(Topic ID: 122693)

AMH: In-Depth Review After 6 Months


By Betelgeuse

4 years ago



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  • 43 posts
  • 24 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by JeffF
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#1 4 years ago

I have had AMH in my 12 game lineup for 6 months now. This game is fun and it is very challenging. It's well built, it plays fast, the shots are very satisfying, the toys are great, the callouts are funny and the music is awesome. I personally love the theme and the rules are plenty deep. Overall, this game is possibly a contender for A status, but it's not perfect and I'll explain why. At this point I think I can give a fair analysis of the pros and cons and I'll try not to sugar coat. I'll also try to not spend too much time on the art, dmd and the audio as that's subjective and can be experienced without actually playing the game. I do consider those to be pretty strong positives, though. I'll start with the bad and get that out of the way.

THE BAD
===========================
#1 The Difficulty - Yea, I know, 'Since when is difficulty bad?' I mentioned this game was challenging, but it can also be genuinely frustrating. Everything on the playfield seems hell bent on draining the ball, even more so than say Flash Gordon or Bram Stoker's Dracula. Don't get me wrong, I would rather have a game be difficult than too easy and I'm an above average player, but I probably lose about 70% of my balls before the (10 second) ballsaver ends and often lose the next one just as fast. This does make the game great for multiplayer, but it would be nice to make some appreciable progress in the game a little more often, especially considering how deep the rules are. So, what exactly makes the game so difficult? Most of it is what you might expect, but I think these three things are what make the game exceptionally difficult:

(A) The Slings! - The main slingshots are large and are positioned closer to the base of the flipper than on most games. This means that balls will never land at the base of the flipper, but instead tend to hit the sling and bounce out to the tip. This makes ball control very difficult. Drop catching, live catching, nudging and dead flipper passing are your only hope. Even then, most shots will be forced to be made from close to the tip of the flippers. The right sling positioning also interferes with the path to the flipper from the right scoop kickout quite a bit.

(B) The Other Slings! - To add insult to injury, positioned just above the deadly slings is another set of similarly positioned rubber rings on the sides. There are no kickers for these, but they also tend bounce the ball right into the opposite outlane pretty relentlessly. The positioning of the rubber rings at the bottom also tends to guide the ball right down into the outlane on that side. This makes recovering from the ball getting tied up in the slings even more difficult.

(C) No Adjustments - There is no way to adjust the outlane posts or the positioning of any of this stuff.

#2 - The Jump Ramp - This was a creative idea, but I can't help but feel that the game would have played smoother with just a regular ramp here. You can always make the ramp with a direct shot, but it does result in a lot of rattle outs and airballs too. The feeling of making the shot is awesome, but it doesn't happen often enough and I hardly ever see the Theater Ghost as a result. This is also one of the best flow shots in the game, so it feels stunted somewhat. The positioning of the rollover switch at the base of the ramp also seems to be what deviates the ball just enough to not complete the shot in a lot of cases. **EDIT** <<Since the time of writing, I was able to adjust my right orbit ball guide in such a way that the jump ramp is now a completely smooth shot. I no longer feel that this is a negative point for the game provided the user can dial this in if needed on their machine.>>

#3 - The General Illumination - It's been said many times, but the GI on the game might be it's weakest point. The color changing strips are through-the-roof good, but they aren't enough to light the whole playfield with the few scattered GI lamps and three pseudo flashers. Modding in spot lamps for, at least, the slings, the ramps and the hellavator area is a must. At least it's an easy enough fix.

That's it for the bad. Yup, these are my only criticisms of the game. Now onto the good...

