Friday, 23 November 2012

1992 Gottlieb Super Mario Bros

Nintendo meets pinball in Gottliebs 1992 Super Mario Bros

It's unfortunate that Gottlieb machines from the 90's get such a bad rap amungst collectors. The build quality under the playfield is pretty awesome, and the reliablility of the board set has proven itself over the last 20 odd years.  I have owned a couple in the past, and they gave me little trouble at all.  

One which I had owned and kind of regret parting with is Super Mario Bros.  I think the main reason I still wish I had it, was because it was in such great condition. I got hold of it back in 1995, so it only spent 3 years out on location. These days it's very difficult to find one without a trashed cabinet and worn playfield. 

The game itself is a Nintendo/Mario fans dream. They really nailed the theme perfectly with appropriate art, fantastic sound (although it did get a little repetative) Plus really great dot matrix display animations that included the video mode where you'd use the flipper buttons to play a mini Mario game running across the screen jumping the gaps.

The light show was pretty cool as well. There's 4 prominent clear dome flashers on the playfield, and when I owned the machine I put cellophane over the lamps to add a little colour. Of course now you can simply purchase the coloured flash lamps :)

It's not a difficult game by any means. There's a kickback on the left drain, a drop target that acts as an up post between the flippers.  Plus if you happen to start "Invincible" mode, it's almost imposibble to lose the ball for around 30 secands or so.  But in saying that, it still provides a decent challenge. It's very cool when you finally get the "777" on the slot machine for 200 Million, and the "catch up" feature in multi player games where you could be coming dead last on your final ball and all of a sudden be awarded catch up where your score gets boosted up to whatever the current leaders score is, makes for some interesting times :)

So it's a thumbs up from me. If you ever get the chance to play or purchase one, don't overlook it.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

1965 Gottlieb Cow Poke

It's time to head back to the 60's and take a look at Gottlieb's Cow Poke from 1965

First up, I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of 2" flipper games from the 50's and 60's.  Sure, they have amazing art and they obviously paved the way for the awesomeness of the 70's and beyond.  But those little flippers which more often than not feel like hitting the ball with a wet noodle just doesn't do much for me at all.

Of course there are exceptions to the above, and I could rattle off a bunch of said games that I actually do rate.  Gottlieb's Cow Poke is one of them.  

Cow poke is the less common "Add A Ball" version of "Buckaroo" and the main objective is to light 1 through 7 by spotting the numbers on the Roto Target in the middle of the playfield.  Of course they weren't going to make it easy for you, so the lucrative number 4 is the toughest to spot, as it only takes up one position on the Roto Target.  So it's nice if you can get the 4 early in the game.

It's a real nudgers game because of the 2 rollovers and post between the flippers.  It makes for some great saves!  Another great addition to this game is the mechanical back box animation where the horse kicks the cowboy.  Very cool, and you could imagine the game would have pulled in a lot of coins back in the day just because of that.

Be sure to visit next week, where we'll skip forward around 30 years, and check out Super Mario Bros :)


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Klondike, Williams 1971

This weeks game is Klondike from Williams Electronics 1971

Ever thought about what game you'd like to add to your collection from your birth year?.  For me it's 1971, and Klondike would have to be high up on the list.

Designed by Norm Clark with Christian Marche providing the art, Klondike is a killer game that has a lot going on considering the year of release. With 5 pop bumpers that provide some great action, 3 kickout holes, an up-post between the flippers, a bunch of stand up targets, and of course the main feature of the game a 3 reel slot machine at the top of the play field.

The object of the game is to line up winning symbols on the reels and collect the awards from the centre kick out hole.  Awards range from 500 to 5000 points depending on what combination of symbols appear on the reels.  There's no need to keep your eyes on the reels.  It's best to watch the award lights and then nail the centre hole when there's a decent award lit.  Another good strategy is to go for the 2 upper kickout holes to light the bumpers for higher scoring.

It's great when you have the post between the flippers in the up position.  Of course the "Down Post" rollover button is positioned in such a place where it's kind of hard to miss.  But that's half the fun!

Backglass art is a little hit and miss for me.  I like it, but with a lot of pinball art in the 70's, they seem to choose a really weird colour palette.  I mean, a pink horse?.  Hmmm it's not as bad as the pink Jolly Roger on Gottlieb's Buccaneer I guess.  

I think the theory is that they used weird colour choices because they wanted it to stand out in a crowd of competing machines, and if they used more natural colours, it wouldn't achieve that.  

Thats my theory anyway, and I'm sticking to it! lol

Until next week
Happy Pinballing!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Jumping Jack (Gottlieb 1973)

This week we'll be checking out Gottlieb's Jumping Jack from 1973

At the moment I don't have any EM's in my collection. But definitely on my want list with a couple of others is Jumping Jack.

