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  #1  
Old 01-01-2006, 04:17 AM
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Default Your top-10 pinball machines from all decades

I posted this to VPF but the forum is slow as usual.

I'd like to see your views on the best pinball machines from all eras. 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s + 00s.

Please post your views. Don't just post top-10 list but also try to compare the real machines to the current vp/vpm version. I think this would make interesting discussion.

I'll start with the 80s machines:


My 80's list:
========
1. Alien Poker
Well what can I say... this game has it all. Ultimate playability, fantastic rules and it's not too difficult and frustrating... but still challenging enough to keep the interest going. I'm especially proud of my VP version and I think it plays fairly authentic... compared to the original. This was my favourite machine when I was a little kid in the early 80's so it probably affects on my judgment.

2. Firepower
Fast, furious, difficult, even frustrating. Great sounds, great atmosphere. One of the best ever for sure... PD's version is spot on... graphically amazing... and addictive as hell.

3. Black Knight
It introduced timer drop targets, magna save, multiball, 2-floor playfield, scary speech (well it wasn't the first but it was the most impressive), fantastic artwork (still the best I've ever seen on ANY pinball machine) and excellent rules and playability. It's almost impossible to capture this table to VP perfectly but I'm kinda proud of my version. But then again I'm biased. I polished the graphics for this table so long... it almost went to ridiculous depths at times...

4. Baby Pacman
Another table I loved. I'm first to admit that this game isn't for everyone. But when you get into it... it offers great challenges and has even quite a lot of depth. Getting to the invisible mazes was the sign of a skilled player. Getting this to VPM was a dream-come-true for me... I didn't believe it at first but Steve did it... one of the best moments in the VP scene for me... back when everything was still new and exciting... VPM guys and table authors kept pushing the barriers... and Nicky S released 20 backdrops every day.

The VP version suffers a bit from VP's insufficient flipper physics. It's very difficult to make the flippers aim at center and this problem is quite evident in our VP table. Still, I'm quite satisfied with it.

5. Flash Gordon
This was Bally's answer to Black Knight. They actually copied almost everything from Williams... just like they copied Skateball layout from Flash before that... but so what... Flash Gordon is amazing table. Getting the "fifteen seconds" still gives me the adrenalin rush. First extra ball is easy but getting the second one is a challenge. Scapino's VP version is excellent despite small gameplay problems which could be fixed easily.

6. Warlok
Can't quite explain what attracts me in this table. The layout is almost similar to Blackout... and it lacks speech... but for some strange reason I find it way more enjoyable. Perhaps one reason is the 7-digit scoreboard so you can't clock it so easily. Fast, furious, dark and "strange"... sometimes I get a feeling that the Williams game designers took a lot of acid back in the 80's. The artwork, sound and overall atmosphere are really weird in many of these tables. Look at Contact for example...

7. Sorcerer
Ah well... another Williams game. This table has only grown on me when I played it on VPM. It's one of the very few Williams tables from the 80's that I haven't played excessively in real life. Amazing sounds, great rules and good challenge. Shiva's version was already great but PD's version is one of the best ever made... enough said. Actually it's crazy how many masterpieces Williams were able to put together in the eighties. I can't think of one single bad 80's game from them.

8. Centaur
Black and white Bally beauty straight from the ports of Hell. Great rules, artwork and speech. That guy on the backglass has even bigger arm than me. Wonder where they were able to source Winstrol, Sustanon, Dianabol, Anadrol and growth hormone from Valhalla...

PD's version is amazing. I kinda get bored of massaging his already bloated ego but what can you do... it's a great conversion.

9. Vector
Visually Vector is still one of the most beautiful machines ever made. It's not quite up to Flash Gordon's level in the playability department but the gameplay and rules are still very good. Very addictive. Needless to say that PD's VP version is stunning in every possible way.

10. Elektra
It's no secret that I like the two-floor tables. Well... Elektra is actually a three-floor table. Excellent sound, gameplay and that bottom floor is really neat. Artwork is done by Tony Ramunni... the same guy who did Alien Poker so he's definitely one of the greats... Patatrox version is a quality table and it plays really well.

Thanks... I'll do my 70's and 90's list when I find time.
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Old 01-02-2006, 01:29 AM
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Man, kris...I was going to match you one-for-one, and you chose my LEAST favorite era to begin with?

Still, I went back to look over the tables to see what to choose (after all...don't want to err in your decision to divide things by decades) and I discovered something (perhaps I'll add it to my never-ending "Hare-Brained Theory" thread on vpf; I love discovering new angles!).

Admittedly I've only played twenty or thirty of the 80's games in real life (but then, who's played them all?), but it seems to me that once licensing and the chips kicked in it became more of a case of what the theme was than how good the actual game was. (More about that in a minute.)

From that point of view, I have to hand it to you: you've actually given excellent reasons that you picked most of the games you have on your list. I can't come close to you...because I'm too tied up with the themes! (I begin to wonder if that isn't one of the reasons that so many people vote against "Gilligan's Island" or "Popeye"...is it really that the game is bad, or is it that they're predisposed against the subject matter in the first place?)

Um...that was the "minute" I spoke of, by the way.

