(Topic ID: 309404)

What Does Each Manufacturer do Best? Your Opinions and comments...

By HEAD_boss_HOG

2 years ago


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  • 35 posts
  • 23 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by Chisox
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

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    #1 2 years ago

    So, in my podcast a while back, I discussed what makes each pinball company "special" or different from the other companies. I've never seen the topic on our forum, so here we are.

    In your opinion, what does each of the "Established" pinball companies offer, excel in, include, or otherwise bring to our hobby that no other company also brings to the consumer? This is an open forum, and I'd like to hear what all of you think in this regard. What makes each company special, unique, or exceptional when it comes to what they give the player, collector, and casual hobbyists?

    My basic opinions are as follows:

    Stern
    Highly durable NIB games which seldom require any "dialing in" or adjustments right out of the box
    highly appealing main stream themes for mass appeal
    best artists
    Best code for competitive players to exploit
    NIB games hold value

    Jersey Jack
    well built games with a much more significant emphasis on the playfield hardware, features, and general complexity
    seriously deep code for home users
    limited production of collector's edition games
    NIB games hold value

    Spooky
    niche themes and game offerings
    great service
    free toppers
    Pricing used to be different and lower, but not anymore

    Multimorphic
    completely unique ownership and playing experience. LCD Playfield and scoop wall
    unmatched modular aspect of their platform
    incredible service
    few price increases compared to other companies

    American Pinball
    Highest quality NIB games. NO adjustments necessary typically
    more unique features and layouts in their games

    what do you all think makes these companies special?

    10
    #2 2 years ago

    Stern - Stuck it out after Williams closed and coin op was a wasteland. Plugged along and with Simpson's Pinball Party really started rolling. Keith's Godzilla is a great game.

    Jersey Jack - Pat Lawlor, Keith Johnson, Eric Meuinier, Steve Ritchie.

    Spooky - Built up by themselves from the ground up. In addition to great games they have a loyal customer base.

    Multimorphic - Gerry driven and given to new ideas and ways of doing things.

    American Pinball - Built some fun games. And recent hires seem to be heading into an exciting future.

    Chicago Gaming - Built three remakes so far. And with people working with them or hired by them. Very exciting times coming from CGC. And they have me : )

    LTG : )

    #3 2 years ago

    I think Stern has absolutely perfected flippers. So snappy and powerful. They’re almost too good because so many people complain about their flippers now when they get games from companies other than Stern.

    -8
    #4 2 years ago
    Quoted from Chisox:

    I think Stern has absolutely perfected flippers. So snappy and powerful. They’re almost too good because so many people complain about their flippers now when they get games from companies other than Stern.

    #5 2 years ago

    I'm going to take it a bit old school and include some older companies.

    Data East - Extremely sturdy and well built legs / Digital Stereo Sound

    WMS (Williams and Bally) - Low maintenance thanks to the broken switch reroute system / Detailed operator reports

    Gottleeb - Single player EM machines

    #6 2 years ago

    bend you over

    #7 2 years ago

    I have to add:

    Sega- oversized DMD and animations were fantastic for its time.

    American Pinball- best customer service in the business right now.

    Williams- best use of non licensed pins.

    Stern- agree from post above, flipper strength is great, parts quality not so much.

    #8 2 years ago

    Spooky:
    Best quality playfields/clearcoat
    Best factory audio/speaker systems
    Real backglasses in all game models
    Best standard powdercoating

    Stern:
    Best flippers
    Best themes
    Best rulesets
    Best layouts
    Games play great out of the box
    Generally the most fun to play

    JJP:
    Best attention to detail
    Fit and finish
    Best LCD graphics
    Best lighting
    Premium feel
    Unique mechs and toys vs. Reusing ideas.

    -1
    #9 2 years ago

    I’m going with Spooky, they actively address issues even constantly engage customers / respond to threads right here on pinside. They also are great at creating hype for their upcoming titles.

    Stern - knows how to create a sense of value & maximize profits by adding a minor adjustment across existing models. Stern is great at price increases.

    DeepRoot - knows how to take your money

    JJP - knows how important metal washers are

    American Pinball - knows pinheads will buy just about any theme

    Honorable people mention hands down Llyod aka LTG he helps the most random people from various manufacturers.

