Welcome to this second part of our in-depth look at Family Guy. In the first part we examined the game's hardware and artwork, so we will look at the game rules, the dots, the audio and the overall package in this article. The split is deliberate because the game being reviewed is not the finished product and the areas examined here are those most likely to change as more features and rules are added to the code.
With that out of the way, we've pressed start, the score has magically increased to 10 points, the ball is waiting in the shooter lane, what do we go for?
The skill shot is to shoot the lower of the four F-A-R-T drop targets. Doing so scores 500K for the first ball, 600K the second time, 700K the third and so on. Making the shot also earns you one of a series of quotes from Peter or Brian. The variety means you don't keep getting the same quote over and over every time you make the skill shot which is a promising start.
At the start of the ball, the centre post is raised and a ball saver begins.
When the centre post is raised by the Death target there is no ball saver but there is one at the start of each ball and at the start of the various multiballs.
When the ball returns to the flippers you have four major features to choose from - TV modes, Beer Can modes, Fart Multiball and Stewie Pinball. We'll look at each of them in order.
There are five TV modes displayed in the familiar position just above the flippers.
The TV modes are started at the TV scoop but have to be qualified first by shooting the Lois spinner on the right side of the playfield. The best way to do this is directly up the Lois lane but you can also get a couple of helper spins from the super jackpot lane as it exits through the spinner.
The first mode requires 25 spins to qualify, increasing by 10 spins for each subsequent TV mode. That's quite a lot of spins so you're going to have to make a few Lois shots each time before playing another mode or use the 2X Lois in the left inlane. That makes a refreshing change from a game with a single shot qualifier where it's qualify>start mode>qualify>start mode... ad nauseam.
If you shoot the TV scoop before qualifying the TV mode - or having anything else lit there - you get this Addams-esque message.
When you've made the requisite number of shots, putting the ball in the TV scoop starts the TV mode with an announcement from Action 5 News. Anchorman Tom Tucker gives a witty summary of the scene before the mode actually begins.
In a nice touch, you don't always get the same quote for a specific mode - there appeared to be two or more different introductions to each mode.
All the modes are timed, although Seamus will sometimes award you more time if you hit the pirate target when lit.
You cannot stack TV modes and can only start counting down spins towards the next mode once the previous one has finished. So here are the five TV modes available.
This mode relates to the episode where the Griffins relocate to the deep south as part of the witness relocation program. Peter and Brian become the Sheriff and Deputy but manage to insult the locals who then try to chase the family out of town.
The aim is to shoot the loops and ramp to keep fleeing from the angry townsfolk. Each shot scores 500K and you have nice, lengthy 30 seconds to play this mode.
A truck of toxic waste spills all over the Griffins empowering them with a raft of super hero abilities. Stewie can move objects by thought, Brian has incredible speed, Chris can produce fire with his hands, Peter can morph into different shapes, Lois has super strength while Meg has the ability to grow her finger nails rapidly.
Each character is worth 800K, increasing by 100K for each shot.
A video mode in a Pat Lawlor game? Yes it's true, or at least it was for a while, since it's since been removed from the code. What started as a man dressed as a chicken giving Peter an expired discount coupon, quickly degraded into several minutes of punching, gouging, clawing and pecking across trucks, ships, helicopters and skyscrapers in the great chicken fight scene.
In the previous version of this mode, the dot matrix display showed the chicken on the left and Peter on the right. Both had "life bars" running along the bottom of the screen. Your flipper buttons controlled the punches of both the chicken and Peter with the loser being the one with no life left. The left flipper button, when pressed at the correct time, softened the chicken's blows while pressing the right button at just the right moment boosted the power of Peter's blow. A normal hit by the chicken dropped Peter's strength by 3, but a softer one only reduced it by 1. Conversely, Peter's hits sapped the chicken by 1 life point unless powered-up to take 3 points away.
It's understandable how this mode has now changed to become a frenzy-type feature since the video mode rapidly became repetitious and was easily mastered, leading to tedium and unbalanced scoring.
