Quoted from CaptainNeo:
I disagree. Some of the best games to come out of stern happened in those years. LOTR and TSPP ? Sopranos? His games all kinda blow ass. Only one I like out of the Stern years is RBION. I used to be a big Lawlor fan before I even knew who Lawlor was. Only games I wanted when I got into this hobby was ES, FH, TAF, and TZ. Then I was done. Look how that turned out. Had all those games and now I don't even own one of them. :/ Still love those games. Think they are brilliant. But all his shit feels the same. I had all 4 and all 4 felt like the same damn game. so 2 had to go. I think he's lost his edge. I think John B is better at not copying himself and open to more original layouts. Who made Swords of Fury, or Dungeons and Dragons, even Blackwater 100, or Escape from Lost world? Those games are unique as shit. Get those people to make a game that is out of the cookie cutter box.
Well, there are "The Years At Stern" and then there are "The Dark Years At Stern". I'd consider TDYAS to be from 2008-2011 or so, when half of all staff was let go, and game budgets were clearly cut to the absolute bone. Anything past Batman and such, to somewhere in the 2011era when Avatar (such as it is) and TRON: Legacy came into being, with associated Premium additions and such. Things changed a bit, then.
I don't know that there's anyone who's going to come to the defense of CSI, quite frankly. Is that because Pat botched it up? Not necessarily...it's hard to do a two-handed task with one hand tied behind your back, which is what seemed to be the case in TDYAS. I'm honestly not in love with the game *at all*, but have I seen worse? Yes, and out of the Stern factory, too. That being said: I never want to own a CSI, unless it's so inexpensive that it's just not "turndown able".
Unfortunately, I agree for the most part that Pat's games at Stern were, pretty objectively speaking, far less good than his games produced at WMS. Oh, sure, you can have your Family Guy, but even that is pushing it, I think, and a lot of the good of that game is helped along by Keefer's handiwork. If FG's his pinnacle at Stern, it's a pretty low bar, quite frankly.
Monopoly doesn't stand up well to the test of time, unfortunately. It was a nice breath of fresh air when it was released, because hey: Pat was *BACK*!!!! It felt good to have him back at the helm, and the game had a good enough Lawloresque feel to it. Ultimately, though, it's definitely sub-par to most WMS Lawlor machines, and it was produced 5 years after them. You'd think that there would have been some improvements in some areas. None to be found by my prognosis.
Then the issues *really* got compounded in Roller Coaster Tycoon, which is a travesty of a Lawlor game. I ought to know: I own one. If nothing else, it was *at least* two steps backwards from Monopoly. Far worse theme, absolutely horrible software, a waste of Youssi's time.
Ripley's followed, which was better, admittedly, but still had the millstone around its neck of a lousy theme (though I thought it had potential to be somewhat like a TZ-type theme), somewhat-improved-yet-still-not-good software, and some downright *terrible* design decisions like the upper flipper strength issue, the plastic posts, etc. Ripley's also seemed to be forever broken on location, more prolifically than most.
As an addendum, between RCT and RBION, there were multiple titles that came through shining like a National guitar: TSPP, LOTR, Elvis Gold, and even T3 was pretty good...all serving to make the shine on Ripley's that much more dull.
NASCAR/Grand Prix/Dale Jr. was just a fiasco, a game that Pat basically never should have had given to him. It's just not his forté, quite frankly, thematically. And it's a butchered game, isn't it: doesn't feel like a Pat game, doesn't play very much like a Pat game, doesn't do much of anything well. I give him/them points for trying something new and shaking things up a bit, but really: the game's a mess/miss.
Family Guy/Shrek *darned well ought to be* his best Stern machine, and it certainly is, considering all the time leading up to it. Feels more like his pin more than any other Stern Lawlor machine, to me. It's got a good deal going for it, and there's a reason it is, by far, the Stern Lawlor machine that's held or increased its value the most: it's the very best one he did for them, helped along mightily by Keefer and others, I'm sure.
CSI has been discussed, and needs not be brought up again.
All that to say that I'm looking forward to what Pat *may be able* to do again. I think he's extremely talented as a pinball designer, but like with many great minds, he needs a team around him that is equally brilliant and won't take a back seat to anyone, even Pat. I think that JJP is a very good arena for this to happen, along with a better bill of materials available to him. It's certainly a chance for Pat to knock one out of the park and help us remember his brilliance: he's a *fantastic* innovator, and I hope he's up to one last great at-bat.
There are simply no guarantees, though. "The best laid plans of mice and men..."