I'm weird, but... Popeye ALL DAY. In fact, no kidding, I turned on Popeye to play one game before bed and decided to check pinside while it booted. It's on flashing to my right at this exact moment...
Fish Tales I just can't stand for whatever reason. There used to be one at an arcade I managed, and I never connected with it no matter what I did. I could have stayed and played it at night for free, and I would close as quick as I could to go to the local restaurant and bar and play games there for pay instead. I have tried it a number of times since, and I simply don't care for it. At all.
Popeye on the other hand...
I *love* the playfield layout. I'll fully admit that I own it more because I think the art package on it is amazing, and not because the gameplay is ridiculously compelling, but come on - the playfield arch as the front of the ship? Cool! The speaker panel and translite as the top of the ship? Sweet. The cabinet sides as the ship in the water? Bad ass. And the playfield being the deck? I have to say, Python really did some creative stuff here.
Having said that, the art clearly was more important than anything else on the game, which is part of the reason that people don't like it, but I really think of Popeye as more of a playable eye candy game than anything else. It plays like it's not a widebody, because the majority of the right side of the playfield is wasted by wireforms that don't have anything under them. The game is NASTY with lightning flippers, and games are short which I do like.
The rules on it once you understand what is going on aren't horrible. Now, they aren't great, but they also aren't as bad as people out to make them out, although it takes a while to figure out what is up. The "video mode" thing is pretty neat, and the way it all works together is interesting enough. It plays more like a System 11 than a DMD, with the exception of the video mode thing. A really artful system 11.
Having said that, if I didn't have a bunch of machines around, there is no way in heck I would have wanted a Popeye. With how many you have, it might work out.
Oh, and the theme is take it or leave it, even if you like Popeye. I like Popeye, don't love it as a theme (more familiar with the theme from being little and playing the 2600 game than I am from anything else), but the weird tacked on animal stuff is... not what you really know from Popeye. It has some of the humor, but it isn't as outstanding as I would like it to be. Having said that, YOU'RE ON A BOAT!
Having said that... I'm the king of the world, on a boat like Leo... If you're on the shore, then you're sho' not me-oh. Time to play some Popeye.