So now it's a timed frenzy mode with all switches scoring although we have yet to see this in action.
At last, Stewie gets to don his sailor's cap and be chased around the house by a gaggle of semi-naked women in a Benny Hill-style caper. In other words, it's a sexy party.
All the major shots - Meg, Chris, Evil Monkey ramp, Super jackpot lane and Lois score 300K. Hit Stewie to increase the value by 50K.
This relates to one of the more disgusting scenes from Family Guy where Peter acquires eight crates of Ipecac and he, Chris, Brian and Stewie drink it in a contest to see who can go the longest without vomiting to win the last slice of pie in the refrigerator. After partaking of the Ipecac, they sit in the lounge awaiting the inevitable.
Shoot Peter, Brian, Chris or Stewie to make them vomit and collect 250K. It's degrading, it's disgusting, but it's also very funny, especially with the accompanying sound effects.
In this revision, it was a little confusing which mode was about to start once you've shot the TV. The inserts normally show the completed modes - lit solidly, the unplayed modes - unlit, and the next mode - flashing. When the TV is shot and the mode intro animation is started, the appropriate insert is immediately lit solidly and the flashing moved on to show the next mode. If you've already played several modes and the display is busy showing other stuff, there's no indication which mode you're currently in. Hopefully that will be changed.
When you've completed all five TV modes there's something good awaiting you, right? Well, there probably is in the final version of the software but in this one, the final mode brought a 10M point TV bonus and that was all.
So those are the TV modes. The next features to play are the Beer Can modes.
Beer Can Modes
Shooting the ball at Brian on the beer can scores a hit which both counts down towards the next beer can mode, and counts up for your beer can total, collected in one of the modes.
The first Beer Can mode requires 5 beer can hits, the next one 6 and so on. The currently lit mode is changed by the pop bumpers. When you reach the required number of hits, the mode just starts with Brian shuffling across the screen on his backside as the introduction. You don't need to shoot the scoop or trap the ball anywhere, so it's easy not to notice the beer can mode is running.
So what are the modes?
This works like the Hitchhiker mode in Twilight Zone. You collect points for each beer can hit so far in the game and the running total is kept across balls (but not across games). You get 12K points per hit and the total is then reset.
This is Quagmire's chance to shine and he does so at the pop bumpers by setting them all to maximum scoring, after all, if there's one thing Quagmire likes it's scoring. Thereafter, pop bumper hits earn you a "Giggity" sound effect.
This is a potential bonanza for strategy fans as it's a timed 2X scoring feature. You get 20 seconds of double points while, if you drain during it Peter tells you "Only a jackass would leave happy hour early ".
One of the key features of the Family Guy show is the flashback to the time something especially stupid happened. Well, this is the equivalent in the game.
Peter says a comment starting "Remember when..." recalling an story about one member of the family. This starts a hurry up at that person's shot. The hurry up begins at 3M points and quickly counts down to 750K where it holds for a while before timing out. Collect the hurry up and the mode ends.
The final beer can mode is the delightfully named Lard Multiball. I'm not sure exactly what this mode references, perhaps the episode where Peter crashes into a vat of Lard which he swallows, but in that one he's already been made thin by liposuction so the lard only restores him to normal. So it's probably a bit of that and the episode where he becomes severely obese after being out of work for so long.
Whatever the reference, this is a 2 ball multiball with the possibility of further balls being added from the Pirate target award.
The captive balls are lit for jackpots along with Chris and Meg and it continues until you are down to one ball.
Completing all the beer can modes does nothing special in this version other than turn off all the lit inserts so you can play them again.
So those are the beer can modes. The next feature is Fart Multiball.
Although it hasn't been stated anywhere, this multiball probably has a different name in the more family-friendly settings and the decals on the drop targets spelling out F-A-R-T can probably be changed.
There is also no reference to Fart Multiball printed on the playfield, only a generic "Multiball".
