Quoted from jorant:
He made Medieval Madness. AFM. The Shadow.
What a lineup. I'd argue his best game (design wise) is actually the Shadow, but I digress. The man made nothing but awesome pins and left back to video games from whence he came.
Did he sorta ruin his legacy by coming back? This is all opinion, obviously, but I think stranger things and mando sorta suck. Maybe it is unfair, because it isn't his fault that the art and callouts in stranger things are just one step above hot garbage and afm has some of the greatest callouts in history... also not his fault (I don't think) that a space ship is cooler than an angry mutant vagina that is hard to get a ball into.
That's all. I just sorta feel his legacy is diminished, for me, now.
Here’s my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth.
To me, Stranger Things is the best pinball machine ever made. It has all of that easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master magic of AFM and MM, but with way more modes and depth.
I recently went to play an AFM remake, and an OG Medieval Madness, and they simply don’t come close to Stranger Things for me. Amazing for their time, no doubt, but super shallow and too easy for home ownership by comparison. Not nearly as many “pinball moments” either.
But if I’m gonna claim this is the best machine ever, I had better have some good reasons. Let’s talk about Stranger Things’ list of unique features.
1. Demogorgan bash toy w mouth shot. Both gives you a big target to shoot, but also a skill shot in the mouth. Best bash toy in pinball IMHO. We like ramps because they are satisfying to shoot. Same with spinners and pops. This toy is an air ball shot into a tiny hole - risk, precision, patience, skill. it’s essentially everything great about a pinball target.
2. Projector. How hasn’t this been copied already? The effect is fantastic, and makes every single mode feel unique and engaging. You simply can’t do that on other pinball tables because the table art is static. It’s such a great feature. Easily one of the top 3 “gimmicks” in pinball history.
3. Drop target central. Those 4 drop target are such a brilliant, simple, central design to the game. The feeling of skill, knocking 1 target down and shooting through that hole you just punched, through to the back to spell the rest of the word? Bliss. It’s the best drop target bank in pinball. I’ll die on that hill. Add in the projector feature that projects each letter you need to spell directly on the targets? Forget about it. No other drop target modes on any machine comes close.
4. Telekinesis ball lock. Locking 3 balls magnetically to the back wall of a pinball machine is such an outstanding feeling. Again, I’ve yet to play or hear about another ball lock system that is this damn cool or satisfying. Admittedly, I had problems with the locking mechanism, but Stern sent me a free ramp cover which has fixed the problem completely.
5. UV kit. It’s the most dramatic pinball moment in pinball. Maybe not if you’re playing outside, or in a bright room, but in a low light setting, or in the dark? It’s impossible to watch a video or see a picture and get an idea of how cool it is. My only complaint is how short the mode is! I’ve been playing this game for months at home now, and it does not get old! Like the projector, this feature transforms the entire table in an instant. Play it in the dark, and it almost feels like you’re playing a completely different machine for the brief moment it’s on. It’s blows away anyone I’ve had over - both pinball noobs and veterans who think they’ve seen it all. MM castle blowing up is like “oh cool!” Stranger Thing UV light show is like “holy $#!%!!”
6. Perfect fan layout. It is the most symmetrical, simple layout of any modern machine. No fancy 180 ramps or upper flippers, just a solid, simple, classic pinball layout, but the central focus on spelling words to drop down the central bash toy is that perfect example of “easy to understand, difficult to master”. For all of its awesome gimmicks and toys, Stranger Things still boils down to the best iteration of the fan layout. If Mario Bros. is the simple joy of video games, Stranger Things is the simple joy of pinball. I own a premium Jurassic Park, and I love that table, but if I had to pick only one, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I simply have more fun playing Stranger Things.
Got a premium a few months ago with all the bells and whistles - topper, uv kit, art blades, projector, shooter rod, headphone jack, shaker, and I’ve also done some custom uv art on the art blades and other surfaces. Added a mirror above the pops as well, since they’re hidden.
This game is my grail pin. I honestly think it’s the most underrated table out there, but I think most ppl have played the pro without the uv kit. A pro vs premium w uv kit isn’t even the same machine to me, because what makes this table magic, isn’t just the gimmicks, and it isn’t just the classic layout - it’s the combination of some of the very best gimmicks in all of pinball + the simple elegance of a solid fan layout. It’s both modern and classic at the same time.