero issues. Xeno working perfectly, no ball traps and code excellent.
Game has been a big hit.

Same here. I had a few high ranking games (IJ and LOTR) at recent parties and no one missed em. Usually someone is bummed their favorite game got swapped out.

#32 1 year ago
Quoted from Kneissl:

Same here. I had a few high ranking games (IJ and LOTR) at recent parties and no one missed em. Usually someone is bummed their favorite game got swapped out.

I can testify that when you graciously invited me over...I wasn't really aware of any other game in the room.........

#33 1 year ago
Quoted from delt31:

I don't understand this b/c Cointaker has another shipment coming in and they have extra (last I heard) so why wouldn't you get one? Did you try calling Melissa? I'm just confused. I've been speaking to Morgan almost daily with no issues.

I'm pretty sure he ordered and LE...but that still does not explain the Full Throttle.

#34 1 year ago
Quoted from Ferret:

Hey y'all... for those of who you've played an Alien that's working properly: If you love the game, please visit the Pinside Ratings page for the game and review it! If you hate the game... ummm, close your browser now.
Just kidding. Seriously, I'd love to see lots of honest ratings, good and bad, from players who've gotten to play properly working Alien machines. There's no question that too many Aliens have gone out with glitches; fortunately, that seems to be steadily improving. There's also no question that pretty much *every* pin sucks when it has significant glitches, and IMHO that shouldn't be part of the ratings. It'd be great to see lots more Pinside ratings based on games that are working the way the design team intended, so we can see what players like and don't like about the experience, and learn from that for future games.
Thanks!

*cough* IPDB AS WELL *cough*

#35 1 year ago
Quoted from Davidus56:

How did u get one? I’ve paid in full for both Full Throttle and Alien over 18 months ago. I’ve offered to buy additional Aliens if I can just get my game. I’ve tried everything to, at the very least, get my Full Throttle. I suspect that by paying in full, they don’t believe they can get any more money out of me, and therefore I’m being ignored. I even suggested I could make an investment in an American pinball manufacturer and help Heighway out by subsidizing the cost of goods in manufacturing the games - then pay a royalty to Heighway for each pin manufactured. But, so far my pleas and my money are being ignored. If carrots won’t work, my last resort is the legal process.
I will post here the demand letter that my law firm sends to Heighway. The firm I will use has won some high profile cases against unscrupulous game companies. If anyone else has been similarly defrauded like me, send me a PM and I will see that you get added to the lawsuit. I wish it had not come to this, but Heighway has been acting in bad faith and I’m tired of the silence... and rare (very rare) communication that I have had... communication lacking substance, only vague, vacuous reassurances...

But you ordered a LE, and these haven’t been created yet. I’m not following (Full Throttle aside), no LE’s exist yet so you haven’t been circumvented in line right?

Heighway likely cannot allow people to downgrade to the Standard at the previous price point as there is likely more margin in the LE (which they need) and would be losing. Have you offered to take on a Standard at the new price point?

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from jonesjb:

Heighway likely cannot allow people to downgrade to the Standard at the previous price point as there is likely more margin in the LE (which they need) and would be losing.

Well, this is probably true for situations where people have paid in full, but not necessarily always. I'm not paid in full and if i did decide to downgrade, their options will basically be "get ~$2.1k more from me and have a happy customer" or "refund me $5.5k and lose a customer for life." Considering how long they've basically had an interest-free loan from me and how much things have changed with the games since my initial deposit, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to give the option of a downgrade.

That said, i was very happy to finally see an update on the LE status today and I'm definitely still leaning toward the LE i ordered so hopefully it won't come to that.

#37 1 year ago
Quoted from nman:

Well, this is probably true for situations where people have paid in full, but not necessarily always. I'm not paid in full and if i did decide to downgrade, their options will basically be "get ~$2.1k more from me and have a happy customer" or "refund me $5.5k and lose a customer for life." Considering how long they've basically had an interest-free loan from me and how much things have changed with the games since my initial deposit, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to give the option of a downgrade.
That said, i was very happy to finally see an update on the LE status today and I'm definitely still leaning toward the LE i ordered so hopefully it won't come to that.

I'm confused...you put down a 5.5k deposit? Or you want and SE for 3.4k?

#38 1 year ago
Quoted from Astropin:

I'm confused...you put down a 5.5k deposit? Or you want and SE for 3.4k?

No, i put down an initial deposit over two years ago and made a second payment over a year ago (when they said LEs were "in production") for a total of ~$5.5k paid to them thus far. If i got an SE, i would also still make a couple of upgrades so that may have also confused the numbers a bit too on additional amounts i would be paying them.

#39 1 year ago

I started writing up a more in-depth review of the game.. Man there's a lot of things to talk about! I probably should've started with the multiball modes.

https://pinside.com/pinball/community/pinsiders/kneissl/ratings/comments#rating-108856

3 weeks later
#40 1 year ago

Finally got a chance to play it on location: I was extremely impressed. It was a different and immersive experience: and I don't like Alien!

The shots were surprisingly all easily doable and the game wasn't difficult to control. Everything worked 100%.
It was hard to remember where the ball is going to come from but I am sure that will come with time.

I think some of the modes are too hard on a flow game (the ones were you can hit certain shots but not others). But that is just a software fix... or learning better control

Really really unique game. If you own it, you're lucky.

#41 1 year ago

I enjoyed the Alien movies, but it's nothing I really seek out. In other words, the theme is a neutral aspect for me, not a positive or negative. The immersion and layout are what makes the game great for me.

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