Quoted from Sea_Wolf:
How does your Bally Freedom rate with the rest of your pins? Does it have the pop bumper between the flippers? I saw one for sale last week in Indianapolis. About a 2 hour drive for me. I’m probably going to have to wait till the bank account grows a little but I’m always looking.
Did you... happen... to see... a middle-pop Freedom for sale?!!? Because if you did, you must buy it immediately. And if not, you must PM me immediately! :p
Everyone here is lucky because we GET IT. Agreed with so much of what has already been said here. Let me add 2c more:
EM's (particularly multiplayers) provide THE BEST social experience in pinball, period. The reasons are many:
1) The sound of clicks, clacks, chimes, and bells are harmonious across all decades and create a unified "sound environment". A room full of 20 EM's with Led Zeppelin playing in the background puts everyone in the same 1970's headspace. Shared experience = that extra dimension we crave.
A room full of modern DMD's is cool, but everyone is in their own individual space/laser/fantasy/rock band environment of sound. Thus, the experience isn't as unified. More like everyone doing their own thing.
2) Short ball times. A 5-ball game between four players goes quickly. Lots of elbow rubbing and smack-talk and almost no waiting. The smartphone has no time to intrude here. Whereas many modern competitions LAST FOREVER... can get boring, and bored people aren't as social.
3) The mechanical/biological connection. EM's are "alive". You can sense every infinitesimal physical kick/clack/reaction with your fingertips and eardrums. This is a stronger kinesthetic connection than digitized callouts and music (though those can be quite good indeed if done well).
4) The EM rhythm! The heartbeat of the game. 500 points = 100-200-300-400-500. Press start: BUZZ-clacka-chacka-chack, clacka-chacka-chack, ticka-ticka-ticka-CLACK-CHUNK. All in the rhythm. The rhythm of the game. It's also in the score. It keeps you engaged for more.
Most of these aspects are pure serendipity. The original designers didn't get this deep into "pinball psychology"... it simply worked the way it did because technology of the time demanded it function more like a clock than a computer. But now, in hindsight, we're able to dive deeper and find out exactly why these things are so compelling. And, perhaps, eventually reclaim some of the magic.
Bow & Arrow
Gridiron (Williams pitch & bat)
Out Of Sight
Solids & Stripes
My favorite is the middle-pop Freedom prototype. Multiplayer, huge figure-eight flow, random awards (but not rule-breaking), fantastic risk/reward, and best implementation of the middle-pop style. Spinners, drops, surprises, no waiting. Just has it all. It is Norm Clark's signature game IMHO, exactly when he was hired to lead Bally to its greatest period.
Some of my games turned out to be VASTLY better than I had originally expected: Expo, Flipper Fair, Hang Glider, Little Chief, Skyrocket, Surf Side