Anyway, just as a quick choice of 10 80's machines:

1. and 2. Comet and Cyclone. Yeah, here's a case where I was absolutely wrapped up in the themes, as well as their successors, Hurricane and Funhouse. I love the entire Williams run of amusement park games. (At least in the case of the roller coaster games, they had a GOOD reason for those ramps!) Was it because they were good games, or just because I've always been a sucker for amusement parks?

3. Pinbot. Nice game, interesting concepts, intriguing moves...and even a nice playfield "toy." (The visor.)

4. High Speed. Would I have ever realized how very nice this game was if not for the stripped-down "tutorial" version ("Top Speed") from shiva?

5. Millionaire. This one's a complete (though educated) guess. Never played it in real life, and no one's satisfactorily rec'ed it yet. It just seems like there's a lot going on that contributes to the game as a whole that would (probably) add up to making it a good game.

6. Haunted House. Aside from my predisposition to themes (and especially spookers!), it's the first (? or was "Black Hole" the first?) to have multi-level playfields, below as well as above. (Even if not, it's a fun game, a bit more so than "Black Hole.")

7. Firepower. I couldn't agree with you more, nor would I add anything to your summary.

8. Xenon. Yeah, it's a very simple one thing at a time game (the ones that got me hating early 80's games to begin with), but it's so very pretty! Pinball has never been more gorgeous.

9. Fire. (Throwing this one in here, as opposed to others, just to stir up the pot!) What does everyone have against this game? I always enjoyed it! (And, though I'm serious about stirring up the pot, I'm also serious that I always enjoyed it!)

10. Black Knight. How could anyone leave this out? Even if you don't like the game (which I do...much more than most any other game you could name from the era) the fact remains that it was the harbinger of so much that was to come later. (Uh...that includes bad as well as good, but we won't go into that here!)

Also-rans: Locomotion (nice, vastly overlooked machine), Monday Night Football, Party Animal, Spectrum, Elvira (from the thematic standpoint, of course), Big Guns, Big House, Flash Gordon and yes, Alien Poker.

I assume, by the way, that it's okay to vote for machines you have only played in vp. (Otherwise I'd have to take off three or four of the ones up there.)

Just a few quick add-on notes:

You're surprised at how many Williams tables were so good? The company that went (overnight) from "Blue Chip" and "Liberty Bell" (my New Year's resolution is to never mention my favorite babe's name [she's a table, which I've mentioned way too often] unless she's brought up first...otherwise she'd be way in front of those two!) to "Algar" and "Gorgar?" (Two tables which I've always considered total junk.)

I was so terribly disappointed in them...

And I look forward to your 70's and 90's selections...but why limit yourself to them? I mean, I know it's your thread, but to be fair, if you're going to ask us about your favorite periods (which, sorry to say, aren't necessarily ours), then it's only fair to put yourself up against the rest of our favorite periods, also! (Actually, I'd be VERY interested in hearing what someone's favorite tables of the 60's or 50's were who was primarily interested in the 80's...and neither of us has a vested interest, since I presume neither of us was actually playing back then!)
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:13 AM
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Top Speed was from Randy Davis (Orginal game that came with the very first version)
The tutorial was mine (a.k.a. shivaEngine "lite") and Cold1

BTW Kristian, very nice list. Firepower was a 70's game though. Nice to hear someone remembered Sorcerer se after all those years (4 years old now I think)

I seem to doing my personal favorites as my own tables (Star Trek, Playboy, plus others I didn't release) but there's some good ones I have forgotten. I would have found room for a couple, Haunted House, and the Harry Williams games, Big game, and Flight 2000. Of course, Funhouse was a 80 game, as well as High Speed.
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:19 AM
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Feb of 1980 is a '70's game?
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Old 01-02-2006, 04:10 AM
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Was it? I may be wrong. I remembered it as a late 1979 game. Maybe I remember it from when it was debuted at the trade show.
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Old 01-02-2006, 08:24 PM
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My top 5 (and one dishonorable mention) for the 80's. Why only 5? Cause I'm just not that much of a fan of any table pre '88!

5. Cyclone
Played this one a bunch and thought it was such an improvement over Comet, due to there being TWO rollercoasters AND a ferris wheel! The VPM version is fine to play, though lacking in the polish we've all come to expect these days. VPM review can be found here:

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=20

4. High Speed
I played this one probably a little less than Cyclone, but the VPM version helps push it up a notch. I like how fast the game is, I don't like the wizard mode. All the same, I've grown to like it quite a lot thanks to playing it in VP. Review is for an older version of PD's recreation, and all bugs and complaints have been fixed since than as far as I'm concerned. Read it here:

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=32

3. Banzai Run
I swear, any time I see this table it just puts a smile on my face. No, it's not the deepest of games, nor is it really all that great to play...until you play the backglass table. Used to make me feel like a complete goober cause I sucked at that, but loved it all the same. To this day I still think it's a very unique table. Oh, and God bless the authors that actually found a way to make this thing playable in VPM. I never did write up a review, so here's a short version. Crisp graphics, smooth play, and the best we can hope for table view wise, or at least until through some miracle a way is found to scroll up from the lower playfield to the backglass field. I'm no fan of top down angles, but I'll take what I can get with this table. Only gripe is with the upper fields RED shot (I think, it's been awhile, sorry) as it is a true bitch to get.

