KISS (Premium/LE)

Pinside rating

This game received 143 approved Pinsider ratings and currently rates 8.118 /10


Top 100 ranking

This game ranks 1st in the game group "KISS". The group itself ranks #54 in the Pinside Pinball Top 100.

Score breakdown

Score breakdown in the 4 main categories:

Game Design: 7.897

Artwork: 8.162

Sounds/Music: 8.157

Other Aspects: 8.127

Pinside staff rating

This is how we, the very knowledgeable (wink wink) staff & moderators rate this game. 5 of us have rated this game.


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This game is part of a group

Note! There are multiple versions of this game!
This is "KISS (Premium/LE)".
The other version is: KISS (Pro) (regular version)

Found 80 ratings (with comment) on this game

There are 80 ratings (that include a comment) on this game.
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5 years ago
Definitely one of John Borg's most fluid playfield designs,; it's a great balance of "fast and flowy" and variation in shots and shot difficulty. Just like Metallica, you could not do better with the KISS theme (artwork and pinball concept). When it comes to the Rock n Roll pins, KISS is "the one" that truly puts on a rock concert under glass.

So theming, artwork, and playfield design are great, but this is a game that severely needs code. Yes, it's not meant to be a serious, deep goal-driven pin like WOZ or LOTR, but right now the ruleset is ridiculously shallow, and the rules around the wizard modes are beyond confusing. Actually trying to figure out any objectives of this game (other than hit the lit up shots) is beyond perplexing. And call-outs are too few, and way too repetitive. I know you can't do too many call outs when a pin has music with vocals, but this is way too quiet a pin. It's missing the call outs that put pressure on the player to hit a shot or complete a mode.

Pro vs. Premium\LE? Yeah, you need the upgrade on this one for the dynamically changing RGB lighting. When Demon or Love Gun Multiball kicks in, and the lighting totally changes, it just feels like a rock concert (and the ambient lighting colors they chose for the different songs work). The floating pinball on the back-wall premium feature is a one trick pony that gets old very fast.

In Summary, with more robust code in this game it will be a classic IMO. If Stern does not fix the code, the pin becomes a game with very little lastability that will be forgotten quickly. Own it? No, only if you're a KISS super-fan and a pin-head. For me, right now the game is just fun to play at a bar or arcade after I've had a beer or two. But even then I'll only play a game or two, because it gets very repetitive fast.
5 years ago
this is a must for kiss fan..very nice flow,smooth ramps,plays fast ,i like it dnt care much for kiss...great job stern!!
5 years ago
This is the third KISS I've played (out of 3) where the head feeds the ball SDTFM! I am glad I am not a KISS fan because this game sucks. It does look good and the lightshow is nice. Sound is good too with many choices, even though I only care for a couple of the songs. It just isn't fun to me.
5 years ago
Flipper average, perhaps improved in design
5 years ago
if they don't get good code for this, unfortunately I wont be much better than the 1979 Ballys Kiss.
5 years ago
Really cool game got to play it at a tournament a little while ago then after the tournament I play itForrest quite a bit. Really fun I like the flow and the long shot up the ramp .
5 years ago
Wow! What a great game! I 'm not a Kiss fan but the machine is absolutely awesome. Fantastic layout, superb flow and a target rich environment. The steep ramp around the head requires a precision shot to make it all the way to the top, other ramps are lower and much more forgiving. The stage in the upper left with the opposing slingshots is a cool feature but it requires some exact shot to enter.
The color selection is good and the machine is pleasant to look at. The sound, well I am not into Kiss.
In summary I would say this game is severely underrated. This is one of the very best.
5 years ago
The LE version of this pin is a lot of fun to play. A cool added bonus that they re-imagined the artwork from the first Kiss pin (with the original artist too). But this pin also reflects the unfortunate model the Stern has undertaken in that they are issuing pro models of new machines with lame, cookie-cutter designs but then producing well designed machines with cool features only on their over=priced limited additions. If Stern keeps this up, they are going to do a lot of harm to the resurgence of pinball's popularity in recent years (and themselves).
5 years ago
Love this game.. Even if you are not a fan of the band, the sound is great.. good shots.. great light show..
5 years ago
Very fast game. This is probably the fastest pin I have played. The game needs to have more game lay depth. I believe that this will be like the TWD. Not great when it originally game out, but will be a top 10 once the code is completed. Shots are difficult but fun. Art work is awesome.

