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April 30, 2011 11:10 AM   Subscribe

The first official pics of Stern's new Tron pinball machine have been released. According to Stern, this game will continue their recent trend of keeping games "short" and "random". Features include a miniature (non-working, of course) arcade cabinet over a cellar hole, a dropping three-target assembly (as seen on Attack From Mars and Spiderman) with a whirlwind disc behind it, and a third flipper. Like Avatar, it looks like Tron will have a "normal" and "LE" release, with the LE version adding lots of EL wire all over the playfield.
posted by luvcraft (35 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Baba Booey!
posted by orthogonality at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


during production, leaks were comparing the playfield to Funhouse and Tommy, and this final layout does have a lot of similarities to those two.
posted by luvcraft at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2011


I didn't even know you could beat a pinball game.
posted by cmoj at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pinball + EL wire = Heaven. Can't wait for one of these to show up in L.A.!
posted by mykescipark at 11:21 AM on April 30, 2011


Hold on, wait a second -- there are LEAKS surrounding the creation of pinball tables?

I'm still trying to wrap my head around flyertalk and people who take airplane trips just for fun. The world is a wonderful place.
posted by incessant at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


At first I was all hey I should probably tell luvcraft about this.

And then I was like, oh.
posted by pts at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


1 ball for 75¢???? 3 for $2.00??? WTF???
I loves me some pinball, but...hokey smoke. That's some expensive flipperin'.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2011


I think that's per play, Thorzdad, not per ball.
posted by Spatch at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Features include a miniature (non-working, of course) arcade cabinet over a cellar hole

Non-working? An outrage!

Actually it would be pretty easy to make a working replica at that scale. BRB, must make 3" MAME cabinet out of surplus cellphone display and cheap ARM chip.
posted by hattifattener at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that's per play,
Ah...That never occurred to me. Hope you're right.
See...I'm old enough to remember getting 5 balls per play and the outrage when they dropped it to 3 balls per play. Sooo....I saw 3->$2 and naturally assumed that meant balls.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2011


I really want to play that!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:13 PM on April 30, 2011


Has anything recent been written (either published or posted on a discussiong group) explaining the economics of Stern's business, the rough breakdown of home v. operator sales, etc?

If the operator market remains the key to their profitability it would make it easier to understand this focus on 'shorter games' and 'more randomness' --- although even there, if I'm understanding correctly what this jargon means, it's the kind of thing that punishes players and kills the goose in the long run. CMOJ's sentiment above is telling --- as a player, I don't see a game in which I lose 'faster' as one that I am likely to continue to play, and the places where I still see new Stern tables don't exactly attract lineups to get onto them.

It seems to me that pin design should be moving towards encouraging longer sessions, rather than the reverse. The last Stern pin I spent serious time (and coins) playing was Pirates (or maybe Spiderman, I can't remember which is more recent), precisely because the length of each game was enough to give you the sense that you could actually make progress on it. It's bad enough that operators will crank the table angles to usurious grades regardless of the pin design; the manufacturer really shouldn't be designing the games themselves to steal your money more quickly.
posted by waterunderground at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Music is from movie and perfect for pinball. This game is brought

You know, it probably is. It's a great soundtrack - though if you buy the soundtrack album it's a tad repetitive. I actually really love pretty much everything about how that movie looks and sounds, too bad it never quite engages you in the action or gives you anything to care about.
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


too bad it never quite engages you in the action or gives you anything to care about.

I cared quite a bit about Olivia Wilde's hairstyle.

As an adolescent of the 90's, my pinball playing opinions will forever be colored by the superlative gameplay of late 80's-late 90's pinball. There's simply nothing that Stern is doing that compares to, oh, I don't know...

Dr. Who
Medievil Madness
Attack From Mars
Monster Bash
Creature From the Black Lagoon
Twilight Zone
Adams Family
Fish Tails
Pin*Bot
Bride of Pin*Bot
Scared Stiff

...

Should I go on?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thorzdad - Yeah, it's definitely 3 balls per play, 75 cents per play. That's how all the new Stern games are. Some operators, though, choose to drop the price to 50 cents per play.

The right loop connecting to the upper flipper shot looks cool.