Starting Fart Multiball is really quite easy and only involved knocking down the four F-A-R-T drop targets three times. Each hit on the targets also generates a fart sound to give added cues when you've made the shot.
The playfield inserts shown above keep track of how many more times you need to complete the drops and once you've done it three times the multiball just starts. This can be during other TV or beer can modes which makes for some strategic planning.
During the 3-ball Fart Multiball, you need to hit a preset number of targets to score the jackpot. Initially it's 25 shots and you get a ball saver (but not the centre post) for several seconds.
Making the required number of hits and so scoring the jackpot shot gets you this scene (actually taken from the Super Griffins episode where Peter makes Chris use his fire making skills for his amusement).
After collecting a jackpot you then need to make an increased number of switches for the next jackpot.
When all but one ball drains, Fart Multiball ends but it's not too hard to start it off again by hammering those drops.
Fart multiball can run alongside any TV or beer can modes, so that means it can co-exist with Lard multiball since they use different shots for jackpots.
The final big feature is the game's main toy and so it has to be accessible to all but the very poorest player, but not made so easy to achieve that it becomes repetitive or dominates the main gameplay.
This is the game played on the mini playfield but you have to qualify it before you're allowed to play. It's not exactly difficult and if you manage to keep the ball in play for more than a minute you'll probably have lit it by then, but it's not handed to you on a plate by being lit at the start of the game.
Stewie Pinball is a timed feature but the amount of time you have is built up during regular play by hitting the two white Stewie targets.
You time begins at around 15 seconds but each target hit adds 1 second and hitting both adds 2 seconds. That time sits in the bank until you start playing the feature.
Qualifying Stewie Pinball is simply a matter of hitting either captive ball to add letters to the word P-I-N-B-A-L-L.
P-I-N-B-A-L-L letters can also be awarded by Seamus from the pirate target.
Adding a letter produces a nice animation of Stewie shooting the appropriate letter with his ray gun.
Completing the letters gets you a quote from Peter saying "It's time to play Stewie Pinball. Shoot the TV" and the display keeps returning to the menacing face of Stewie to remind you to play the feature.
Once lit, Stewie Pinball overrides any TV mode lit at the scoop but you can start other features such as Beer Can modes, Crazy Chris or Fart Multiball. If you begin a multiball mode, Stewie Pinball is disabled until the multiball ends.
Shooting the TV scoop when Stewie Pinball is lit traps the ball and starts the feature.
It begins with the model of Stewie turning round to face the player, saying a humorous quote and then turning to face his mini-playfield.
This is fine the first few times you play Stewie Pinball, but after that you just want to get on with the game, but sadly all play is suspended until Stewie has said his piece and turned around.
When that has happened, flipper control transfers to the mini-playfield and your target is to make shots to complete all the letters spelling out the names of the other five family members.
Brian letters come from shooting the left loop, Meg is a small standup target to the left of centre, Peter is another standup at the top centre, Lois is the ramp shot while Chris is the reverse loop.
The display shows your score in the centre, the time remaining above it, and the letters for each family member around the edge. Unlit letters are shown dimmed, lit letters are full brightness.
Shooting any of the shots on the mini-playfield adds a letter to the character's name and scores points. You get 100K x letter number, so it's 100K for the first letter, 200K for the second and so on. If they are already lit it scores the number of points for the final letter + 100K instead.
It's tempting to just flail away on the mini playfield and that's a reasonable strategy initially but you have to remember the timed element of the game.
The time you have built up doesn't limit your playing time, it is actually the time for the ball saver. For as long as you have time left on the clock, the insert between the mini-flippers flashes and a drained ball will be relaunched, but once it runs out you're into sudden death and losing the ball ends the feature.
The most dangerous shots are Meg and Peter, so it makes sense to try for those first while the ball saver is still operating. Once you've go those, backhand the remaining three shots - Brian, Lois and Chris, as they're fairly safe if you miss.
Completing a family member not only scores a hefty award depending on the number of letters in their name, but multiplies all scoring on the mini-playfield until the feature ends. Completing one member doubles scoring, while completing a second triples scoring.
