F-14 Tomcat

Pinside rating

This game received 320 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 7.575 /10

7.575

Top 100 ranking

This game ranks #159 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.



Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game Design: 7.557

Artwork: 7.413

Sounds/Music: 7.06

Other Aspects: 7.831


Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) Pinside.com staff & moderators rate this game. 6 of us have rated this game.

7.043

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Found 187 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 187 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
Currently showing results page 1 of 8.

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9.178/10
41 days ago
I only bought this game because it was too good of a bargain in a package deal to pass up, but I am so glad I did.

This game seems to be chronically underrated on here, because it's an absolute blast to play. It offers a brutally fast game, with some serious challenge, in an excellently executed theme.

Are the rules simple? Sure. That's the beauty of it, though. Theoretically, you're in a fighter jet, and your objective it to take down your target and avoid being taken down. Get locked on, get your crew ready, and unleash a flurry of an attack to eliminate your opponent.

For someone to truly enjoy (and get angered) by the machine, you have to play it in its 3-ball setting. No matter how good I get at the game, it always presents enough a challenge in this setting, because this game can cruelly drain a ball no matter what you do, and it always seems to pick the worst opportunities to do so. In one game, I'll score in the millions. In the next, I'll struggle to break 300k. It's amazing.

Then there's the sounds and the lights - I can't think of anything else in the era that even competes. It's amazing by today's standards

This is a keeper in my collection for sure. Part of me is angry that it's rated so low, and it definitely deserves its spot in the Top 100, but at the same time, I'm glad it's underrated. Otherwise I never would have had a chance to snag it when I did.

The other game I got in the package deal? It shall remain nameless, but I can say it's the one I was after, and it's also the one I'd get rid of first if I had to part with one of the two machines now.
7.115/10
3 months ago
Good machine, music on multiball is epic
but very very repetitive
7.893/10
3 months ago
Put alot of quarters in this game back in college. If you like the 80s and the movie Top Gun, then you'll love this machine. The theme and rules fit it perfectly, the light show is almost unmatched even compared to today's machine and it is an extremely fast machine Not very deep, but it is a Steve Ritchie machine so it is all about the flow. Always a good time to play! Glad I finally have one of my own!
7.613/10
3 months ago
If you're looking for a fast and challenging game this is it. One of the fastest playing pins out there. Going for multiball and plane takedowns is addicting and the kickback on the left part of the game is cool. This one will give you quick games and constant challenge. Fun and addicting.
7.828/10
4 months ago
One of the greatest light shows in pinball, and that’s just the attract mode! If the light toppers are operating, the game becomes almost blinding in its dazzle.
That said, F14 Tomcat is a Steve Ritchie hit and miss.
Game design:
There are a lot of good feeling shots on F14, ramps, ball locks, loops, etc. This draws you in. Sadly, once you have these under control, there is very little else to shoot for. There are areas that are a little too easy and objectives that are challenging. When I saw a 12 year old girl shooting the same loop over and over and getting the high score because of it, I realized the flaw in this game. On the other hand, if you play by the rules and attempt to complete the objectives, it will chew you up and spit you out.
There are a lot of repetitive loop exploits on pinball machines, but this one, as that little girl showed me, took very little concentration.
Artwork:
“Welcome to Top Gu…. Oh wait, we didn’t pay for the licensing rights!” I thing just about everyone was making a Top Gun ripoff in that time. Look at Gottlieb/Premier for the most blatant one. (Hoo boy!) when I first saw this machine it was sitting right next to an AfterBurner II sit down arcade. What an awesome combination the arcade manager came up with!!! Because of that, when I play F14, I feel like I am playing the pinball version of AfterBurner. It’s like drinking a Mountain Dew when you expected Coke. The cabinet art is nice and the Translite is really awesome. Again, there’s that attract mode light show and those stupid gimmick lights up top to blind anyone who looks at it at the wrong time. I love it!
Sounds:
How do I mod it to play the AfterBurner II theme? Seriously though, The sound and music are good, very Top Gun and maybe Cold War era James Bond bad guy mixed in. Too loud sometimes too staticky sometimes, but you really can’t turn the volume down to a quiet level because it ruins the overall effect. This game would really have benefited from the later WPC DCS system sound. There’s just too much going on for a System 11.
Gameplay and Funfactor:
This is where F14 Tomcat is a real winner. All those ramps and loops, the noise, the lights, it all comes together to make a fun experience. Admittedly, this game is not a keeper for most people, and it’s not a low cost hidden gem by any means. Just a good solid machine to add to a collection until something else comes along. Some say it’s a good “starter machine”, but I disagree. It’s too complex for a noob to repair their first time out and potentially flammable because of the bridge rectifier issue (they haven’t all been fixed yet)! Fully shopped and battery modded F14’s would probably be good starter machines, but I would still warn against it if you have ceiling height limitations (it’s tall with the lights) or feel you can’t repair or maintain the thing.
F14 Tomcat is still cheap as chips and needs to remain so. These machines need to circulate in and out of both home collections and public locations. As I said before, it may not be a keeper for most people, but it is a good game to own for a time.
8.960/10
6 months ago
Of the System 11s I own (Big Guns, Pinbot, and F-14), F-14 is likely to see the least play in my arcade. That's not to say it's a bad game, far from it. I find the other two more fun to play, and so do guests. F-14 feels unfair at times, too many shots result in a SDTM drain. It's hard to achieve multiball on factory settings too, which kind of alienates new players. Thankfully, you can change this so that when you achieve a lock lit by spelling "Tomcat", the game will award you two locks the first time instead of one. Since you have to lock 3 balls and then hit the lock again to release, it cuts down the number of locks you need to earn in half.

