Is Lord of the Rings truly Stern's greatest pinball machine ever?

(Topic ID: 216526)

Is Lord of the Rings truly Stern's greatest pinball machine ever?


By FarFromHeaven26

6 months ago



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  • Latest reply 5 months ago by Zora
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There are 169 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 4.
#1 6 months ago

My veteran pinball tech has an inexplicable adversity to any machine with the Stern label, and even longtime pinball emporiums like the Asbury Park Pinball Museum refuse to showcase even a single example from the most prolific creator of new games. Those who venerate the glorious 90's when Bally/Williams brought their most celebrated machines to market are particularly militant, often going as far as to claim the Stern product is cheaply constructed by comparison. To be sure I am a huge fan of 90's pinball and am plotting to purchase upcoming CGC re-makes of the most renowned games of that era, but unlike others I do find that Stern has given pinball lovers some magnificent games and will continue to do so well into the future. In this vein I offer a question that hopefully will invigorate meaningful discussion in assessing Stern's most noteworthy creations. Is the beloved LORD OF THE RINGS their irrefutable piece de resistance or shall we bring the likes of AC/DC, Batman 66, Metallica, The Simpson's Pinball Party, Spider Man, Aerosmith, Elvis, The Walking Dead, Iron Maiden, Tron Legacy, The Sopranos, Monopoly, Star Wars, Ripley's or others into the discussion? And can we also conclude that volume and creativity has evened the score with the now defunct labels, who did certainly have their day in the sun?

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#2 6 months ago

Before I give my response to the LOTR question, I just want to say one thing about Stern games. They are approachable and instantly entertaining. I think that is what they do right over the other current manufacturers. They have the balance of being easy to jump on without knowing much about the ruleset, but then usually have many deeper layers to go for the tourney players or home owners. That is what Stern does best, other than quantity. JJP fails in the fact that it takes many games and especially home ownership to really appreciate their games. DI did not impress my kids and I when we first played the proto at a show. One year later, I played a production game at a show with no line and was able to put in a bunch of games and loved it. However, after just one game of Aerosmith, Star Wars, Metallica, ACDC, etc I was hooked on those. It didn't take that much time for me to "get" it. Hope that made sense.

Anyhow, LOTR I think is still Stern's greatest to date. It's packed with unique shots, toys, light show, deep ruleset, good music, and excellent callouts from original actors. It's beautiful to look at. It is deep, but not hard to jump in and play. Multiballs are easy to achieve, even if you don't know what you are doing. Every time I think I will put it up on the block for sale, I play it and it reminds me why it is a keeper. It just has that special something. Yes, once you get familiar with the shots, the games can go long...but what a journey!

13
#3 6 months ago

No. Doesn't even make my top 10.

I can see why people love it - it has incredibly deep software, immersive theming, plays long, etc. - exactly what many home use owners might be looking for. For me it's a bit of a slog and I'd rather play KISS.

#5 6 months ago

This is a subject that has come up constantly!! We all have different opinions on what is good on a game!!If you like the theme,then,maybe you will have fun with it! I read LOTR before many of you were born! I did.nt care for the pin! IMHO,and thats it in a nut shell!!So far,I really enjoy both my B66LE and my GB Pre! Currently waiting on Houdini to show up!! And as you see,Russell likes TSPP!! Get it???? Have fun,B safe!!!!Peace

#6 6 months ago

I like AC/DC, Metallica, Tron, TWD, and about two dozen other pins better then LOTR. But hey I think X-Files is great so what do I know.

Thanks
Blake

#7 6 months ago

Met > lotr

#8 6 months ago

I don't personally think it's the greatest game ever, but there are plenty of compelling arguments as to why one might think that. The game is undeniably phenomenal in many ways.

#9 6 months ago
Quoted from hawkmoon:

This is a subject that has come up constantly!! We all have different opinions on what is good on a game!!If you like the theme,then,maybe you will have fun with it! I read LOTR before many of you were born! I did.nt care for the pin! IMHO,and thats it in a nut shell!!So far,I really enjoy both my B66LE and my GB Pre! Currently waiting on Houdini to show up!! And as you see,Russell likes TSPP!! Get it???? Have fun,B safe!!!!Peace

Hawkmoon, fair enough. I am soliciting here for opinions and you gave me yours which I am grateful for.