2. Centaur
I never have played this one for real. It's an early 80's table with no ramps. And yet here it sits at #2. All I can say is 'thanks PacDude'! I love multiball, and this one's got it in spades. I play always with the PD CPU cause I love me some glowing balls, and the use your own music during multiball is pure genius. For me the tune of 'Burly Brawl' from Matrix Reloaded is a perfect fit. I challenge anyone to come up with something better at translating the pure insanity, pumping up the adrenaline, and scaring the shit out of you with the opening notes of that tune. If you don't have the tune, PM me and I'll see what I can do about emailing it to ya, that's how strongly I feel it. I can't tell you how many times I've completely lost track of time playing this thing either, it's that good.

1. Earthshaker
I. Love. This. Table. There is no bigger thrill for me than hitting that onramp shot over and over and over. The rules are simple, the theme is fun (I live in SoCal afterall!), and it's pretty damn tough too. Having the table shake like an unbalanced dryer is something to feel, and one thing the VPM version loses out on, that tactile sensation. Considering PD has never even played this game, the VPM version is even more remarkable. Review was for a slightly older version than what's available now. Most of my comments remain the same, the upper flipper lock shot is a little easier to hit now though.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=23

Dishonorable mention award...

Fire!
Tudnut mentioned it on his list and that reminded me of it. I used to work in an arcade that had this table, and I played the crap out of it. Cause it was fun? Sort of. Mostly cause it was the only pin I had the keys to and therefore didn't have to pay to play! It's incredibly repetetive, and I don't just mean the shot selection. That damn music and siren are enough to drive ya batty. I posted a review a while back, and since then a new version by a different author became available. Quite a few of my issues were dealt with, and I had to include it here just cause of how much I used to play it. Anyway, here's the old review...

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=25

So that's it for my thoughts on the 80's. I've tried all the other tables mentioned, I just rarely play them in VP, despite the amazing job PD did on those Bally tables. For the most part I never played a lot of them in an arcade, so there's just not a fondness there. Except for Centaur. Damn I say. I seriously doubt I'll be that impressed if I ever find one to really play just cause it won't have the PD CPU!
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Old 01-03-2006, 02:40 AM
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Now it's my top 10 list for the 90's. Since I only did 5 for the 80's though, I'm doing 15 here. What can I say, I like this decade!

15. Junkyard
I really liked this table in the arcade, probably cause getting multiball was easy and the crane toy was interesting. The VPM version makes me seriously question my judgement though. I just think there's a real difference in your opinion of a game when you're actually pumping quarters into it versus pressing 5 to get more credits. Here's the review link...

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=39

14. World Cup Soccer '94
I only know this game from playing it in VPM, and I think it does a lot right. Good graphics, fun modes, and when compared to Stern's Striker Xtreme, it's downright brilliant.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=61

13. No Good Gofers
Since writing my original review, I have played this one at a local bowling alley. Table was in sad, sad shape, but it really grew on my all the same. The VPM table is a mess, seriously in need of a new build author. There's just so much potential with this table though, I had to put it on here. I really look forward to playing it in good shape, whether that be in the real or digital world.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=61

12. The Getaway
High quality sequel in every way. So why don't I rank it higher? Well, it's a bit been there done that too. PacDude did the usual awesome job, but there's just too much competition in the 90's for my attention.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=29

11. Terminator 2
I think this is a shining example of how to use a license, the voice work custom done for the table. Ball movement is fast and the artwork is great. My gripe with the table would be that it feels like all you do is shoot the left ramp, then the right, then the left, throw in a couple of loops for good measure, blah, blah, blah. Like the Getaway, it pulls you in quickly, but just doesn't hold up to repeated play.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=55

10. Roadshow
Fabulous fun every which way you slice it. I've yet to even come close to getting to every city, and I never cease to tire trying to get there. VPM table is a blast to play and in fact is the only way I've ever played the table.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=49

9. Indiana Jones
Just a staggeringly massive amount of stuff to do, super fast ball movement, really fun multiball modes, and terrific use of a license. Why don't I rank it higher? It's too deep for me, as if I'm making no progress. Review of the VPM table is NOT for PacDude's version, but I'd recommend his ever so slightly more due to better ball movement.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=35

8. Bride of Pinbot
Look, this table is pretty simple. You can ignore most everything on the table but the left ramp shot and score massive points in doing that. I like it cause I do really well on it, it's look is so much more appealing than Pinbot, and the whole hidden theme of the table is to give the girl the big 'O'!

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=58

7. Tales of the Arabian Nights
An absolutely stunning table to behold in person. I think it's just a piece of art. Gameplay is fun, table has all manner of surprises, and it's fairly easy to see what needs to be done, while being a challenge to do it. Does lose a little something in the translation to VPM, but not much. My review is way old considering what version is available now.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=57

6. Theatre of Magic
Just read the above paragraph again! I tend to prefer this table over TOTAN, and it's all cause of that magic trunk. Review is for Jive's Mod, but PacDude has his version available too. Deciding between which one I prefer, well, let me just flip a coin!

