Welcome to this first part of our in-depth review of Stern's Indiana Jones.
As usual, we'll break the review up into two parts - this first part will look at how the game is constructed, the playfield layout and the artwork. The second part will explain the rules and consider all the various elements that come together to make up the game. Then we'll give our conclusions and ratings.
So on with the part one and the theme of the game. Most readers will be at least vaguely familiar with Harrison Ford's Dr Henry "Indiana" Jones character and his adventures through the first three movies - Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This trio went into the Williams game Indiana Jones - The Pinball Adventure released in 1993.
With the release of the new movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Stern have taken the opportunity to revive the pinball franchise and incorporate all four films into their game. But do more movies necessarily equate to more fun?
There's no doubting the subject of the game from the backglass artwork. Not since Elvis have we seen a game's lead character appear five times on the backglass, while Indy is present another three time on each cabinet side and again on both backbox sides.
Although it takes scenes from the first three movies, the cabinet artwork is beautifully rich and inviting. It's a little disappointing to find basically the same image on both sides but it's well composed and achieves a good balance.
The backbox side is essentially a stock publicity picture with some additional masonry added to the bottom to match that used on the cabinet.
The front of the cabinet is as well executed as the sides, keeping the vibrant colours through the flaming torches guiding the way to the start buttons and the plunger.
As with Wheel Of Fortune, the tournament start button has moved out of the way and sits below the regular start button, making the process of removing the lock bar that much easier. This is a UK game and so it only has a single, multi-coin mechanism and no note acceptor.
As you can see, it makes an attractive overall package and one that would look as good in the home as it would on location.
You may notice something unusual in the picture above - the dot matrix display. The game was supplied with a red LED dot matrix display. The display board itself looked different from previous models we'd seen and the individual elements were smaller than the PinLED we've reviewed previously. Whether this indicates a permanent change or if this game was atypical we'll have to wait to see, but the red LED display looked rather nice and it might make an interesting mod if your game is shipped with a classic orange version.
So, onto the playfield, and the red/orange/yellow theme continues under the glass.
It's a two-flippered game which means no cross-playfield shots and the nine basic shots all fan out from the lower flipper positions.
The four movies are represented by different colours and marked with key objects from the plots. Raiders is yellow and has the Ark, Temple of Doom is red and has the Sankara Stone, Last Crusade is blue and has the Holy Grail while Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is green and has the Crystal Skull. These colours will come back to us a little later in this review and again in part two.
The flippers are back in the usual place after Wheel Of Fortune and stand out well with their white colour. The black flipper rubbers blend into the artwork a little, so perhaps red or orange might help definition for those tip-of-the-flipper moments. As with other Stern games, the flippers have alignment holes at the tips to help you get the right angle when adjusting them.
The Shoot Again insert is in its rightful place and is joined by a centre post to stop straight-down-the-middle shots.
Any balls not saved by the flippers or the post end up in the ball trough. Indiana Jones uses thirteen balls in total - eight in play and five captive. Although four balls are staged in the Ark and four are kept in the trough, the trough has to be able to deal with all 8 balls at once.
There are four microswitches to sense stacked balls plus an opto to sense the ball in the upkicker. So the game can see if there are five or more balls in the trough and keep sending balls to the Ark until only four remain.
Back on the upper side, the game uses plastic inlane/outlane separators topped with hieroglyphic artwork, matching that on the slingshots. There's a single inlane and a single outlane each featuring a rollover switch.
A special can be collected from the outlane when lit but there's no kickback - physical or virtual - to save the ball. The Crystal Skull ramp - the only ramp in the game - returns the ball to the player through the left inlane.
A red flasher on top of the slingshot fires with the kicker and, with it's brother on the opposite side, can be bright enough to be distracting in a darkened room. In addition, there is a spotlamp fixed to the top of the slingshot cover which points at the Ark to give additional illumination.
