I really wanted to believe that Willy Wonka would end up finally being THE title from JJP that would entice me to purchase my first JJP machine. Unfortunately, this title was not the one for me after the reveal, the biggest reason was the toys. I was expecting something new, unseen, different. What we got was, well honestly, to me, NOT that. 4 flippers, some magnets, a “vault/trunk” rotating gobble hole that is almost the exact same toy as whats on Oktoberfest, in general operation if not the exact configuration. The artwork and the call outs remind me exactly of the WW slots in Vegas, both in their artwork, their callouts, and the animations, they felt like if you stood them sisde by side they would compliment each other. This is to be expected if WB has final say over the IP and it’s presentation.
I hated the slot machines... take a guess at what Wonka pinball does for me? Yep, hate it just as bad as the slots. And here is what makes it miss the mark... the illusion that the designer failed to achieve was “my” identity... who am I in this story? Am I Charlie, Wonka, Slugworth? Unknown Golden ticket seeker? But we know who got the tickets, we know who got the tour, so finding and collecting Wonka Bars in hopes of finding a ticket are kind of stupid from a players perspective. And using the newest term in pinball I hate, the child name callouts saying “Charlie Bucket Qualified” etc..., what ever happened to “is lit!”? Or using a charcter catch phrase from the actor from a scene when you qualify them? Like when I light Veruka Salt you would hear the “But I want one now!” audio, a grainy and poor animation of the character on the DMD, with a title screen that said what you need to shoot for next or what goal or feature you were building towards, like “two more tickets still out there” call out from anouncer from movie...
I think the identity of the player is the “Producer” or the person without whom this “story” could not be told or experienced. I, as the player, need to make everything happen... I must make people buy and open enough Wonka bars to allow all of the children to find the tickets... and give me shots that are worth thousands of Bars which equals points on my score... give me modes that allow me to build up the Wonka bars opened by each character... even give me some jackpot shot during a multiball that is the last golden ticket... but then end the mode and reveal the fake ticket and there is one last singular mode you have to complete to get Charlie his REAL ticket.
There just seems like there is no journey through the machine like a journey through the story. We are hit with the magic of Wonka like a hot blast from an oven, not with the wonder and anticipation of opening the door to the Chocolate room for the first time. Up until then, it was just a factory tour, not a once in a lifetime glimpse behind the curtain of someone who, flawed by his own inability to connect with the outside world, can connect through the thoughts and experiences of a child, an innocent, not yet spoiled by the greed of adults, but is pure in heart, a champion for all things good in the world.
Where is that feeling when I am done playing this machine? Is it in a cheesy backboard Wonkavator ball lock that is a rehash of TSPP couch? Is it in the spinning Gobbstopper/gobble hole aka trunk/bookcase rehash? Spiral magnets rehash?, Slot machine artwork and callout rehash? I was expecting something that this machine is not, and it does make me question where Pat L. and JJP are headed.