The one major complaint is that the game feels cheap. Meaning the there is a hollow echo feel to the game. I am not sure if this is due to the new spike system or they have just been cutting so much cost out of the pins. Kiss was my 4th NIB from Stern in 12 months. There has been a steep price increase for new Stern pins over the last few years while the overall value/quality of the pin has been dropping. Not a good combination.
5 years ago
KISS Premium Review

Put a few hundred games on our new Stern KISS Premium and thought it was time to share my thoughts on the game.
First, some background. Over 50 years old, grew up with Kiss as a teenager. My sister was the KISS fan in the house. I was mildly interested. Friends loved them too and when they would blast it on their stereos I would enjoy it but not love it. More interested at the time in Neil Young, Thin Lizzy, Boston, etc. Anyway … fast forward 30+ years and my wife is a KISS fan. When I suggested we get the new Stern, she did not object. Ordered and received it quickly from Trent at Tilt (thank you sir). So what is it like?

Well let's start by saying that I actually love the KISS music on the pin. None of the songs are new to me but I really do truly enjoy them fully for the first time. Several reasons. They might be remakes of the originals BUT they sound so good! I'm an audio snob that has spent a fortune on equipment over the years. I care deeply about the sounds quality of everything. With that said, everything is a comparison and this pin is no Macintosh amp or Krell or Mark Levinson BUT for a pin - it's amazing! Full disclosure, I added the Pinnovators subwoofer and headphone/volume control output device along with a Polk SW10 sub. The sub is a must have. So … the sounds is amazing, the volume level you can take it up to is deafening (it will literally drown out all the other pins in my room except maybe WOZ)

Just drop dead artwork on this pin. No other way to say it. Kevin O'Conner just nailed the design. Of course the muscles are "over-the-top" but so what, it's hand drawn art and it's supposed to be fantasy! The back box is beautiful but beware that it is BRIGHT and without PDI glass, you will get significant playfield reflections. I added a DMD glare guard (Comet Pinball) and that completely eliminates the DMD as an issue.

The playfield is simply stunning from a finish perspective. The clearcoat is as deep and clean as the one I did personally to my BOP. It looks like glass and is impressive. Of course the thicker the coat, the deeper the dimples. You get plenty of them in this game and they are simply unavoidable. Given the fact that the ball "drops" out of Gene's mouth, dimples are going to be there and they will be slightly more pronounced. Put 3,000 games on it and you'll never notice them

The ability of the playfield to change GI colors for each major multiball mode is really nice. Purple for Love Gun and Red for Demon multiball. Really adds to the gameplay

The controlled inserts are placed perfectly. Right in between the slings and easy to see your status in descending order of: KISS drop targets, KISS army, band members and then finally the Instruments . The Spike system has the benefit of what seems to be improved sound, but also has some negatives. One is the LOUD fan noise from the system. When playing the game this is NOT an issue. When idling it IS an issue. I'll walk into my game-room and wonder "what is that noise?" only to remind myself that the new Spike system has a fan (so does my WOZ but not as loud).

The center metal lane guide in the left in-lanes cause a fair number of left drains - particularly when the ball is moving left and hits the top of it (instead of a nice bounce "up", you will get more of a "skid/bounce" left to the drain).

The flashers at the slings are "weak" compared to others (they are surface mounted SMDs on a small circuit board) but not so terrible that it takes away from the game. The games lighting after all is one of its strong qualities

The Paul Stanley figure above the Starchild bullpen is animated but don’t expect much - he barely moves (this is a disappointment). The spotlight that is aimed at him does not do a great job due to its location. Others have moved it and the results are much improved.