Gameplay is fast and furious. This is an expert level pin, and you really have to be ready to do some damage control if you miss a shot. The kicker in the upper left playfield is a great feature, it feels like you're actually fighting the machine, but it's also very fast, and a very dangerous shot. It's the only way to earn an extra ball though, so you have to go for the kills if you want to extend your play. Overall, the game flows nicely, it's just very punishing.

Where F-14 truly excels is in the sound and music department. Zero complaints. All the sounds are fantastic, and the music is some of the best the system 11 tables have to offer. Best multiball music in all of the system 11 family in my opinion, even better than Pinbot's iconic music.

Lighting is very good, and there are some really good light shows in the game. The table doesn't feel dark or hard to see, and the topper lights are a MUST have on this game. There's something really special about right before you get that multiball seeing those lights spin around and around. In my opinion, it's one of the best toppers in pinball.

I like F-14, but it doesn't always achieve one of my biggest standards for owning a pinball machine, the "just one more game factor", and this has to do with how brutal and unfair the game can be. I have to dock it lastability and fun points for that. I really like challenging games, but even by Steve Ritchie standards, this game is hard. I'll play it some more, it's still very new in my collection and my only experience with it previously was through Pinball Arcade, and virtual pins aren't always a good representation of how a game will play in real life. If my opinion changes, I'll update my review accordingly.

Update to my review 11/8/21: I'm enjoying this game a lot more now. It's currently seeing the most play from me because of the challenge. Now that I have a feel for the table and the shots, I'm getting into multiball more frequently on factory settings. Before, I would achieve multiball maybe once every 10 games or so and usually on the 3rd ball. My nudging skills have gotten better and most importantly, I have fixed the weak pop bumper which is making spelling "Tomcat" A LOT easier. I still think F14 is not on the same tier as something like PinBot, High Speed, Taxi or Whirlwind, but of the system 11 games I feel like it's at least better than Big Guns which is also in my collection, so I'm adjusting my score accordingly. I'm finding myself more and more fond of it because it's challenging. It makes for some intense games, and man the light show and music never get old.
4.952/10
7 months ago
An ok game. There are better games of its era.
7.771/10
9 months ago
Game play is fast and fun. Easy rule set, shots are easy to make, game play is fast. Bonus...it plays Anchors Aweigh!
7.545/10
9 months ago
Fun late 80's fighter pilot game. Think Top Gun and Iron Eagle.

