If you are a TL;DR guy, you may want to avoid this one, so be forewarned. It's a complicated issue and it needs the swollen word count to properly articulate.
Over the past several years, I have played a decent sampling of CGC remake machines, mostly Attack From Mars, which is not only my favorite game, but has been omnipresent at locations and in tournaments since it was released in 2018.
Like many, I always wondered why the games ship with such a strange flipper alignment. For all the effort and expense that went in to producing a high-quality reproduction that looks just like the original and seems to be of high build quality, I always thought it was odd that the flipper stroke is much shorter than the original production machine, with flippers that appear to reach only about 60 to 70 percent or so has high as the original flippers when fully extended.
As a tournament player, this required a significant adjustment. The ball was more difficult to trap now, and center area shots were also changed drastically and more difficult to hit.
On the other side, orbit and side ramps were now much easier, or at least much more common with a "missed" shot. And, successful ski passes were incredibly easy, with even the slowest inlane ball rolling lazily up a fully extended flipper and drifting gracefully over to the other flipper.
Tournament players would frequently note this, and sometimes it was used in a "the remakes aren't as good as the originals because the flippers are weird" argument. My response was always, "well that's true, but if I owned the game I'd just fix the flipper stroke/alignment, like I have to do the majority of the time I get a used game into my shop." Still, it was always in the back of my mind how strange it was that these remakes, apparently designed to original spec, and using similar parts as the originals, would be so strangely set up from the factory.
This month, I acquired an AFM SE remake, and to be honest, I did it pretty cheaply. As it's my favorite game, I was intrigued by the idea of keeping this mint condition AFM and dumping my well-loved "players" example that I've had for many years, while still coming out ahead a generous amount in the cash department. With the gorgeous, mint condition playfield, cabinet, and everything else, and with the larger color screen and upgraded graphics and the greatly improved sound/speakers, it was an exciting development that this machine basically fell into my lap.
I set up my new AFM, did a light cleaning, and played a ball. I was immediately struck by how short the flipper stroke was. While I expected it, this one was even more severe than other examples I'd played, and the stroke was uneven, with the right flipper stroke even shorter than the left. I turned the game off and went about fixing the alignment, as I always figured I'd do if I ever ended up with one of these remakes.
So, I lifted the playfield, loosened the WPC-style pawls, and raised the flippers 10-15 degrees or so to make them extend to the same height as my original AFM machine. Then, I bent back the plunger stop brackets slightly with pliers to extend the stroke, and make the flippers drop back to normal alignment in their resting state. The whole operation took me about 10 minutes, and now I was ready to play. And play I did, for an hour. Later that night, I had a group of friends over, and we played it all night. After they all left, I cleaned up all the empties, turned off all my other machines, (giving the remake ample time to chill out and cool down) and played another game of the new AFM. Then, for the first time that day, I played my original.
The difference, frankly, was night and day. The original AFM flippers (and keep in mind these haven't been rebuilt in about 5 years) were incredibly snappy, with a consistent strength, power, and feel that distributed equal power to all of the shots whether in single ball or multiball play. Both side shots and up the middle shots were lightning fast, accurate, and consistent.
In comparison, the remake flippers felt sluggish, and inconsistent ESPECIALLY on the wide shots. The wider the shot (the left and right ramp, or the oribits), the spongier and slower the shots felt. This was much more noticeable in multiball play, with weaker shots, and even an occasional partial "collapse" of an extended flipper, like you'd see sometimes on an old Data East or Sega game. The flippers, in effect, reminded me much more of Spooky flippers than classic W/B flippers. It was nothing I couldn't get used to or work with, but I'd say the play and flipper feel was inferior to the original. Now, that's opinion, and any particular player may feel one way or the other about it, but for me, the conclusion was inescapable: At the very least, the flippers on the remakes vs. the originals is noticeably DIFFERENT, whether or not the owner corrects the flipper stroke to original spec.
Playing both of the games some more, while at the same time getting a little more stoned (hey it's legal now, I had no choice!) I came to another conclusion: The reason these CGC games ship with such a short, non-orginal flipper stroke/alignment is to hide the deficiencies and weakness of whatever is driving their flipper system. By keeping the stroke short, the biggest difference - the mushiness on wide shots - is effectively hidden/eliminated. The shots all WANT to go wide with this alignment, and orbit shots and ramp shots are "easier" and snappier, even if the middle shots more difficult and now only a cinch from a trap. When the stroke distance is corrected to accurately ape that of the original 1995 build, this sleight of hand is uncovered.
These are my conclusions and opinions. I'm wondering if anybody else has tried to correct the flipper stroke on these remakes, or has any other nuanced, educated opinions on this. I understand that people may get defensive or agitated, but that's not the intention. I would have been extremely interested in reading about this from someone else, as I've always wondered why these games ship with such a strange, non original spec flipper stroke. Now I think I know.
In the end, my decision was made very quickly. As much as I loved owning a "brand new," mint-condition, sparkling clean and smooth example of my favorite game, with a fancy screen and richer sound, it was simply no contest. I listed and sold the remake in 2 days (during Pinside's blackout) and kept my "beater," but original, and original playing, AFM. And I'll probably have it for life.