Gene's "Demon Head" was a major issue with delivering STDMs just about 99% of the time. With just ONE game adjustment, this has been reduced to just 10%! Make this adjustment in the "Adjustments" menu area, the "KISS" sub-menu area. Find the "Demon Lockup Power" I set it to 22. Factory setting is 32. When set at factory, I got STDM almost every single time. The other setting is called "Demon Eject Power". The factory setting is 32 and that is what I have mine set to. I know this reads like I have it backwards, trust me - I don't (you can always set this back if you don't like the result).

The only other problem I had with mine was the SD card. Had sound cut-outs/skipping from game one. I copied/cloned the SD card to another (higher quality class 10) card and replaced it - fixed it perfectly, no more issues since. The game has been rock solid from an electronics perspective - no lock-ups and no freezes, etc. Running code v1.05 at this moment

OK, the most important part … how is it as a pinball machine? Killer fast and crazy fun! Fastest machine I have for sure and before that I would have said Star Trek Premium was - but no more. KISS gives you NO rest. It is literally non-stop action. The only breather you get is the center ramp (and any you create for yourself by flipper cradles, etc.). The speed in the game is reflected in ALL aspects, including ball save, where the next ball is served up so quickly that you had better not take your eyes of the game. Scoring is quick too. Whereas my Star Trek Premiums processor can "get behind" what the ball is doing on the table, the KISS Spike system is crazy fast. The combination of the speed along with the music makes you feel like you're actually at a concert and there are times when I lose focus on the game and shift to the music - weird I know, but true. When it happens, I'll usually make a dumb love and drain. Honestly one of the best games I've had to date (around 90MM) was when I was dancing, singing and generally acting like a kid at a concert while playing. I can easily say, it is the most fun I have when playing any of my pins - that's saying a lot!

The pin does a nice job of calling out the "next shot" via the arrow inserts. Easy to see them and they are color coordinated based on what mode you are working. This is important as each shot is both critical and challenging due to the tight posts and sharp angles of the most difficult shots. With the speed of this game, you need to look quickly and understand "what's next" - the game does a nice job of this.

The hardest shots are the Starchild "bullpen" area and of course the right ramp. I find the spinner shot to be a little easier and is one of the most satisfying on the table. Another VERY satisfying shot is the Peter Criss drum shot up through the pop bumpers. Nice double bass drum call-out as you pass the switch!

Cradling is very easy on the game for either flipper. Post passes are a challenge but can be done. Bounce passing from flipper to flipper is incredibly easy and helpful and this is a "target" style game with very specific and difficult to hit targets. Rolling passes from the in-lanes are easy. Cradling the ball on the right flipper is a sure way to drive the ball into the Demon head, a slight flick and its 100% intro Genes head every time.

The left and right drains are the biggest risk and for the most part will not be caused by the player - they are either random or forcible from the pop bumpers action. Because of the table design, drains down the middle are actually the least frequent. The only almost guaranteed drain down the middle is if you hit a weak shot up the center ramp that does not make it - watch out it's coming back!

KISS drop targets are challenging to hit from the right flipper but they need to be and this is a good challenge. Same goes for the ARMY targets on the other side of the playfield.

The Gene spinning disc introduces just the right amount of randomness to the play. There are times when the eject puts a crazy amount of spin on the ball. It's your job to coral and control it again. Once in great while this will produce a drain but it's rare and not annoying at all.

The levitating ball initiated by the Starchild bullpen is a cool feature and although it appears simple, the work that the team at Stern did to incorporate Paul's callouts, the DMD animation and music really do a nice job making it "more than it really is" - simple but still cool.