    #10 2 years ago

    Stern: Nothing crazy, just reliable pins that are well-rounded.

    Jersey Jack: Premium everything. Even the NIB packaging is premium!

    CGC: Gorgeous playfield construction. And LTG.

    #11 2 years ago

    Spooky:
    Best at catering to their customers (small run niche themes).
    Best at humor (who else has F-bombs in their games outside of lyrics)?.
    Best at updating their customer base on the status of manufacturing.
    Best customer interaction. (I know some have had problems).
    Best at creating hype

    Stern:
    Most fun to play.
    Best rules.
    Best layouts.
    Best themes.
    Best manufacturers (ability to get games out).
    Best games for the home environment when you have time to delve into rules

    JJP:
    Best looking games
    Best sounding games
    It is not my favorite game, but objectively Jersey Jack's "The Hobbit" is the most beautiful game I've ever seen and is fantastic on paper. The sound package is amazing, it has a talking interactive dragon and tons of drop targets. The screen is huge. All of their games impress me on paper.

    CGC:
    Best business model. Don't reinvent the wheel... sell popular wheels people can't get their hands on anymore. Outstanding build quality. Great market of selling accessories and having tiered price models that don't take away from the game. Best interactive toppers

    Data East:
    So much in each package. Another company with games way ahead of their competition on paper. Best licenses (at the time) Think about what Addams Family has in it on paper and then think about Last Action Hero. Free interactive topper, 6 ball multiball, underplayfield magnets, free shaker 2 captive balls, a giant moving crane that interacts with the ball... Many of their games blow away the competition... on paper.

    Deeproot:
    Best shipping accessories.

    Haggis:
    Best manufacturer in Australia

    American Pinball:
    Built like a tank

    Homepin:
    Participation trophy

    Bally/Williams
    Best pinball for the casual and most fun way to blow 50 cents.

    Gottilieb:
    Best chimes, best pins with simple rules, most approachable to non pinball people.

    Stern Classic:
    Best rules/gameplay for tournament people

    Arcade1up/Zen Studios:
    Best at introducing new people to the hobby

    #12 2 years ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    Spooky:

    Best at humor (who else has F-bombs in their games outside of lyrics)?.

    "Am I a joke to you ????"

    pasted_image (resized).pngpasted_image (resized).png

    #13 2 years ago

    Elvira has some great F-bombs

    #14 2 years ago
    Quoted from NPO:

    "Am I a joke to you ????"
    [quoted image]

    Quoted from Mudflaps:

    Elvira has some great F-bombs

    I retract my points on there being no F-bombs outside of lyrics in non-Spooky games... But Rick and Morty still has the filthiest callouts of all time sprinkled in.

    #15 2 years ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    Rick and Morty still has the filthiest callouts of all time sprinkled in.

    Spooky definitely has some adult content…

    RZ =
    “Is that how you fuck your grandma?”
    “Put your initials up, then go fuck yourself.”

    #16 2 years ago

    Stern does one thing much better, that I feel is overlooked.
    Light and Sound.

    Not the callout license assets, but the few seconds of crescendo, sound, and playfield lighting effects at that moment.

    I find other manufacturers significantly less, and its more subliminal when playing....

    Just my 2 cents.

    #17 2 years ago

    What does each manufacturer do best?

    Stern - Making the best all-around games to flip for profit
    JJP - Making the heaviest games every 2 years
    Spooky - Making FOMO
    American - Making games with themes no one wants
    Multimorphic - Making games on only the top third of the playfield
    CGC - Making copies of games

    /s

    #18 2 years ago

    Stern - Rock solid great playing games wit themes that fit what I like -mainly Rock pins - all keepers
    JJP - next level stuff - huge wow factor love my GNR LE - definitely a keeper
    Spooky - Unique games and outstanding customer service and communication but I had a very disappointing first experience with Halloween and immediately sold it. Maybe something with a better fit for my style of gameplay will come along down the road.