11
#10 6 months ago

LOTR is a great game and certainly one of Stern's best, and right up there with the best pins of all time. HOWEVER... if you're decent to good at LOTR, it plays looooonnnngggg. You can have a game last from 30 minutes to an hour on it. If you don't have that kind of time to put in a game or are just not in the mood for what might be a long game, you might just walk on past it. Sometimes you simply prefer a more fast and furious game that's over quicker.

#11 6 months ago

Have owned TSPP and currently own LOTR. Played many of the other Stern machines on location. I think there is a case to be made that it is in the top 3 Stern machines. Many of the other Sterns have a playfield "sameness" to them that makes them feel more generic. The unique layouts (like GB) don't feel as fun to me and don't have the code depth.

I have a hard time thinking of a single Stern machine that I would trade for my LOTR given similar dollar value.

Edit: I am not a pro so my games are usually reasonable length. Playtimes are definitely longer than my other machines.

#12 6 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

LOTR is a great game and certainly one of Stern's best, and right up there with the best pins of all time. HOWEVER... if you're decent to good at LOTR, it plays looooonnnngggg. You can have a game last from 30 minutes to an hour on it. If you don't have that kind of time to put in a game or just not in the mood for what might be a long game, you might just walk on past it. Sometimes you just prefer a more fast and furious game that's over quicker.

+1

This is precisely why I sold mine. I loved the game, but it just sat there most of the time not being played.

#13 6 months ago
Quoted from Crile1:

Before I give my response to the LOTR question, I just want to say one thing about Stern games. They are approachable and instantly entertaining. I think that is what they do right over the other current manufacturers. They have the balance of being easy to jump on without knowing much about the ruleset, but then usually have many deeper layers to go for the tourney players or home owners. That is what Stern does best, other than quantity. JJP fails in the fact that it takes many games and especially home ownership to really appreciate their games. DI did not impress my kids and I when we first played the proto at a show. One year later, I played a production game at a show with no line and was able to put in a bunch of games and loved it. However, after just one game of Aerosmith, Star Wars, Metallica, ACDC, etc I was hooked on those. It didn't take that much time for me to "get" it. Hope that made sense.
Anyhow, LOTR I think is still Stern's greatest to date. It's packed with unique shots, toys, light show, deep ruleset, good music, and excellent callouts from original actors. It's beautiful to look at. It is deep, but not hard to jump in and play. Multiballs are easy to achieve, even if you don't know what you are doing. Every time I think I will put it up on the block for sale, I play it and it reminds me why it is a keeper. It just has that special something. Yes, once you get familiar with the shots, the games can go long...but what a journey!

Thank you so much for posting this fantastic analysis!!

#14 6 months ago

I like 'flow' games and Stern really makes very few of them. Batman Dark Knight is my favorite from Stern (odd i know). LOTR is close second followed by TSPP. I feel like TSPP is still more of a 90's style Stern game though, even though it was 2003. I absolutely abhor the idea that they take away so much of the game if you buy lesser models. Also, two ramp band pins bore me and that seems to be the majority of their business lately. I'm also angry with them for making GB so un-fun.

Also Blake, X-Files is totally fun.

#15 6 months ago

I agree with the above comment saying LOTR is "one of Stern's best." Hard to have a clear winner when it is all subjective. But I think most would agree that LOTR is in that top tier of Stern's best to date.

#16 6 months ago

lotr is probably the best stern pin and i seriously think stern should make another huge batch of them,i love the rulesheet and the gameplay,callouts are very well done.with the upgraded 10.0 roms

#17 6 months ago

I own TSPP, and it's fun; but if my 8 year old son didn't like the theme so much; I would get rid of it.

I used to think that the B/W snobs were just that; snobby about the 90's B/W titles....However, it's undeniable; the 90 B/W's just have that rock solid feeling of button to flipper, I can't explain it, but it is magical; the remakes can't replicate it either IMO.