THE GOOD
===========================
#1 - The Rules - The rule set for this game is fantastic and has some innovative ideas I can't remember seeing in any other games. The structure plays out more like a video game than a typical pinball. Sure, there are still the standard things you want and expect to see like jackpots, modes, numerous multiballs, mystery awards, playfield multipliers, varied strategies, stacking, etc., but where it really shines is with the dynamic, multi-tiered progression of the ghost bosses. Once you reach a ghost boss by shooting their corresponding shot(s) enough times, the rules on the field change almost completely. They are all pretty different from each other and also have 'side quests' that can be completed. The objectives are also much more varied than 'shoot x target xxx times'. Completing the core objectives will advance you to yet another tier of the battle with that ghost boss, where you can score jackpots and defeat them. These are also pretty different from boss to boss and feature their own unique side quests for big points. Jackpots can usually be increased by completing other shots, as well. It's just really fleshed out and there's a lot exploring to do.

#2 - The Toys - While I don't think fun and elaborate toys are a requirement of good pinball, this game certainly delivers in spades.

(A) The Hellevator - Likely the most innovative toy to grace a playfield since the B/W days. It basically acts as a scoop that raises and lowers, but it also does this in the middle of a ramp and pulls it off with flying colors. The risk/reward of trying to raise the elevator and lock your next ball without accidentally calling it down to the lower floor is great setup. Even when the elevator is down, this ramp is one of the fastest and smoothest shots in the game, with a quick return to the right flipper.

(B) The Ghost - Who doesn't love a battle magnet? This is sort of a hybrid of the AFM saucer and the CV Ringmaster. When the shield is down, you have to hit the inner 'loop' at the right angles to avoid a sdtm return. This is a skill that gets picked up the more you play the game. The magnet can divert, capture, and fling the ball depending on the current mode. All the while, the glowing ghost toy looks around the playfield and taunts the player.

(C) The Spooky Door - Ok, it's just cool. Bashing the door open is always satisfying. It's primarily used during the Hospital Ghost rounds, where you'll actually see the 'stuck' door give a little as the ball hits it, only to slam closed again. That is, of course, until you finally smash it open and it creeks back on it's hinges. The shot behind the door also has a good feel to it, like a good lock shot, so it's still fun even when the door is open.

#3 The Shots - There's a lot to shoot for on this game and every shot feels great when you make it. No two shots are the same. There's a good amount of flow and combo shots with just a dash of stop-n-go. I also like how the ball can exit from the pop bumpers in multiple ways, which keeps the returns from the upper playfield area fresh. The game plays very fast and furious when you get things going.

#4 Open Source Software - The ability to add my own personal touches here and there with the audio has been a huge boon. If you don't like a track or a callout, just take it out and put in whatever you want. I thought most of what the game came with was top notch, but the few things that I felt could be better for my tastes, I was able to change in a matter of minutes. Someone with some real programming knowledge could also modify the rules for the game and add in additional modes and tweaks. Fortunately, Ben Heck has also been tireless in his continuous expansion of the rules on his own.

#5 The Atmosphere - Some games just do a good job of creating it and this is one of them. It's easy to get immersed in what is going on under the glass. I think this is largely due to the boat loads of character that this game has. This is all difficult to pinpoint and describe, but I think you get the idea.

#6 Spooky Pinball! - Everyone I have talked to at Spooky has been a pleasure to deal with and their support has been amazing. I want to see these guys succeed. Overall, my AMH has been very reliable, especially as the bugs have been worked out of the software. However, during the first month I did have some issues and Charlie bent over backwards to help me track down the gremlins and offered every resource at his disposal to assist. I don't think the guy ever sleeps.

So, that's it in a nutshell. If you're a bit of a tinkerer, you like the theme, you're an average or better player and you appreciate the B/W games from the 90's, you can't go wrong with this game. At the time of writing, I know there aren't too many slots left to purchase one of the 150 machines being built. I'm really glad I was able to swing one of these and it's been a huge hit in my game room. I'm looking forward to hearing about game #2 from Spooky!

Brian

#2 4 years ago

Thanks for the update!

#3 4 years ago

Glad you're enjoying your game!
I didn't care for it and sold mine after four or five months

#4 4 years ago

Just a little tip to promote positive over a negative vibe. It is said to put your pro's first in a resume or when in a job interview, then your con's. People instinctively remember the things they are told or shown first (the first impression sticks). Appreciate the write up though, nicely done. I'm super stoked to get mine, and can't wait. Only a few more months. Someone will have to start a thread on modding the audio/call outs (like what files contain what).