There are not as many mods available as for other games but there are some that are awesome and really add to the game. These are the ones that I did:
• Yellow fluorescent plastic protectors (slings and lanes)
• Polk SW10 Subwoofer & Pinnovators Spike sub-output
• KISS letter separator (Mezel Mods)
• Shaker motor (Spike system version)
• Mantis scoop protector (fits from underside)
• Pingraffix inside cab artwork (Ordered the LE version)
5 years ago
A very disappointing pin... i was expecting so much more for the price of this machine!
5 years ago
Edit 2017: I'm bumping up my score a bit because I really do enjoy KISS in tournament play. I don't ever rate sound/music but KISS is just the perfect pinball music, and I sing along with every track in this game. Also not included in the rating, but this game has the best topper of all time. I dread playing many Sterns due to complexity, game length, or boredom but KISS is a fast game I can look forward to.

Gene really is an awful shot. You can nail him and get rejected. I've seen players turn around because they expected multiball to start because the ball was up in Gene for 3 seconds, only to have the ball slowly dribble out. It's a tremendously unsatisfying shot, with an even worse dribble out. Bad dribble outs seem to be a common theme with modern Sterns. I'm not mad about it going STDM or to outlanes, just the speed, random ability to hit, and bad feel of the shot. Yeah the head also spits STDM sometimes, but there's a ball save and I'm sure it can be adjusted somehow, whatever.

I'm no expert on the rules, but it seems to boil down to the two multiballs and comboing flashing shots. I don't know the differences between the songs other than which combo shots will be available. Single ball comboing shots seems really valuable, which is good since I don't like just multiball all the time. Encouraging on the fly shots at combos keeps the gameplay fast. I didn't notice anything interesting about any particular song, they all felt about the same in the few dozen times I got to play. Couldn't decipher if the KISS ARMY inserts did anything at all in all their different colors other than that it somehow added to bonus.

Is there a skillshot? I don't think so, nor do I see the ability to code in a good one. This layout is sparse. I'm a big fan of games with a ton of shots like Metallica and Star Trek, there are relatively few here. I do like that a lot of the shots are dangerous, really only the ramps will guarantee a safe return. The only real toy is the Gene head. I have to say, seeing Gene spit the balls out is kind of funny, not sure if that's what they were going for.

In terms of LE stuff, the dancing Starchild is pretty lame. Look at how much motion the dancing Elvis had. We don't get complex toys like that very often anymore, even on LEs. It's barely a step up from wiggling AC/DC plastics. The levitating ball is fine, but there's no thematic integration. There isn't some wizard causing it to levitate or UFO tractor beam, it's just a levitating ball. A real waste of a brilliant mech. Impossible not to draw BSD comparisons where it's used to incredible effect. I haven't played the Pro, but don't think the LE additions are really necessary and they're not nearly worth thousands of dollars extra.

I don't like KISS' music, but didn't rate it. The hand drawn art is a neat throwback, it's good but not excellent like Metallica or Zombie Yeti. The red full motion video dots seem like they're from a by-gone era, I'm totally done with modern machines cheaping out like this. This is another area where Metallica and AC/DC show far more effort. The FMV also ensures we'll probably never see a ColorDMD for KISS.

Overall I think KISS is a big step down from Stern's other recent band games which I'd consider modern classics. It's a fun game, but without an overhaul I don't see it holding my attention like those do.
6 years ago
I played this at a booth at a show. I honestly think that it wasn't setup right, but I will leave a review anyway. This game is brutal!!! I got side drains to the right side, ALLOT!! But again, it may be because it wasn't set up right. The sound was great, the lighting, and the gameplay was very fast and flowing. The overall look of the machine was very cool also.
6 years ago
I was really looking forward to this but it has no lasting gameplay.

Basically a wooden box with terrible artwork.
6 years ago
Metallica is as good as it gets. AC/DC is decent. KISS is better than Aerosmith, but that’s not saying much. Ive played this game a few more times since my initial review. I think rated at #74 in Pinside #100 is about right. While the flow isn’t bad, the art and music are (bad). That said, I would trade a HUO Playboy or XFiles for a HUO KISS. Any takers?