With the ramp exit also bolted to the left slingshot cover alongside the spot lamp, the flasher mountings and the cover fixings, there's quite a lot of hardware and not a lot of artwork to see here.
Directly above the left outlane is the first of four standup banks. These four white standups and their corresponding inserts form the I-N-D-Y targets.
The targets can be lit by shooting them or they can be awarded from a skill shot and set up to award big points.
Although they're in the classic position for a sucker shot, in practice they seemed mostly harmless when targeted, as their springiness propelled the ball further up the playfield and out of immediate danger.
Directly above the I-N-D-Y targets is the ramp return ball trap. Although there is artwork attached in an attempt to make it look like the Temple Of Doom, it's a fairly ugly black lump whose sole purpose is to stop the ball briefly while an animation and sound effect is played out signaling an extra ball or a movie scene completed.
These black boxes often house diverters to send the ball to a lock area or off on a side ramp in different games. In this case though, it's really doing no more than an up-post would and just stopping the ball, although it does provide a mild surprise the first few times it operates since you can't see the mechanism operate nor the ball once it has stopped.
Continuing our clockwise tour of the playfield we come to the first of the movie features - the Last Crusade scoop.
The elongated entrance made this a fairly easy shot and nearly all balls exiting to the left from the pop bumpers behind, fall into the scoop automatically. So even a missed shot has a reasonable chance of ending up in the Last Crusade scoop.
The Last Crusade movie is colour-coded blue, so the artwork in front of the scoop is blue and the pop bumper cap the Holy Grail sits on is also blue.
The scoop also kicks the ball back out and the internal metal scoop provides a rim around the playfield hole, helping to protect it against wear and removing the need for an internal hole protector. To further help guard against wear, there is a clear mylar strip covering the blue grail image on the playfield.
The scoop can give a mystery award when the orange lamp above it is lit by rolling through the right inlane the requisite number of times.
The grail toy itself is non functional although it does have an orange controlled lamp at the base of the cup which glows when the scoop is shot and during other lighting effects. A clear or orange plastic disc placed in the cup might make it look as though there was the water of eternal life that Indy drinks inside.
Behind the Last Crusade scoop are the game's four pop bumpers. Each one's bumper cap is colour-coded to match the four movies and when hit increases the jackpot score for that movie's shot.
As has become the norm, the bumpers are illuminated by LEDs rather than incandescent lamps which will be appreciated by game owners since the green and red caps would be awkward to remove if a lamp needed replacing.
Between the pop bumpers is a flasher insert. Although it is printed to look line an explosion, it is actually a hotdog shaped insert lit by three 906 flasher lamps just like the one in Spider-Man.
There are two ways to get the ball into the pop bumpers - a direct flipper shot to the right of the Holy Grail or a shot to the right orbit will exit into the pop bumpers. Both shots are possible exits as well but there is a third way out, to the left of the Holy Grail. This path will probably deposit the ball in the Last Crusade scoop and advance that feature, although it does occasionally miss the scoop.
There is a single orbit which loops around the top of the playfield and the shot through the pop bumpers is the left entrance to that orbit.
One of the trickier shots, the left orbit features a scorpion spinner used to collect hurry-ups and is one of the major shots used to award jackpots during multiball modes.
There are two rollover switches beyond the spinner used to detect the direction of the ball, although in some cases completing the orbit is not necessary to collect the award and merely making these switches is enough.
The orbit shot is slightly odd and appears to defy gravity at times. Although it appears symmetrical, a weak shot to the left orbit which barely gets beyond the rollover switch in the picture above somehow seems to make it all the way round against all expectations. But hey, that's Indy for you.
To the right of the left loop entrance is the Temple Of Doom feature, another of the game's major shots used to collect jackpots.
Looking rather like a jacket potato, the Temple Of Doom feature is marked out by the Sankara Stone sitting on the red pop bumper cap. The stone features an internal flasher while the pop bumper skirt is cut off to allow space for the captive ball scoop that comprises the Temple Of Doom shot.
