Quoted from Caucasian2Step:
Medusa and Paragon are both true players.
I guess I need to clarify. Yes both Medusa and Paragon are true players. Maybe even too much so. Paragon is known to be a very difficult game. Medusa has a very unusual layout also. So for me in my opinion these do not play well for an average player.
I feel what makes a pin truly great is not because it's the hardest, or has the best theme, or has great artwork, or was the pin everyone remembers playing. To me a great pin has certain attributes that make it representative of what pinball is all about.
1: It should have a plunger shot that leads to the top of the playfield that feeds 3-4 rollover lanes. Lighting these lanes should be crucial in accumulating a good score. Flipper controlled lane change is a bonus.
2: The lanes then should feed a good set of pop bumpers. Pop bumpers need to be able to return the ball to the upper rollover lanes and also assist in making other scoring shots at random.
3: Below the pop bumpers the main playing field should be presented. Playing field should have a well planed array of drop targets, stand up targets, or other scoring devices that function to accumulate points and bonuses.
4: There must be good return shots from the flippers to the top of the playfield. Spinning targets in these shot lanes are a plus. A good mix of short, medium, and long range shots from the flippers to various targets is vital also.
5: The side in and out lanes need to be well thought out. No stupid out lane drains. Some sort of ball save on one or both out lanes is a bonus.
6: Extra flippers to assist in scoring crucial targets is most definitely a bonus.
7: Some sort of well planed out bonus collecting strategy using a saucer or other collection device that must be hit with a well planned shot and can be collected during ball play. With a lot of pins you only collect the bonus at the end of ball when the ball drains. But having the ability to collect the bonus over and over again during a ball with a specialty shot really improves the scoring strategy. Some sort of bonus holdover between balls is also a plus.
8: A well thought out scoring theme is a must. Something not too simple or too difficult. The ability to accumulate points through multiple scoring strategies and possibilities is also a must have as long as it's not too complicated.
9: The pin must be easy enough to play so that a novice can have fun playing it without draining the ball every 10-15 seconds. But of course it needs some depth to keep a more advanced player engaged.
10: General play should be a combination of ball control not only off the flippers to various targets but also ball control over any randomness the pop bumpers or other playfield items may create. Randomness should also contribute to scoring in some way.
11: Good artwork is important as no one wants to play on a ugly looking pin!
12: Good theme helps make a pin more enjoyable also.
These are the attributes I look for in what I would consider a good "Old School" pin. You can see the difference in game play when you watch the following PAPA competition on a Skateball pin:
You can see that the "Old School" attributes on the Skateball pin even make the Pros approach the game with a different playing style. Much more randomness and control of randomness compared to the "New School" style of play. Very little trap and shoot and repeat. When I watch these Pros playing Skateball it represents in my opinion what pinball should look like. It's a totally different playing style compared to "New School" pin play and it is what I prefer and what I'm looking for in a pin.
I am on a quest to find what I would consider the best "Old School" SS pin. That is why I have started this and various other threads here on Pinside. I do have a set of criteria that are important to me in my quest but reading the opinions of others has helped a great deal in sorting things out. Unfortunately living in Hawaii does not give me the opportunity to go out and play various pins so that I can make my choice. It's only with the input of my fellow pinsiders and tedious research watching gameplay videos and playing computer simulations that I can hopefully find my grail pin.
Please keep your ideas and suggestions coming. It's all great stuff!!!