#5 4 years ago
Quoted from vilant:

Just a little tip to promote positive over a negative vibe. It is said to put your pro's first in a resume or when in a job interview, then your con's. People instinctively remember the things they are told or shown first (the first impression sticks). Appreciate the write up though, nicely done. I'm super stoked to get mine, and can't wait. Only a few more months. Someone will have to start a thread on modding the audio/call outs (like what files contain what).

Absolutely not. In management classes they teach you when reviewing an employee you tell them where they need to improve but leave on a positive note on their accomplishments.

#6 4 years ago

See, I always figured deliver the bad news first and then finish on a high note. At any rate, I wasn't necessarily looking to promote the game and I think the good and the bad should both be given equal consideration for anyone serious about buying one.

#7 4 years ago

Thanks for the review Brian! Your honest opinion is always appreciated.

#8 4 years ago

What has the feedback on this as a tournament game? I feel like "bad" issues A, B and C, would all turn out to be positives in competition. I was thinking about trying to get an AMH in our Allentown IFPA tournament bank...

-Jay

#9 4 years ago
Quoted from jrobinso99:

What has the feedback on this as a tournament game? I feel like "bad" issues A, B and C, would all turn out to be positives in competition. I was thinking about trying to get an AMH in our Allentown IFPA tournament bank...
-Jay

Good question. The NEPL guys have one in league play in MA. I would like to see what they say.

#10 4 years ago

I was getting some random bugs before the latest code update, but they seem to be cleared up now. I haven't run into a single bug since, but I really need to get in more 2, 3 & 4 player games to be sure. There is a tournament mode, so I can't see why it wouldn't work.

#11 4 years ago
Quoted from jrobinso99:

What has the feedback on this as a tournament game? I feel like "bad" issues A, B and C, would all turn out to be positives in competition. I was thinking about trying to get an AMH in our Allentown IFPA tournament bank...
-Jay

It's being used in the TPF tournament right now, so the feedback from that should be a good indicator as for future tournament use of the game.

#12 4 years ago

Great review bud. Watching close ups of the door made me worry about it as a weak spot, and it looks like it gets hit real damn hard most of the time. No durability problems?

#13 4 years ago

Well, it sure does seem like it would be a weak spot, but so far so good for me. Maybe my luck will run out at some point. I probably have around 1000 plays on it at this point. I'd be curious to hear how other people's experiences have been with owning the game for an extended period.

#14 4 years ago

Ben posted that 10 more machines sold within the first few hours of TPF. People must be digging it.

#15 4 years ago
Quoted from Taxman:

Absolutely not. In management classes they teach you when reviewing an employee you tell them where they need to improve but leave on a positive note on their accomplishments.

I watched a show (think it was Brain Games) where they brought in a couple of professional job recruiters/interviewers and interviewed candidates (hired actors). After interviewing them they had to pick who they would hire. They selected the same person who started with the pro's. The thing was, (and I didn't notice either) all had the same pro's and con's. What changed was the order in which they told them. Studies can bring different results. I guess maybe it's more about presentation then beginning or ending with a positive. Either way, it was just my opinion on what I saw and took as fact, nothing more. Should of just kept my mouth shut

I enjoy your threads Betel, very detailed and well presented on the good and bad. How many audio files have you changed? Do you know the location and names of the ones you changed? It would be cool to document. I plan to, once I get mine to make it easier for fellow owners to change specific files.

#16 4 years ago

We were using it in the NEPLeague finals last weekend. Worked great. 4 player games
Didn't take hours like sterns. Everyone enjoyed it. Very fair game. Ot issue I could see is some of the spirit awards can be quiet lucrative. 3,666,000 points. Or instant Multiball start which some one got withing seconds of ball one. Their are a ton of spirit awards and plenty of valuable ones so I think it all balances out.