Initially, at least, this looks like a fairly simple - if inelegant - captive ball device with large blue rubber pads on each side to provide protection.
It consists of a front-mounted fixed ball and a movable second ball which cannons into an orange standup target at the rear to register hits. But the device has a trick up its sleeve.
Hit the captive ball and the whole mechanism pivots up to reveal a scoop beneath. The Temple of Doom scoop doesn't actually kick the ball back out itself. To do this, it feeds the ball under the playfield to the adjacent Last Crusade scoop which then returns it to the player.
The scoop and under-playfield tunnel are made from metal rather than plastic which gives a solid feel when the shot is made and should increase durability.
Moving on, we head up the playfield a little to find the Map Room.
While the Temple Of Doom comprised two captive balls, the Map Room goes one better having one fixed ball and two movable balls. These are contained in the Map Room and cannot be released onto the main playfield. The whole area is covered with a clear plastic shield to ensure no balls enter or leave the Map Room and the shield has holes cut in it to allow the targets to be tested with a small screwdriver or pointer without having to remove it.
The idea is to hit the fixed ball and send the top ball into the M-A-P targets to advance the bonus multiplier. To increase the action, the side walls of the Map Room are made from slingshots which keep ball moving around the room, hitting more of the M-A-P targets.
The Map Room plays a greater part in the game than simply advancing the bonus multiplier however. It features two modes of its own - Cairo Swordsman and X Marks The Spot.
When the Map Room captive balls are hit the required number of times, the Cairo Swordsman swings into action.
Placed in an alcove for convenience, the swordsman (played by Stuntman/Actor Terry Richards in the Raiders Of The Lost Ark movie) pivots to cover the player's view of the Map Room until the captive ball is shot to complete the feature and collect a hurry-up award.
When the feature is running, the swordsman is lit by a flasher at the rear of the device which helps indicate the shot you need to make and the urgency of collecting the points before they count down too much.
The third feature available from the Map Room is called X Marks The Spot and is one of the more strategic elements of the game.
At the top right of the Map Room is a saucer. Get the ball in here the required number of times to start X Marks The Spot 2X scoring for a limited time.
Combining 2X scoring with other features is obviously a good idea, so to remind you when it's running, there is a bright yellow flasher on the playfield back panel which flashes while double scoring is active.
To the right of the Map Room is the game's biggest toy and the centrepiece of the playfield, the Ark of the Covenant.
Full credit is due here. The Ark looks fantastic and is a good match for the original used in the movie. It's well lit and feels very solidly built, with the angels on top made from soft plastic to help them withstand the occasional airball.
But the Ark doesn't just look good, it's fully functional too. Being the Raiders Of The Lost Ark shot, the bottom of the Ark registers hits by using an pair of opto behind the black rubber posts in the picture below. The ball slams into the blue rubber pad, breaks the beam and registers a hit on the Ark.
As the ball rolls away from the Ark, its path is disrupted by an electromagnet, sending it in a random direction, possibly even back to the Ark for a second hit. This randomness adds some danger to what would otherwise be a pretty safe shot.
The magnet has a second use too. When the Ark is hit enough times, the ball is held on the magnet while multiball begins and the associated light, sound and dots displays take place, before being thrown back into play, much like the Fusion Malfunction Doc Ock feature in Spider-Man.
The whole light, sound and dots package for the introduction to the first 8-ball multiball is pretty impressive and worth seeing, which is just as well as you can't abort it with the flippers.
When Ark multiball begins, four balls are released from the Ark and deposited on the playfield. It does this by storing the four inside the Ark and raising them on an elevator platform until they roll off the platform, bounce off the clear orange shield and then spill onto the playfield to join the ball on the magnet and any other balls auto-launched as part of the multiball.
As the platform elevates, it lifts the lid of the Ark to allow the balls to escape. It's a relatively simple mechanism but none the less effective for that.
