For perspective, I owned, loved and regret ever selling WOZ. I was in on The Hobbit, but got out because of the Elaut scandal and rumors about financial troubles at JJP. I count myself as a JJP fan, and I am a huge fan of Keith Johnson's coding. I'm really glad that JJP appears to have stabilized and is now shipping The Hobbit.
I have played The Hobbit 3 times now. Once, early in the code at Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown '15, once recently at the 2Up, and today at Arcade Amusements in Manitou Springs, CO.
It is a beautiful game. It is just gorgeous, perhaps the best looking game since WOZ. Definitely among the top 10 prettiest games of all time. If they had done direct printing cabinets like early WOZs, it might take the #1 spot on looks alone.
However...the playfield is laughably empty. The ball floats around the playfield like I'm playing an 80s Bally or something. I wonder if they did this intentionally as a response to the difficult maintenance of WOZ. If the ball is really slow and there's nothing to hit, nothing can break, right?
Can this shell of a game be salvaged by Keith Johnson? If so, this will (further) solidify his reputation as the GOAT programmer.