The theme and art can be a deal breaker for some.  Personally I like it quite a lot. Gameplay wise, it has a lot going for it with a bank of 10 drop targets, 4 flippers, and 2 bumpers placed in an unusual arrangement which was copied a few years later by Bally on their 1976 Old Chicago machine.

I'm a big fan of unusual bumper arrangements.  Williams did it quite a bit in the late 60's/early 70's with Norm Clark designed games like Spanish Eyes, Fan-Tas-Tic etc.  It really encourages you to nudge the machine, and get the ball back in play from what appears to be a certain drain.  Some people don't like that much because of the added perception of "luck".  But I guess Gottlieb managed to cater for everyone back in 1973, because they also released "King Pin" which has a very similar playfield layout.  Just move the bumpers half way up the playfield and put slingshots with in/out lanes in it's place. Replace the upper 3" flippers with 2" flippers and give it a Tenpin Bowling theme and you have King Pin.  This is also an amazing game which I would defiantly own. However, JJ is the winner for me because of the lower bumpers and also it's a multi player game (It's more fun to compete!), whereas KP is a single player wedge head and has the standard slings and in/outlanes.

The above video was taken a couple of years ago and shows the lower bumpers going nuts!.  Very cool indeed :)

Until next week

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hot Hand By Stern

Today we’re taking a look at another game from my collection.  Hot Hand from Stern Electronics released in 1979

Designed by the late Harry Williams, it had a production run of 4117 and quite a few of them made their way down here to Australia.

I picked up the game as a non-working project off eBay back in late 2007.  It was a spur of the moment thing as it was relatively close, the price was OK, and it was one of those games that I remember playing as a kid when it was brand new.

A tragic memory of mine was back in 1981 or their abouts, I remember playing this game at the local “Pinny Parlour” as it was known back then, and Juice Newtons “Queen Of Hearts” was playing on the Jukebox.  Why that sticks out as memorable, I have no idea!

Anyway, back to my project game.  I got it home and of course it didn’t fire up.  Turned out to be a flaky 5101 RAM on the MPU.  Once I got it to boot, I had to troubleshoot the lack of sound, which turned out to be the MPU to sound board wiring, which was toast.  So once we had sound, it was just a matter of replacing rubber, repining the J1 rectifier board connector which was hard wired to the pins, and general switch adjustments and all the little things you do to make the game play as best as it can.

The main objective in Hot Hand is to complete the 4 Royal Flush hands that are represented in the middle of the playfield as a bonus grid.  The slingshots, left bumper and spinner will change the suit on the bonus grid.  Ten, Jack, Queen and King are pretty easy to get by just keeping the ball in play.  The real challenge is to light the Aces, which can only be spotted by the middle drop target from the bank of 5.  Sure, the target isn’t hard to hit as such.  It’s just that you need to have the suit selected for the unlit Ace before you knock that middle drop target down, otherwise you will have to knock all the drops down and reset them and try again!

Visitors and especially my wife really enjoy this game.  It’s very relaxing, and that huge rotating flipper up the top really makes for some hypnotising ball action.  I like the game too, but it’s not a game that grabs me enough to play more than a couple of games at a time.  I think that’s because as I mentioned earlier, you can just bat the ball around and score pretty well without thinking about it too much.  Where as I tend to like games that kick your arse if you’re not concentrating.  I usually run my early SS games on 5 ball.  I think I might switch this one over to 3 ball for a while and see how we go with that.


Friday, 19 October 2012

First Post - 1978 Stern Stars

Ok so here we go!.  First post of many I am sure.

Lets have a look at this Stars machine from Stern Electronics.

This is actually my game which I have owned since the late 90's., and I really do rate it highly. I mean, it's just a generic space theme and the art is OK at best.  But man, what a great player it is!.  

Designed by the late Steve Kirk, who went on to design Meteor and Nine Ball for Stern, it's one of those machines where "one more game" is the order of the day, as most times it kicks your arse and you'd be lucky to score over 100k.

But once you get into a groove and start using that centre post between the flippers to your advantage, the tables will turn and you'll hopefully hear the deep 10k chime ringing out loud when you achieve Special from either the drop targets or roving special from the 5 coloured star stand up targets

Speaking of the chimes.  I really am a fan of the early solid state games with the chimes.  I guess at the time when they started changing over to electronic sounds it was a big deal. Kinda like going from electro mechanical score reels to digital displays.  But 30 years down the track those new fangled electronic sounds are pretty lame.  To be fair the Bally and Williams offerings at the time are tolerable, but I wish there was a way to convert the early Stern SB100 games to chimes, that would be sweet!

OK, so we will leave it at that.  Feel free to post your thoughts on the game, or pinball in general.  I will be back next week with another video :)