AUST IN DEPTH
Now showing at the Casino arcade in central London, Stern's latest game is Austin Powers. It is priced at 3 games for £1 or 7 games for £2.
When you move round to the front, though, the sight isn't so impressive.
The backglass is illuminated by a single strip light and the result, as you can see above, is a very unevenly lit. You miss out on the shapely delights of Heather Graham. Even the Stern logo is barely visible in the gloom.
If you've looked at the pictures elsewhere on the Pinball News site, you may be surprised by how open the playfield is in reality.
There are up-posts fitted above each outlane and a centre up-post, but on this game none of them were working.
There's been quite a lot of comment about the quality of the artwork, and in particular the printing. The backglass has a strange brush effect as you can see in a blown-up section below.
Anyway, lets get to the gameplay.
When you press the start button, you immediately score 570 points when the game kicks out the first ball. This is before the skill shot, so it seems a bit strange to have scored points before you've actually done anything. It also looks odd on the display , since the display font isn't the clearest and it looks a bit like "STO" next to the skill shot animation.
There is a nice musical loop playing before you launch the ball, at which point the main theme takes over.
The skill shot itself is a simple choice of 2 rollover lanes. You have to put the ball through the flashing one, but you can change the lanes with the flipper buttons in the usual manner.
The plunger is a manual one with an auto plunger under game control.
The slingshot kickers aren't very strong either, which means that the ball spends a lot of time bouncing around. This is enhanced by the significant amount of rubber in the area above the outlanes. It means that you have to give the game a moderate amount of nudging to save outlane drains.
You have to be careful not to nudge too much, of course, or you might get a tilt. On this game a tilt can be a severe penalty indeed. In one game, ball one was nudged just a bit too much (despite surviving a deathsave) and the game tilted. There was a very long wait of about 30s before the game did a ball search and kicked out the ball from the toilet lock.
It then put up ball two and immediately tilted and after another 30 second wait it also tilted away ball three and ended the game.
Bad enough, but after waiting a minute or two, it immediately tilted all three balls of the next game too.
A vigorous shake and it played fine, so I guess the tilt sensor can get stuck and ruin the game.
Starting all six lights Virtucon Multiball, while completing all six lights Moonbase Multiball wizard mode. The count of the number of shots is carried over between balls so it's not too difficult to get to Virtucon Multiball, but Moonbase Multiball takes some hard work to achieve.
There was a slight bug noticed
when starting the Evil Henchmen mode. As it is started from the right
loop shot, the ball loops back to the flippers and it is possible to
make another right loop fairly quickly. Even though it is lit, it is
usually not awarded if shot too quickly.
The centre right scoop awards mystery prizes and starts Mojo mode when Dr Evil rises up from the playfield in front of the Time Machine.
There is the usual problem with Sega games and to some extent with Stern's that the sound samples are very repetitive. Hit the same target and you'll always get the same sample. This is becoming less true with every new game and there is a good range of sound clips in this one. Some are impressively long too and potentially very embarrassing when they're played very loud (imagine playing when someone passes by to be greeted with a loud "Do I make you HORNY baby? Do I?). However, it's clear that they are all taken from the two Austin Powers films, so in situations where there is no suitable sample, they are noticeable by their absence.
You won't get any sound for a ball save (or any display effect either), nor for a Shoot Again situation. Perhaps they could have used a "Shag Again"?
Obviously there aren't many occurrences of the word "Multiball" in the films so you wont find any suitable intros here either. I guess the project budget didn't stretch to getting Mike Myers in to record some unique samples.
We've pointed out some of the good points and bad points, but in essence Austin Powers is a fun game to play. Obviously you need to like the theme and if you do you should get a kick out of some of the sounds and display effects.
And speaking of the display, it's worth making a special mention of the high quality of the visuals. There are a few standard Sega-looking frames but the custom work is very attractive and well integrated.
There are some nicely generous timers for the modes, so you still get a couple of seconds at the end to make a final shot for the jackpot.
One slightly naughty bug spotted was the display in attract mode advertising a replay at 50M when in fact the game awarded an extra ball instead.
...a purely selfish plea.
Could we have 1 more letter for the high-score table name please!
© Pinball News 2002