Houdini was really impressive as an early production game with no noticeable mechanical problems. Everything worked all day . No balls stuck either.
My review: ALL OPINION ZONE
Best display integration with backglass. All animations and screens look like they belong there. Attention was paid to matching up with the curtains and steampunk elements throughout the presentation. No other company is doing that as well right now. IMO
Head and speaker design fits well with theme.
Clear instruction, both audible and visual , regarding game instructions and what needs to be shot. Great for beginners and pros alike.
Score display is tiny, along with the information for what ball you are on. Maybe magnify it for 10 seconds at the start of each ball and scale it back. Just way too small.
Trunk: Catapult launches into trunk. Never missed. Amazing.
Magnets: Well integrated , although i do not fully understand as to when and why they activate. Active during multiballs. When they are active in normal play its a cool effect without the downside of an insta-drain. Magnets provide effect right where Houdinis hands are placed on the playfield art when the nearby target is hit. Makes sense.
Stage: Nothing too high tech , but a cool toy that works and provides a different (fun) shot and ball path.
Lots of different challenging shots. Punishing for uncontrolled play. Playfield a bit crowded on left. Milk Can and Magic Shop hole stand out as original.
Audible "rewards" for making shots seem lacking or too subtle. Needs better mix overall. Magician voice and instructions sound a bit clinical and aren't very exciting.
The only cool lighting effect i can remember is for the trunk before it catches the ball. There is the strobe i have been begging Heighway to put on the Alien head. Playfield is well lit overall. Might need more lighting effects, as i just can't remember anything that stands out. Inserts near the stage / magic shop are hard to notice.
Smooth shooting game when the shots are accurate. This game played a bit slow , which made time for recovery after a bad shot. In that regard , it made you feel like you were getting your moneys worth, for a paid game on location. Full instructions at the start of each mode left almost no guessing on what to do or shoot. As mentioned , more polish to the sounds and code are needed to bring this to the next level. Fun shots with some confusion based on the subtle sounds and shot feedback.
Plenty of modes that seem to start in three or different places. Stage , Lock shot and Spirit. Has reverse or inverted reverse modes with a multiball. Seems like i might be sick of that gimmick, but to each his own. Multiballs will stack. Not sure which ones do, but you could be hunched over for a while playing reverse flipper! Someone call a chiropractor.
Flippers were incredibly responsive and i am pretty sure you can tap pass with em. Great for ball control. Not sure if there is a setting , but they seemed to be set a bit on the weaker side. The gameplay was a bit slow which works well with the difficult nature of the shots, but also; slow sometimes is not all that exciting. I am not a fan of the flipper art. The flipper art somehow takes away from them (hides them), while successfully achieving the goal of being integrated into the theme.
Great game with great toys and cool modes and shots. Needs improvement in sound , lighting and code polish for a more exciting experience.
Honorable mention : That seemingly-out-of-place green skull Spirit Plastic. Doesn't match anything but it is super cool and appreciated