First Takes: Stranger Things Premium

Initial Impressions of Stranger Things Premium from industry employees and hardcore hobbyists

Initial Impressions of Stranger Things Premium from industry employees and hardcore hobbyists

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW – these are initial impressions of the game based on the reveal stream and images that have been released. Impressions are based on the CURRENT state of the game as of the reveal stream. An aggregate review of the game will follow in the coming months.

BIAS: There will always be bias, it would be silly and ignorant to pretend otherwise! Reviewers include people from all major manufacturers and hardcore hobbyists, and they have been encouraged to give THOUGHTFUL impressions.

REMINDER: The best way to decide if you like a game is to go find one and play it!


Stranger Things Premium First Impressions

Game Design and Layout

7.0/10

Reviewer 12: “Obviously designer Brian Eddy played it pretty safe and based this fan layout on the much loved Attack from Mars I do find of few interesting quirks like how the right inner loop feeds the the left outer orbit (could have been a boring horseshoe around the centre drop targets)…”

Reviewer 44: “On the simple side, possibly too much so. Shot geometry seems good, with the exception of the right ramp. The featured mech, while fitting of the theme, lacks the punch and wow factor it could and should have…”

Reviewer 200: “The layout may not be new or innovative, but it does use a proven design that has remained at the top of the charts for quite some time…”

Reviewer 158: “After a 20+ year hiatus of Brian Eddy the expectations were very strong for this new title and this game falls short . I applaud Stern for introducing some new technology with the projection mapping but it’s quite literally underwhelming with relying on this versus some real ball interaction mechanisms…”

Reviewer 37: “The layout looks to be a now fairly standard fan layout from the master of the fan. It looks to play very smoothly and shots appear to feel quite nice. The center shots are quite deadly as drop targets…”

Artwork

6.1/10

Reviewer 138: “I’m a fan of the cabinet and backbox art. The playfield seems a little muddled, which may be due to the amazing number of inserts in this game…”

Reviewer 53: “The art seems serviceable but ultimately just a step above Photoshop-montage. Clearly drawn and oversaturated (keys to winning over pinball fans) I don’t think it’s offensive but it is forgettable…”

Reviewer 44: “Seems like a package that is built from assets already established. I would appreciate a more hand drawn style with more nods to the humor and nostalgia the show is known for. Not a complete miss, but somewhat underwhelming by today’s standards….”

Reviewer 165: “Over-saturated and underwhelming, but gets the job done…”

Current Rules/Code

5.7/10

Reviewer 125: “Rules and code, as they stand now, seem straight forward to me and easy enough to grasp for the casual player. That’s a big plus in my book. A game with deep rules yet easy to grasp basics for the novice player are the key to a good game….”

Reviewer 175: “Where do I begin? The code is what makes it really obvious that Stern rushed this game out the door. This can all be fixed down the road, but it is becoming common practice to see “Get it out the door – we will fix it in post” operation. Simple things can be done to this code to give the player better satisfaction, but the current code isn’t providing that…..”

Reviewer 31: “Definitely full of typical Lonnieisms. Can’t think of any particularly new ideas that I saw here…”

Reviewer 53: “Rules and code seem to be in a solid place for an at-launch title. The highlight appears to be the mode-based play. Less impressive is the Upside Down hurry-up mode (a bit one-trick) and the ease of obtaining the primary ball lock….”

Display/Animations

7.0/10

Reviewer 65: “I think the animations are good. Stern has come a very long way since they started integrating LCD displays…”

Reviewer 12: “For the most part, the custom animations seem very flat and simplistic. The only exception to this would be the battle with the demigorgan which is a well-crafted animated character that seems to react to every time the pinball strikes the toy…

“Reviewer 88: “Mostly clips from the show it appears. The ones that look custom aren’t very detailed, and some appear missing. Though, updates will remedy that….”

“Reviewer 125: “The display is exactly what it needs to be. The needed info is there, the animations look good. Not the best Stern has done, but they get the job done well….”

Toys/Gimmicks

6.6/10

Reviewer 166: “There is no question on this – they have outdone themselves on this aspect of the game. Innovation abounds on this title (for the Premium/LE trim) and this is exactly what pinball needs to continue to innovate. The projector screen(s) are impressive and they integrate well with gameplay…”

Reviewer 158: “Give props to Stern for trying new technology with projection mapping but I think it falls short, the game looks barren and there’s simply not enough there compared to other games that have better mechanisms…”

Reviewer 151: “The Demogorgon shot is sterile and unimpressive. They went all in on the projector, which doesn’t add anything to gameplay or the physical fun of pinball we all love….”

Reviewer 200: “The demogorgon toy does look like fun and could be quite a challenge. I am worried that it might be too challenging to the point that it would get frustrating. I will need to see how the projection works in real life to get a better feel for it, but I think it has enough potential at this point that I will give them extra credit for the innovation…”

Theme and Theme Integration

6.6/10

Reviewer 165: “This is a huge license. The integration is different than what I was expecting how I would’ve done it – it lacks the humor from the show and could’ve been a more nostalgic with the 80s vibe – but it is still pulled off really well. The sound and assets draw you into the Stranger Things world…”

Reviewer 22: “Good theme, they missed a little as there’s not many kids callouts or Joyce. Glad there is some custom speech though…”

Reviewer 12: “I think the mode progression going from chapter to chapter was a nice way of bringing the player into the narrative of the theme. I still don’t necessarily feel like I’m playing something which is set in a scary ’80s horror film, but there are moments like when the “upside-down” which occurs which are dramatic and in keeping with the suprising moments it occurs in the show…”

Lightshow

6.9/10

Reviewer 166: “With so many inserts on the playfield, I was impressed with how much we saw at the current code level and the capability this machine will eventually have for an impressive light show is really unmatched in recent games….”

Reviewer 33: “Light work. They flash different colours. They do what lights do, except anything memorable…”

Reviewer 37: “Pinball lightshows are hard to make, and I think they’ve done a good job. More than serviceable, but not something I’m going to run out in the street and describe to the nearest passerby….”

Music/Sound

7.6/10

Reviewer 151: “Best part of this game. It sounds incredible…”

Reviewer 12: “I find that the musical score is quite lacking and unimpressive and wowefully under-uses the main theme to the show which I find adds a lot of tension and tempo to the atmosphere of the game. The game seems to be a sonically barren soundscape of discordant and bleak synth tones. So far not a single track of any the popular ’80s music which is so intrinsictly tied to the setting of the show….”

Reviewer 125: “The music and sound is superb. The theme from the show sets the mood perfectly, the sounds of the spinner and drop targets are unique and add to that mood. Very, very well done….”

Callouts

5.5/10
Image result for sheriff stranger things gif"

Reviewer 165: “Though he sounds a little bit un-enthused in a lot of the callouts we’ve heard so far, getting the actor that played Jim Hopper (David Harbour) to do custom callouts is a home run…”

Reviewer 55: “Callouts seemed limited, not many exciting / funny / surprising callouts that I noticed… only exception was “What the hell?!” on an outlane drain…”

Reviewer 125: “Callouts seemed a little uninspired to me. Not enough excitement or feeling. That may be by design to match the mood of the theme, but that could change as the code develops….”