I wish I had my predator money to buy one....

-Jim

#17 4 years ago
Quoted from vilant:

I enjoy your threads Betel, very detailed and well presented on the good and bad. How many audio files have you changed? Do you know the location and names of the ones you changed? It would be cool to document. I plan to, once I get mine to make it easier for fellow owners to change specific files.

Thanks! I changed three of the music tracks. These can be seen in the video above: Beetlejuice theme for the multiballs, Ghost Hunters theme for the ghost boss battles. There's a readme included with the audio files on the board that tells you exactly what file is what, so it's easy to figure it out.

Quoted from Whridlsoncestood:

We were using it in the NEPLeague finals last weekend. Worked great. 4 player games
Didn't take hours like sterns. Everyone enjoyed it. Very fair game. Ot issue I could see is some of the spirit awards can be quiet lucrative. 3,666,000 points. Or instant Multiball start which some one got withing seconds of ball one. Their are a ton of spirit awards and plenty of valuable ones so I think it all balances out.

There is a tournament mode that balances the mystery awards across all players.

#18 4 years ago
Quoted from Pdxmonkey:

Glad you're enjoying your game!
I didn't care for it and sold mine after four or five months

Why didn't you care for it?

#19 4 years ago

There just may all be sold this weekend!

#20 4 years ago

The Beatle Juice music was awesome lol

#21 4 years ago

Since they are only selling 150 - do they do anything to designate which machine of 150 one receives? A plaque or whatever?

#22 4 years ago
Quoted from Euchrid:

Since they are only selling 150 - do they do anything to designate which machine of 150 one receives? A plaque or whatever?

No. As it should be.

#23 4 years ago
Quoted from stevevt:

No. As it should be.

Just curious, but why do you say that? As it should be?

#24 4 years ago
Quoted from Euchrid:

Just curious, but why do you say that? As it should be?

I have strong opinions about limited edition products that are sold and marketed as being limited edition. These opinions include: "I don't like this."

Products that just happen to be limited and rare are an awesome exception to Stern's baseball cardification of the market, and I'm in favor of it.

#25 4 years ago

For a long time this game was being sold with no planned limit, but sales were slow. The 150 unit limit was only announced a few months ago, so there's no LE plaques or anything like that. They are numbered on the inside of the cabinet, though. Mine is #11.

#26 4 years ago
Quoted from Euchrid:

Since they are only selling 150 - do they do anything to designate which machine of 150 one receives? A plaque or whatever?

The serial number inside the game. This works out well for the first title, but I imagine gamestitle #2 will start out at serial number #151

#27 4 years ago

Any word on how many are left after TPF Saturday?

#28 4 years ago

I asked and was given an answer but, not my place to say. I will say their are not many left.

#29 4 years ago

In other AMH news it saved my ass in the TPF tournies this weekend.

#30 4 years ago

Ben said at their seminar that they had less than 25 left as of this evening.

#31 4 years ago

The scoop and the ghost also add to the difficulty. I don't find the bottom slings to be unusual, but the kick out is used all the time in the game and is hard to live catch which makes the slings dangerous. The ghost is also used creatively in most modes and adds a lot of randomness to the game - it's a death shot like the AFM saucer.

It's a great game for the home collector. Some games can be frustrating and pretty short but it rewards good play and keeps you coming back for more. It's nice to have a fun game that doesn't require a lot of time to play and should remain a challenge for years. You can also approach it in a number of ways - it's definitely not linear.

#32 4 years ago
Quoted from luckymoey:

Ben said at their seminar that they had less than 25 left as of this evening.

20 sold at TPF in 1 day???
That's craaazy.
-mof

#33 4 years ago
Quoted from luckymoey:

I don't find the bottom slings to be unusual, but the kick out is used all the time in the game and is hard to live catch which makes the slings dangerous.