I'm not so into the art/colors. I was expecting this to look more like, uh... the movies. I was really hoping for electroluminescence along the ramps (maybe orange or yellow or blue or red - like how many edges inside the computer are lit up). But I guess the LE version will have this? eh...

waterunderground - yeah, I agree. When newcomers play a new pin, the randomness is a turn off for them (as it is for me, too, an experienced player). Many of the new games have such a high "wtf random bounce" factor in the lower half of the playfield. If they want more people to get into pinball, they should encourage/reward the feeling of control. Randomness is always going to be there in pinball - no need to add more of it.
posted by ganatronic at 1:01 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, it probably is. It's a great soundtrack - though if you buy the soundtrack album it's a tad repetitive. I actually really love pretty much everything about how that movie looks and sounds, too bad it never quite engages you in the action or gives you anything to care about.

The remix album that just came out is a lot less repetitive -- more like full songs rather than short fragments. I loved everything about that movie, though (I thought the theme of struggling to accept yourself-at-a-young-and-angry-age was quite engaging).
posted by vorfeed at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2011


Metafilter: naturally assumed that meant balls.
posted by sklero at 2:39 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll wait for the Jim Woodring pinball.
posted by Tube at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember the Addams Family being 50c for one play or 3 for a buck at my local arcade. I also seem to remember it being the same price at the Columbus airport four or five years ago when I was last there.
posted by wierdo at 3:16 PM on April 30, 2011


I'm old enough to remember getting 5 balls per play

Oh, indeed. There were two arcades that I could go to as a kid. One had pinball games with 5 balls for a quarter, the other had 3 for a quarter. I hung out a lot more in the former.
posted by Spatch at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2011


I'm glad Stern is still making pins, but I generally don't like their work. Avatar, Iron Man, and Shrek are all awful. I haven't played the Rolling Stones but it looks wretched. Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones are fun, Indiana Jones especially. That 8 ball multiball is a hoot.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:29 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


waterunderground: yes, that's a common complaint. Gary Stern has claimed that the randomness was an attempt to "level the playfield" and make games as short for pinball wizards as they are for newbies, which is downright asinine and the complete opposite direction from where pinball should be going. One of the people who feels this way is Jack Guarnieri, one of Stern's biggest distributors. Jack finally got fed up with Stern pins getting crappier and crappier, and has started up his own pinball company called "Jersey Jack's Pinball" to put his money where his mouth is. Jersey Jack's' first machine is Wizard of Oz, which Jack promises will be the deepest pinball machine yet, and he's hired a dream team of designers to work on it, including Keith Johnson, who was the lead programmer on Lord of the Rings and Simpsons Pinball Party, the two current undisputed "deepest pinball machines yet".
posted by luvcraft at 7:28 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


orthogonality, why did you first-comment"baba booey" on this and another pinball post? Googling the phrase didn't help.
posted by luvcraft at 7:31 PM on April 30, 2011


"who was the lead programmer on Lord of the Rings and Simpsons Pinball Party, the two current undisputed "deepest pinball machines yet"."

Really? I haven't played them because the LotR cabinet is broken at my local arcade (right flipper's out, and the dude who works there always acts like it's this huge chore to check on the table and refund money instead of just putting a fucking sign up), and I haven't seen the Simpsons game, but I'd definitely like to play some longer games.

I wonder how much that strategy would be tied to location — like, a Tron game has a decent tie-in (too bad it's way to late for the movie), and you could put it up in places that traditionally don't have pinball (or more than one cabinet) like some movie theaters or even restaurants and bars, and there the short, random thing would be an advantage, because people aren't specifically going there to play pinball.

But at an arcade or bowling alley with racks of cabinets, the market would seem much more geared toward those folks who are both interested in and reasonably good at pinball, and the random shit would alienate them pretty quickly.
posted by klangklangston at 7:35 PM on April 30, 2011


@klangklang: yeah, they're both actually REALLY deep, so you should check one or the other out if you have a chance to play a WORKING machine (which basically means you'll have to go to a convention because it's nigh impossible to find any working pinball machine on location). Here is a gameplay guide to LOTR that should give you an idea of the depth. I owned one for a year and never got to Valinor, the game's "super wizard mode" (which you need to complete both of the game's "plain old" wizard modes to activate). TSPP has multiple wizard modes and "Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode" which does what it says on the tin.
posted by luvcraft at 7:42 PM on April 30, 2011


There's simply nothing that Stern is doing that compares to

According to the fpp-linked page, Stern has "hired" Steve Ritchie -- of Black Knight and High Speed fame -- so there's hope.