Completed family members are also shown down on the main playfield although the usefulness of having them displayed here is doubtful unless it later ties in with some kind of wizard mode.
As you can see, those points awards become quite impressive after a while. The display doesn't show the family members in their respective order across the mini-playfield which is a little odd.
Triple scoring seemed to be the maximum multiplier available which is probably just as well as completing all family members in one go gives around 10 million points which is a significant score.
If you fail to collect all family members before the time runs out and the ball drains, you are given your points total, Stewie turns to you to say something sarcastic and then eventually the main ball is kicked out so regular play can continue. Again, the pause in play is irritating when you're keen to resume play.
Lit letters on the mini-playfield are carried over to the next time you play and you can also get family members completed as an award from the Pirate target, so after a few plays of Stewie Pinball you're going to complete it.
When you do, the flippers die and you get straight into Stewie Multiball.
Stewie turns round and says a quote about how both playfields are his now. A ball saver begins on both playfields and a 4-ball multiball begins on the main playfield with all jackpot shots lit while the mini-playfield is also active for the duration of multiball.
A good strategy here seems to be to allow the balls to drain on the main playfield for the duration of the ball saver and concentrate on making the more difficult shots - Meg and Peter - on the mini-playfield. Trapping the ball on the main flippers during multiball will often do likewise on the mini-flippers making the loop and ramp shots easier to set up.
It's a fun mode and the novelty of playing both playfields at once makes for some interesting shot choices. Ultimately, there's always a ball saver on the mini-playfield so your attention should be mainly directed to keeping the balls in play on the main playfield.
Presumably there is some kind of super jackpot for completing Stewie Pinball during Stewie Multiball but sadly the skill needed to achieve it was lacking during this play session.
When the penultimate ball drains on the main playfield Stewie Multiball ends and the mini-playfield shuts down until the next Stewie Pinball feature.
If those are the four main areas of the game - TV Modes, Beer Can Modes, Fart Multiball and Stewie Pinball - there are several other cool modes and features to play and collect.
The Death drop target is right next to the Chris lane and is enabled at the start of each ball.
Knocking it down is easily accomplished from any of the three main flippers and doing so gives you a "Great! Now the whole world is laughing at me" quote, scores 250K + 25K per extra hit and - most importantly - raises the centre up-post between the flippers for a few seconds.
The quote - taken from the time Death breaks his ankle chasing Peter, making everyone in the world immortal while he is incapacitated - is repeated every time the target is made, which is a lot. This make it the most annoying quote and it either needs a few alternatives, muting some of the time or a less irritating sound effect replacement.
When the timer for the up-post starts to run out, you get the sound of four tolls of the bell. On the fourth toll the post drops and there's final quote from Death saying "so long".
The Death drop target is reset by a ball rolling through the inner left inlane, something that happens a lot, especially during multiball modes, so the up-post appears quite frequently through the game, prolonging ball time. It's a mixed blessing though, and always dangerous to rely on it being there when you need it. But the post does set up shots to Meg and Lois nicely, so use it when you can safely do so.
And talking of Meg, despite not featuring much in the game's modes, she is useful as the shot that relights the Pirate standup target.
Seamus - the pirate with wooden arms and legs - is represented with a standup target to the left of the TV scoop and gives helper awards during regular play, modes and multiballs along with a quote or two.
As mentioned before, it's a good idea to keep him lit and use his awards for more time or added balls when needed to your best advantage.
The Evil Monkey hiding in his closet taunts Chris relentlessly in the TV show and features in the game too. He lives over the ramp on a drop-down flap, scoring increasing points and building towards Crazy Chris mode.
Shooting Chris drops the Evil Monkey target over the ramp and advances the points value for collecting it.
Collecting the Evil Monkey award gives you the classic accusatorial pointing display.
When not lit for the Evil Monkey award, there is a running total of ramp shots with an extra ball being awarded at 6 ramps and then at 50 ramps although these numbers can change depending on difficulty settings and award percentages set in the menus.