It's hard to describe the difference with the slings and I hope I'm not making it sound more dramatic in my review than it really is. I compared the sling positioning on AMH to those of my other games. For example, the slings on AFM are the furthest back from the flippers and the slings on TZ are the closest. The slings on AMH are closer than on TZ by a hair and they are also much larger. Here's my very non-exact illustration of what I mean...

slings.jpg
#34 4 years ago
Quoted from Betelgeuse:

It's hard to describe the difference with the slings and I hope I'm not making it sound more dramatic in my review than it really is. I compared the sling positioning on AMH to those of my other games. For example, the slings on AFM are the furthest back from the flippers and the slings on TZ are the closest. The slings on AMH are closer than on TZ by a hair and they are also much larger. Here's my very non-exact illustration of what I mean...

slings.jpg (Click image to enlarge)

Great observations -- more proof that AFM is the easiest game to play of all time.
I'm *very* glad to hear that Spooky didn't go ez-mode with their game.
My favorite games in my collection were so challenging for me that they FORCED me to up my game to compete with them. I pick up a new skill when a great game is added.
-mof

#35 4 years ago
Quoted from jrobinso99:

What has the feedback on this as a tournament game? I feel like "bad" issues A, B and C, would all turn out to be positives in competition. I was thinking about trying to get an AMH in our Allentown IFPA tournament bank...
-Jay

I'd never played the game before, but played several games in the TPF tournament. It was fast, furious and punishing, but yet rewarding in many ways. The issues listed in my mind are definitely positives in tournaments, and the game was forgiving when needed (e.g. Drain straight from the scoop always triggered ball save). I guess everyone struggled scoring consistently, but when you had a good game everyone was seemingly more happy than with other games
I was well impressed, seriously considering getting one now

Question to Betelgeuse. Sometimes when the ball hit the flippers fast the flippers seemed to give away, not being able to take the hit and moving back a little. Is this typical, are the flippers built differently?

-K

#36 4 years ago

sounds like an EOS adjustment would fix that?

#37 4 years ago

Cool, I dig this game but can't justify (to myself) the 7-8K+ that it would take to get one to me in Canada. 5K ish is my limit apparently.

I have not played one, and I may never given how rare it is.

Even rarer, it is a "boutique" game that did not turn into a disaster. How rare is that these days?

#38 4 years ago
Quoted from Kkuoppamaki:

Question to Betelgeuse. Sometimes when the ball hit the flippers fast the flippers seemed to give away, not being able to take the hit and moving back a little. Is this typical, are the flippers built differently?

No, they are just like B/W flippers. This sounds like maybe the screws for the flipper bushing or the coil stop were coming loose.

#39 4 years ago

So, the other day a friend of mine gave me a set of super bands to play around with. Normally, I think super bands make games too easy, but they could be a reasonable way to balance the difficulty in AMH. On my first game with super bands, I put up the 2nd highest score ever on the machine. I can't say at this point whether I will leave them on there or not, but it's something for owners to consider if they are having a tough time with the game.

#40 4 years ago
Quoted from Betelgeuse:

See, I always figured deliver the bad news first and then finish on a high note. At any rate, I wasn't necessarily looking to promote the game and I think the good and the bad should both be given equal consideration for anyone serious about buying one.

Great, great and balanced review. Played it at TPF last weekend and found it intriguing. but not enough games to form a solid opinion. It's a great time with AMH, WOZ, TBL, and even Stern building MMr and Whoa Nellie, games not designed by Stern. I think someday we'll look back and see this as a unique period for pinball. And I'll be curious to see how the boutique pins are rated 5, 10, and even much longer in years to come.

#41 4 years ago
#42 4 years ago
Quoted from JeffF:

What's a good high score? We just got our AMH(#41) this week and I had what I considered a great game at ~252,000,000.

That's an unbelievable score. Did you get to the Demon Battle?? I think anything over 100mil is a really good score and I've had some top local players on my machine.

Quoted from JeffF:

The only change I want to try is colored LEDs for the inserts. The insert colors are a bit washed out(again, only in our opinion).

Agreed, this is a must. It looks fantastic with colored LEDs.

#43 4 years ago
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