Written by emo, published June 20th, 2011. 5 comment(s).
Note: First published in August 2001 in the POA/Pinball Wizard magazine
Judge Dredd comics poke fun at society and the whole superhero thing and I always found them amusing, so a JD pinball seemed an obvious machine to own! I thought it would be wise to do a bit of research first so asked some fellow pinheads for their opinions of the game. "Don't like it-don't rate it" was one reply, "nice game if you like that sort of thing" was another and "great game, I used to have one and should never have sold it" was a third. This just confused me and kind of put me off. Judge Dredd seems to be one of those games that people
either love or hate - like Marmite!
I eventually played a couple of games on a JD and got no where. I had far more success with the Indiana Jones next to it so never thought about the game again. That was until a few weeks ago when David Rolfe, "a guy from down our street" invited me for a game on his. This time, thanks to my improved skills (stop sniggering please), I had a couple of good games and was more impressed. I asked him if he would sell, the price was right so "Stand aside citizens" as I am now a proud owner of a very smart 1993 JD and fluent in "Dredd speak". I understand terms like "perps" (perpetrators) and "grud" and appreciate the finer points this challenging game. I now feel I qualify officially as a Dreddhead!
Chief designer John Trudeau produced some outstanding and memorable games (and some less memorable) in the early 90's. These include Creature of the Black Lagoon - in my mind one of the most beautiful games ever created and another "beaut" Bride of Pinbot that gave me one of my most memorable moments in pinball, the first time I got the brides heart beating.
Expectations must have been high that Judge Dredd was going to be something special but at release it failed to receive rave reviews. JD is a wide bodied machine, heavy enough to shorten the spine of anyone who tries to move it around alone and armed with the Williams DCS sound system that is capable of loosening ear wax. It also has masses of features-how about this for a list: 4 flippers, 4 ramps, 2 loops, 3 captive balls, 2 auto plungers, drop targets, targets, 1 scoop, a ball popper scoop, up to 6-ball multiball, a robotic arm and large rotating planet called Deadworld. Add to this great sounds and dot animation and a new secondary game option "Supergame" that can launch you straight into the thick of the action. What more could you want!
So why didn't it get a more positive response at the time of release? There are a number of possible reasons starting with the look and theme of the machine. Trudeau deserves credit for his superb interpretation of the theme (which is more than can be said for Stallone's film). In the 2000AD comics, Dredd lives in a militaristic future world ravaged by war and crime. The stories are packed full of action, dark humour, great artwork and more dark humour. All these features are reflected in Trudeau's machine. It has sinister looks with its large eagle header (think of Nazi Germany or Pink Floyd's "the Wall"). This is not to everyone's taste but look closer and you will see classic artwork straight from the comic strip. The appearance of the Judge must have come as a shock to players expecting another elegant game like Creature or Bride.
In 1993-4 the pinball competition was hot. Other machines such as Indiana Jones, Twilight Zone and Star Trek TNG were new on the block. It was a golden age for pinball and I would argue that some games from this period have yet to be bettered. In my opinion this is why games like Judge Dredd, Demolition man and Jurassic Park were largely overlooked.
The last reason for its luke-warm reception was that the designers had trouble with the main playfield toy-the pretty rotating Deadworld (think of Saturn with its rings) where you were supposed to lock three balls before starting the main multiball mode. This failed to work reliably in pre-production so when the game was released the first two balls registered but sailed around the ramp without locking and only the third one locks before multiball. Check out Deadworld on the shot map pic and you will see holes for the balls rather than the cutouts used in production - the switch matrix on early software revisions still contained the pre-production crane magnet switch, and early production games had the actual switch too! If you have an early rom but NO switch, the game will give you a test report for a faulty switch - that doesn't exist.....
Judge Dredd is a challenging game with well thought out modes. It is a smoother game than Creature or BOP, with two very nice ramps. The top right (small) flipper can make it difficult to control the ball accurately in that area of the playfield but you soon get the hang of it.
Overall the game rewards a keen eye and accuracy and punishes sloppy play (see tips and tactics), which is how I feel it should be. Scoring is well-balanced in standard play-no mega big score shot here! The dots and sounds are great and at times very funny. The music builds nicely as play warms up and its good to hear slide guitar feature prominently.
Finally there is the supergame (game 2) which is started by pressing the lowest of the two start buttons and is quite literally a whole new ball game. You get four extra modes and the emphasis is on action, multiball and bigger jackpots but more of that later.