My biggest complaint is the playfield is way too dark. You’ll need an overhead light on to see the ball.
6 years ago
This game is off the scale.Never thought it could come close to acdc but is as much fun if not more!
6 years ago
I'd have to admit I was quite skeptical of this machine judging from the pictures when it was released. I'm not that big of a KISS fan to begin with and having Gene's big mug and tongue to stare at as a primary focal point was a real turn off. BUT... after playing the game I believe that it has a lot of potential! This pin is very fun and exciting to play, it gives you the feeling like you're at a KISS concert. LE art is great, love the orange flames all over the cabinet, metallic incorporated into the cabinet art is a nice touch, as well the LE red powder coating blends together way nicer seeing it in person.

Cons: Demon spit balls seem to drain balls between the flippers at times, that's pretty frustrating. Also not a fan of the red DMD contrast, detailed media and 4 player scores can be tough to decipher. Stern really needs to go color DMD on their newer LE/premium machines, very disappointing especially for the quality, price point, and era of pins and tech.

Overall if you're a rock fan you'll LOVE playing this pin.
6 years ago
Super cool game. Looks really nice. Love the music and sound quality. Good flow and shots. The game is a blast to play! Code 1.40 changed the game a ton. Having a blast playing!! Took a while but worth the wait.
6 years ago
Kiss is a eye catching machine that is pays its dues to the classic Bally machine. The love gun multi ball start is great, and Gene simmons head is awesome. I don't think the live action DMD animations are that bad, but the animated ones seem a bit out of place.
6 years ago
Did not like this game at all when it first came out. Code was blah. Played the latest version on an L.E. and it was so much better, can see the potential on this table. Would never buy one but will continue to drop quarters in it when i see it in the wild
6 years ago
200 games into it, gets better every time , cant understand 3.2 ratings I've seen for this one. Overall its smooth, fun, and challenging . Theme and music on the other hand could turn you off like ACDC or Metallica but that's no reason not to enjoy any music based game.
6 years ago
After playing this game for 2 weeks I have to say it is becoming one of my all time favorites. The game has great flow and is designed well with a pretty good ruleset that reminds me of the Stern Star Trek Ruleset. Obviously if you're not a fan of Kiss music you may not like this game. The so called "remake" songs sound great even if they aren't the originals. I'm not sure why everyone is complaining about the starchild area as I have NO problems hitting it at will. The 3 multiball modes I have obtained are great and super fun with the music that plays and the love gun magnet toy is one of the coolest pinball toys in a while... I noticed that when you get the love gun multiball the reflection of paul follows the ball to the stage and achieves a very cool effect. I don't know if it was intentional or accidental but it's a great effect.

The cons:
The Gene head out of the box shot every ball SDTM until I made some adjustments. Now it works perfectly.
The call outs by gene and paul are terrible and we make fun of them every time one calls out. Both Guys sound like they are reading them and have no feeling in their voice.
6 years ago
I don't like KIZZ, the band. Yes... it's almost as bad as Metallikuh for me. But hey, that's me. Let's get to the game.

The Good: John Borg is the most prolific pinball designer of this generation. For Real. I feel so lucky to have such a talented, hard working and successful pinball creator in my world. It's kind of crazy, Steve Ritchie makes the magnum opus every 18 months, John Trudeau spins the creator's wheel and makes games off his cuff about every other day. And then... in the middle, Borg. Well Played, John. Imma gonna gits a play or 17 on TFTC now. This layout is a winner. The randomixer under Gene's tongue does it's job VERY well. The Starchild ran miniPF will need some good old fashioned EM nudging skills, That's a good thing as Martha would say. This layout is SOLID. The K. O'C art pax is great when it isn't photoshop hairs on Paul Stanley's chest. The Demon's multiball is very well done and reminds me of Whitewater for qualifications/locks. I like the song/city cross selection. I am VERY curious to know how this will be implemented in future S/W iterations. Hitting the KIZZ drops to light the ball save on the left outlane is a great addition to gameplay. The standup at the mouth of the starchild target fan makes that part of the PF play better. The color coded mode lighting is well done.