That page also mentioned "As part of the agreement, Jersey Jack Pinball, Inc. will have full access to the roughly 40 pinball patents assigned to PPS."

which I found odd since I haven't played a pin in 20 years so all that technology should be public domain by now, given that patents only run for 17 years or whatever.
posted by mokuba at 7:53 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


@mokuba: yeah, I think that's why there are only 40 of them; most pinball patents are in the public domain. I suspect that the majority of those 40 patents pertain to Pinball 2000, which was invented in 1999, so it hasn't QUITE expired yet.

Also, Steve Ritchie has worked for Stern before; he designed Spiderman, World Poker Tournament, and the first draft of Avatar before they laid him off along with all but one of their designers a couple years ago.
posted by luvcraft at 8:03 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


@DU: same name: Perplexus. here's a giant list of vendors from the designer's website.
posted by luvcraft at 8:05 PM on April 30, 2011


oops, that last comment was supposed to go in another thread. Curse you, tabbed browsing!
posted by luvcraft at 8:06 PM on April 30, 2011


It seems to me that pin design should be moving towards encouraging longer sessions, rather than the reverse. The last Stern pin I spent serious time (and coins) playing was Pirates (or maybe Spiderman, I can't remember which is more recent), precisely because the length of each game was enough to give you the sense that you could actually make progress on it.

I'm not sure that lenght is a good thing. I tend to stay away from the new Batman table because even when I'm playing badly each ball tends to last around 5 minutes. Games with my similarly skilled friend can end up going for an hour, and it dosen't feel like it's because of skill - it just feels designed to be really easy.

There's a bar near me that has Avatar, the new Elvis, The Sopranos and I think one other recent table. I was there all last night and didn't play them, though I should probably at least try them. My favorite pub has Twilight Zone, so I'm always set for quality play.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:39 PM on April 30, 2011




@Thorzdad ... if you find a game you love, and buy it, you'll find that you can set the number of balls on most modern machines up to as many as 10. Mr. Plot keeps his at 3, but if you own a game, you can knock yourself out. Also, you can set it on free play, but don't let the neighborhood kids know that, if you ever want to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. And of course by "kids" I mean 28 - 90 yr-olds within a day's driving distance.

@dirtdirt: We have different opinions on Iron Man. It gets a lot of play here, because it's such a different experience from LOTR and the other longer-playing games. It's a challenging high speed adventure, a game I don't mind the guys starting up when dinner is 10 minutes from the table. IM invokes a lot of good-humored dismay. We found Avatar visually interesting, but I don't see us picking one up. Pinball machines: YMMV. Everybody has their favorites.

Lovecraft, where are you that you have such a great pinball oasis near you? Are the machines in good working order?
posted by theplotchickens at 5:34 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


IM invokes a lot of good-humored dismay.

You know, I should probably give it a longer look, because I've had several people say that it is better than I am giving it credit for. I've only played it a handful of times. But I do live near a, as you say, pinball oasis, and it is an embarrassment of riches - I have a hard time working on a machine that I am not digging because, hey, I KNOW I am going to have a good time playing Black Knight 2000, or Grand Lizard, or Indiana Jones, or Haunted House, or Gorgar.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:24 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


/orthogonality, why did you first-comment"baba booey" on this and another pinball post? Googling the phrase didn't help.

Baba Booey is/was the nickname for the produce of the Howard Stern show and is used as sort of a catch phrase. I didn't see the other post, but that's my guess since the company is called "Stern."
posted by cmoj at 2:28 PM on May 1, 2011


Lovecraft, where are you that you have such a great pinball oasis near you? Are the machines in good working order?

Sydney, Australia. Specifically Newtown. My local (the Town Hall Hotel) has Twilight Zone. Another pub (the Courthouse) has Adams Family, Arabian Nights, Doctor Who, Indiana Jones (the older one), Spider-Man, Elvira, and a few others. There's a Black Knight machine at the Sandringham Hotel and a few other machines around.

They're all usually working well, and when they aren't they're quickly repaired.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:38 PM on May 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stern has updated their site with some sales slicks and nice big pictures of the game, as well as with a rundown of the various Tron Pinball launch parties. I'll be at the Austin one, probably.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:32 AM on May 23, 2011


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