    #19 2 years ago

    I have zero "under the hood" experience with any game made after, say, 1999, so I'll toss in my antiquated 2 cents:

    Gottlieb: One word: Craftsmanship. All eras were mechanical brick houses. Everything seems to hold up. The "fat boy" flipper mechs are bulletproof. Drop target banks, bulletproof. The underside of the playfields were silkscreened, and the wiring looms are always tight. Early versions of their solid state boardsets notwithstanding, the System 3 boards finally reflected the build quality in the rest of the game.

    Bally/Williams: Creativity and original storytelling. These people brought some of the most well thought out original themes ever to grace the silver ball. As far as I'm concerned, they're really the only people who were able to weave an original story through the artwork, rules, sound, and gameplay in almost every title.

    Data East/Sega: Fierce competitiveness. When I listen to interviews with people who worked there, it sounds like there was always a push to do more and try something to one up the competition and make unrelenting compromise when the going got tough. That fire, I'd like to think, is what kept them around to see the rise of Stern through the lean years into the 2000s.

    #20 2 years ago

    i'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN HERE. but i guess we as hobbyists and NIB buyers with a sincere ambition for pinball have all "drunk the Koolaid (tm). what do you have to add in this post/forum?

    does every manufacturer just suck major butt cheese in your opinion, or are the Bally/Williams games the only pinball games you care for, as well as sega and 80s*90s sterns and subsequently released Data East Titles?

    Do you simply despise new, modern releases, even when offered on location?

    #21 2 years ago
    Quoted from HEAD_boss_HOG:

    i'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN HERE. but i guess we as hobbyists and NIB buyers with a sincere ambition for pinball have all "drunk the Koolaid (tm). what do you have to add in this post/forum?
    does every manufacturer just suck major butt cheese in your opinion, or are the Bally/Williams games the only pinball games you care for, as well as sega and 80s*90s sterns and subsequently released Data East Titles?
    Do you simply despise new, modern releases, even when offered on location?

    Lol yeah I was a bit confused myself. I love games of all eras and all manufacturers. I think modern Stern flippers are a cut above. Not sure about the Kool Aid. The GIF is great though, so I couldn’t bring myself to downvote it.

    #22 2 years ago

    mbaumle I agree with your insight and opinion. There was a time when "oneupmanship" in this industry created, indeed necessitated innovation and the results were readily apparent in the game offerings from that time. At this point, it is readily apparent that Stern is reluctantly appealing ONLY to location Operators at the expense of Home NIB buyers/collectors who kept this hobby alive. It is sad, to be honest. I've been disappointed in the annual cash grabs that Stern Shamelessly endeavors to achieve; all of this at the expense of the TINY original customer base who kept their entire company alive and kicking during the "lean" years from 2000 to 2010.

    Unfortunately for us, Stern has the best artists, and proven designers who design and decorate gorgeous pinball machines for the most devoted, and long held customer base which has now ballooned substantially in the last ten years. At this point, Stern could single-handedly change location pinball forever with the recent price increases for their Pro-level game offerings, which operators almost always purchase. We will see the new norm on location being TWO BUCKS per game with NO discount for buying two games in one shot. Just wait and see...

    The bare fact that these games are ALL now made in Chicago, or nearby, will cause prices to steadily and dramatically increase year after year, what with the artificially inflated cost of labor and the commensurate and equal or more resulting cost of basic materials required to manufacture our beloved NIB games. Unless and until the free market is restored, and the hand is lifted offf the scale which has created these enormously inflated prices associated with American Manufacturing, we will never be relieved of this costly reality, and we shall be cursed with this outcome for years to come. Just wait til Pinball labor "unionizes" and demands double the typical hourly wage from their employer. Chicago and surrounds are rooting for that, if only to torpedo the medium sized, private businesses who are alive and well.

