Had this game for several days now, and I really have to say I love the way Houdini feels and plays. For those that complain about the "tight shots", I have several other pins that have just as difficult shots, and a couple that are much worse in my opinion. No question Houdini is tougher than some pins, but that is the part I like the most. As others have said here, "it will make you a better player", and I believe that to be absolutely true. I suck at pinball....I am a casual player only. I am not ranked, and I hate to play in tournaments or leagues.....I just play for the fun of it. With that said, Houdini is one of those games that is challenging enough to keep you thinking about your shot placement, and deep enough to be really rewarding, but at the same time you don't need a PHD to figure out the next shot or strategy. It's possible this is just a by-product of playing more pinball since I got Houdini, but my scores across the board have come up, and I think it is more in regards to actually thinking about what I am doing rather than just smacking the ball around. Trust me, if you play like me and take that method to Houdini, the game will make you pay in quick fashion. Love the artwork and layout, and Josh is doing stellar things with the code. It's cool to see all of the subtle industry humor interjected in the oddest places, and as one that doesn't pay much attention to the screen during play, it is nice to hear the callouts on what to shoot.
The only real negative things I can think of about the game are purely cosmetic, and at least one item I know is being actively worked on. The music is a little repetitive, but you really don't notice it much if you are concentrating on the game, and while I completely get the tongue-in-cheek humor, I could do without being told I suck on each ball launch.......lol. (I already know I am not a good player) I am guessing that would be an easy fix. My only other suggestion would be the ability to double-flipper past the 'magic out of the hat' scenes and such to where you don't have to watch the video, but can flipper to a final award screen, just to keep more of the flow of the game. Guys like me that play casually, don't necessarily want to stop the game play to watch the same sequences over and over.....although I will admit there are some fun gems hidden into the sequences.
But again, all of that is cosmetic, and nothing that would stop me from playing the game. Houdini is as enjoyable as any of the last NIB games I have purchased, and whatever the reason, it has done more for my game than any of those last NIB's purchased (BM66LE,WOZRR, AFMRLE,GBLE). I am really looking forward to this code progression and for what Josh has planned next.