I played "Whoa Nellie" at TPF 2015 a few times and watched others play as well.
My assessment on a 1-10 scale along with a commentary:
I really wanted this to be a big hit all around but it failed IMO. It should have been a great new age SS retro EM look/feel/play but came up short in key areas. It is one of those pins I really wanted to love, but could not.
Artwork: All around a solid 10. If I was into collecting pinball for artwork only I would be all over this. The characters and colors just pop and feel right on this one.
Mechanical look and sounds: About a 7. The sounds were satisfactory but what was up with the uneven Score Wheels? A properly built EM straight out of the factory would not have Score Wheels that did not line up or are we to believe that this is supposed to be an old EM that has not been properly shopped and serviced
Gameplay/Ruleset: Not great at all, a 6. For getting the younger crowd on board and keep some of us oldsters happy with an EM/SS hybrid it should have had Drop Targets, even a bank of 3 would have helped quite a bit, but 5 or more would have been great. The flow was OK but the Ruleset was too simple mimicking an EM, especially for an SS system. Being a game originally based off a 1957 Gottlieb Continental Cafe 2 player that had a rating of 5.4 on the IPDB they should have instead based it off a 1 player to begin with that had at least the complexity and challenge of say a 1975 Gottlieb Atlantis, but did not even come close to that. To me it was a great opportunity that was completely missed. It was as though that the Artwork was the major point for the creation of the machine, and the machine itself then just being a vessel for it.
Price: WTF? It is saying a lot when an EM guy like me would rather buy an "Americas Most Haunted" at $5995.00 that has a much better Gameplay/Ruleset with good Artwork over the EM/SS Hybrid "Whoa Nellie" any day of the week especially given the price point. At $6495.00 "Whoa Nellie" should be priced at least $2000.00 less IMO and then maybe some SS/DMD guys who want an EM type game but with SS components so they can work on them. Folks wanting their first pin that looks like an old EM that reminds them of the good old days will want it as well in part that the machine is new and has the dependability of the newer SS systems will buy it.
Overall thought: I feel this game will fail for Stern's expected sales projection because of the previous observations stated and that is sad. After the failed "King Of Diamonds" Retro EM/SS flop I feel this game will set back the EM/SS Hybrid pinball machines for yet another 5 years before someone else tries their hand at it and I am pretty sure Stern will not be the one to even touch such a project in the future. Who knows, Maybe it will be Jersey Jack next up at bat, just a guess though and hopefully the 3rd attempt will be a successful EM/SS Hybrid, but for now we wait until that time.
Ken Whoa Nellie.jpg