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=59

5. The Addams Family
Such a fun table, even though it punishes you at every opportunity. The THING toy was awesome for the time, the 'power' is sheer lunacy, THING flips is wonderful. I hate how hard it is to hit the train target, and this table is a drain monster. VPM table is loads of fun, but man what I'd give to see PacDude do a complete rebuild on this. There's just something off about the look, and THING isn't even close to looking like the real deal. Even still, best movie licence table ever.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...owcontent&id=8

4. Funhouse
So many fond memories of this table. First time I saw it, I pretty much figured the pinnacle of pinball had been reached. Above the noise of the arcade, you could always hear Rudy, and in a darkened arcade, Rudy was a bit disturbing to look at! I don't neccesarily like the flow of this table, and that upper flipper shot can be mighty quick to do, but there's just so much right about it and how it lives in my memory that I'd love to own it someday. VPM version is very solid, yet this is another I'd like to see PD redo from the ground up. I mean, look how Monopoly is coming together and tell me this one wouldn't benefit from his current Photoshop abilities.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=27

3. Rollergames
Such a stupid game, yet soooo much fun. This is the game you play when all you want to do is mindlessly hit the flippers. Super fun to play 2 players or more on, as locked balls are saved for any player to grab. VPM table is amazing and looks as if it were recently done, which is far from the truth. Oh, and best in game music ever!

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=51

2. NBA Fastbreak
This game intimidated the hell out of me in the arcade. I so wanted to shoot the center ramp, yet that was nothing but an invitation to a center drain. Playing the VPM version allowed me to see what an incredibly deep, fun, and totally unique pin this is. The scoring alone is the best translation possible for a sports theme, there's multiballs everywhere, and seeing as how each NBA team is represented, loads of replayability. If only there were an update to the team rosters and the trivia questions. Oh, and this would be my #1 request for a modern rebuild in VPM. I like the current version a ton, but lighting and shading and ball handling could all use some loving. So please, can PD or Scapino or Kristian do a new one?

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=43

1. Whirlwind
Hands down my all time favorite table. It's challenging, it's quick, and it's frustrating as hell. Who would have ever thought a weather themed table could be this much fun? When Sega built their Twister table, did they just weep? The three spinning discs just add so much randomness, and the skyway ramp is repeatable like the onramp in Earthshaker, but not so simple when those discs get going. I've never owned a table before, but I swear I'll own this one someday.

http://www.vpforums.com/modules.php?...wcontent&id=62

Honorable mention award...

Safecracker
Truly bizarre table, in that you have as many balls as you can go through in a certain amount of time. Also, it has a board game element to it, and it spat tokens out at you! I've only played the VPM version, but it made a huge impression on me. Just a strange, fun, table that's worth checking out.

And with that I'm done. I couldn't even tell you the name of a 70's table I like, so I won't be making that list. There's a bunch more reviews of other tables that I did over at VPF. I stopped as it was too difficult to keep up with revisions, and nobody really seemed to be reading them anyway, but I like pointing people in their direction, cause nobody seemed to be doing reviews in that manner. Hope you all enjoyed my list!
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Old 01-03-2006, 03:50 AM
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If you ever want to start writing reviews again, you'll welcome to post them both in the forum here, as well as add them to the Reviews section, which is actually an archieve of my member profiles and a few other interesting reads. I think it's a bit more accessable than what is at vpf.

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Old 01-03-2006, 07:09 PM
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Okay, since someone (though not kris) has posted another era, guess I will, too.

Just to clarify, though: I never said that "Fire" was by any means one of my favorite machines; I just threw it in as "Devil's Advocate" (as usual). I do seem to enjoy it a bit more than a lot of people that trash it, though!

As for the 90's, more than ever in looking for favorite games I'm reminded of my recent "revelation" (not that it was brain surgery or rocket science, or anything!) that themes have a lot to do with how one looks at or appreciates a game, so I'm rather hesitant to judge a lot of them. Do I really like the Elvira games as games, or because of my predisposition to her, and bad old spookers? (I'll bet that if she bared her boobs on one of the games, it would instantly climb an average of 10 or 20 ranks on anyone's list...with the possible exception of Kinsey's!)

It's hard to get away from that "theme" thing...and perhaps I overcompensate by trying to stay away from them (I know I did with the 80's list, but it's nearly impossible with a 90's list).

Still...(and, by the way, I don't imply by this OR my 80's list that these are in any order whatsoever, so I've dispensed with numbering them):

Funhouse and Hurricane: as with my notes in the 80's about Cyclone and Comet, I'm a sucker for amusement parks...but I DO think they're great games. Funhouse is especially...fun!

Twilight Zone: Nice game, very pretty, very nice toys. (No, I'm not really one that's enamoured of toys, but I have to give the designers a lot of credit in this case...same to the people that have rec'ed the game on here.)

Tales of the Arabian Nights: Same review as "Twilight Zone," above.

Rocky and Bullwinkle: If you HAVE to have a theme, the least you can do is make the most of it, and try to have it as intrinsic a part of the game as possible. I think they succeeded pretty well with this one...and it's hilarious! (I DO think they could've used better sound bites, though. Rocky [is it really June Foray?] sounds positively SICK in some of them. "Alley oop" sounds like he'd rather be going back to bed.)

Attack From Mars: Nice, clear-cut progression to advancement...and fun!