#18 6 months ago
Quoted from gweempose:

+1

This is precisely why I sold mine. I loved the game, but it just sat there most of the time not being played.

I have a TSPP, and I love it as well, but I have this same issue with it. One single good game for me can last 30-45 minutes. After that, I just don't feel like pushing the start button again and going through all that again. Sometimes it'll sit there for a month before I play another game on it. I still keep it though, well.... for the time being at least.

#19 6 months ago

LOTR is a special game no doubt. Sterns best? It's in the running for sure. I think TSPP edges it out just a little for me - but there's a reason I own both in a "relatively" small collection.

#20 6 months ago

Lord of the rings is a good game but I personally don't think it's Stern's best game I think the game just takes too long to play which is why I don't play the game that often anymore.

#21 6 months ago

I would put it in the top tier with TWD, MET, Tron, and ACDC. I don't know if it's better than those...I think it's the most immersive, epic, long ball game ever maybe. I think it just depends on what kind of game you want to play at the time. I like having the variety of long and short ball time games.

#22 6 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

LOTR, it plays looooonnnngggg. You can have a game last from 30 minutes to an hour on it

thats another thing i love about it,its very challenging and the objectives are very hard to complete.it always had me coming back for another shot at it.

#23 6 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

LOTR is a great game and certainly one of Stern's best, and right up there with the best pins of all time. HOWEVER... if you're decent to good at LOTR, it plays looooonnnngggg. You can have a game last from 30 minutes to an hour on it. If you don't have that kind of time to put in a game or are just not in the mood for what might be a long game, you might just walk on past it. Sometimes you simply prefer a more fast and furious game that's over quicker.

Quoted from gweempose:

+1
This is precisely why I sold mine. I loved the game, but it just sat there most of the time not being played.

Also why I sold mine (and it won't be back). I had more games than I can count last an hour or more over eight years. Got to the point that I never player it.

Eventually it got replaced by IM... my lone Stern and favorite Stern. Love it. To be fair there are other Stern's I really like...MET, TWD, ST, SM... all great games.

11
#24 6 months ago

For those "it's a long game" comments. It might take a long time to play, but there's intriguing things to accomplish every step of the way. Finishing modes increases your There And Back Again wizard values and gives gifts from the elves. Doing well in a multiball culminates in 3 unique and satisfying super jackpot rewards, and seeing how fast you can destroy the ring is always satisfying. It's a long player, but it's fun from the start.

#25 6 months ago

As a solo player, LoTR is immersive and excellent. As a multi-player game, it plays too long. You can set it up mean of course, but then the game loses its appeal imo (same with TSPP...good for solo play, bad for multi-players).

As for those who refuse to give any kudos to anything made after 1998 - some people need the nostalgia aspect of the hobby and just can't get into anything new. This seems to be far less the case these days compared to 10 years ago.

Let's face it, if you can't find fun in Iron Maiden, Walking Dead, Metallica, etc. you probably don't like modern pinball in general.

#26 6 months ago
Quoted from RVApinballer:

For those "it's a long game" comments. It might take a long time to play, but there's intriguing things to accomplish every step of the way. Finishing modes increases your There And Back Again wizard values and gives gifts from the elves. Doing well in a multiball culminates in 3 unique and satisfying super jackpot rewards, and seeing how fast you can destroy the ring is always satisfying. It's a long player, but it's fun from the start.

All true... but eventually "not fun" for me any more. I just didn't like spending an hour on one game... nor did I usually want to commit to that potential length of time and so it sat for quite a while before I finally sold it.

#27 6 months ago

it is my favourite , which is funny because i usually love fast flow games . It depends what you feel like playing. For loud fast games i go to Metallica . If i am home alone and have time its LOTR.

#28 6 months ago

Man, stop hyping LOTR. I'm almost certain that's going to be my next acquisition and they're quite pricey enough.

Seriously, I do love this game for the unique play, great music and call outs and a theme that I find very compelling. Also nice deep code and long ball times which should compliment my AFMr nicely.

#29 6 months ago
Quoted from Rum-Z:

I have a TSPP, and I love it as well, but I have this same issue with it. One single good game for me can last 30-45 minutes. After that, I just don't feel like pushing the start button again and going through all that again. Sometimes it'll sit there for a month before I play another game on it. I still keep it though, well.... for the time being at least.

