Thought I would post this here. Impressions:
Before I start, major props to HELCION BREWERY in Pittsburgh. The king of bar pinball - no one is even close. I'm extremely lucky to have them in my backyard. Great guys too (Chris and Chris). Check them out if you're even close to the area. Worth the drive or plane ride!
I'll start with innovation. JJP marketing bone head move of saying innovation was coming and then doing nothing for months. Did they deliver? For me, keeping a level head on what that could be - this pin DEF has something I've never seen before - the concert feel with the lights, the sound, the integration - those light bars seem dumb but think about the opening to your favorite live event - the coordination with the lights and sound. I've never seen that truly integrated into a pinball machine and JJP brought it here. Those light bars on the side really helps deliver it b/c it's not just one constant light but it changes throughout, including strobing. GnR will be the king of this and the benchmark has now been set higher than I've seen before. For me, that qualifies as innovation. Check that box. If you're looking for crazy POTC toys, it's not in there. Spinning record is whatever. This is the new JJP that will give us quality but not the kitchen sink b/c that strategy ended up bankrupting them. Seems like this balanced approach is paying off financially and I'll take it vs. no JJP at all.
Sound, theme integration - amazing. Just watch a video of this game. I will say that to get the full effect this game offers, you need to like GnR. I've been to their concerts before and this is literally like being transformed back to Giants stadium. Some easter eggs in there too btw - I heard CRAZY from Dialed In during the game!
Animations/LCD - this is a real stunner. They literally used graphics from GnRs concerts and you can tell. It's just over the top professional. Potential spoiler for those that are very sensitive.....warning......one of the most impressive LCD effects was not even tied to a song. Out of nowhere i qualified for a mode that basically had the LCD start the UNIX boot up screen of GnR and then it crashed - the effects turn to a "cold war" style China vs USA mode that is so amazing with this 80s touch, Call of Duty Black Ops feel to it. It was SO good. Best part was - it was single ball play! More on that later but JJP absolutely crushed this.
So far, game is off the charts for me. Cabinet art is all subjective. I'm down with the LE no question. Best of the bunch IMO. Really matches that concert feel.
Gameplay - the biggest question going in - how the hell does this game actually play. To summarize, it's tough. Drains on left and right (especially right) are a killer. I'm not very good but this game plays very fast and drains easy off slings. I liked that though. It might explain though why we so much of the next thing I'll speak about (MBs). But the layout - it's great. Upper PFs often times obscure your view but that's not the case here. It's big enough to be fun but not an eye sore. The clear ramps help as well. Bottom line I never felt like I couldn't see enough of the PF due to the upper. Left loop, left ramp, right ramp, that sweet center spinner (love that shot), right shot straight to the pops, right orbit and right shot under the top right flipper. All nice and feel great. Right upper flipper does have two shots (full wrap and half wrap) and that full wrap can be repeated however it's a long distance and needs a lot of speed going in. Don't expect maiden rips all day but it's more doable than JP2 - just need speed. Typically drops into the pops. Magnet in b/w the pops as well to hold the ball and then drop. Upper PF has two shots (left to bass and drain down), right and lock on the guitar. It's fast, and doesn't get in the way. Overall - great but not as creative as you might want.
Code - It's very multiball heavy right now. This is my biggest and really only concern. I hear people saying it's risk vs reward - you don't need to do MB if you don't want to. That's like saying you can drive the car but keep it in 3rd gear all day. It's foolish to say b/c the game isn't meant to be played like that. If you want the highest score you better go for MBs. The risk vs reward is really cashing out and not pushing your luck on songs which is cool but ultimately, I felt like I saw MB way way too much. It's non song MBs that happen and then songs are almost always MB where a ton of balls are released b/c you either locked them earlier or add a ball, which seems to be very easy to achieve. I understand it allows the player to hear more of the song - essentially padding the time but it's just too much. When you guys see more of the game, you'll understand and something that at JJP I just can't believe someone didn't say - wow too many MBs although I also don't understand how they allowed it so much in POTC and with the way Wonka was coded - I can prob understand it more! Code in general though is very solid. A lot to do - pretty clear on what to shoot at, including during songs. Screen in the back does a great job telling you what's going on, informing you via text with what to shoot - and is super clear (looks to be better quality than prior screens). Speaking of the picture in picture on the main LCD goes back and forth b/w concert and effects so you get both. Pretty cool.
btw - call outs right now are a mixed bag. I think they're fine. It's done by the band members and as you can imagine they aren't too excited to do it BUT it's not Stranger Things bad. It's perfectly fine - some are better than others but overall it's not something to overly hype. Solid enough.
Bottom line, it's a special game if you're a GnR fan. It's a good to OK game if you don't care for the band. MB needs to be balanced. JJP knocked it out for me and should get major credit for successfully being the first company to stealth launch a game day 1 with complete code (I know Stern tried it with Stranger Things but well, yeah).
Great job JJP!