RATING TNA MODS
I thought it would be fun to pull together a list of mods (and game additions) and rate them, if nothing but to help awaiting owners and future buyers decide what they might want to add to their games at the factory OR have waiting at home before their game is delivered. Just about 5 months ago, I told a few friends that "I was done dropping money on mods." That was – apparently – the kiss of death, because buying TNA has opened up the mod buying floodgates (in a great way, mind you). That isn't to say that every mod is necessary. But some, I believe, are essential to enhancing the game experience. I had quite a few installed at the factory, which was painlessly handled by my distributor Joe Newhart / PinballSTAR . Normally I'd just do it myself, but the fees were so low, it was easy to just have Spooky do the work. So, here it goes:
1) Shaker (Rating = 4.5/5)
I pre-purchased the shaker and had it sent to Spooky for installation at the factory. Cost was $99 plus shipping and few extra bucks to install (I believe Spooky charged $25 for shaker and knocker install together). Integration into the game is fantastic, adding a nice tactile touch to gameplay moments such as a low elongated rumble as the reactor awaits destruction, a massive shake when a reactor is destroyed (the latter of which is nice because a blown reactor can get lost in chaos of multiball... it's nice to have feedback that doesn't require looking at the LCD or listening for a call out), and a nice thud when the pop is activated. While the machine's powerful bass notes add some rumble, the shaker is a great addition IMO. Buy it.
2) Upgrade LCD (Rating = 5/5)
My only disappoint with TNA (out of the box) was rather lackluster LCD screen performance. To put it lightly, the stock screen has poor off-axis viewing that leads to washed out colors and bad contrast. Blacks look like grays and the rest of the visual performance suffers. Much thanks to audihere who originally posted the parts necessary to upgrade to a better LCD experience, I took the plunge and purchased a new screen
(ebay.com link: Lg Philips Lp156wf1 tl b2 Replacement LAPTOP LCD Screen 15 6 LED LP156WF1 TLB2)
and driver board (ebay.com link: HDMI DVI VGA Audio Controller Board For 15 6 B156HW01 LP156WF1 1920x1080 LCD)
for a total investment of a tad over $100. I did have a few hiccups (the first screen shipped to me was DOA), but got everything worked out and the new screen is literally a night and day difference. Significantly deeper blacks and infinitely better saturation lend to graphics that look great and are easy to see. Pinks literally pop off the screen and important in-game information is much easier to read.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the old versus new. I realize a camera image isn't the best way to convey this (it's much more impressive in person), but focus on the "A" in the upper left corner of the cassette tape.
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Charlie at Spooky already addressed the screen issue (if you can call it that) by saying that Spooky had to purchase a screen that was available in large quantities. And, while the stock screen still gets information across, the upgraded screen is IMO an absolute must and it's easy to install. All you need is the new screen and driver board, a nut driver, small and large phillips screw drivers, electrical tape, and a comfort level with making wire connections. Of course, proceed at your own risk.
This is my top mod.
3) Rail Lights (Rating 3.5/5)
TNA rail lights are sold by Hooked on Pinball (https://www.hookedonpinball.com/store/p115/Total-Nuclear-Annihilation-TNA-Side-Rail-Illumination-Kit-Pinball-Mod) and cost $105 plus shipping. They're super easy to install and look fantastic. They plug into an existing board located inside the back of the cabinet. If you're into bling, they're a must have...since they don't enhance game play, I only give them a 3.5/5. I'd buy them again, though... they look GREAT in person.
4) Mirror Blades aka Melt Down Mirrors (3.5/5)
Much like the Rail Lights, these custom blades (https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=4787) are all about the bling. They cost $70 and can be installed at the factory. I went the factory route and Spooky provided a flawless installation. I happen to be a big blade fan, but they aren't absolutely necessary to gameplay experience. They do, however, enhance the spaciousness of the playfield and the game's masterful lighting.
I initially had ordered the interior art blades... switched to mirror blades once they became available. Glad I did.
5) Speaker Lights/Grill Covers (3.5/5)
I purchased the lights/grills direct from Spooky and had them installed at the factory for $95 flat. Grills look great and the lights are integrated and interactive with the game's lighting, turning off/on and changing colors to reflect what's happening during game play. Very happy with the lights. Would purchase again. The lights are bumped down a tiny bit because they are directly visible and can be slightly harsh to the eye (seeing the individual LEDs)... but...
6) Light Diffusor (5/5)
LED OCD's ( herg )speaker light "Frosted Spacer" is just what the doctor ordered (http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=34) for making the game's unique speaker lights an enhanced experience. Installation requires dropping down the speaker/LCD panel and removing both speakers. You then remove two factory spacers and add the Frosted spacer. Voila! Instant smooth lighting. It takes away the harshness of direct LED viewing and creates a ringed glow. And for $15 plus shipping... it's an inexpensive mod that delivers as promised. It's a must buy if you go the light route.
7) Sac Rack (2.5/5)
The Sac Rack (https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=4706) is a total necessity if you're betting on games. It's a total non-necessity if you're not. It's design is great though and it's cheap $14.99 plus shipping (and you get 4 golden sacs with it). Huge shoutout to trilogybeer. Tip of the cap and I thank you, sir. I owe you one!!
8 ) Real Knocker (3/5)
A real knocker costs $35+ shipping and I had Spooky install it at the factory. I happen to like the THWACK of a real knocker... not a total essential though. For me, a must have.
9) Plastic Protectors (4/5)
The ball on TNA can really get moving (especially if you crank coil power on the pop or slings)... so logic would say that plastic protectors are a smart move. I had Spooky install an entire plastic protector set at the factory for $35. They're unobtrusive, well made, and seem to be doing their job thus far (knock on wood). Are they 100% necessary? Unknown... but my gut is saying yes (especially if you plan on putting the game out in public).
10) flashinstinct Decals (4/5)
Flash has hit another home run with his TNA decal set. They're dirt cheap – $21 through Mezel Mods (https://mezelmods.com/collections/total-nuclear-annihilation-pinball-mods) – and add a little more flair to standup and drop targets, top of the pop, etc.
IMG_2939 (resized).JPGIMG_2003 (resized).JPG
I like them... I give them a 4/5 because they aren't "essential." But they're nice!! I'm hoping they hold up to the punishment of this game! So far, so good... but I'm expecting that the drop decals will wear over time. All in all, I like'm!!
11) Power Ball (5/5)
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A week or so ago, Mr68 glowingly posted about adding a single powerball and I liked the idea... you can read more complete thoughts about its impact, here (https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/total-nuclear-annihilation-cluball-welcome/page/55#post-4417207). I'm a big fan. Right now, that powerball is staying! The only downside is that power balls aren't cheap. You're looking at $50+ from both Marco and Pinball Life. But, if you're a glutton for punishment and want to add an extra level of brutality to your pin, buy one.
This is by no means a definitive list... I'm sure there are a few other mods/alterations out there. Of course, there's always tweaking game settings which owners can do for free (for me, just putting the game into "Hard" mode introduced a few nuances that made game play more fun). If anyone has anything to add... fire away!