See the shot map below (not included sorry). The only major thing not labelled is the second plunger lane on the left of the playfield so skip this bit if you wish. The description starts at the bottom and travels clockwise around the table: The bottom of the playfield has the usual lay out of two flippers, in and out lanes and triangular slingshots.
An "Air raid" autoplunge lane is in the left bottom corner (see air raid). The "?" stand up target is just above the left autoplunge lane.
A third flipper is about half way up the left side. The clockwise entrance to the loop is above this. This loops around the back of the table and shoots the ball back towards the left outlane.
In field from this is the left ramp entrance with an extra ball target between this and the loop. This ramp is long and sweet and returns the ball all the way around the table to the right flipper unless it is diverted to the planet lock.
In the centre is the subway scoop that has a line of 5 JUDGE drop targets in front of it. The middle target is larger than the rest and blocks the subway entrance. The scoop releases the ball to the bottom left flipper via rails.
Above the scoop is a large rotating planet "Dead World" where the ball can lock when diverted from the left ramp.
A Robotic arm in the top left corner picks the ball from Dead World and releases it back into play via the loop entrance/exit. The small loop is to the right of the Deadworld and loops around the back of the sniper tower.
There is a small centre ramp. This heads left and releases the ball from the left loop entrance/exit.
The Sniper tower scoop/kicker is in the top right of the playfield and releases the ball back to the bottom left flipper across the playfield via a long set of rails.
The air raid ramp is also top left and when hit releases the ball to the left autoplunge lane for a skill shot. The anti-clockwise entrance to the small loop is next to this with an extra ball target between them.
A short flipper (number four) is about a third of the way down the right side of the playfield. From here you can shoot the small loop, centre ramp and sniper tower.
The right ramp entrance is about half way down the right hand side and returns the ball to the right flipper.
Next to the ramp entrance and facing left are the three "advance crime scene" targets. These are easiest hit using the third flipper, which is opposite!
A triple captive ball target is in the lower right of the table along with a typical autoplunger lane that feeds the large loop. Light indicator panels are discussed later.
Standard rules-game 1.
The aim of the main game is to gradually work your way through the nine modes called "chain links" and hit the "crime scenes". These give lots of variation to play and well-balanced scoring opportunities. They are accompanied by good and often humorous quotes. Initially I found myself losing the ball because I was too busy watching the graphics.
These are 5 light panels in the shape of windows with bars located at the loops, sniper tower and in front of the right ramp. Hitting these when lit sentences the "perps" for various offences. The law is strict, for example you get a warning for spitting or smoking, 1 year behind bars for littering or flatulism, 85 years for kidnapping and life for cannibalism.
As the game progresses and crimes become more serious and worth more points ranging from 1-4 million. A nice touch is that the panels change colour starting with green, then yellow, red and finally white as the shot value rises. There are four panels labelled Warning, Misdemeanour, Felony and Class X Felony just above the flippers that act as a key. The advance crime level targets do what the name suggests. Each time a perp is sentenced they are pictured
behind bars in the display and collecting all the lit scenes lights more crime scenes. Crime scenes also advance extra ball awards (see extra ball). Note there is no appeal against crimes as Judge Dredd is the law!
There are 10 of them including "ultimate challenge". They are the modes of the game and represented by orange "chain" panels that are spread across the lower part of playfield. To start a mode you need to shoot either the left ramp or sniper tower-which ever is lit. The order of the modes can be chosen using one of the fire buttons. Scoring is pretty evenly spread between modes. They are as follows.
PERSUIT - This is a great use of the Dot Matrix. The Judge is in pursuit of a stolen car.
Shooting either main ramp (obvious due to the light bar flashing above the entrances) will fire a missile at the car. This can be viewed swerving and dodging in the dots to the accompanying sound of sirens. Hitting the car awards 35m and gets the comment "your driving days are over, creep" from JD.
BLACKOUT - A two-ball multiball with all the playfield shots doubled. The centre ramp is lit for as many 10m shots as you like. It is a difficult shot but can be hit from the bottom flippers as well as the short one.
SNIPER - The score counts down from 20m and you need to shoot the sniper tower to collect. This makes the sniper fall through the air. "It's a long way down," he shouts as he falls. It takes him a while to hit the deck if you don't make a second shot. Sometimes he even has time to say "I can see my house from here". If you do make the second shot you will get the repeat of your first award. Hit both fire buttons (the square ones)on the final dot frame for a surprise ending!
BATTLE TANK - This is one of my favourites and features a mean looking mechanical monster. You need to make three shots to destroy it. The left outer loop, centre ramp and advance crime level targets. You receive damage updates as you play and shooting all three awards 33m (3m for starting the mode and 10m per shot).