Extra balls can also be awarded from the Drunken Clam and are collected at the left captive ball. It's easy to miss this since the insert is a regular white colour and not the normal orange used for extra ball targets. An orange lamp in here would cure that problem.
Be careful shooting this captive ball though - it can be a dangerous shot as the dead ball can roll straight down the middle after hitting the captive ball from the upper left flipper.
This mode, collected as either the 5th Evil Monkey award or from the Drunken Clam, is a timed feature where all the major shots score 400K points for 10 seconds.
There was also a way to score 800K but it wasn't clear how that was achieved. Perhaps getting the 2X Lois and then shooting the Lois lane doubled the score?
Crazy Chris finishes when the 10 second timer expires but it can be combined with other modes and multiballs, but not Stewie Pinball.
The Drunken Clam is the bar where Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire meet. In the game it's the mystery award.
The display shows three awards in succession at the top of the screen and awards the third. Among those seen were: points award, start Crazy Chris, spot family member, add P-I-N-B-A-L-L letter, light extra ball and light special.
The Drunken Clam is lit at the start of the game and at the start of each ball. It can be relit during the game, possibly by completing the X-X-X targets but this wasn't clear.
The lane just above the Stewie targets is variously labeled Super Jackpot and Evil Monkey Jackpot although in this version of the software, neither were implemented.
When the ball is shot up the lane - either from the loop shot to the upper left flipper or even directly from the lower left flipper (it is possible - just) - the lane scores 250K increasing by 25K each time.
The display shows Peter driving his, ahem, curiously shaped car into a tunnel from the episode where Peter realises Chris is better endowed than him and, naturally for Peter, he over-compensates in other ways thanks to Jim's Exotic Cars.
When the inevitable happens and the ball drains, you get an end of ball bonus consisting of a fixed score and the number of hits to each character multiplied by the bonus multiplier.
The bonus multiplier you may recall is increased by completing the three X-X-X standup targets up by the pop bumpers. You score 120K points for getting 2X and 10K for each additional multiplier which then maxes out at 5X, after which only points are scored for completing the standups.
The first ball scores a fixed bonus value of 75,000, the second scores 100,000 and the third 125,000 although how that changes with 4 or 5 ball play is unknown.
With that score as your starting point, you also get bonus points for each shot to the various family members during that ball. The points depend on the difficulty of the shot.
So Stewie hits are worth 20K points each,
Meg, being more difficult in both senses, is worth 30K a hit,
Chris is medium difficulty like Stewie and scores 20K per shot,
Lois is considered the easiest shot so only yields 5K per shot,
Brian scores 10K for what is a fairly easy shot,
as does Peter.
Add those together to get your sub-bonus and then apply your bonus multiplier...
for your final total bonus.
If that was your final ball you then get the match animation which is Brian denying he was rummaging through the garbage, while the bubblegum he swallowed tells a different story, as you can see below.
So that concludes our description of the game rules in this early version of the software. When this article was begun, the 0.70 version reviewed here was still the current version on the Stern website, but although it is still listed as the latest, by following the links you can actually download version 4.00 which includes a few changes noted here, the biggest of which has to be the new Chicken Fight mode.
Now it's time to look at the various differing aspects of the game to see how they perform and how they tie in to the game and theme as a whole. In case you haven't already spotted it, this reviewer had better declare his interest as a Family Guy fan. Every episode includes several laugh-out-loud moments for me and the pop culture references nearly always hit the spot but I also appreciate how others who have seen the show get nothing out of it, so this review has been at pains to explain who everyone is and how the various modes relate to the show.
This is a curious playfield. It looks quite sparse and lacking in interest but in reality, there a myriad of shots from the three main flippers even discounting the mini-playfield. The lower flippers have a dozen direct shots and the third flipper can hit six directly with more tight angled shots available from all three. Including that mini-playfield adds another five.