In order to release balls from the Ark, they have to be loaded there in the first place. The game does this by auto-launching them from the shooter lane and activating a diverter to send them into the back of the Ark on the clear plastic chute you can see in the pictures above and below. An opto pair keep track of balls entering the Ark so the game knows when all four are loaded.
It does lead to this strange situation during Ark multiball when you've lost a few balls and the game suddenly starts auto-launching balls. You could be forgiven for thinking they were saved by a ball saver and coming back into play but in fact they're going into the Ark. That's because the trough can only sense five balls, thus it needs to load the Ark with its balls so it knows when multiball ends.
The platform is raised and lowered by a motor and gearbox under the playfield.
So far we've covered the first three movies but the raison d'être for this game was the release of the new fourth movie, so now we come to the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull feature.
The shot for the Crystal Skull is the game's only ramp to the right of the Ark. Over the ramp is the aforementioned skull while a switch gate sits below it to register shots entering the ramp.
The ramp is the shot to advance and start the Crystal Skull features and is also one of the major shots to score jackpots during multiball.
The skull is somewhat smaller than you might expect and a look round the side reveals it looks more like a crystal pig than a skull. That's because the body has to contain a flasher unit to provide illumination of the skull. From the front though, it looks fine and the flasher is well hidden.
The ramp curves around the back of the Ark and the Map Room to run down the length of the playfield, terminating at the left inlane after a series of Insanity Falls-like dips and ridges.
The final major shot is on the right of the ramp and is the right orbit entrance. This is the other end of the left orbit entrance and like its counterpart, it features a spinner - ants this time - which can also be lit for super spinner.
Often when the orbit is lit for jackpots shooting either side will collect both. Occasionally, though, each side is a separate shot. More about that in the rules section in part two.
As we head back down the playfield we reach the J-O-N-E-S targets, the companions to the I-N-D-Y targets on the opposite side.
Completing all five, or collecting the corresponding skill shot award starts Jones Scoring at the targets for some big points.
Below the J-O-N-E-S targets are the right inlane and outlane. Just the regular one of each with no kickback or ball save possibilities, though the outlane can collect a special when lit. This alternates with the left outlane special and swaps with each slingshot hit.
The right inlane features a "light mystery" insert, topped with Indy's trademark brown fedora hat and wrapped in his whip. When lit, rolling over the switch below lights the mystery award at the Last Crusade scoop. If the insert is not lit, rolling over the switch enough times will light it.
As on the left side, the slingshot cover sports a spotlight to help illuminate the Ark but with no ramp return fixture, it looks a little tidier overall. The game's only printed copyright sits below the right slingshot. Surprisingly - and pleasingly - the backglass image is not plastered with copyright, trademark and licensing text.
Before we return to the flippers, lets take one step sideways and look at the shooter lane and its skill shot options.
The concept is similar to The Lord Of The Rings or World Poker Tour in that the game cycles through several different options and the timing of the ball launch dictates which one you receive.
The options are Indy Jones scoring, Cairo Swordsman, light mystery, light super pops and advance scene. The choice is registered when the ball triggers the skill shot switch.
Because it can take a short time for the ball to leave the plunger and trigger the switch, you need to time your plunge accordingly, hence the "skill" bit in the name.
The launched ball continues round the back of the Ark where it drops into the orbit and continues into the pop bumpers.
Our final feature is located right in the centre, just above the flippers and consists of four progress meters.
These meters show how you are progressing towards the wizard more called the Final Adventure. As you play each movie's features, you advance that movie's meter. When all five elements are fully lit on all four movies, you can start Final Adventure.
That's brings us to the end of this first part of the in-depth review of Indiana Jones. Before we leave you though, here are a couple of special extras.
First, here's a look at the underside of the playfield so you can see how the game is constructed.
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We'll be back soon with part two covering the rules, the sound, the lighting, the dot animations and our overall conclusions about Stern's Indiana Jones.
© Pinball News 2008