BAD IMPRESSION - A bad impressionist is causing a disturbance. His Elvis impersonation is so
bad that the audience is becoming rowdy and out of control. You need to hit the lit Judge drop targets to score as the audience throws stuff. Hitting a lit target knocks Elvis over. This is hilarious, especially as his trousers keep falling down. It is also one of the more difficult modes as when the targets reset they can kick the ball anywhere-sometimes between the flippers.
This mode can be used to pick up crime scenes if I don't fancy the risk. The mode finishes when time runs out or someone shoots Elvis. You score 3m for starting the mode and a further 5m for each lit target hit.
MELTDOWN - The power station is about to blow and you must hit the captive balls switches three times to save the day and score 33m (3m for starting the mode and 10m per shot). You can do this with one hard shot onto the lower captive ball so that it hits the second into the third
or a hit on the "?" target.
MANHUNT MILLIONS - Continuously hit the left ramp until the timer runs out to shoot the intruder for 6m a time.
STAKEOUT - Dredd is on a stake out overlooking an apartment. Shoot the right ramp for 5m a time and a view of what the Judge sees. Animation is excellent but I won't spoil the surprise.
SAFECRACKER - A guy is sleeping next to a safe and you must fire 4 shots into the subway scoop to wake him. The animation shows attempts becoming more extreme until he wakes. When he does he opens the safe which contains....play the game and find out! Press both fire buttons on the final screen to get an alternative ending. Hitting the first scoop stops the score that is
counting down from 8m and all subsequent scoop shots award the same value (32m max).
ULTIMATE CHALLENGE - Completing all the other chain links or collecting all four jackpots in multiball starts the Ultimate challenge multiball mode. It's not a mega-scoring mode such as the climax of Jurassic Park or Twilight Zone but is an opportunity to build significantly on your score. Special scoring awards are that the "?" target is worth 100k and shooting the loop in either direction, small loop, sniper tower or right ramp adds 20m to your end of ball bonus. There are no time limits so it is worth keeping more than one ball in play for as long as possible. The sounds are atmospheric and an old enemy makes an appearance. When this mode ends you start working through the challenges again.
Extra ball (EB)
According to the manual the following light the two EB targets-Shooting all JUDGE drop targets when the locks are lit. Shooting the top right loop, sniper tower or right ramp when their 5th crime scene has been lit is scored. Shooting the top orbit when the 7th crime scene has been hit and scored and finally 6 captive balls (also scores 1m). Keep hitting crime scenes and those shots you will eventually light the extra ball targets. Extra balls don't come up that often as I average less than 1 per game so the game must re-set once an EB is awarded.
Hitting the air raid ramp will send the ball down to the left plunger lane. The JUDGE drop target lights will then come on one after the other and you have to fire the ball to hit the lit target (Like Terminators skill shot). Unfortunately this results in a glancing blow to more than one target which is too easy in my opinion. This is a shame because the animation is great. It shows a missile flying over the city and if successful you destroy it and you get 5m, if not it destroys a building and you score zero.
Stand up "?" target
This target (when lit) gives awards that change according which mode your are in. Some are very worthwhile:
Pursuit-shoots 2 missiles instead of 1.
Sniper-a message "Hang up on fence, use red buttons".
Battle tank-extends timer.
Bad Impersonater-3 drop targets will be lit instead of 2.
Melt down-secures all reactors.
Safe Cracker-message "when your hungry press the red buttons".
Manhunt Millions-extends timer.
Stake out-increases left ramp value to 10m.
When the ball is first launched hit the large loop using the top left flipper for 5m and a comment of "Great shot".
There are combo shot awards. A 2 way is left orbit + small loop (6m) and 3 way the same again + centre ramp. Unlit ramp shots generally award 0.5m X the number of successful ramp shots made with the current ball. There is a short grace period/drain shield at the start of each ball in game 1 and a much longer one in supergame. There is a light above the flippers that shows when the drain shield is active. There is an operator's option to tone down the games content but I haven't tried it as I like it the way it is, I guess rather fewer people get shot though... JD also has a Supergame option. Standard play is the only option for serious Dreddheads but supergame is a blast! It is ideal for new/occasional players or if you just fancy a change! It is also a great way to finish a night when you have struggled to get a good score with the standard game!