Overall

6.5/10

Reviewer 4: “Overall ,it is a familiar layout that has the potential of been something great. But with such a familiar layout, the code, projector, and theme integration is going to be the make or break point of this pinball machine.”

Reviewer 65: “I guess I would just simply say it’s ok. I’ll play it on location, but from what I have seen it isn’t something I would consider purchasing. Given the talent of Brian Eddy and the team he had to work with, I was hoping for something more special…”

Reviewer 44: “Brian Eddy has been thrusted back into a different era of pinball that requires wowing with less. Effective designers have avoided budget pitfalls with alternative shot layouts and creative use of the space they are afforded. Brian will have to change his design focus if he will add to his incredible legacy using modern games. This is fun, but not next level incredible…”

Reviewer 125: “Overall this looks like a great game that will get dialed in with code updates and tweaks to the game. The issues with the Demogoran stuck balls and rejections will have to be addressed some how. If that happens the game is solid….”



Reviewer 4

Game Design and Layout

8/10

A familiar layout with a new twist. Nothing inspiring but not a dud either

Artwork

6/10

Better than the cut and paste era of pinball but not by much

Current Rules/Code

6/10

Enough there to leave you wanting more

Display/Animations

6/10

Alot of the same. Definitely needs more variety.

Toys/Gimmicks

7/10

Standard bash toy with a twist. Concerned though that it could get frustrating because of the ramp and size of the opening on the Demgorgon. Magnet is cool. Projector looks fine. Could it be brighter? Yes. Is it a cool concept? Also yes!

Theme and Theme Integration

6/10

Theme looks like it was integrated alright. Hard to tell when the code is bare bones.

Lightshow

7/10

Pretty cool.

Music/Sound

6/10

Awesome at first. After time it seems all too samey

Callouts

6/10

The few callouts I heard I liked

Overall

7/10

Overall ,it is a familiar layout that has the potential of been something great. But with such a familiar layout, the code, projector, and theme integration is going to be the make or break point of this pinball machine. It looks like an uphill challenge but if Stern could turn Batman 66 from the turd on launch day to the masterpiece it is now, then I have hope that Stranger Things will be an awesome and memorable game.


Reviewer 12

Game Design and Layout

6/10

Obviously designer Brian Eddy played it pretty safe and based this fan layout on the much loved Attack from Mars  I do find of few interesting quirks like how the right inner loop feeds the the left outer orbit (could have been a boring horseshoe around the centre drop targets) For the most part, the placement of the centre bank of targets, ramps and orbits are exactly where you would find them on Attack from Mars or Medieval madness. The leftmost kickout saucer is a bit bewildering to me and obviously a stripped down version of the “catapult shot” from Medieval Madness- during regular play it fires the ball diagonally left across the playfield and usually clips the right most drop target on it’s way. From my experience during the demigorgan battles while the centre ramp is lowered, the ball from the left kick-out seems to partially travel over the right corner of the ramp and then trickle straight down, usually ending in an unfortunate and unsatisfying centre drain. I find that whether or not it was intentional for the ball to come out of the left orbit and clip the edge of the left sling shot to particularly frustrating and an unfair and chaotic return to a cleanly hit shot. Also, a common design issue appears to be occurring when either the ball is shot in the demigorgon toy’s mouth or the left inner loop shot whereby the ball seems to be getting trapped on the gate behind the drops and becomes stuck.

Artwork

6/10

I prefer the composition of the backbox artwork on the pro version (it seems to more promenently feature the main cast of the show) than the Premium or LE versions. Nothing about the cabinet artwork on any version sticks out as particularly impressive, but serves as a colourful decoration. Although I do appreciate them keeping with a gloomy overall tone, the areas of bright ’80s neon orange, blue and purple lack definition and don’t seem to stand out. The intense colours are at times a bit awkward (people’s faces are bathed in purple and red light). I think overall the playfield artwork is muddled and lacking any sort of interesting composition. The standard colour-coded flares of energy or lighting lead out from the middle and lead to each major shot. Comparing the quality of this relatively photo-realististic illustration to some of the more stylized artwork which has been officially released as part of the show’s own marketing materials, it doesn’t quite hold up or is as compelling.

Current Rules/Code

6/10

Code is obviously in an early development stage, but I do like that particular shots represent modes and chapters of the series. A basic 2x multiplier adds a fun element of when to start it. However the scoring seems unbalanced as to the difficulty of what is being accomplished. Destroying the first demigorgan reqires the complation of all four centre drops TWICE and then a centre shot and then (what can be) a highly frustrating shot which only adds up to 2-3 million. However when the “upside down” event occurs, simply quickly bashing a few drops immediately scores 7-9 million and usually ends up giving a player a huge score boost (this event is totally random!) I don’t find the modes themselves particularly interesting and the multiball rules seem like the common, shoot all jackpots across the playfield and then collect a super jackpot. Again, I expect more complexity to come with future code releases.

Display/Animations

4/10

At this point in time, the display and animations are quite rudementary. Images (mainly based on marketing stills or freeze from the show) and remain static still shots of the characters and have very little interactivity with the actual gameplay (the entire imagery for the duration of one mode was just an overhead shot of a water filled quarry!). For the most part, the custom animations seem very flat and simplistic. The only exception to this would be the battle with the demigorgan which is a well-crafted animated character that seems to react to every time the pinball strikes the toy. Obviously match animations and high score displays will be updated in due course.

Toys/Gimmicks

5/10

The sculpt and material of the demigorgan in the centre seem to be very professionally crafted and appear that they will be able to withstand the abuse of a metal ball bashing it constantly (I’m assuming it’s made of the same semi-spongey material that slimer on Ghostbusters was made of) However the reveal of the main ramp coming down is sort of underwhelming (imagine if the demigorgan came out of the bottom of the playfield like the Iron Monger?) Apart from a small shaker on the Premium and LE version, the toy itself has no real mechanical action or articulation (imagine if the mouth flaps could move slightly in and out like the wings of the drangon from the Game of Thrones?) As the big “toy” in the game the lack of thematically integrated mechanical action of the demigorgan leaves much to be desired. Also, the shape of the mouth could have been just a little bit wider, as the difficulty of hitting the ball up the ramp and into it on some games seems to be extremely hard (although this may also be a playfield mechanical adjustment that needs to be made with the ramp itself). The telekenisis lock is also a major feature on the Premium and LE version, which I think is visually impressive. The added difficulty of shooting the ball cleanly and powerfully all the way up an already difficult to find left ramp and up a second jump shot ramp may prove to be a bit frustrating for novice players.

Theme and Theme Integration

5/10

I think the mode progression going from chapter to chapter was a nice way of bringing the player into the narrative of the theme. I still don’t necessarily feel like I’m playing something which is set in a scary ’80s horror film, but there are moments like when the “upside-down” which occurs which are dramatic and in keeping with the suprising moments it occurs in the show. One only could wish that there could have been something more with the upside down concept (like reversed flippers) or an upside down mini-playfield or even just having to play based on the reflection of the projector on the glass of the playfield inverting the rules of the gameplay in some way…

Lightshow

7/10

The lightshow at this point seems fine, not overly-lit as to provide some shadowy ambience to the vibe of the game. The “upside down” moment really shines as the general illumination all turns a deep purple. The projector gimmick I will discuss in this section because it is part of the overall light choregoraphy. I think although obviously there is much concern about what ideal lighting conditions the projected images will need in order to not get “washed out” I think in most situations (unless one is playing under the lighting conditions of a CVS) the human eye will adapt and compensate for the apparent lack of contrast seen on streams or recorded through video cameras. I hope that more visual integraton on the strips along the ramps and targets will be more frequently utilized during game play as opposed to only during special events in the game like during a mode or multiball.