The upper playfield is where all the action happens. You have to learn how to make it flow.
8.147/10
10 months ago
F-14 is definitely a fast game. It has a great multiball and killing General Yagov feels pretty darn good. The game theme is very well integrated with game play. It is not real deep, but IMO, doesn't need to be - it does what it needs to do (like a fighter pilot - get in, get the mission accomplished, get out). It can be repetitive, and the pop needs to be working well or game play suffers. Overall, it has a just one more game feeling for me!
5.155/10
12 months ago
whaaaat does everyone see in this game? It's pretty boring. Honestly. It LOOKS AMAZING! Like man, this is going to be epic. and then... that's what you get. I did get the RELEASE and the light show was pretty epic. But... em... what else? Oh yeah, not much.

I have been waiting to play this game, almost bought one way back when. I was so disappointed and sad.
7.013/10
1 year ago
At my skill level, this machine seemed slightly overwhelming to just walk up and play without first understanding the rules. Very fast, and demanding shots that I didn't make too often. Game rules and game play were confusing, as was the playfield (but an impressive collection of ramps). This one didn't have the same fun factor as others of the same era for me - even though I love the theme.
7.242/10
1 year ago
Fast Game! Sensory Overload! I dig this Pin! Initially you may be overwhelmed with all the action and especially the sound, but after you get use to the sound its a really exciting game! Lots of ramps, flipper action and the multiball is a plus... All in all, a fun exciting game... The sound is overwhelming, but other than that, a real cool pin!
7.287/10
1 year ago
Fun game I really enjoyed playing this as a kid!
7.863/10
1 year ago
Fast and furious.
When playing with other it's an adrenaline rush!
Playing alone is just ok.

Great bang for the buck.
Great to own in a larger collection only IMO.
7.859/10
1 year ago
The first pin I ever purchased. I got lucky and got a true restored and well kept machine. Williams 11 machines are amongst the best values out there, IMO, when you consider how much fun you get for the price.
7.028/10
1 year ago
Very fun machine that can usually be found for cheap. If you are looking for a fast system 11, you’ve found one.
9.088/10
1 year ago
Pumped a TON of quarters into one of these machines when I was 8-10 years old. Now, at 41, I finally added one to my collection! It's a brutally fast machine, and is a challenge to play. I love it!
6.358/10
1 year ago
Brutal, fast. but no longevity in a small collection, to shallow. Amazing for tournament play.
Still, all time classic. Great topper
6.863/10
1 year ago
This is a very fast paced and brutal game. Great system 11 fun!
7.734/10
1 year ago
Top Gun, I mean F-14 is awesome. Great theme and fast action. Lets shoot down some bogies.
6.563/10
1 year ago
The game plays fast, but is pretty repetitive and gets old quickly. There is not a lot to do and is not a game for a small collection. Once you get a few games under your belt, you will be ready to move on.
8.123/10
1 year ago
Wow is this game fast. Left kickback is cool and the light show is top notch! Even with my newer games in my collection I come back and put a couple games on this each time. I don’t see it leaving.
9.120/10
1 year ago
A very fun and extremely fast playing machine! I wish I still had it. Fun callouts, cool music, flashing lighting - it's the whole package!

Backstory for my F-14: My second pin, purchased in 1992 for $475. The playfield was rough in the sense that a lot of the numbers and names had worn off, but the game still played very well. I enjoyed it for over 20 years. It got put into storage in my garage in 2013, and one of the guys remodeling my home spotted in the garage. He wanted to know if I would consider selling it. I told him I wanted to keep it, but after thinking about it overnight, I realized it had just sat there in the garage for five years and it was deteriorating. The next day, I just told him he could have it.
8.140/10
1 year ago
Certainly not for the casual player. Plays very fast and you need to get your shots down if you want to get anywhere in this game. A well adjusted pop bumper is essential for keeping this game enjoyable so you can work on TOMCAT on the upper set of flippers.
There are 187 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 1 of 8.

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