Knock down the JUDGE targets to light the locks. This is unmistakable as the Planet comes to life (by flashing and spinning), the sounds change and three green lock lamps light in front of the left ramp. Hit the ramp three times to start multiball. The first two times the balls sail around to the right flipper and register a lock. The third is diverted to the planet and 6-ball multiball begins (note it can be less depending on how far you have progressed through the game). Balls are then auto plunged into play and the ball is unlocked from the planet by the robotic arm. Any other modes already started will carry on after multiball.
Now you must face the Dark Judges-Mortis, Fear, Fire and Death with the help of Judge Anderson. To defeat each Dark Judge you must shoot the left ramp and then the subway jackpot. This isn't difficult to do once but is a challenge to do four times. The animation of the Dark Judges is excellent and I really like the way that the 4th taunts Anderson. Jackpot values start at about 25m and increase by 5m for each one and collecting all four starts the ultimate challenge. Great stuff!
Super game-game 2
Press the lower of the two start buttons and you are introduced to the game by an announcer "my name is Anita Mann (sounds like-I need a man) and this is supergame!" She then goes on to explain the background to a new mode. There are four possible new modes one of which begins with each new ball launched. When these start you are immediately launched straight into two-ball multiball. There is a long drain save that makes it relatively easy to start 6-ball multiball by hitting the JUDGE targets. When only one ball remains you revert back to the standard game (game 1) for the duration of that ball. The new modes are:
JAILBREAK - you must shoot the lit crime scenes as the dots show criminals escaping to light a Super Jackpot of 52.5m. Repeat for as long as you can.
MAD BOMBER - Shoot the sniper tower to stop the bomber and the lit ramps to build the Super Jackpot (7.5m per ramp) and repeat.
TRAFFIC JAM - a bad case of road rage with a mad motorist and brilliant (but violent) animation. Shoot the JUDGE targets for 5m each and subway to reset targets for as long as more than one ball is in play.
DESTROY DEADWORLD - Deadworld has materialised so you need to shoot the left ramp/lock twice to destroy shields then a third time to destroy the planet for a super-jackpot of 45m. Repeat while you have more than one ball in play. This mode is always last and repeated if you start an extra ball. In all modes there is a chance to shoot for a 100m if you hit the advance crime scenes targets four times. This must be collected within 10 seconds at one of the top shots such as centre ramp or sniper tower-depending on the mode. Don't forget to shoot the JUDGE targets for backup/6-ball multiball.
Tips and tactics
This game is not easy so hopefully knocking the ball about ends in disaster. It is important to work out the best way of hitting each shot and to get the ball on to the correct flipper in order to make it. I find the best way to pass the ball from the left to right bottom flippers is by shooting the right ramp or visa versa by shooting the subway scoop (wizards may able to pass the ball between flippers but I'm not at that stage yet!). The small flipper is most effective when fed from around the large loop etc. The result is a much more flowing and enjoyable game. When you shoot the ball clockwise around the large/outer loop make sure that you use the top/small flipper. If you don't the ball will loop around and probably drain through the left out lane. Note: if you find that the ball is draining down the left hand out lane often, check the post to the right as it is adjustable. Know your modes, what the "?" target does and keep plugging away at the crime scenes. Extra balls should then take care of themselves. Generally I find it worth trying to complete all the modes except "Bad Impressionist" which I find a bit risky.
Strategists can choose the next mode (chain link) using the fire buttons. For example if you are about to achieve multiball it makes sense to start a mode such as manhunt or pursuit that uses the same ramp as used for locks. I am sure there are other possibilities for those who can be bothered to work them out. That's it!
I really like this game and hope this came across in the above scribbling but are there any downers? I struggled to come up with some but the game can take a while to get into and may not suit everyone. This is backed up by the fact that players I talked too seem to either love or hate it. Did the changes to the planet spoil the game? Well they make it easier to get a multiball as now the ball loops back to the right flipper ready for the next lock shot but as the game is challenging enough this really doesn't matter. The planet is still pretty and a good feature so who cares! On the positive side there is plenty to shoot at and the superb sounds and dots set JD apart from the rest. The design has many unusual touches such as the exclusion of poppers, the two plunger lanes, planet and the supergame concept. The game play and scoring are well balanced which I feel is important. I know some like to be able to post massive scores but having owned Bride of Pinbot for a few months and continuously shooting at the billion point ramp shot, I prefer the more balanced scoring approach. Overall it is a great game to own and one which should keep its fans happy in a long-term relationship.
Finally, what became of the Supergame concept? It was a good idea that failed to catch on so Judge Dredd will go down in history as the one and only game that Williams/Bally produced with this option.
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