Apollo 13: Not only a nice representation of the movie's theme...but 13 balls at once? (And I HATE multiballs! Wonder why I always loved the original "Fireball" so much?)

Addams Family: Nicely balanced game, bumper here, ramps there. I actually think this would wind up being one of the few "good" games even bereft of its theme. (One way or the other, I'll be very surprised if anyone leaves this one off! I'm tempted to, just to play "devil's advocate" again!)

Whirlwind: I couldn't agree more with frieb's comments. Those turntables alone are worth the price of playing the game! (Hmmm...come to think of it, THAT'S why I loved "Fireball!")

Airborne: Nice, clear-cut progression to advancement...uh, didn't I just say that? (Actually, this and "Attack From Mars" have a lot in common, if you think about it.)

No point in listing also-rans, since we're so caught up in themes at this point that it's near-impossible to divorce them from the games AS games. (Though I'll throw in "Indiana Jones," "Back to the Future," "Theatre of Magic" and "Cirqus Voltaire," just for the hell of it.)
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:20 PM
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By the way, frieb, are you saying that there isn't a SINGLE 70's table you like? None? Not ONE? If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but a pristine copy of every 70's table ever made, you wouldn't even bother playing one? Certainly there must be SOME that would get played more often than others!

(After all, kris was asking what our favorites are, not what the all-time DEFINITIVE best games are.)

With that not-so-subtle invitation for you (or someone) to break the ss deadlock and post an earlier era, I'll wait for now.
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Old 01-04-2006, 02:25 AM
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Ah, the old 'deserted on a desert island' challenge! Dude, I'd freakin' play a flipperless (that'll make tiltjlp happy) if that's all that was presented to me. Allow me to clarify my statement in this fashion...

I have 19 tables from the 70's downloaded. I had to look at the table info for most of them to verify that's when they were made. I really don't care to play them, cause on MY desert isle (known as a Pentium IV), I also have tables from the late 80's and 90's to occupy my time!

So why do I even have these tables in my collection? Well, either they were built by Scapino, PacDude, or Evolution Studios, or they got really nice write ups like Shiva's Star Trek or Rob's Middle Earth. Do I ever play them? Not really. To be honest, they bore me. It's like, 'Hey kids, knock some drop targets down, collect a few multipliers, and see how many thousands of points you can rack up! While you're at it, dig whatever artwork we've thrown down and listen to the same beeps and chimes that are available on many other tables!'

I mean seriously, close your eyes and tell me if you can hear the difference between Playboy, Evel Kneivel, and Supersonic.

Here's a story...

While on a shoot in Memphis, we're in this office that has a pin in the breakroom. I pull off the sheet covering it, and it's a Gottlieb's 300. Plug it in, it turns on, pop open the coin door and ring in a couple of credits, and start playing. This table was in piss poor shape, but hey, it was pinball. Then again, when I was a kid I'd set up a board on an incline, place erasers in strategic places, and use two pencils to knock a BB around, pretending THAT was pinball.

When my choices are limited, I'll play anything (including Microsofts pin that came with Windows, which is what inspired me to find something better to play, which led me to VP). Yeah, I'll play it, but I don't have to like it!

BTW...you want a list of good VPM tables? Here ya go in no particular order:

Eight Ball
Future Spa
Paragon
Strikes and Spares

Those are the one's I've played on a few occasions, but I just don't feel like devoting the time to doing even a small review to any of 'em. Maybe after reading someone else's list I'll appreciate the era more. Doubt it, but that's why I come to these forums
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Old 01-04-2006, 03:22 AM
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Regarding Tudnut's comments on 'themes'...

You seem to think that themes only popped up in the eighties, but I say they've been around since day one (or at least week 3).

If a table didn't have a theme, there'd be no artwork, just a blank playfield with bumpers and targets. How would someone distinguish one game from another? No, there's been card themes, racing themes, and pretty girl themes for a very long time.

Now if you wanna talk about licenses versus original designs, you might think you're onto something. Only problem is, those didn't start in the 80's either. In scanning for 70's tables, I noticed Six Million Dollar Man, Harlem Globetrotters, Playboy, Road Runner, and Star Trek, just to name a few. 'Course if you took away the artwork you'd never know it was a licensed design cause they all sound the same.

Tables started taking on true personalities for me when audio samples were introduced. Things really took a turn when DMD displays came into play, as now voice and video were specifically linked to a table. I think this becomes a matter of opinion, as I like my game to tell me a bit of a story, whereas you might only be looking for add-a-ball features or turning over the score.

I just don't think you can blame chips and licenses for pin's downfall. When inrticate toys and 'video modes' started taking away from actual pinball playing, when ball movement was no longer a concern, when ball savers were thrown in to compensate for poor design, that's where your problems lie. The themes have always and will always be with us, cause that's just marketing. And marketing is what get's us to play these things.

I mean, would Centaur be half as cool if it were brightly colored and having hippies and flowers as it's artwork? Of course not, even though the gameplay didn't change one bit. Or did it? The game, the motivation for hitting certain targets, the reason to flip to certain areas beyond just scoring points is now different. The game is not just about the layout, but the whole package of art and sound and movement.

