Here’s a “little” write up about POTC after I played 5 games on it today at Abel Electronics
I’m starting with the the toys as oh POTC has the toys! The rocking ship is one of the coolest pinball toys I’ve seen. While up on the mini playfield you have two mini orbit shots to hit, standups to light the canon and of course the canon shot itself. I also found it a welcoming challenge to gain access to the canon which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to use during my gameplay (didn’t make the shot). The spinning map on the prototype I played didn’t appear to match the movement of the one shown in the latest JJP live streams and was likely an older hardware version. However, the map toy is pretty damn cool considering all of the combinations of awards and it being comprised of 3 spinning disks. The chest physical ball lock is cool and the Maelstrom ramp with the whirlpool hole is very fun to hit for starting one of the movie multiballs + jackpots (I think it was for “On Stranger Tides”). While the compass mini LCD isn't coded yet I can see it being a helpful feature to have on the game (plus it does show animated rule cards). Then there’s there’s the spinning pirate (Tortuga Tom!), multiple molded toys, etc. POTC may very well be the most loaded pin I’ve ever played.
What a beautiful game, from the playfield to the side artwork to the backglass. The only complaint I have in terms of artwork is the apron artwork which does not go along well with the rest of the game. I think a scene featuring battling ships on the apron with colors more in line with the playfield / cabinet would complete the entire art package.
The design of POTC simply screams fun is is one of my new favorite layouts in pinball. The game has a great combination of flow and stop and go based gameplay with unique shots. POTC easily has the most variety of unique shots I’ve seen in a pin and like the designer Eric has mentioned there are multiple paths to many of the games shots. I was also surprised to see multiple ways to access the ship, from the main ramp, to a skill shot in the back right, to the left inner orbit.
I don’t believe the prototpye I played was running the latest code. Thanks to the Straight Down the Middle video with Eric and Keith I was at least somewhat familiar with the rules and how to start chapters and light several of the games multiball. I can report that to me the chapters all felt unique with their own unique music. The ability to choose from 22 different characters all with unique abilities really adds a new dimension to pinball rules as it opens up a lot of different strategies for such a deep game. POTC is a game that you can own for years and always have something new to see / reach for. Overall the ruleset, from the little I’ve played, comes across as an extremely deep objective based ruleset that tells the themes story through it code.
I’ve knocked the game for not having the audio lines from the movies. However, I think that Kevin McNally did an excellent job with the games callouts. Kevin McNally is a skilled actor and it shows through with the voice work he did for POTC. The Gibbs callouts go with the game perfectly. I doubt all of the Gibbs callouts are in the game as I believe that over 1000 were recorded. If there's one area of concern, and maybe I just didn't notice, it would be that I hope callouts related to each of the games modes were recorded as with the lack of actor audio that would help set the scene for each mode (same with mulitballs, mini wizard modes).
J.P has knocked it out of the park in the animation department for POTC. The animated treasure map on the screen that changes as you progress through the game is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on a pinball LCD yet. I also liked how each section of the LCD corresponds to one of the five movies and matches up to the order of the movie inserts on the playfield. All of the animations created by JP help create the world of Pirates of the Caribbean. The match sequence with the characters rotating on the ship wheel is one of my favorite animations in the game so far as is the extra ball one. I do hope that more animations along with movie clips are added to each of the games 5 multiballs as besides the opening animation each of them currently feels the same visually.
Audio / Music
David Thiel has done an excellent job with creating music for POTC. I didn’t miss the traditional POTC movie or ride themes as neither have a pinball vibe to it. The music that David has come up with for POTC has that pinball touch and yet still feels like music from the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. As I mentioned in the rules section of this write up I did notice unique audio for each of the games modes that I played. I don't think there's 125 custom tracks for all 125 modes (that would be kinda insane and may take 20 years to create, haha) but there could very well be a unique audio track assigned to the 25 modes that get randomly chosen each game.
Other Notes: Just a note about the powder coat on the games armor. The powder coat has a nice textured feel to it. This is pretty cool as it kinda makes me think of what the texture on a canon would feel like.
Overall POTC by JJP is fun and engaging game and one that I look forward to getting into my home as soon as possible. $8500 - $9500 is a ton of money to spend on a pinball machine. In the high end end pinball market I honestly feel that JJP is offering the most value with POTC. The amount of work going into the games software, rules, animations and music is matched only by other games JJP has done in my opinion. The design alone and all of the games interactive toys add a lot of value to this game already but its the software that brings the design and toys to life. With this title I feel like I'm getting 3-5x the amount code compared to most non JJP games.