Pat has often been criticised for producing a lot of "stop-and-go" games. That is, games where you shoot a feature that traps the ball while display and sound effect are played before you get it back to do the same somewhere else on the playfield.
This design is rather different with just one two places to trap the ball - the TV scoop and the Drunken Clam. Everywhere else, the ball is in play. Not one of the family member shots traps the ball so if you're going to play this game, you're really going to have to play it. You don't need to take a book along.
A mini-playfield is nothing new but by associating it so closely with Stewie it takes on a new, slightly demonic twist. Pat's no stranger when it comes to changing the rules of second playfields with innovations such as Banzai Run's vertical game and Battling the Power with Magna-Flip, so while Stewie Pinball is much more conventional, the unusual dynamics mean it's still different enough to make it interesting. It may not necessarily look it, but once you play it you'll see what I mean.
Stewie turning around looks a bit cheesy but some improved lighting - switch off the whole lower playfield lighting except a spotlight on Stewie for instance - could give the feature a more impressive effect.
The biggest disappointment has to be the beer can not moving up and down. Put something that prominent on the playfield and everyone expects it to move or spin like the magic lamp on Tales Of The Arabian Nights. That would make a good aftermarket mod - put a couple of fins on the side, link it to the spinner switch to advance towards TV modes by spinning Brian round, chasing his own tail.
The Family Guy theme is probably one of the better ideas for a game. It appeals to much the same crowd as the highly popular Simpsons and the show has proved itself a reasonably popular one, despite initially being cancelled by Fox. The audience is probably a subset of the Simpsons' fanbase which restricts numbers somewhat, but those who enjoy the show tend to be more fanatical about their appreciation.
So the fans will love the quotes, the references, the characters and seeing familiar scenes recreated for them to interact with. What is more problematic is, what will non-fans think? Will they get it, or will the degree of integration put them off even before they try it?
The number of family members and their idiosyncrasies provide great material to use in the game - too much material really as they all have fully rounded personalities and histories to tap into, only some of which can ever make it into a game. But it's definitely not a theme such as Playboy or Monopoly where you need to create an alien environment and populate it with likeable characters almost from scratch.
So the theme works for the game in several ways, but like most themes it also works against it by potentially alienating non-fans. But like it or loathe it, the theme is certainly well tied into the game from the beginning.
The six family members are present as models. The shots for Meg, Chris and Lois are clear enough but things become more muddled in the centre of the playfield. Should it be Brian on the beer can or Peter? Peter's the beer drinker and where he is now - on a pop bumper - seems a little contrived, depriving the show's main character of his own dedicated shot.
In the game, though, Peter takes something of a back seat to Stewie who feels much more at home under the glass. It would have been good if he was armed in some way and could zap things in the game, perhaps depriving you of an award instead of just turning around and looking at you, but at least he has his own game to taunt you on.
The rules were obviously still in development so comments about those are subject to change as the newer versions appear, but at the moment the modes and features are OK rather than great or excellent. I really hope they develop much much further, because - as a fan of deep rules - there isn't any long term goal to aim for yet. You can play Stewie Multiball, Fart Multiball and complete all the TV and Beer Can modes, but then what? The shot to Meg is also somewhat underused featuring only in a couple of modes and to re-light the Pirate target - which doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
While I know it's got to be in the plans to have some next level, will it be just a wizard mode or something more like The Simpsons Pinball Party's multiple wizard modes leading to a Super (Duper Mega Extreme) wizard mode?
The idea of splitting the modes across two playfield features - TV and Beer Can - works well and helps avoid the situation where they are all collected in the same way with some much less attractive than others. By acknowledging their differing values, they can be made easier or harder to collect.
Each mode's required targets largely make sense. In Super Griffins, the whole family gain super powers so are all lit. In Ipecac Contest, it's the boys who participate, so they are the target shots. You get the feeling someone who knows the show well either designed the features or influenced the shot decisions and the game benefits from that.
