Having put in a couple of days on Elvira I can't help to feel tired of the minimalist, boring designs coming from Stern -- Keith obviously excluded, proving that you CAN have an awesome design and the game doesn't have to cost $10K+.
While the minimalist playfields made sense during the Big Buck Hunter Pro era everyone other pinball designer is putting out a pretty creative product out there -- and it's different every time.
Stern is the same thing, over and over, different themes -- which seems to please the buyers.
The programming is exceptional which I do believe is the only thing that makes these games actually stand out in any way. That seems to be one thing that other manufacturers (most notably JJP -- I can't tell what I am supposed to do in most of their games and I like complex rules) struggle with.
It's disappointing honestly esp when LEs cost $10K. I also can't help to be befuddled that the designers wouldn't try something different out of sheer boredom alone.