Yep, and this is why I sold my TSPP as well. Come to think of it, it's also why I sold my WOZ. Keith is a brilliant coder, but his games all require a substantial time commitment.

#30 6 months ago

IM, SM, Met and FG are my favorite Stern games.

I own LOTR, but I have to mentally prepare myself to play that game because I know the game can go on for more than an hour.

#31 6 months ago

LOTR has to be one of the best all around pins by Stern. It’s tied for my top spot with MET. Great shots, rules, toys, mechanical devices and story. It’s the number 1 adventure skeaking game period. But as many have mentioned if your a better player it get to be too long of a game. This is the only drawback I see with the game.

#32 6 months ago

I will say, for what it's worth, that all of my non-pinball-aficionado guests really enjoy playing LOTR, despite whether or not they actually accomplish much in the game.

It's certainly not without its faults that folks have already mentioned, but it definitely is a special game that places it high in the ranks of what Stern has designed.

#33 6 months ago

Love LOTR and of all games I have had and sold it’s the one I would like to add back. Gameplay and theme integration is perfect and it sets the bar for mini wizard modes. May have to hunt one down to add back to the collection.

#34 6 months ago

It's a masterpiece.

#35 6 months ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

No. Doesn't even make my top 10.
I can see why people love it - it has incredibly deep software, immersive theming, plays long, etc. - exactly what many home use owners might be looking for. For me it's a bit of a slog and I'd rather play KISS.

Oh Levi...just open up the outlanes and increase the pitch!

#36 6 months ago

Oh, and yeah, LOTR is Stern’s best. And among the best of all time.

#37 6 months ago

The whole fact this is even up for discussion almost 15 years after its release speaks volumes enough. Compared to all the flavors of the month that have been released since , LOTR is a clear classic and all time great.

#38 6 months ago

I've been fortunate enough (I guess) that I'm not a great player and over the eight years of owning mine, I have had very few 30 minute plus games. I would admit if that was common for me, it would have left the building a while ago. For me its easily one of the best pins ever. Easily in my top 5 and probably top 3.

#39 6 months ago

LOTR is great, but it plays too long for me to love it. All the shots return safely to the flippers, and it has the longest ball times of any of the 15 Stern games I've operated.

Personally, I'm much more into the "one more game" feeling, and I never get that from LOTR.

#40 6 months ago
Quoted from Astropin:

Also why I sold mine (and it won't be back). I had more games than I can count last an hour or more over eight years. Got to the point that I never player it.
Eventually it got replaced by IM... my lone Stern and favorite Stern. Love it. To be fair there are other Stern's I really like...MET, TWD, ST, SM... all great games.

Astropin, I am in the same boat as you as a former owner of the machine. I bought it NIB in 2004, but was forced to liquidate, selling off six machines at that time for my wife's graduate work. Though I can say I like it more than you on balance, I do understand how the game could become tedious. My feelings have been rekindled on location appearances and it is among those prominent to re-acquire. I am not the world's best pinball player to say the least, so the long game issue hasn't come into play. I guess I will wait for the right price to come along, though it seems they are going up. Thank you for your honest response here.

#41 6 months ago

I’m currently looking to buy a LOTR pin. I’m looking forward to a pin I can put some time into. I think it’s a great pin to at least own once so you can experience it. After you’re done, it’s easy to sell and holds its value.

#42 6 months ago

LOTR would be a top 5 for me, but not sure if I'd make it #1. Biggest issue I have with it is how long the games last. I had one for a good 7 yrs and sold it due to the long game times (I got better each year) I am not even sure which game I would put as number one .... ACDC maybe

#43 6 months ago

The simple answer for me is yes. It is the best Stern ever made. However, the fact that some people in this thread say they like X-Pile is proof positive that you will never get a consensus on this type of question.