    #23 2 years ago

    Stern can actually build games in a timely manner, all other manufacturers are light years behind

    #24 2 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Stern - Stuck it out after Williams closed and coin op was a wasteland. Plugged along and with Simpson's Pinball Party really started rolling. Keith's Godzilla is a great game.
    Jersey Jack - Pat Lawlor, Keith Johnson, Eric Meuinier, Steve Ritchie.
    Spooky - Built up by themselves from the ground up. In addition to great games they have a loyal customer base.
    Multimorphic - Gerry driven and given to new ideas and ways of doing things.
    American Pinball - Built some fun games. And recent hires seem to be heading into an exciting future.
    Chicago Gaming - Built three remakes so far. And with people working with them or hired by them. Very exciting times coming from CGC. And they have me : )
    LTG : )

    I agree with your insight and opinions. I think your take on CGC is especially relevant in light of their new hired personnel. We all have alot to look forward to in our hobby.

    Thank You Lloyd (aka LTG); you're the man who fully understands and appreciates our shared enthusiasm for this wonderful hobby!

    #25 2 years ago
    Quoted from Chisox:

    I think Stern has absolutely perfected flippers. So snappy and powerful. They’re almost too good because so many people complain about their flippers now when they get games from companies other than Stern.

    I agree with you that Stern Games flip well, and feel completely different for the player. That's where we diverge with our opinions...

    Each manufacturer designs, programs, and manufactures their games differently; I can't agree with the majority of Pinball lovers that Stern's flipper "feel" is the "one" thing which results in Stern's anointment as the best Pinball company, generally speaking. I appreciate all of the different manufacturers' ample offerings for what they offer. To wit, it is short-sighted to argue that "flipper feel" makes the game. While it is true that Stern's flippers give their games an advantage over other companies' offerings, it is not the BE ALL END ALL of any game's evaluation for its value, at least to me, who appreciates the various decades-long history of games manufactured during our shared lifetimes in this hobby. if Flipper feel was the only thing that mattered, and everyone agreed that a game's evaluation and scrutiny began and ended with whether the flippers were strong and "snappy," then Stern's games would be the best games available from here to eternity based on such strict, and singular "criterion."

    Nevertheless, we do not judge a game, nor a manufacturer based on a single criterion; we have at least 9 criteria we all generally utilize to evaluate each new game, for good reason. We are, after all, NIB and NOB (HUO second hand market) buyers of these Companies' games on a routine and consistent basis. These questions must be asked. Indeed, we should evaluate any purchase with a generally uniform process in mind: What makes this machine GREAT???

    ART (is it a beautiful addition to your personal domicile/gameroom, even when not powered on?), THEME (and correspondent necessary integration into the game itself), MUSIC, Playfield design (number of shots and variety of ball paths offered being chief among the factors which play into this factor), Build Quality, Features (including toys, mechs, and accessories which are included with a NIB game), Playability out of the box for the buyer ((Does it function when delivered to your home?) Spooky and JJP are coming up short here, generally speaking based on forum posts), Long Term Potential in a Home gameroom environment for the pinball enthusiast, and resale value (how much money would you lose on the resale market?)

    #26 2 years ago
    Quoted from HEAD_boss_HOG:

    mbaumle I agree with your insight and opinion. There was a time when "oneupmanship" in this industry created, indeed necessitated innovation and the results were readily apparent in the game offerings from that time. At this point, it is readily apparent that Stern is reluctantly appealing ONLY to location Operators at the expense of Home NIB buyers/collectors who kept this hobby alive. It is sad, to be honest. I've been disappointed in the annual cash grabs that Stern Shamelessly endeavors to achieve; all of this at the expense of the TINY original customer base who kept their entire company alive and kicking during the "lean" years from 2000 to 2010.
    Unfortunately for us, Stern has the best artists, and proven designers who design and decorate gorgeous pinball machines for the most devoted, and long held customer base which has now ballooned substantially in the last ten years. At this point, Stern could single-handedly change location pinball forever with the recent price increases for their Pro-level game offerings, which operators almost always purchase. We will see the new norm on location being TWO BUCKS per game with NO discount for buying two games in one shot. Just wait and see...
    The bare fact that these games are ALL now made in Chicago, or nearby, will cause prices to steadily and dramatically increase year after year, what with the artificially inflated cost of labor and the commensurate and equal or more resulting cost of basic materials required to manufacture our beloved NIB games. Unless and until the free market is restored, and the hand is lifted offf the scale which has created these enormously inflated prices associated with American Manufacturing, we will never be relieved of this costly reality, and we shall be cursed with this outcome for years to come. Just wait til Pinball labor "unionizes" and demands double the typical hourly wage from their employer. Chicago and surrounds are rooting for that, if only to torpedo the medium sized, private businesses who are alive and well.