Or at least that's my opinion having come of age with the late 80's and early 90's tables. I too might feel different if I came of age in an earlier era.
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Old 01-04-2006, 03:35 AM
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Man, how rude. And here I harken back to my first ever posts on vpf, regarding your letters to the guy that's keeping all those tables hostage in that abandoned storefront, and my very polite answers to your conundrum at the time. (Um...that was you, no?)

Yeah, the entire "desert island" thing might be overused, but it still makes a point. I'll give you every 70's machine in pristine condition, and all the erasers you like. You aren't going to play the erasers, bro.

As I said before (and as kris started this nonsense with) we aren't giving the DEFINITIVE answer to which games are the best, just which we like to play! (And yes, you just gave me four from the 70's.)

No offense to you, or anyone else, and certainly not to Gopal, but may I say something about his games here? The other day I read and responded to a thread about him about how wonderful his games are (still trying to find it again; don't know if it was on here, vpf, orig, or wherever) and explained (nicely) to the poster that those games are ALL more or less exact rec's of EM machines, with new (and wonderful!) artwork.

I don't mean to take anything away from Gopal (his artwork is GORGEOUS!!!), but come on! Those are OLD GAMES!

The point being that the same people loving his machines for being as wonderful as they are, are probably the same people that chastise EM machines for being so old.

In other words, try them with an open mind first. (And I'm not about to champion ALL of them, by the way.)

Better yet, and in keeping with "today's" theory of mine...let's strip ALL the games of their artwork, themes, soundtracks, etc....and then judge what's the best game.

(By the way, "300" wasn't a BAD game, and it was one of the first pins I ever played...but it was hardly one of the best.)
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Old 01-04-2006, 03:43 AM
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You were answering me as I was answering you (dam these cross-messages! lol)

Now we're getting back into my nonsensical thread again...

But my current (equally nonsensical?) thing remains: take EVERYTHING off the table except for the game itself. No artwork, no theme. No voices, no other noise or soundtrack.

Just a pinball game.

Which are best?

Granted, there has always been artwork. Granted, there have been licensed themes since "Wizard." (At least that's the furthest back we've found one so far.)

And granted that ALL of that is part of the game.

Still, another part of the game is the GAME, itself. It's just hard to divorce that from everything else.

So take all of that away, and then decide. Is what's left a good game, or a bad game, just on its own merits?

If the game ABSOLUTELY NEEDS the theme to mean anything, to be a good game...then, sorry, it isn't a very good game, at all.
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Old 01-04-2006, 05:24 AM
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No artwork? No sounds? I mean why not just go out and play hopscotch instead because it's going to be one boring game you're talking about with nothing to see and nothing to hear. Sorry Tudnut, but I think you're really off in another dimension now... oh wait no themes allowed....boring.
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Old 01-04-2006, 10:28 AM
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Actually I agree, gameplay is what matters first and foremost, the rest is indeed window dressing, though it all adds to and completes the experience, as any VP author worth his salt will know, more time is spent tweaking the gameplay to get the 'feel' just right then any other aspect of the game.
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Old 01-04-2006, 12:58 PM
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Gameplay, artwork, and themes are essential. Any sounds other than EM sounds are useless and unwanted by this player.

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Old 01-04-2006, 02:45 PM
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Rude? Tudnut, me being rude is what you read over in the hot celebrity forum in response to Sporkboy!

Quote:
regarding your letters to the guy that's keeping all those tables hostage in that abandoned storefront, and my very polite answers to your conundrum at the time. (Um...that was you, no?)
Yeah, that was me. Don't even bother asking for an update to that situation. It's just a non issue right now in my life, as priorities and time management have shifted now that I'm a dad.

Quote:
In other words, try them with an open mind first.
I don't like diet soda. They have strange aftertastes, and in general I'd rather not drink a soda at all if my only choice is diet. I won't go so far as to say I'd rather not play a pre '88 table, but I will say that I just don't like them. It's a preference. I have an open mind towards any table, but if it starts displaying all the same characteristics that I don't like about all the other tables of that era, then I'm really not going to devote a lot of time to 'broadening my horizons'. Tell ya one thing, if I didn't have an open mind, I'd never be singing the praises of Centaur, would I?

Quote:
take EVERYTHING off the table except for the game itself. No artwork, no theme. No voices, no other noise or soundtrack.

Just a pinball game.

Which are best?
Well now I'm really going to have to go with the late 80's and early 90's tables. I'll get ramps, cellars, multiball, shaking tables, spinning discs, skill shots, spinouts, and captured balls. You'll get three pop bumpers, a couple of banks of drop targets, and maybe one of those progressive inline 5 drop targets. All of which can be found in various newer tables too!

Quote:
I'll give you every 70's machine in pristine condition, and all the erasers you like. You aren't going to play the erasers, bro.
Which was my point with 70's tables vs. modern tables. But if you take away the themes, music, and artwork, my erasers and BB method from childhood isn't too horrible sounding!
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:50 AM
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Lest we carry this too far...

Granted, a pinball machine is an overall experience, appealing (well, hopefully!) to various senses as well as providing good (again, hopefully!) gameplay. Naturally my "divorce" suggestion would take away from that.

Still, gameplay is a very important part of it (after all, isn't the GAME the whole point?), and I can't help but wonder if there aren't some machines out there that provide so much entertainment via their visuals and sounds that some people don't overlook the fact that said things are masking a poor game underneath. (Conversely, some ridiculously themed tables might be better games than are generally acknowledged.)