Music/Sound

4/10

I find that the musical score is quite lacking and unimpressive and wowefully under-uses the main theme to the show which I find adds a lot of tension and tempo to the atmosphere of the game. The game seems to be a sonically barren soundscape of discordant and bleak synth tones. So far not a single track of any the popular ’80s music which is so intrinsictly tied to the setting of the show has been licensed. One can only imagine if someone like Scott Danesi could have been asked to create some upbeat, pulse-pounding ’80s synth heavy tracks!

Callouts

3/10

The callouts so far are almost non-existent. Custom speech from lead actor David Harbor is appreciated but it would have been nice to have the entire main cast especially (I guess the rest of the cast were not interested in contributing or had better agents!), but apart from the perfunctory “Player one, you’re up!” “Lock one!” and “Jackpot!” callouts, there isn’t really anything remarkably memorable or interesting in the callouts which would serve to draw you deeper into the world of the theme (compare this to the joking antagonism of The Black Knight, the trolls of Medieval Madness, or J. Jonah Jameson from Spiderman). I’m sure more is yet to be implemented, but for now it is sounding very spare and uninspired.

Overall

5/10

My main concerns are not really with the projector which they demonstrated that in most normal indoor lighting conditions, the images on the screen will look aat least satisfactory. However I do have some concerns which were not addressed on the live stream of the Premium version. Firstly, I noticed that the game comes shipped with BLACK rubbers on the posts and flippers (which works great visually) however, after continuous play, that rubber is going to eventually rub off onto the ball and transfer onto the centre drop targets and the white strips along the ramps (anyone who’s played pinball long enough can see the trail the ball eventually leaves on plasic ramps) I feel like the eventual scuffing on all these white surfaces will be pretty unsightly and permenantly marr the look of the projected images unless there are replacement decals which can be made available. Also, another concern is the telekenisis magnetic ball lock which holds onto the pinballs for an extended length of time. Not only do they stay until a single player starts multiball, they will stay there from player to player until multiball is achived. At no point did anyone address the concern that after magnetic exposure for that length of time that the pinballs may stay magnatized which can lead to ball trough registration issues and a need for them to be replaced. No one mentioned anything about any sort of degaussing process/mech built into the game, so I guess time will tell.


Reviewer 22

Game Design and Layout

7/10

Some cool shots in there (left orbit, right inner orbit), but is a fan layout with fan layout rules (Austin powers comes to mind…). Curious if the code can make this game come alive since there are some cool areas of the game that can be utilized in unique ways.

Artwork

7/10

Kind of dark, art doesn’t really pop. Great theme integration though.

Current Rules/Code

5/10

Seems like it’s just TK multiball all day, avoid the middle, and grind out modes… meh

Display/Animations

7/10

I like how they use the projector screen as an additional source of information (pro just has the Christmas lights thing on the main screen, premium has it on the projector and then something else in the screen), but they could do so much more.

Toys/Gimmicks

8/10

Gotta say the Demogorgon is pretty awesome and feels satisfying to hit, although not sure if does anything rules-wise unless you sink it in the mouth? Seems pretty difficult and random to do. Magnet lock is neat and I love how you can lock 2 balls in there for a triple super!

Theme and Theme Integration

8/10

Good theme, they missed a little as there’s not many kids callouts or Joyce. Glad there is some custom speech though

Lightshow

9/10

Great light effects and the projector is awesome (especially during the Demogorgon battles!)

Music/Sound

7/10

Love the stranger things theme, although it seems like they don’t use the most prominent one during main play? Maybe I couldn’t hear it?

Callouts

6/10

Not inspiring, but at least they exist.

Overall

7/10

Definitely not a game I’m going to hate, but might not be one that I love. I’ll give it a chance though!


Reviewer 33

Game Design and Layout

7/10

If it works, don’t fix it. Take the pops out and you’d miss nothing though and I’m NOT a fan of how janky the kickouts are if the machine isn’t set up right.

Artwork

7/10

Same impression as the Pro – colourful, vibrant, but no sense of hierarchy or importance to what you’re looking at.

Current Rules/Code

6/10

The rules don’t seem any more advanced than the Pro, but the Premium trimmings successfully hide the fact that broken down to the basics, you’ve seen everything a dozen times before. Still seems unbalanced and possible to blow the game up with one good multiball though, and the pops and Demogorgon are way underused.

Display/Animations

8/10

Projector. That’s all you need to know. Everything comes together with that projector backing it all up.

Toys/Gimmicks

7/10

It’s a gimmick rather than a toy, and precious little ‘new’ to do with the hardware (*cough* ALIEN PLAYFIELD SCREEN *cough*) but the projector makes *all* the difference because it provides what the Pro sorely lacks; any kind of focal or entry point. The story is still being told in media res, but at least now you actually *have* a story that feels like it’s got a beginning, middle and end. For the effort it takes to see it though, the Demogorgon is kind of underwhelming. I will restate what I said about the Pro though – a game based on a more recent property needs *more* features to get the players invested, not fewer.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

Notice a pattern emerging? The projector again. Even though I’ve never watched the show there’s a palpable atmosphere to the Premium that the Pro simply doesn’t have.

Lightshow

6/10

Light work. They flash different colours. They do what lights do, except anything memorable.

Music/Sound

6/10

Same with the music. It’s atmospheric, suits the tone, but five minutes after watching and I’ve already forgotten it.

Callouts

5/10

JACKPOT JACKPOT JACKPOT JACKPOT JACKPOT sorry what were we talking about again?

Overall

7/10

The Pro was merely average, the experience of spectating I likened to watching a party going on through a window that you’re not invited to. I still have no familiarity with the source material, but the Premium elevates that from ‘I don’t know what’s going on and the game doesn’t care’ to ‘I still don’t know what’s going on but I’m way more intrigued to find out’, and that alone has got to be worth an extra mark or two.


Reviewer 37

Game Design and Layout

8/10

The layout looks to be a now fairly standard fan layout from the master of the fan.  It looks to play very smoothly and shots appear to feel quite nice.  The center shots are quite deadly as drop targets in place of the motorized bank have a lot less give and faster richochet response.  The projector is really quite nice, and filmed in standard or even bright light works as well as one might expect.  Projecting onto various targets, ramps, spinners and other elements currently allows for some neat gimmicks like remembering the targets still needed, despite the bank resetting, and of course changing the meaning of shots with a mode.  It does not currently do a whole heck of a lot outside of these tricks (and projecting onto the drive-in theater screen), but I’m hopeful that over the fullness of time, more information will be added. The demogorgon is a neat touch, and I like the screen dropping onto the playfield and becoming a ramp.  I do worry about the playfield transition as the screen could become misaligned or not fully down, causing gouges in the playfield over time.  The current state of the code is ‘functional’.  It certainly does things when things happen, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of excitement in many of the modes.  This is pretty typical of the initial release of any machine, and based on the history of this company, we can certainly expect several updates that will likely improve this impression.

