First Takes: Led Zeppelin by Stern Pinball

First Impressions of Led Zeppelin Pinball from industry people and the pinball community.
6.9 / 10 Industry Rating
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 10 Community Rating (15 first takes)

Design and Layout
Current Rules/Code
Sample of Industry Overall Impressions

Reviewer 166

Great execution on what is, undoubtedly, a tough theme on which to exercise artistic creativity. Given the constraints, I feel that Stern has done an excellent job and the 3 editions of the game look fantastic and really stand out well against each other... moreso than many other titles have in recent memory. Stern has showed some innovations on this game and are continuing the technology march forward in a slow, yet consistent manner. Despite it not being my most favorite theme of all themes, it should be a winner across the board and I'm looking forward to playing it.

Reviewer 173

Playfield: generally looks pretty fun. Comparisons to AC/DC are valid: two backhandable ramps, now with another ramp in the middle. The decision not to have any significant side-flipper shot on the Pro is shockingly poor. The lack of a stopper on the Zeppelin ramp means there is no fanfare for the main multiball start, and that really sucks. The Magic spinner is well done, but it is a generally sparse playfield for a Stern Premium.

Rules need a lot of work, imbalanced in favor of a playfield X that turns the game into a battle of combo-making and lining up a high X. In general, 10.7x playfield is not something that should ever happen, both too much and too specific. Neither should a player work hard and only earn a temporary 1.2x playfield. Top players may enjoy this type of strategy, but for most players, it is too hard to get playfield X, it is too hard to understand what Playfield X will be worth, and when big, it is too valuable compared to anything else. When a big playfield X is lit the game becomes "avoid it and start a multiball", which is not fun. AC/DC's rules for playfield X were outstanding and understandable, by comparison. Hopefully this gets changed in favor of something simpler.

There is no clear way to judge your progress in a song, and the automatic transition from one song to another is not well implemented. Is it just the length of the entire song, or something else? Having different lights in different phases of the song is good but also encourages waiting.

The Magic multiball is a cool idea and the "lock balls like Firepower" is nice, but it doesn't score well. The pop-up spinner blocks the center, so it is much more difficult to get playfield X or the center ramp.

Light show with the side-wall lights is very impressive and probably the best bit of theme integration in the game.

Displays and animations look alright, but don't tell the player much of anything about what is lit or what to do. For example, how much progress has been made in a song? Band footage is good.

Callouts are especially poor: low-energy and basically a dictation of stuff you did. Are the callouts done by a band member? That's the only reason I could think they are like this.

Again, the comparison to AC/DC is warranted. This is AC/DC with better shot flow and light shows, but with lots of strikes against it, especially in the rules and callouts.

Reviewer 55

Design/Layout: Seems fast and flowy and fun to shoot, which is what you expect from Steve Ritchie. But there doesn't seem to be anything new here. Looks like a blend of AC/DC and Star Trek. AIQ is also fast and flowy and fun but brings many new layout ideas to pinball.

Artwork: People seem to like it, or not like it. I don't like it. Sorry.

Rules/Code: The rules felt like copypaste from other Stern games. I like the idea of having different things to shoot for during different parts of each song, but I don't think this idea is clear to the player, so it gets lost. Same problem with the Icarus combo playfield x boost. There's not much guidance about what to shoot. (Like, after locking a ball in the Electric Magic lock, how do you know to shoot the other scoops to add balls for that multiball?) Just shoot the flashing lights, no one knows why.

Animations: Kind of a mix. Concert video footage is really nice. Some of the other animations are well done, while some of them look like they were phoned in. Weird mix of fonts in different places.

Toys/Gimmicks: The only toy is the Electric Magic thing. This contraption looks pretty ugly with a lot of exposed metal when it's down (why not extend the decal over more of the metal?) and looks blocky when it's up. Opto spinner is great, all games should have this, but it's not new. Poor Pro buyers, they get nothing.

Theme: Zeppelin is a great band. Pinball just has too many bands that peaked in the 70s and 80s.

Light Show: Good, well choreographed. Really should have all RGB lighting on a Premium model, instead of just a few inserts. Good job to Stern for offering the side panel lighting as an add-on for Pro games, because the light show without those side lights is probably pretty boring.

Music/Sound: Great. The music is all Zeppelin, can't go wrong with that. The sound effects are well done. Sound effects are much better than the other recent band game, GNR.

Callouts: Boring and limited, probably to avoid overlapping song lyrics.

Reviewer 65

The game looks fun to shoot, it's a Steve Ritchie game after all. The art is adequate, it's not something that stands out, but it does the job for the license. I'm sure Led Zeppelin fans will want this game in their collections.

Reviewer 200

Looks like another fun shooter from Steve Ritchie. I'm not a huge fan of Zeppelin so the 70's artwork doesn't really click with me. The music sounds great and the new lighting system will add a ton to the experience. I hope that lighting will be available on all future games from Stern. Toys are sparse and I don't know why anyone would go with the Pro with how stripped down it is. Another fun game that I have no interest in owning myself.

Reviewer 142

The lackluster art overall will certainly sour this for some. However, from the initial gameplay and rules explanations, this appears to be a really fun game and could really grow on people the more time they get on it. It’s not the epic concert experience that GNR is, but it looks as though they are going for a similar feel. The magnetic spinner mech is very cool! I love all the different things it can do to mix up gameplay. I wish it was designed to shoot through and up the ramp instead of the Icarus target. Also wish the center ramp was more like the gauntlet ramp on Avengers where the upper flipper can consistently hit it. Overall I’m very encouraged about where this game is and where it could go!

Reviewer 158

Overall you know what you get with a Steve Ritchie pin.... fast, flow and a great shooter. The theme is perfect. Steve concentrates on usually one cool unique new gadget toy and lets the butter smooth layout take care of the rest. Electric magic magnet spinner is a fresh design we’ve not seen before. Love the cool psychedelic lcd animations. Leaps and bounds better than the lazy Avengers approach. Cabinet art is a bit lazy but I’m sure the license gave them what they could work with. I don’t play the cabinet, the playfield art does look good and very appealing. Light show with the added side cab lights is a nice visual addition. Overall a solid title and solid package. The blue LE trim is a terrible contrast. Should have been black with sparkle flake or a variation of red or orange. Code will be great after seeing the stream and hearing Tim Sexton talk about the rules. Would have made so much more sense loading balls in the zeppelin for multiball and releasing as a moving toy.

Reviewer 165

Looks like a Steve Ritchie pin, fast and flowy. Led Zeppelin is notoriously protective about their license, and there were likely a ton of restrictions with this title, which is most noticeable with the artwork. In spite of that, the retro album art look of the cabinets works really well on a pinball machine. A new take on a toy that pops up out of the playfield is creative but may be more annoying than fun long term. The new lighting system looks very cool, though not having LEDs in all playfield inserts is starting to look dated.

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