A little tired of some of the latest pinball news, so I thought I'd review and rate the 4 Sega large dmd games.
I own all 4, which got me thinking "which one is the best?"
I was surprised that I didn't have a clear answer, and as of this typing I still don't. So lets dig in.
Sega's first 4 games used a huge DMD, and are quite interesting games to say the least.
As a former world champion pinball player told me
"they have interesting layouts, good rules. They are better than they should be"
Starting with Maverick:
This game is really cool. A game where the skill shot really means something, a classic multiball with a clever super jackpot captive ball perfectly placed under the lauren belle, behind the drop targets.
Speaking of drop targets, it's a sharpshooters dream, where you only want to hit the lit bank to advance to a mode, hit too many not lit drop on a bank and you bust. The modes are fun, and it has good sounds and music too. Getting to World Poker Championship is a challenge that keeps you pressing the start button again and again.
Pros: Addicting drop target gameplay, classic multiball elements, good use of playfield, challenging game.
Difficulty to wizard mode: 8.5
Playfield design 8.0
Push start again? 8.0
Cons: top rollovers for bonus x are not used often, as orbits usually orbit, leaving the pops the only way to really bounce through those switches. Lauren Bell slowdown (though it really doesn't bother me)
This is tough because it's so close, i'll pin this game at number 3.
This is an odd game and yet still a very good game. For that, I feel guilty placing it where I'm about to place it but I have my reasons.
Batman is a game that was "go big or go home" and it really tried to captivate its target audience with its over the top widebody design that has huge ramps and a Batwing cannon.
Unfortunately, the ramps become a chore with stock equipment, and the flippers become tired after a few games. The remedy is GNR special coils, which make the game come alive, also eliminating the mushy feel this particular game seems to suffer from.
Regardless, the game does suffer from some other questionable design elements as well. The side ramp for instance, is molded strangely, making many good shots to it, brick off or clunk half way up.
The Batwing is kind of neat, but what do they want you to do in Super Jackpot? Shoot from the Batwing into that mini ramp? On a previous BF I owned years ago, I thought this is what I in fact did, but on my current BF, It does not seem doable at all.
Besides this riddle, Batman feels like a slight rush job. The signs above the ramps for instance, have stickers instead of print, which is odd.
Despite these riddles in development, the game is very fun to play and shoot on and there is a flow you can get going if you're razor sharp.
Getting a mode started is not all that difficult, as you can start one from the plunge, and re-activate it by hitting all the stand up "?" targets, setting up a long right loop shot to the mode start hole. The quickly timed modes themselves are only so so, my favorite being the acid escape (hit all 4 ramps to escape)
Forever wizard mode is very cool though, as timing your shot to the Batwing pays off HUGE jackpots.
Pros: Theme, (hey, it's Batman) lots of good shots and solid overall gameplay, nicely done animations and goofy call outs. "Got a thing for bats?" "Multiball! Multiball! Multiball!" "Bat wants to play? Fine, we'll play"
Difficultly to wizard mode: 6.0
Playfield design: 7.0
Push start again?: 9.0
Cons: Ramps are very weird/steep, modes feel timed too quick and slightly underwhelming.
I have a soft spot for Batman Forever, as I saw it in the theater back in the day and I was and guess I still am a big Jim Carrey fan.
Placing this at number 4, though depending on my mood I would say it could be switched with Maverick at number 3. However, I would say that Batman Forever is the flagship pin of the 4, It just looks cooler than the others and is more imposing in a lineup.
While personally the theme blows me away by how bad it is, the gameplay and table design blows me away by how good it is. That is Baywatch in a nutshell.
Baywatch has easily one of the most interesting and shot filled playfield designs of the 1990's, rivaling anything that Bally/Williams had put out during this time. In fact, it honestly is one of the finest shooting and coolest playfields I've played. So what's the catch? The theme.
If you can get past the theme, the gameplay and playfield layout is superb. The multiball is just too much fun, but the modes are well executed as well, with excellent dot work and challenging gameplay. While there are only 5 modes to start, it is not easy to survive past them and to it's wizard mode ''Earthquake'' which is a lot of fun. Some of the sounds too, are excellent in this pin, like the ocean bells dinging off in the pops, to the thunderous slingshots, to the almost casino like sounding jackpots. The ramps work and feel excellent in Baywatch, and your shots are well spread around the playfield. You never seem to not have something to shoot for. There are two video modes as well.
Pros: One of the most interesting and well laid out playfields of the 1990's. Really fun shooting pin, with plenty of challenge and great dot matrix work.
Difficulty to Wizard mode: 7.5
Playfield design: 9.5
Push start again? 9.0
Cons: The theme. That's pretty much it.
Baywatch is number 2.
When I had first played Frank many many years ago, I had only played route games of Frank and they played terrible. Frank is not a game that was built to hold up to the abuse of an arcade, mainly because of how poorly the flippers break down under pressure, leaving the ramp shots nearly impossible. Compound that with a lot of stand up targets, and a lot of really cool looking things on the playfield but not great action, and you have a game that will underwhelm a lot of people.
Frankestein is one of the finest hidden gems in pinball.
The first order of business is to dial in and tweak a Frank. Adjust and lube the spinner so that it really spins. Add GNR special coils and rebuild the flippers. Now you have a game that really comes ALIVE. The ramp becomes your play toy, and the game plays like a monster.
The Frankenstein layout is quite good, even with all those stand up targets, because you'll grow to appreciate their difficulty. Spelling out FRANKESNTEIN via the stand up targets starts a mode, however, shooting the North Pole spots you two letters and shooting the upper scoop or ice cave will spot you one letter.
Sounds too easy? It's not. Frankenstein is one tough mother to complete all 8 modes, in fact, every time you complete one of the modes, it spots you a letter in ''CREATURE'' For each letter, you are given 100 million points at the finale, though it is not necessary to complete any of the modes to advance there. The balance in gameplay is spot on in Frankenstein, and when you get an extra ball, you need it.
The modes are a lot of fun to play in Frank, especially GRAVEYARD, where you collect the body parts by various shots to build the monster.
The dot matrix work is fantastic and the ability to choose the music will set the mood. Multiball is a blast, with up to 6 balls and the jackpot call outs are hair raising when the game is cranked.
Frankenstein also has awesome artwork in my opinion and that playfield artwork and color scheme are just so eye popping. The cabinet and translight art are very cool as well.
Pros: It's a fantastic challenge and fun playing game IF playing correctly. Lots of great sound work and modes, and a wizard mode that is so fantastically creepy, with images of the bride on fire from the movie, running down the hall of the mansion.
Difficulty to Wizard mode: 9.0
Playfield design: 7.5
Push start again? 10
Cons: Not really anything worth mentioning. While it's not a perfect game, it does a lot of things perfectly, and when it plays right, it keeps you coming back because it's not an easy game. When you throw the lever to launch the ball, you know you're in for a hell of a challenge.
Frankenstein overall, I think, is number 1.
They are all just really great games though, you can't go wrong with any of them, and I don't think they get the credit they deserve. There is something about the over the top huge scoring, good rules and modes, big dmd in these pins that keep me coming back again and again.
Hope you enjoyed the review.