No, I don't expect a "naked" game to be as enjoyable an experience as a complete one, but I do think it would give us a fairer comparison as to which games actually play the best, appealling solely to our pinball "spirit" instead of any other emotional connotations. And I think that, although the overall experience is important, the actual game should still be the most important thing.

I'm not suggesting that games should actually be played that way; I just think there's something to be learned from taking the time to visualize the games ONLY as games without letting everything else get in the way.

(Or did somebody actually think I was suggesting that we just strip down every table we see from now on, or something?)
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Old 01-06-2006, 12:03 PM
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No we just think you need to let it all go and play some modern pinball already...sheesh.
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:46 PM
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Y'know, if you really wanted to put your theory to test, you could. We have this wonderful digital toy here that allows you to do anything you want to a table.

I'm betting you have an idea about which tables you are actually referencing, so start there. You can have this be one poll where we actually get to play and then vote. Just post up the bare tables, no names to them, and let's put this to the test!

Not being an author myself, I have no idea how hard it would be to strip a table down to the basics, but you might wanna inquire and see. To make this fare I'd say you need to limit and allow the following...

--Bare playfield. No artwork, of anykind.
--Blank lenses. All light lenses could retain their color, just no point values or mode indicators.
--Blank drop targets. Basically the same rule that applied to lenses would apply to targets of any kind.
--Toys, magnets, spinners; anything that has to do with the actual physical play of the ball would be allowed. I wouldn't expect to see an unpainted plastic version of a Rudy head, but if it is at all possible, no decals would be nice. Y'know, the plainer the better.
--Audio. Table sounds only, meaning physical table sounds. Pop-bumbers, slingshots, flippers, ball roll, those are good. Bells, chimes, chip audio, those are bad.
--Basic playfield elements like flippers and bumpers could have color, but again no decals
--Is it possible to bipass the video modes of DMD tables? I think that'd be a must.
--Scoring. I'm of the mind that to truly do this experiment, there should be no score displayed at all. That might be taking it too far though. I don't know.

I think this should be open to all era of tables (and yes tiltjp, bagatelle too!), and since this is more about layout and gameplay then anything else, it should be open to original tables too (hey Bob and Shiva!).

Locking the tables I think would be a good idea, as otherwise this experiment could turn into a modders dream, and also would prevent people from tweaking flippers strengths and such. Everyone would play everthing the same way.

Waddya think tudnut? Would that satisfy an aspect of 'your new hair-brained theory on pinball' and get you closer to an answer? More importantly, would any authors be willing to do this? Like I said, I don't know how involved it would be to strip a table of its personality, but seeing as how the scripts and layouts are already done, it wouldn't be that hard, would it?
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Old 01-06-2006, 04:05 PM
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I think the keyword there is hair-brained. Visual appearance always affects perception and having a clean table that looks almost normal and having a VP table with a big block of wall where Rudy's head should be is going to look ODD on the latter by comparison to say the least. I think almost any table without sound is going to suck, etc. The whole point of pinball is to send a ball somewhere and have it react with something, be it a drop target, a spinner or a giant talking head. The idea that it should react with LESS elements instead of more seems counter-productive. I liken it to the old board game Mousetrap (or one of those light gun shooting gallieries). The more crazy things that happen there the better, especially for the same basic idea of just batting a silver ball around. So give me those cool spiral wire ramps so I can watch the ball move around like a rollercoaster and have some hand pick up the ball out of red box. It's cool.
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Old 01-06-2006, 05:33 PM
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I have to agree with the others on this Tudnut. I understand the point you're trying to make, but since pinball is about the whole experience, I don't think it's valid. Besides, it's very subjective, as far as what makes a table great or not. I loved juat about every Western themed EM I ever played, and a large part of that was the theme and graphics. A good example might be Gottlieb's Fairey Tale series which at least a few need the graphics and theme to lift them beyond avaerage. I like them for their odd flipper treatments, but since they all share a common bond, they are collectively better than they might be individually.

BTW, as soon as I find the time, I will post my favorites lists for the 40s, 50s, and 60s, which will be based partly on the VP versions and partly on my memories of playing back in the dark ages.

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Old 01-06-2006, 07:50 PM
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Oh believe me, I'm right there with you guys. And I wasn't suggesting replacing Rudy with a solid block, or removing wire ramps, or not having THING pick up the ball. I was merely suggesting that you could do something like take off the decal for the Bride's face in BOP, leaving the mechanism in place. I think ultimately my point would be made that it is the themes and art and all the Rube Goldbergian trappings that make pinball so much fun, as opposed to me playing with two #2 pencils, some erasers, and a steel BB on an inclined slope.

Tilt, I look forward to that list, and I'll even try a few when I know what to look for.
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:06 PM
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Geez, no sooner do I qualify my nonsense by saying I didn't actually mean that we should strip down all the tables...than someone suggests that we do exactly that! (I'm certainly not the one to be able to do that, by the way...and, as Pac points out, in the case of some tables it wouldn't just be as easy as that, it would take a bit of work and creativity, anyway. Just how WOULD you make Rudy's head generic? On the other hand, he mentions the "big block of wall"...and isn't that sort of what the bookshelf is in Addam's Family? Gosh...how do I know all this stuff if I never play "modern pinball?")