The Bad: Skill shot? Where? The Starchild fan with the S-T-A-R targets and the saucer will require attention during play as it is not a consistent shot. The Demon (depending on the individual table and setup) has a nasty habit of spitting the ball down between the flippers if not properly set up. The music which this game is built around is BORING! That and Gene Simmons is a dick to someone unless he has a use for them. The "licky" animations make me nauseous. Rolling Stones, Metalliker and now this?!? I'm gettin' sick of these weak-deek rock n' poseur pinball themes. You know Aerosmith is good for a non threatening power-ballad or 7. Poison? Limp-deek Bizkitz? Ohhh wait... I heard Warrant is on a comeback tour with Great White. How about some Winger?!? Hold on. I got it. The next Stern music pinball game is NICKELBACK!!! Sorry Stern Marketing gurus, good Rock and Roll is not about the musical lowest common denominator. It's about the music, man... (Say it like the Dude).

The Takeaway: A great layout and PF design. Lots of good pinball awesomeness to built a great ruleset upon. The KIZZ ARMY will buy lots of them as KIZZ KAZZKETS are much more expensive and this game will be much cooler to be buried in. For all the extra "features" that this LE/Preem has. Is it really worth the extra $1600.- to $2800.- more as compared to the pro?!? This game needs more S/W development. And while I have bagged on games before (WWE, sorry...) for this. I am trying to understand and be more fair with the S/W dev cycle. IF this game gets the treatment that 'Tallikuh and AC/DC got (and I can't imagine it not getting it)... Music pinballs may be in style for quite a while. I will be coming back to this review as the software is completed and refined.

So... Where's my F'n MOTORHEAD pinball game?!? Warpig Wizard mode, anyone?

Update: With the first iteration of the software update I was hoping to like this game more. Instead, the mileage has shown the flaws of the game even more than I had feared. The worst being that this game layout is a re-hash of one of my least favorite Stern V2 games: Harley Davidson. The features may be a bit different, but the shot layout is pretty much the same with only difference being a steeper and narrower ramp on the right to make room for the center ramp. I still think the randomizer under the demon's tongue is well designed. I like the levitating ball on the Starchild MB start. Other than those two things I just mentioned... all of those nice things I said about the layout on this game. I take them all back.







The modes have been flushed out a bit more, but tweaking will still need to be done. If the programming team can pull the rabbit out of the hat, I'm all for it. But I'm not sure ANY amount of tweakulage can save this lackluster, uninspired and REHASHED poorly designed playfield. I admire John Borg and may have to give him a pass with his production cycles, but please... re-work and refine a layout like Tales from the Crypt instead? Just a thought. So here's to hoping for the future and listening to pinball with headphones turned up loudly enough to block out the din of sub-standard 70's Crotch-rock.

If we have to do 70's music, I'd rather have a Captain and Tenille pinball game. Muskrat Love Multibawl would be something to look forward to on the way to Love will keep us together Wizard mode. When you match, you get a Captain's hat. If you don't match, Toni divorces you. So dark...

With a bit more mileage I have found that combos are king on this game. This one s/w feature alone has brought new interest and respect to this table for me. Every major mode/ award/ jackpot shot on this table (even in wizard modes) can be doubled. This means you can reap massive rewards for ANY shot during gameplay. Your ability to claim accurate on the fly shots WILL be the difference between a good game and a great one. To whomever directed/put this code into this table, maximum respect. I am still not a fan of the layout and while great rules make a huge difference, even this one... while making this game more playable, can only do so much as far as the layout, theme and (what some would call) music that this deck is all about. Is it better? Yes. Will it ever be AC/DC, never. Scores updated accordingly.
6 years ago
This is a horrible machine new out of the box. SDTM everytime out of Genes head. I hope to re-rate this after code updates and a fix for issues happens. But for now... this pin sucks!
There are 80 ratings (that include a comment) on this game. Currently showing results page 3 of 4.

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