But it's the depth of the features that's lacking at the moment. Take the aforementioned Ipecac Contest for example. The Contest is all about which of them can go the longest without vomiting so some kind of build up of the tension is sorely needed before the first victim reveal himself - perhaps a count-up value to set the vomit value which then counts down once collected the first time. Do you waste the mode's time waiting for the score to climb or go for an early cash-in so you can collect it many times?
That's just one example to come to mind, so hopefully these kinds of detail can be added. If not, it will be a wasted opportunity, but make some kick-ass rules and I may have to buy one.
Moving on from the rules, let's look at the dot matrix display effects. A few more have been added since these images were taken but any cartoon series lends itself to portrayal on a flat colour system like a DMD so the character appear nicely defined and well animated.
It always makes sense to me to use the display area to its maximum advantage and by-and-large the display effects use appropriately large font sizes where possible to convey the important stuff and enabling you to quickly take in what shot scored the big points.
There are a few exceptions, though, where useful information is not displayed with due prominence.
There is also an attempt to crawl instructions across the screen in TV modes such as Good Old Boys but in practical terms nobody has the time to read crawling text like that unless they trap the ball when the game goes into Instant Info mode anyway.
So the display effects are competently done if not exactly ground breaking or in danger of turning into a showcase for the new multi-shade display system.
This is a real mixed bag but the good far outweighs the rather more dubious. The not-so-good has to be the main theme and shooter lane music. The shooter music is just plain weird, meandering all over the place with snatches of "The Road To" songs and hints to hurry up and plunge the darned ball.
I was going to say something similar about the main theme but in all fairness, after listening to it a few times - as you do when editing and processing it for download - I've found myself humming it at work, so I have to conclude it's actually a rather catchy rendition of the Family Guy theme. It's not a classic thumping soundtrack and Stewie's toy piano version for Stewie Pinball is somewhat lost in the background but it does seem to cut through ambient noise quite successfully, so that makes it effective if uninspiring.
But the big plus - and what a stark contrast to Pirates Of The Caribbean - is in the use of character voice clips. The recording list for this game must have been huge because it's a genuinely pleasant surprise to start the same mode or hit the same target twice or three times and not get the same quote each time. Seth's custom work on this game is a major contribution to the enjoyment derived from playing it, so I hope you can hear it on location. There don't appear to be that many sound effects - that is, non speech sounds - as most targets seem to elicit a quote of some description, emitted from one end of the body or the other!
Producing creative lighting effects is one area often left until later in the development cycle and so it proved here. Because multiballs and beer can modes often start almost without any announcement or trapping of the ball, there was no opportunity to give the player a big light show coupled with a display effect to reward their efforts. That won't change but intelligent use of flashers and controlled lamps can help convey the information about something good happening.
During multiball I often hear people asking where the jackpot shot was and the extra ball was just as elusive. These are key elements to any game so I would expect there to be better signposting of required shots and recognition of jackpots using lighting effects in the newer software.
This is a good game with the potential to be a great game but that potential lies in the hands of the software writers and rule makers. Create some genuinely interesting modes with progression and depth built in and it turns the game from simply putting the player in the house to getting them involved in the story and talking to the characters.
Implement some dramatic lighting effects and better signpost the important shots and play become less confusing and more enjoyable.
So while a few opportunities have been missed so far, many of them can be included given the time, effort and imagination. Will Stern commit the resources necessary, or will the game remain more or less as you see here? Stay tuned for the answer.
Areas such as Layout, Art and probably Music are unlikely to be revised from their ratings but as various changes are made to the software, some of the other ratings may rise if the changes are positive (or fall if they impact negatively on the game). The potential for improvements has already been stated, but if no more changes are made, these will be the final ratings.
If you jumped straight here, go back and read the full review to see whether you agree with them and if you put the same significance on certain features as the Editor.
Our thanks go to Gary Stern and everyone at Electrocoin for their assistance with this review. Thanks also to Pat Lawlor and Lonnie Ropp for their help and to Pinball News readers for their patience while the review was written, facts checked and the 80+ display images processed.
© Pinball News 2007