As for John's comments...although I agree that it's about the whole experience (isn't that what I just got through saying?), I'd be willing to bet that those REALLY early tables are EXACTLY the kind of thing everyone else is talking about and averse to. You don't get more "bare bones" than some of those.

I find it rather telling that, given fans from three different eras, I'm the one that would be willing to submit mine to this kind of treatment (even if I DID only mean it from a mental standpoint) and both the earlier and the more modern defenders don't like the idea...though just WHAT it's telling I don't know (with the possible exception of that emphasis on "harebrained" that Pac was just nice enough to bring up again! lol)

Still, given the relative impossibility of completely blanking out a game, the fact remains that there have been numerous instances of the exact same game having totally different artwork (admittedly this goes back to the 60's and 70's, when Gottlieb was doing that constantly, everytime they'd have an add-a-ball vs. a replay, or a single player vs. two- or four-). Which game is better: El Dorado or Target Alpha? (After all, one of the things that brought all this nonsense up in the first place was someone's contending that Gopal's games are so good; I was just pointing out that, other than the very nice artwork, they aren't his games!)

Seems to me that if you stripped down a "Funhouse" and replaced the artwork and sounds with some kind of sillier theme ("Popeye?"), it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable an EXPERIENCE...but it would also be completely unfair to criticize the actual GAMEPLAY by virtue of that, since THAT wouldn't have changed at all.
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:32 PM
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Hmmm...thanks for all the fun, guys, but it suddenly occurs to me that we've strayed a WEE bit off-topic here, no? lol!
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Old 01-07-2006, 03:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tudnut
Hmmm...thanks for all the fun, guys, but it suddenly occurs to me that we've strayed a WEE bit off-topic here, no? lol!
The nice thing about PN is that nobody gets upset with OT as long as it's still in the ball park. And since we're still talking pinball, no problem. I'll try to post my lists by Monday, or at least one of them. My legs have been bothering me the last few days, so I haven't been online quite as much.

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Old 01-07-2006, 11:06 PM
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So here’s my list of favorite tables from the 30s through the 60s. Most of the earlier ones I only know from the VP recreations, and most of these recreations were done by me or by Patrick and me, or by Druadic. And while I do like my work, mainly it’s a matter of not too many tables from the 30s and 40s have been done by other authors. And while it’s supposed to be a top ten list there are simply too many wonderful early games made, especially payouts by Druadic, so I’m going to list all that are noteworthy from the 30s and probably 40s.

The 50s and 60s will probably list more than 10 also, none made by Patrick and/or me, except for two from the 50s. I’m having some minor problems with my legs, & I’m not spending as much time on my computer, so the lists are bare bones. I list the table and the manufacturer only, since you’ll know the decade. They’re in no particular order, and while I’m listing a lot, anyone interested won’t go wrong checking a few of them out.

30s
Autocount ABT
Speedway Gottlieb
Airway Bally
Ten Strike Keeney
Bouncerino Trade S
Buddy Bowling Nagey
Whiffle Board Automatic Ind
Buster Ball Genco
Monte Carlo Genco
Coppers Trade S
Worlds Series RockOla
Worlds Fair Jig Saw RockOla
Double Poosh M Up
Favorite Buckley
Royal Juggler Cohn
Juggle Ball RockOla
Daisey Peo
Bonanza Exhibit Supply
Contact Exhibit Supply
Gateway Exhibit Supply
Golden Gate Exhibit Supply
Baby Contact PAMCO
Cloverleaf Gottlieb
Silver Streak Bally
Electric Cyclone Schneider
Sure Shot Carlson

40s
Seven Up Genco
Sportsman Jennings
Shoot The Bear Seeburg
Penny Drop Trade S
Streamliner Poosh M Up
Skill Ball ???
Red Ryder Gotham
Air Aces Bally
Button & Bows
Shantytown Exhibit Supply
Fairey Tale Tables Gottlieb

50s
Zipper Skill Bink
Thing Chicago Coin
Struggle Buggies Wms
Skyway Wms
Knock Out Gottlieb
Hayburners Wms
Golden Nugget Genco
Harbor Lites Gottlieb
Poosh Rodeo
Golden Belles Wms
400 Genco
Auto Race Gottlieb
Guys & Dolls Gottlieb

60s
Beat The Clock Wms
Big Casino Gottlieb
World Fair Gottlieb
Target Pool Gottlieb
Dixieland Bally
Golden Gloves Bally
Heat Wave Bally
Monte Carlo Bally
Bank A Ball ???
Any Western Theme

A lot to pick from the 30s, polish up your nudging and have some fun folks.

John
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Old 01-08-2006, 12:33 AM
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Hey only 9 tables in the 1960s, still room for BankABall - the first table with return lanes.

DS

PS: I might think about this one day, so many to choose from.
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Old 01-08-2006, 12:51 AM
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Not really David, my last item is any of the Western themes, and there were loads of them. My biggest problem with the 60s is I played so many pins, I can't begin to remember most of the names. But if you're talking about the Bank A Ball with a pool theme and kickers in the corner pockets, that should be on my list.

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