    Absolutely. Who do those damn workers think they are wanting paid? Trying to provide for offspring, food, housing and healthcare…. Stern needs to move production to a third world country where labor can be more readily exploited so that our luxury purchase pinball machines can be as common and inexpensive as wal-mart tshirts!

    (Sarcasm)

    #27 2 years ago
    Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

    Data East:
    So much in each package. Another company with games way ahead of their competition on paper. Best licenses (at the time) Think about what Addams Family has in it on paper and then think about Last Action Hero. Free interactive topper, 6 ball multiball, underplayfield magnets, free shaker 2 captive balls, a giant moving crane that interacts with the ball... Many of their games blow away the competition... on paper.
    y

    I have agree
    I am working on a Robocop and Star Trek 25 at the moment, and I keep wondering why they dropped certain features (I know, cost)
    Robocop has nylon caps on posts, different colored playfield posts, colored GI
    Star Trek 25 has washers between posts and the plastics, and advertises that "Hook" is coming

    #28 2 years ago
    Quoted from Chisox:

    I think modern Stern flippers are a cut above.

    Perhaps folks missed several postings in regards to Stern flippers beating stops into dust on new games.

    This is an ongoing issue to this day.

    1d01b3bf2f9de6a409fc3a9e94d0effc297128a4 (resized).jpg1d01b3bf2f9de6a409fc3a9e94d0effc297128a4 (resized).jpg8dee547dcc7f07574ae75534e7eb6b2578260ac7 (resized).jpg8dee547dcc7f07574ae75534e7eb6b2578260ac7 (resized).jpg
    #29 2 years ago
    Quoted from HEAD_boss_HOG:

    i'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN HERE

    Sorry about the lack of clarity...
    My feeling about the post above mine was the Stern has the best flippers.. kind of surprised by that comment with flippers that need replacing because of crappy coil stops !
    Happy that so many manufacturers are making product..
    Just thought that was a fan boyish comment where Stern does no wrong.
    Apologies if I have offended.

    #30 2 years ago
    Quoted from transprtr4u:

    Sorry about the lack of clarity...
    My feeling about the post above mine was the Stern has the best flippers.. kind of surprised by that comment with flippers that need replacing because of crappy coil stops !

    I was surprised too as Godzilla owners are reporting the same problem and having to replace the stops with replacements from PinballLife. One would have thought Stern would have had a handle on the problem but clearly they don't and this has been going on for a few years.

    #31 2 years ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    I was surprised too as Godzilla owners are reporting the same problem and having to replace the stops with replacements from PinballLife. One would have thought Stern would have had a handle on the problem but clearly they don't and this has been going on for a few years.

    I don't think it's that big of an issue. Even if it is, not that hard or expensive to replace a few coil stops. Nobody is cancelling orders or avoiding Stern over it. Non issue.

    #32 2 years ago
    Quoted from jawjaw:

    I don't think it's that big of an issue.

    Is to people who just spent 8-10k on a new pin and have to replace stops in under 100 plays.

    Hardly "awesome" in my opinion.

    #33 2 years ago

    Adding to my previous post:

    Capcom: Technical innovation. Zero GI strings (every bulb is CPU controlled AND pulse width modulated for dimming effects), burnt bulb detection, discrete switch wiring with remotely mounted diodes with advanced diagnostics, utilization of the same solenoid for all applications with software controlled strength (no need to stock multiple types of solenoids). All in all, really cool advanced stuff.

    Zaccaria: Wicked artwork. Seriously, very few games have artwork as rich in color as Zaccaria does. I (think?) they actually used a more advanced color silkscreen process that included more colors than other manufacturers at the time.

    Interflip/Playmatic (other overseas manufacturers?): Polyurethane clearcoating. I always thought this was an interesting topic. Listening to interviews, Williams knew poly clears were superior, but reluctant to adopt them because they WANTED their games to wear out and become disposable. Why create a game that would last forever and never need replacement? Obviously, they eventually caved, but I think it's interesting that the early EMs essentially still look brand new compared to the domestic lacquered finished playfields.

