[quote]if you went to an arcade and played a game you decided you liked, say Shadow or Twister, then it would spark your curiosity and maybe want to go see the movie.
The way they did all the movie tie-ins in the 90s, sometimes the video/pin games were out as or before the movie was released, so that was sometimes the case! It cut both ways for sure, but I'd say The Shadow and Congo are top 50 in spite of their tie-ins and not because of it. Then there's TZ which might have only explained its weirdness by being tied to a TV series about supernatural and just plain weird stuff.
When it comes to finding hidden gems you often have to ignore theme and judge the game on its layout, shots and objectives, even if the theme shaping those objectives is goofy, or tied to a goofy movie. This can cut both ways too as you might have to put theme aside to take an honest look at the higher rated tables.
CFTBL thematically may be my favorite table ever, certainly top 5 in that category. But once the ball's in play, every game seems to devolve to shoot right flipper center ramp for Move Your Car, watch it slowly come down to the endlane, shoot it again, wait, shoot it again, start MYC mode, shoot, shoot, never touch left flipper, shoot, shoot. Eventually I'll I'll touch the left flipper because I missed slightly and have to try to slap save to keep it from draining SDTM. And that happened because I probably lost sight of the ball underneath the parking garage-looking structure on the PF after racking up 60 million points in a matter of seconds. The game within the theme is second tier worthy at most, but the look and theme and DMD flourishes make you want to come back, even though you realize there is probably another better designed game nearby. And so it stays top-25 or so out of hundreds of solid state pins. I'd probably sooner own The Shadow or Congo than CFTBL when I think about which game I'd get less bored with first.
Pinball Arcade has shown a few of the older/obscure SS games some love, and have priced tables so that it's best to buy season packs, so they might become appreciated by those who never saw a real one. PA kicked in a memory I had of playing a Gottlieb Genie at some go-kart place when I was eye level with the coinbox, climbing up on a stool and giving it a pretty good run. It was shooting that lamp spinner in the middle and then watching that bonus meter wind down after drain that brought it all back to me. Obviously I was young and a simple, straightforward pin like Genie was perfect for me.
Genie turns out to be a great table for learning ball control and taking long shots on a widebody. Outlanes are forgiving as you learn to trap and drop catch, and in fact it rewards it with points/bonus on rollovers, with a nice lesson in nudging gently if it rolls too close to the edge, or in that dangerous area above the left outlane. It looks like what TZ's jet bumpers and left outlane area might have looked like in the early EM flipper days when TZ was being broadcast. And it has that EM look overall, as it was designed by longtime Gottlieb EM designer Ed Krynski.
Of course, there was no theme besides some pretty colors and pictures, and no objective beyond driving your bonus and multiplier and score more points than the backglass can display. That will be completely lost on people whose earliest memories of pinball involved saving Earth from Martians and shooting at their ship that blows up on the playfield. If I ever get settled down into a spot where owning a pin would be practical, finding a cheap and probably not playable Genie and getting it playable may be my first project.