Artwork

6/10

It looks like the DVD release for Stranger Things.  The actual game elements look very good, but most everything else is what you might find in any retail store.

Current Rules/Code

4/10

Serviceable.  The  randomly occurring Upside Down is a fun idea!

Display/Animations

7/10

This feels difficult to rate – the display and animations are clips from the show, which I suppose is what you would want.  Like the cabinet and playfield artwork, it’s what you’d probably expect.

Toys/Gimmicks

8/10

I love the idea of using a projector to change the physical elements on a pinball machine.  Over the years, the move to RGB inserts to indicate a thing to shoot has become so rote that you hardly have to know the rules for any new machine – shoot the blinky one of the same color as the last one.  Now we could see switches and targets with their scores or other relevant information projected right onto them.  Great idea, and well executed.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

It feels like the unique pinball elements are integrated very well.  If the artwork was a bit less underwhelming this would be higher.

Lightshow

8/10

Pinball lightshows are hard to make, and I think they’ve done a good job.  More than serviceable, but not something I’m going to run out in the street and describe to the nearest passerby.

Music/Sound

8/10

At the moment, bits pulled and reorchestrated from the show, callouts by Hopper, all feel like a good use of the license.

Callouts

8/10

Custom callouts are a nice touch by one of the actors in the show.

Overall

7/10

Looks like a fun game – hopefully I’ll get to play one one day.


Reviewer 44

Game Design and Layout

6/10

On the simple side, possibly too much so. Shot geometry seems good, with the exception of the right ramp. The featured mech, while fitting of the theme, lacks the punch and wow factor it could and should have.

Artwork

6/10

Seems like a package that is built from assets already established. I would appreciate a more hand drawn style with more nods to the humor and nostalgia the show is known for. Not a complete miss, but somewhat underwhelming by today’s standards.

Current Rules/Code

5/10

Bones are in place for a fun game in the style of AfM or MM but in it lacks effective rewards for major shots to really draw in players and spectators. I have no doubt this will improve greatly. A shame that Stern’s production schedule speed requires games to be shipped in this incomplete state, and this may be one of the most blatant examples of it.

Display/Animations

9/10

Stern continues to get better and better regarding animations. Love it.

Toys/Gimmicks

6/10

The projector is viewable…but is it worth the upcharge it brings? The lock on the backboard isn’t enough to convince me it is  The demogorgan toy is impressive, but it’s hidden by the large screen that is an eyesore.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

I think the theme is effectively communicate d but the issue is the direction they decided to go with it. It is too focused on the dark side of the show and I feel that more nods to the humor and nostalgia in Stranger Things would have served it better.

Lightshow

8/10

Impressive as usual with Stern. It will probably get better.

Music/Sound

7/10

Great use of the theme song. What would push it over the top would be licensed tracks from the show. Given the cost of these machines now, that should be doable. Sound effects are good. More effective sound use to reward the player on major jackpots and accomplishments would also push it higher.

Callouts

7/10

Good? Yes. Great? Not quite.

Overall

6/10

Steve Ritchie has evolved with the Stern approach of lower costs. He has made effective use of what he has to work with. Brian Eddy has been thrusted back into a different era of pinball that requires wowing with less. Effective designers have avoided budget pitfalls with alternative shot layouts and creative use of the space they are afforded. Brian will have to change his design focus if he will add to his incredible legacy using modern games. This is fun, but not next level incredible that he is capable of when mechs are designed and implemented with zero regard for costs. Those days are sadly, over. The game needs more. The ramp, projector and other vanilla features are not the sort of gimmicks that will impress people enough to spend what is being asked.


Reviewer 53

Game Design and Layout

8/10

Overall this looks like a solid, if predictable, fan-layout design. Flow is relatively high. Main toy seems to be a bit finicky. Projector does look good. Mode-based play appears solid but the primary ball-lock on default settings seems overly easy to obtain.

Artwork

5/10

The art seems serviceable but ultimately just a step above Photoshop-montage. Clearly drawn and oversaturated (keys to winning over pinball fans) I don’t think it’s offensive but it is forgettable.

Current Rules/Code

8/10

Rules and code seem to be in a solid place for an at-launch title. The highlight appears to be the mode-based play. Less impressive is the Upside Down hurry-up mode (a bit one-trick) and the ease of obtaining the primary ball lock.

Display/Animations

10/10

Excellent use of custom animation and movie clips.

Toys/Gimmicks

8/10

Main toy is interesting but seems to reject a lot. Projector toy looks pretty good.

Theme and Theme Integration

10/10

Good integration. Having a show actor do the callouts helps a lot.

Lightshow

10/10

Lightshow is impressive.

Music/Sound

10/10

Music and sound effects are impressive.

Callouts

10/10

Callouts are great!

Overall

8/10

A decent game but overall a safe choice in a lot of ways. Beyond the projector nothing is really pushing any boundaries.


Reviewer 55

Game Design and Layout

8/10

Layout is very reminiscent of AFM, which is excellent.  Have to deduct a couple points for the frequent rejections on shots to the Demogorgon mouth and the lock.

Artwork

8/10

Solid: nothing that blows me away, nothing that looks bad.

Current Rules/Code

7/10

Rules seem easy to understand.  Seem to be some scoring imbalances; I’m sure those will be resolved.  Didn’t notice anything major in the ruleset that we haven’t seen before, other than the random start of the Upside Down (and actually, a random start feature was done in Rollergames).

Display/Animations

5/10

Main screen animations were very underwhelming… in fact, for awhile I thought something was wrong in the code, because there were (relatively) lengthy periods when the main screen was black except for the scoreboard (early part of the Stranger Things title reveal).  And just showing that slow-reveal title on the backbox screen during mainplay seemed dull.  In some modes the main screen appeared to just show a static image.

Toys/Gimmicks

9/10

Projection appeared to work really well; really enjoyed the effect on the drop targets, ramps, and spinner.  Magnet lock is a nice trick.

Theme and Theme Integration

8/10

Can’t speak to this, as I have not seen the show.

Lightshow

7/10

Fine.  Nothing unusual or exciting observed during the stream.

Music/Sound

7/10

Fine.  Science fiction-y.

Callouts

6/10

Callouts seemed limited, not many exciting / funny / surprising callouts that I noticed… only exception was “What the hell?!” on an outlane drain.

Overall

7/10

Seems like a solid game, flow looks good except for the rejections on the Demigorgon and lock.  Projector is a nice innovation.  As someone without any attachment to this theme, nothing that inspired me  Great to see Brian Eddy back in pinball… feels like he played it safe with this one, look forward to seeing his next design.


Reviewer 65

Game Design and Layout

7/10

Looks like  a very fun shooting game. The fan layout is a guarantee for good shots.

Artwork

3/10

it does the job, but its not something that really moves the needle.

Current Rules/Code

5/10

it seems like there’s enough there to be enjoyable for purchasing the game right now. It also seems as though it will be fun on location currently. I have full confidence in the team working on the game that they will only improve on the great base they have shown us.

Display/Animations

7/10

i think the animations are good. Stern has come a very long way since the started integrating LCD displays.