#44 6 months ago
Quoted from Crile1:

Before I give my response to the LOTR question, I just want to say one thing about Stern games. They are approachable and instantly entertaining. I think that is what they do right over the other current manufacturers. They have the balance of being easy to jump on without knowing much about the ruleset, but then usually have many deeper layers to go for the tourney players or home owners. That is what Stern does best, other than quantity. JJP fails in the fact that it takes many games and especially home ownership to really appreciate their games. DI did not impress my kids and I when we first played the proto at a show. One year later, I played a production game at a show with no line and was able to put in a bunch of games and loved it. However, after just one game of Aerosmith, Star Wars, Metallica, ACDC, etc I was hooked on those. It didn't take that much time for me to "get" it. Hope that made sense.
Anyhow, LOTR I think is still Stern's greatest to date. It's packed with unique shots, toys, light show, deep ruleset, good music, and excellent callouts from original actors. It's beautiful to look at. It is deep, but not hard to jump in and play. Multiballs are easy to achieve, even if you don't know what you are doing. Every time I think I will put it up on the block for sale, I play it and it reminds me why it is a keeper. It just has that special something. Yes, once you get familiar with the shots, the games can go long...but what a journey!

So I know I am going to get jumped on, but Hobbit is probably one of the best games ever made. I am clearly not talking from a pinball aficionado standpoint. But from a theme integration, amazing sparkle and design, an LCD that is central to theme and done better than I've seen in any other game ever, Hobbit takes the win. In my little pinball museum it is played CONSTANTLY. Kids, adults, even experienced pinball players. Despite the right loop, left loop all day long, anyone seeing it is immediately drawn to it and can get into it. There are very few pinball machines that do that anymore. Dialed In may be a pinball lovers dream, but it is not non-pinball playing public dream at all.

I bought Hobbit to do exactly the job it is doing, and it is doing it better than any other pin in the collection. And to be clear it is most definitely NOT my favorite pin at all, in fact it is almost the antithesis of my favorite pins which are all brutal, short ball time machines. But nevertheless it is the best pin made, better than LOTR, better than other Stern's precisely because it doesn't try to just appeal to pinball players.

#45 6 months ago

I own a lot of Stern's considered in the running and change my favorite per mood often. My current take with IMDN still in honeymoon:

MET > IMDN > LOTR > TWD > ACDC > TSPP > TRON > TREK

Top 5 flux a lot, ask me tomorrow and TWD could be on top.

#46 6 months ago

No.

Who wants a game that never ends unless you are one of the best players on the planet?

#47 6 months ago
Quoted from FarFromHeaven26:

adversity to any machine with the Stern label, and even longtime pinball emporiums like the Asbury Park Pinball Museum refuse to showcase even a single example from the most prolific creator of new games.

I think this stance by the Silverball Museum is absurd considering they have JJP games on the floor that almost always have issues. Almost every time I'm there one or more of them has some major malfunction.

To answer the main question, no. I think there are many better Stern games. I borrowed a LOTR from a friend for a couple months once and now I have very little desire to play it anymore at all.

#48 6 months ago

You know that just-one-more-game feeling a pin can provide? Well, LOTR did not have it for me and I want that in every pin I own. I no longer own LOTR.

#49 6 months ago

One way you can get a true feeling on Pinside's opinion on Best Stern Of All Time is to make a poll.

"Which is the greatest Stern pinball of all time"
- AC/DC
- LOTR
- TSPP
- TWD
- Tron
- Metallica
- Iron Man
- Game Of Thrones
- My Choice is not listed

Allow only one choice.

There can only be one "best".

Marcus

#50 6 months ago
Quoted from ectobar:

I think this stance by the Silverball Museum is absurd considering they have JJP games on the floor that almost always have issues. Almost every time I'm there one or more of them has some major malfunction.
To answer the main question, no. I think there are many better Stern games. I borrowed a LOTR from a friend for a couple months once and now I have very little desire to play it anymore at all.

Yep, I can't understand why Stern has been ignored at the museum. It is ludicrous for sure. And yes, I have seen flipper issues with The Wizard of Oz a few times there and recently a problem with Dialed In. (The Hobbit is there too meaning they have all three JJP machines with a certainly Pirates will join them) Mind you I love the JJP machines but can see what you mean about being cognizant of issues. I don't at present own any of those.

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