    #34 2 years ago
    Quoted from The_Pump_House:

    Absolutely. Who do those damn workers think they are wanting paid? Trying to provide for offspring, food, housing and healthcare…. Stern needs to move production to a third world country where labor can be more readily exploited so that our luxury purchase pinball machines can be as common and inexpensive as wal-mart tshirts!
    (Sarcasm)

    Thank you! Our niche amusement could be so much cheaper if overseas slave labor was used in the production of our toys! Expecting us to foot the price of a living wage in America for our leisure time pursuits? Selfish at the very least and monstrous if we're being honest. And anyone who knows anything about recent history knows that the working class in the US has made astronomic gains economically over the last 60 years compared to downtrodden CEOs, owners, and shareholders, smh, which is why there should be zero unionized industries in this country. (Opposite day)

    ---

    In the spirit of participating in the original intent of this discussion, I like Stern for their abundance of mass appeal themes that mesh well with pinball culture. They have a good mix of nostalgia, ie, all the band tables, TMNT, Godzilla, etc, as well as multiple entries from present day massive IPs like Star Wars and Marvel (looking forward especially to an Ahsoka table!). I like Jersey Jack for bringing in some classic mass appeal IPs that are perhaps a bit unexpected in pinball culture, like Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka (and I hope they keep mining that trend, imagine I Love Lucy pinball bahaha). And I like Spooky for their potential to bring off the wall themes with their small production runs that other manufacturers might not go for (and also for the chance that lightning strikes twice causing them to create something else just as flat-out cool as Total Nuclear Annihilation).

    Cheers!

    #35 2 years ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    Perhaps folks missed several postings in regards to Stern flippers beating stops into dust on new games.
    This is an ongoing issue to this day.[quoted image][quoted image]

    I guess I should have said I prefer the way they play. I don’t want modern Stern flippers on my Meteor, or any other classic game. Agreed, I have replaced too many coil stops prematurely on modern Stern games.

    Quoted from HEAD_boss_HOG:

    I agree with you that Stern Games flip well, and feel completely different for the player. That's where we diverge with our opinions...
    Each manufacturer designs, programs, and manufactures their games differently; I can't agree with the majority of Pinball lovers that Stern's flipper "feel" is the "one" thing which results in Stern's anointment as the best Pinball company, generally speaking. I appreciate all of the different manufacturers' ample offerings for what they offer. To wit, it is short-sighted to argue that "flipper feel" makes the game. While it is true that Stern's flippers give their games an advantage over other companies' offerings, it is not the BE ALL END ALL of any game's evaluation for its value, at least to me, who appreciates the various decades-long history of games manufactured during our shared lifetimes in this hobby. if Flipper feel was the only thing that mattered, and everyone agreed that a game's evaluation and scrutiny began and ended with whether the flippers were strong and "snappy," then Stern's games would be the best games available from here to eternity based on such strict, and singular "criterion."
    Nevertheless, we do not judge a game, nor a manufacturer based on a single criterion; we have at least 9 criteria we all generally utilize to evaluate each new game, for good reason. We are, after all, NIB and NOB (HUO second hand market) buyers of these Companies' games on a routine and consistent basis. These questions must be asked. Indeed, we should evaluate any purchase with a generally uniform process in mind: What makes this machine GREAT???
    ART (is it a beautiful addition to your personal domicile/gameroom, even when not powered on?), THEME (and correspondent necessary integration into the game itself), MUSIC, Playfield design (number of shots and variety of ball paths offered being chief among the factors which play into this factor), Build Quality, Features (including toys, mechs, and accessories which are included with a NIB game), Playability out of the box for the buyer ((Does it function when delivered to your home?) Spooky and JJP are coming up short here, generally speaking based on forum posts), Long Term Potential in a Home gameroom environment for the pinball enthusiast, and resale value (how much money would you lose on the resale market?)

    My opinion was only that I prefer how the new Stern flippers play. Not sure why I’m the modern Stern apologist of the thread, but I’m happy everyone is getting all this off their chest.

    Reply

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