Toys/Gimmicks

5/10

the projector is very impressive with how its being used in a pinball machine. I think it will be a stepping stone for future game implementation. However, my appreciation for it is more of an appreciation for trying something new in pinball. I’m not sure it really makes the experience that much more enjoyable in this situation.

Theme and Theme Integration

4/10

I think it’s a great theme. However I don’t think the license was very well implemented with this game.

Lightshow

8/10

the game has a good light show! there are inserts all over the the playfield

Music/Sound

5/10

the audio is fine. The iconic theme is always a crowd pleaser.

Callouts

5/10

I guess, I would just say adequate. I know that seems flippant, but i dont know a better way to put it.

Overall

4/10

I guess I would just simply say it’s ok. I’ll play it on location, but from what I have seen it isn’t something I would consider purchasing. Given the talent of Brian Eddy and the team he had to work with, I was hoping for something more special. The layout seems boring and was probably a calculated “safe” move by stern.


Reviewer 88

Game Design and Layout

7/10

Layout reminds me of Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness which makes sense since they are both also Eddy games. Projected image looks bright enough for most rooms. “Smart targets” are fun. 3-ball magnet gimmick is interesting enough. Wondering if the constant magnetization will cause a problem especially if balls are magnetized for an entire game. Rules borrow from AFM which is a good thing since AFM is one of the best games ever made. Upside Down mode is not enough reward for huge risk with dangerous middle shots.

Artwork

6/10

Not noticeably good or bad. Though admittedly it takes a lot for me to notice the art on a game unless it helps the player line up shots. I’m more paying attention to the shots themselves.

Current Rules/Code

6/10

Can see where things will be added and where things are missing. Looks like an offshoot of Guardians , aerosmith, KISS with some tweaks.  With noticable influence from AFM and Medieval.

Display/Animations

5/10

Mostly clips from the show it appears. The ones that look custom aren’t very detailed, and some appear missing. Though, updates will remedy that.

Toys/Gimmicks

5/10

Demogorgon can be at times very difficult to shoot, needing many tries to land a ball in there. But landing one in there is satisfying. Projector images are taking the place of some images that were on the main screen for the Pro version. This makes an impression that scenes are missing. Surely they will be added via updates. Didn’t see how the projector ramps will come into play.

Theme and Theme Integration

5/10

This is a rating of N/A. I cannot rate this because I have not watched the show yet. I wanted the game to teach me the theme. I don’t get the chance to do the reverse process (play the game before seeing the theme it’s based on)  Now that I have at least played the pro version, I will begin watching the show.

Lightshow

5/10

Some shot celebrations cover up and hide the status of important lights just as what happens on other games. Especially the inlanes and the ball save light. Recently this problem has been addressed on other games (like black knight SoR). Hoping that continues with this game. Light show for demogorgon modes is presented clearly and simply. The rest are standard fare as seen in other games. Light the shots the player needs using clear inserts that could stand for anything. Hope those lights dont get hidden by the multiball lights or the Jackpot lightshow.

Music/Sound

7/10

LOVE the bonus count up music. The rest doesn’t get in the way and isn’t noticable in a bad way, so that good. I figure most of the music is taken from the show. I’ll find this out later when I watch it.

Callouts

3/10

Jackpot callouts remind me of 24 Chloe’s near emotionless repeated callout. It’s not THAT bad, but it reminds me of 24 so that’s not good as far as callouts go. Need more callouts from Sheriff WhatsHisName.

Overall

6/10

Good potential. Its standard, fan-based fun that can’t help but improve in future updates.


Reviewer 125

Game Design and Layout

9/10

I’m like fan layouts so this appeals to me. The projector is amazing. The effect really catches the eye especially on the drop targets, ramps and spinners.. I like the screen with the demogorgan behind it but it does seem like it need some tweaking to be reliable.  Game play seems decent but still hard to judge that without playing it.

Artwork

7/10

Artwork seems fine for what it is. Personally, artwork is a much lower priority in what I look for in a game. It’s nothing spectacular, but it does the job. You can see this across a room and know it’s Stranger Things.

Current Rules/Code

7/10

Rules and code, as they stand now, seem straight forward to me and easy enough to grasp for the casual player. That’s a big plus in my book. A game with deep rules yet easy to grasp basics for the novice player are the key to a good game.

Display/Animations

8/10

The display is exactly what it needs to be. The needed info is there, the animations look good. Not the best Stern has done, but they get the job done well.

Toys/Gimmicks

9/10

The demogorgan is a good toy. The lighting of it behind the screen gives accentuates it well. The projector though is the star of the show as far as gimmicks. I hope this is something that Stern finds uses for in game to come.

Theme and Theme Integration

9/10

It’s Stranger Things. Great choice by Stern. Popular license of a show that is still on and using enough assets to feel like your in the show’s universe, unlike The Walking Dead where the callouts don’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard on the show.

Lightshow

9/10

Lighting is important for this game and it’s done well. I don’t feel there is an overpowering strobing of LEDs on this like a lot of Stern games that make it difficult to see the ball. It’s tough to judge that accurately on video, but it looks perfectly suited for the mood of the theme.

Music/Sound

10/10

The music and sound is superb. The theme from the show sets the mood perfectly, the sounds of the spinner and drop targets are unique and add to that mood. Very, very well done.

Callouts

5/10

Callouts seemed a little uninspired to me. Not enough excitement or feeling. That may be by design to match the mood of the theme, but that could change as the code develops.

Overall

8/10

Overall this looks like a great game that will get dialed in with code updates and tweaks to the game. The issues with the Demogoran stuck balls and rejections will have to be addressed some how. If that happens the game is solid.


Reviewer 131

Game Design and Layout

6/10

Fan, so yawn.  Looks like an amalgam of several different older games.

Artwork

7/10

Like the color, doesn’t seem like anything particularly special.

Current Rules/Code

5/10

Definitely full of typical Lonnieisms.  Can’t think of any particularly new ideas that I saw here.

Display/Animations

6/10

I guess there’s some created 3D assets that look OK, mostly ripped directly from show.  Premium is weird that it mostly shows the title screen all the time.

Toys/Gimmicks

7/10

The projector saves this score from oblivion, though not much is really seen here that couldn’t be accomplished through actual displays.  ATM, feels mostly like wasted opportunity.  Backpanel lock interesting but not super new (Kiss), the feed to the lock looks like it’ll be a real problem.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

Not watched the show but obviously familiar.  It definitely uses assets from the show.

Lightshow

2/10

Pretty much non-existent at the moment.  Only arrows are RGB.

Music/Sound

7/10

Nothing really bad to say, but nothing really great to say either.

Callouts

4/10

It’s early, I’m sure this will get better.

Overall

6/10

Mostly disappointment Brian got teamed up with Lonnie.  Probably too early to show game, projector not nearly the wow factor I anticipated.  The concept of the projector is by far the most interesting thing in the game and it fails to sizzle.  Predict people will buy this assuming Lymanesque masterpiece down the road, and that’s not going to happen.  We’ve been at peak Lonnie for awhile.  Be prepared for Save the President to make an appearance, bank on it.


