To start off with...IMO stands for "In my opinion". But I thought I owed it to the JJP team and others to take some time to write some initial feedback on the machine and JJP.
First off I chose to put this machine at my new business. I just opened a team building business in the west burbs called Newton's Cube (www.newtonscube.com). We serve a lot of different types of teams and I thought the WoZ would fit the spirit of our product.
We had our ribbon cutting the other night and we had about 150 people come here. I would say of those, I had at least 20 come up to me and ask me about the WoZ. They were stunned on how good it looked, LCD, gameplay, etc.
Let me back up the clock though. I unpackaged the pin, put it together played half a dozen games. Then turned off the machine. Turned it on the next day and it was dead as a doornail. After several rounds of boards with Lloyd and Ken we finally got it working. But I have to say that JJP was VERY responsive and worked through the issue correctly. That to me was the important part. How they responded when there was a problem.
Anyway, I decided to break down the game into functional areas....
1) Aesthetics: 9.9
I cannot think of a better looking pin overall. The cleared cabinet is nothing but stunning. Then when you look at the green legs with how it compliments the playfield and you say WOW! The only thing that keeps it from being a 10 is how it looks when it is off. The black screen looks kind of funky when it is off.....but should I even evaluate a machine based on how it looks when it is off anyway?
2) Workmanship: 10
Sorry folks, but to date, I have not seen any manufacturer match the workmanship of this machine. Not even close.
3) Innovation: 10
The LCD and OS platform are second to none. The LCD is much more than gameplay. To have the manual at your fingertips. To have the menu system so easy to use because you are working with a full screen. Full color for the menu and game play. Lastly, the status report screens are really helpful. Need I go on? It is in a class of its own. I also think some of the playfield pieces are very unique. In particular the two ball save functions are really cool. It adds a very unique and challenging part to the game.
4) Ruleset: 10
OMG, I just can't get over how deep this ruleset is. The stacking of modes and the mapping of how to get there is well thought out and incredibly complex. It is clear that MANY man hours were spent thinking through how to do this. I hope they spun some video during their design sessions. Years from now it would be really cool to hear at an Expo some of the debates during this part of production.
5) Lighting: 8 (10 if you get the GI add-on kit)
The main reason it gets an 8 is because of the GI. I like to play pinball in darker settings. At the office it works because even with the lights off, the emergency lights still are on. But that is good in this case. When one adds the after market GI lighting kit, all is good.
Now the rest of the lighting? STUNNING! That is the single thing that sticks out the most to me. It is incredible. No other words can describe it. And looking at the machine for 30 minutes doesn't do it justice. You need to get deeper into the ruleset to see all of the cool things they did with those RGB LED's! And yes, I had to set the ball count way high just to see this! I sure haven't "earned" it yet There is so much more to this machine's lighting than I saw at the Expos.
6) Speed of the game: 9
This is an interesting topic to me. I get it. Some people like more open playfields and like faster gameplay. BUT, WoZ is much faster than what I read on Pinside. At least in my opinion. There are times it is slower, but over all the game flows quite well. I think a lot of the confusion in this area is that because of the double upper playfields you lose sight of the ball. But it is still moving! Bottom line I think the game is plenty fast. I sure wouldn't want to give up the content of the playfield....then we would maybe be in the spot we are with TH? There is a hard balance here for the designers. Hard to please everyone.
7) Theme: 9
I know, I know. Some people give WoZ a 1. Makes them want to throw up. For me though, it has really grown on me. There is so much to that story line that has allowed for a really deep ruleset. It is also a timeless and family oriented theme. So to me, those are very important. It is clearly the first pin my wife really likes.....and that is saying a ton! I have two teenage boys. Not a problem at with anything on this pin. The only real big problem is they are both pissed that I put it at my work!
Like I said at the top of this post. Their support has been second to none. They are there both on the phone and on the boards helping people. You get people that know the game and take a ton of pride in their work. I will also say that the tools in the software to help diagnose issues will be a huge help to that support team.
9) JJP as a company: 8 and going up (time can heal this one)
This is a tricky one. It is clear that in the past there was communication issues with Jack and crew. Especially during the last six months of WoZ. All of us were dragged through a long process. BUT I will say that starting a company, especially a pinball company, has to be VERY hard. I am not making excuses for lack of communication, but I am taking into account what is involved. Jack was in a very tough spot. He clearly had supply chain issues that haunted him. He also has some design issues with the LED boards. I think several times they thought they had the problem licked and it wasn't. Bottom line is I think they are communicating better with TH and are trying to listen better to the community at large. They clearly have some of the best employees in the industry. Their product is the best there is....sorry, I just don't see a close second (maybe Dutch?).
Let me conclude by saying that I don't hand out 10's in anything very often. I am fairly critical of a lot of things. Especially with technology. I have been a CIO for 15 years and have seen things done crappy and things done well. WoZ was done correctly. The JJP team should be very proud of the work they have done on that machine.
Ok, remember, this is "IMO", so please keep any comments civil and all. I just wanted to put out another perspective of the game and give credit where credit is due.