Reviewer 138

Game Design and Layout

9/10

The shots are great – It’s Eddy’s tried and true layout, which is tough to beat for flow and familiarity. The Demigorgan looks make-able when the machine is set up properly, but the ball getting stuck in the toy during game #1 on stream requiring the glass to come off was awkward. Hopefully, that’s not common.

Artwork

7/10

I’m a fan of the cabinet and backbox art. The playfield seems a little muddled, which may be due to the amazing number of inserts in this game.

Current Rules/Code

7/10

Stranger Things seems like a fast playing game, which could be good or bad depending on what you like. But couple that with a ton of modes, and it could keep the game fresh in someone’s home collection for a while.

Display/Animations

8/10

The art projected on the playfield, and what’s on the LCD looks great. Stern’s art department continues to improve with each game. We’ve come a long way from dots. No video mode seems like a miss for this game though.

Toys/Gimmicks

9/10

The projector is just flat out awesome. It’s a novel technology, and you have to give kudos to Stern for pushing the envelope, and bringing new tech to pinball. I think that a lot of worries regarding the ability to play this game in a bright room have been put to bed (the game was being played in a well lit room) – but until I see how it looks in person, it’s very hard to judge. The drop targets with Will’s name on them in flames.. so good. The stark white ramps only seem to have graphics projected on them during the modes. This is a little distracting and seems like an odd design choice – I think having something, even a simple design there, would look better.

Theme and Theme Integration

10/10

They’ve done a great job of translating the theme to a pinball game. From the art, to the sound effects / call outs, and video assets, computer graphics (which look good!), it FEELS like Stranger Things. Stranger Things can definitely be an intense show, but another aspect of it that seems to be missing from the pin are the lighthearted and kitschy moments. There’s a whole lot of running from monsters, fighting monsters, and screaming about monsters. Hopefully some more of the fun moments are coming.

Lightshow

8/10

The lights set the tone of the game well, and there are some moments of greatness (when the demigorgan appears for instance).

Music/Sound

8/10

Overall the sound in the game is well done. Use of the shows theme song, David Harbor’s call outs, clips from the show, etc. bring you into the game.

Callouts

7/10

David is a great actor, and the callouts are overall well done.  Some of his line deliveries seem underwhelming, but I want to hear them in person before passing judgement.

Overall

8/10

Brian Eddy’s Stranger Things seems like a marriage between the old and the new. With his classic layout, Eddy’s game feels familiar. Add a well integrated license, and some cool tech that’s never been used to this effect in a pin before, and you’ve got a very intriguing game from Stern Pinball. Ultimately, with the projector being such an integral part of the game, I want to personally see it in action before making a final impression.


Reviewer 142

Game Design and Layout

7/10

Fan layout so not very interesting but shoots great and is very fast  left orbit to right ramp return and burn it back loop are amazing

Artwork

8/10

Very very solid  love the LE the best.  Not the best ever, but really good

Current Rules/Code

5/10

Very basic ruleset here at the moment. Hopefully this gets deeper and more complex with age

Display/Animations

8/10

Awesome especially with the projector.  This early code and I’m very impressed. Only going to get better

Toys/Gimmicks

7/10

Ball lock is amazing love that the balls hold there until MB starts.  Demo is cool and will be better with more code.  Projector is so great. Projection mapping for the win!

Theme and Theme Integration

6/10

The game has good bones as far as theme integration. Needs many more callouts and humor inserted to make this a home run.

Lightshow

8/10

Stern is the best in the business. This game is really strong in that dept like almost all sterns.

Music/Sound

9/10

So so good and this is early code.  Thank god for their spike 2 sound system. With the LE speakers and amp this thing will thump!

Callouts

2/10

Almost non existent.  Brian confirmed on stream tons are coming and pinball browser nerds have already confirmed lots of callouts are in the code. Just need to be added.

Overall

7/10

Very excited to see how this game turns out, and there’s lots to keep you busy while the game matures.


Reviewer 151

Game Design and Layout

4/10

[deleted personal attack]  It shoots fine, but where are the toys?  So much source material that could have made for interesting mechs/design in this game.  That big Demogorgan toy is Brian Eddy’s toy return to pinball after 20 years?  [deleted vulgarity]  Feels uninspired and poorly thought out.

Artwork

2/10

Washed out crap.  It’s not bad, but it’s not great.  [deleted vulgarity] 

Current Rules/Code

3/10

What exactly is the player doing?  After watching the stream, I’m utterly confused by the purpose of this game.  Nothing is guiding the player through. And the ramp coding is embarrassingly poor.  Most of the time, nothing is projected there, you have just blank stickers looking at you.

Display/Animations

2/10

Animations / Displays are all over the place [deleted personal attack] .  It’s like they tried to make it 80’s and in doing so it looks so OBVIOUS vs originally well thought out display.

Toys/Gimmicks

1/10

This game looks like Toys R Us on its last day.  The day the shelves were empty and Geoffrey had his suitcase out and [deleted vulgarity]”  There are no toys in this game.  The ball lock looks totally unsatisfying.  The Demogorgon shot is sterile and unimpressive. They went all in on the projector, which doesn’t add anything to gameplay or the physical fun of pinball we all love. [deleted personal attack]   Just doesn’t add much and took all of the BOM away from actually making cooler stuff for this game.

Theme and Theme Integration

1/10

Theme and theme integration should not be one category combined.  Theme is AMAZING.  Stern integrated it like crap. You literally could drop any theme onto this uninspired layout, put a generic bash toy behind the ramp and call it a day.  None of the ST world is brought to life.  They just rely on the THEME SONG to make you think you’re in the ST world.

Lightshow

3/10

Lots of lights.  Lots of inserts.  But go play TNA or POTC to see what a good light show is.  When everything in this game lights up, I feel dead inside.  It’s 2020, Stern can’t invest in full color RGB lights?  Come on Gary….pony up.

Music/Sound

10/10

Best part of this game.  It sounds incredible.

Callouts

1/10

What callouts?  [deleted vulgarity] Stern needs to direct these actors to actually ACT when they do the phrases.  He says JACKPOT with as much enthusiasm as[deleted personal attack] .

Overall

2/10

Unfinished, uninspired, unoriginal game.  Think about it like this…if Medieval Madness were made like this…it would have been a Static Castle Image on that big wall and the ramp would drop down to bash a big troll head.  Now think about how much that would suck.  Take away the THEME and this is one of the most pedestrian attempts at Stern in a long time.  I love Brian Eddy. Own all his games.  What happened here?


Reviewer 158

Game Design and Layout

5/10

After a 20+ year hiatus of Brian Eddy the expectations were very strong for this new title  and this game falls short. I applaud Stern for introducing some  new technology with the projection mapping but it’s quite literally underwhelming with relying on this versus some real ball interaction mechanisms .   The pro is a complete turd with just a four bank drop target set and the  up/down ramp they should’ve at least included the magnet on the back board. The premium LE is simply relying too much on the projection as the wow factor and it falls short.

Artwork

6/10

Decent.  But the game already looks dated because of the use of the images of the children in the first season .

Current Rules/Code

5/10

With the license being included with only season one and two this was a mistake it should’ve been at least kept current with season three which is probably the best and shows the kids at a later stage of their timeline.  It’s missing the shopping mall and the Neverending story song and theme which would’ve been fantastic in this game . So the game already looks dated .

Display/Animations

8/10

Love the retro D&D 80’s goodness

Toys/Gimmicks

5/10

Give props to Stern for trying new technology with projection mapping but I think it falls short,  the game looks barren and there’s simply not enough there compared to other games that have better mechanisms and design .

Theme and Theme Integration

5/10

It’s a great show,  third season is the best which is not included in this game.  Simply put some things or do not translate that well to Pinball . As far as last ability I don’t think this one will stay high on the list  for home use .

Lightshow

8/10

Good

Music/Sound

7/10

It’s hard to beat David Thiel, And this game is lacking for sure in the sound department.

Callouts

5/10

Where’s the humor.

Overall

6/10

Pass. Too much money and time was spent for projection mapping technology not enough in mechanical action toys. This is definitely Brian Eddy’s weakest game in his arsenal.


Reviewer 163

Game Design and Layout

7/10

Like the kickout from the left saucer and the jump ramp. Don’t like the high similarity to older Eddy games or the drop target bashing.

Artwork

7/10

As expected

Current Rules/Code

4/10

Some major features not yet implemented, and many things feel “the same” across the game.

Display/Animations

8/10

A lot of things still to build, but the projector seems to work well in the dark.

Toys/Gimmicks

5/10

Not much. Ramp is fun, but the gobbly thing isn’t (rejects a lot). Left ramp magnet lock seems like a big problem for multiplayer.

Theme and Theme Integration

6/10

Lack of Season 3 assets is big problem. Implementation of “Upside Down” concept doesn’t feel right. Projector adds a lot.

Lightshow

8/10

Projector!

Music/Sound

7/10

Seems alright, hard to judge.

Callouts

4/10

Custom callouts don’t seem to grab.

Overall

6/10

I wonder how the projector will really do, in the long term. It’s a big concept that makes or breaks the Premium.


Reviewer 165

Game Design and Layout

6/10

Familiar looking layout and relatively safe, with the exception being the ramp that drops down to bash the Demogorgon.  Time will tell how reliable and consistent that shot will be.

Artwork

5/10

Over-saturated and underwhelming, but gets the job done.

Current Rules/Code

7/10

Rule structure is easy to follow but still looks deep enough for more advanced players.  The Telekinesis Multiball seems almost repetitive, but there is good variation with the modes to keep things fresh.

Display/Animations

8/10

The pinks and purples don’t seem to fit well on some of the animations, but overall the animations are a highlight and well integrated.

Toys/Gimmicks

8/10

Kudos to Stern for trying something new with the projection mapping which looked really well done and should look even better in person.  One complaint about the projection mapping is the ramps seemed bare and should have something projected on them even when the game is not in a mode.  Destroying the Demogorgon is a better moment with the new code, and will hopefully be a consistent and reliable shot.  The physical ball lock on the back of the game is not getting mentioned much with the cool bash toy and the new projection mapping getting most of the attention, but it is one of the best implemented physical ball locks in all of pinball.

Theme and Theme Integration

9/10

This is a huge license.  The integration is different than what I was expecting how I would’ve done it – it lacks the humor from the show and could’ve been a more nostalgic with the 80s vibe – but it is still pulled off really well.  The sound and assets draw you into the Stranger Things world.

Lightshow

5/10

Nothing stands out about the lightshow except for the Upside Down mode, which is a cool feature with the lighting.

Music/Sound

9/10

Getting the main theme song for Stranger Things was a must, and the sound effects are well done.  Music and Sound are definitely a highlight.

Callouts

9/10

Though he sounds a little bit un-enthused in a lot of the callouts we’ve heard so far, getting the actor that played Jim Hopper (David Harbour) to do custom callouts is a home run.

Overall

7/10

Rule structure, theme integration, and unique toys/gimmicks are very intriguing.  Biggest concern with the game is the consistency and reliability of the demogorgon ramp shot.  Looking forward to playing this soon.


Reviewer 166

Game Design and Layout

9/10

I like fan layouts.  I think they offer quite a bit in the way of shot combinations and they provide lots of “bang for the buck” for the number of shot combo’s that can fit on a playfield and be utilized by code.  The use of the inserts is excellent, as at any time, it is very easy to understand current status and what remains to be done for combo/mode/super completion, etc.

Artwork

6/10

Overall, I feel the artwork is probably one of my least favorite aspects of the game.  This is due to it being too “photoshop” looking for my taste (mainly the backbox and cabinet artwork here) but I do give good marks for the playfield artwork, as it looks well-done and is the most “inspired” aspect of the machine’s artwork.  Truth be told, I don’t really anticipate having to see Eleven’s bleeding nose every time I walk into my gameroom with this game on front/center display.   As with many of Stern’s offerings, I find myself wanting to “mix/match” the artwork from all 3 trim levels to create the “best” package (take the lettering on the front of the cabinet on the Pro, use the sides, backbox and art blades of the LE and the translite of the Premium) to pay better homage to everything the theme has to offer.

Current Rules/Code

7/10

I give Stern credit for everything they have included to this point.  The game looked to be fun and easily understood. The fact that they have built in capabilities not yet completely implemented (a shaker on the Demogorgon, for example) that are just now coming into use in new code shows where they can take the game.  What was shown in the stream did feel a bit “basic” at this time, but I am confident with the integration of the Upside Down and additional wizard modes, we’ll see this game get very deep over time.  The whole concept of the “MXV secret skill shot” is the type of thing that excites me, as there’s likely so much more here that can be done with the code given the assets, inserts and number of shots that are on the playfield.

Display/Animations

9/10

Good score here.  I do love how the projector screen is being used throughout gameplay to compliment the LCD screen as it makes it MUCH easier to understand what has been done and needs to be done.

Toys/Gimmicks

10/10

There is no question on this – they have outdone themselves on this aspect of the game.  Innovation abounds on this title (for the Premium/LE trim) and this is exactly what pinball needs to continue to innovate.  The projector screen(s) are impressive and they integrate well with gameplay.  The Demogorgon, though being a “one trick pony” at this time will hopefully expand to do and provide more aspects of mode play as code develops.  The use of the projector is very innovative; having different displays on the drop targets and ramps will give this machine long staying power because these static elements can be re-used for different modes, etc. and the game likely won’t “get old” feeling very quickly due to potential depth.

Theme and Theme Integration

9/10

The best I’ve seen in recent games, second only to Black Knight for innovation and good use of theme as it ties to the playfield, the display and animations.

Lightshow

8/10

With so many inserts on the playfield, I was impressed with how much we saw at the current code level and the capability this machine will eventually have for an impressive light show is really unmatched in recent games.  I think that Stern has the opportunity here to further develop this to the point it could be on the level of TNA for innovative use of all assets.

Music/Sound

9/10

Love the music and sound.  It really brings home the feel of the show.  Stern did a great job on this.

Callouts

6/10

For what we heard, I really liked where it sits, but I grade it on where I feel it currently is vs. what potential it has.  I do hope that Stern can go back to the show well and pull hundreds of additional callouts from different episodes to use for additional modes.  They have a lot of material here, so this game should only improve there over time.

Overall

8/10

Overall, I love what I’ve seen.  Artwork style aside, I’m a fan of most everything I’ve seen.  I’m looking forward to playing the game on location soon.  I’m not immediately decided on whether I’ll buy this for my home collection, but if I were to base that decision on everything offered, it will be in the running as the value vs. money ratio is high so I’m expecting this game to only get better over time.


Reviewer 175

Game Design and Layout

5/10

This game is bear bones for a theme like this. Eddy played it safe with this layout. I also feel that Eddy would have done more, but knew he couldn’t do certain things due to the projector. I feel that this theme was designed with the projector in mind as the sole seller – which currently gives a lot of limitations to what the designer is able to do with the playfield. Designing a game around a gimmick that isn’t fully working is a bad idea in my opinion.  I do enjoy the left orbit that feeds the right ramp. The drop targets have become a fear factor to play against due to the probability of a rebound to SDTM. There is very little kinetic satisfaction to this title. So therefore we need a more visual and audible reward from the game when we accomplish a task.

Artwork

7/10

The art on this looks VERY close to clip art, but with an added “posterize” filter to the images. That gives it a more hand drawn LOOK, but in the end falls a little short of what would have been better. I feel the colors are too bright for such a dark theme too.

Current Rules/Code

4/10

Where do I begin? The code is what makes it really obvious that Stern rushed this game out the door. This can all be fixed down the road, but it is becoming common practice to see “Get it out the door – we will fix it in post” operation. Simple things can be done to this code to give the player better satisfaction, but the current code isn’t providing that.

Display/Animations

8/10

Kudos to the animation team. The animations are good. No complaints.

Toys/Gimmicks

3/10

I’m glad that Stern is starting to expand on tech, but they attempted on a theme that deserves better. I foresee this game not selling as well as Stern would expect. Maybe their next attempt at a projector will be improved(if they decide to another one). As of the current state? The projector is nothing more than a way to project images and video to designated spots, but gives very little reaction to shots. P2K gave us much more integration than this gimmick. The Demo in the center is the basic of basic toys. Non-moving with an LED to illuminate the mouth. clap, clap, clap (sarcastically) Why not attach a solenoid to the demo to make him violently wail in pain when you make contact or land the shot in his mouth? That would be awesome. People compare this game to AFM – so go full blown mechanical copy wise with the single solenoid to make the demo move. This title deserved better.

Theme and Theme Integration

2/10

This is probably the worst integration I have seen from Stern in a while. If you have a giant movie screen in the middle of the playfield – at least have it there because of a particular scene from the show. There is no reason to have the screen there except to show off the projector tech. The ONLY item that makes the game Stranger Things is the demogorgon behind the screen. Change the demo to a T-Rex and now its Jurassic Park?

Lightshow

6/10

Lots of inserts. Maybe too much, but it helps with lighting up the game.

Music/Sound

7/10

No complaints.

Callouts

6/10

I’m getting tired of hearing “Jackpot” in the same monotone voice.

Overall

5/10

Quickly rushed out the door, and it shows. This game will be on the resell pages sooner than expected. Premiums will not do well, and LE’s are still available. The game would sell better if the focus was more on design than the damn gimmick projector. Here is to hoping that Stern will slow down and stop trying to figure out what is the minimal amount of items they can put into a game that will sell, and more on what do the customers want.


Reviewer 189

Game Design and Layout

8/10

Lots of elements from classic games. MM, AfM, RfM, BBB, T2, HS2, Twister and LotR come to mind. Can’t go wrong with that.

Artwork

7/10

Looks OK, reminds me of Sega games from the 90s (which is not a compliment)

Current Rules/Code

5/10

Need a lot more code. Scoring is currently very unbalanced. Use of the projector is very underused and should have lots of possibilities.

Display/Animations

8/10

They look good, but could use more variations

Toys/Gimmicks

7/10

Nothing that wows me, although I do see potential for the projector if executed properly. The bash toy is rather mediocre and needs to be adjusted properly. I played the game at a tradeshow and for 2 days nobody could make the shot to shoot the ball through the toy. That’s currently blocking the game from advancing, which is not a good thing.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

Not familiar with the theme, so no idea how well it’s integrated

Lightshow

6/10

Other companies have way better lightshows. Stern is years behind on that.

Music/Sound

8/10

I guess the sounds match the theme, but it may not be the best music for pinball.

Callouts

7/10

What’s there seems to be OK, but it needs more.

Overall

8/10

This has the potential to become a good game, but it will take a lot of code. The projector has potential. Not just for this game, but for many future games. If I were Stern, I’d put it on every game from now on and make that something to stand out. In regards to this game: it needs more humor too.


Reviewer 200

Game Design and Layout

8/10

The layout may not be new or innovative, but it does use a proven design that has remained at the top of the charts for quite some time.  I can already tell that I will have fun shooting it and it will keep me coming back for more games.

Artwork

6/10

The artwork looks good and is identifiable to the theme.  Just seeing it through video doesn’t leave me wanting to look deep into it.  I doubt that I will stare at it for long periods like I do on other machines that provide more depth in the art.

Current Rules/Code

8/10

The rules look to be familiar to Brian Eddy’s other classics but with the added level of modes.  I think that adds just the right amount of depth without going too far.  This is a game I feel that I will be able to fully comprehend what is going on and be drawn back to.

Display/Animations

6/10

The display and animations on the backbox seem to be adequate but now wow-inspiring.  I really like some of the animations used from the projection system onto the playfield that indicates shots.  That should be really informative and more obvious then just lit inserts.  I would like to see that used more for each of the modes.  It only seems that was on one or two at this point.

Toys/Gimmicks

6/10

The demogorgon toy does look like fun and could be quite a challenge.  I am worried that it might be too challenging to the point that it would get frustrating.  I will need to see how the projection works in real life to get a better feel for it, but I think it has enough potential at this point that I will give them extra credit for the innovation.  With just the demogorgon as the main toy it makes the game seem sparse.  It would have been nice to see some more molds to help with that.  I don’t know, maybe the projection images give you enough sense that there are things on the playfield that it will make up for that in real life.

Theme and Theme Integration

7/10

Stranger Things as a theme is a great idea for pinball.  It offers plenty of opportunities for storylines and locations to be used in the modes/multiballs.  I do worry that this theme might not be one that lasts through the ages like some others, but that is really all dependent on how well future seasons of the show do.  I already worry after the 3rd season that it will drop off in popularity quickly.

Lightshow

5/10

Nothing from the lightshow left much impression on me.  It being a darker theme may play to that, but it feels like there hasn’t been much effort in using the inserts/flashers in a appealing way.  They have probably been more focused on the projection display.

Music/Sound

9/10

The music and sounds are great!  They set the mood and are very consistent with the show.  The one complaint I do have is that there are some pretty jarring transitions in some of the modes to music that doesn’t continue the theme as well.

Callouts

5/10

I wasn’t very impressed with the callouts.  It was great that they got the character, Chief Hopper, to do them, but I would have preferred any of the kids to him.  I relate more to the kids and they are the main focus of much of the show.

Overall

7/10

Overall, this is a decent comeback for Brian Eddy with a proven layout.  I am sure it will be fun to play and will attract folks to it when out at locations.  I doubt that this will be in a lot of collectors homes though.  It feels too much like Eddy’s classics for very many to want to invest in it.


Disclaimer: Any articles, interviews, or mentions of pinball manufacturers or pinball products is NOT an endorsement.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x