Many thanks to Terry Nelson and Dave Nelson for the pictures.

We told you about it several weeks ago, but now it's here and it's really significant.

Monopoly marks a number of firsts for pinball. It's Stern's first pinball game designed by an external company. Gary Stern has stated before that this is the way he sees future pinball design going. It's also a licensed theme, another trend Stern intends to follow.

Pat Lawlor (playing) and Louis Koziarz

For Pat Lawlor Design, it's their first pinball design to make it to production and their first pinball design since William's ceased pinball production.

Lawlor is also in need of another pinball hit.

True, he designed The Addams Family and Twilight Zone with much the same design team as Monopoly- Chris Granner doing the music, John Youssi doing the artwork and John Krutsch designing the playfield mechanics, but since then he's produced No Good Gofers - which wasn't exactly a massive hit - and the semi-experimental Safecracker which didn't set the world alight either.

So there's a lot riding on this game and it has to be popular.

Monopoly is a popular theme - no doubt about that - but there's a major problem with a global version of the game as shown here. Each country has their own localised version of the Monopoly theme. The UK version for instance has a totally different set of streets to the US version and the same is true in other countries. You won't find Park Place, Boardwalk or Baltic Avenue on most Monopoly boards.

Finding a truly global theme is problematic and Monopoly is as close as you're likely to get but Stern run the risk of alienating their target audience by making a familiar theme suddenly unfamiliar. The same is true when you price all the properties in US$ or call railway stations "railroads".Stern could just about get away with using the US currency in High Roller Casino as it was set in a US casino, but the same is not true here.

Leaving that aside, what do we get in the game itself?

It is important to remember that this is NOT a production game. It should be fairly obvious when you see the pictures but there are various elements which are hand made or unfinished. The game has undergone several weeks of testing at Stern's factory which has identified a number of software and hardware issues.

Cabinet artwork is basically black with the Monopoly logo and some edging effects. The backbox sides are more interesting with some lovely dice imagery enhancing the 3D effect.

The backglass is all Monopoly with no allusion to the fact that it is in fact a pinball game.

Apart from he familiar Stern Pinball Inc logo, there's the first outing of the Pat Lawlor design logo.

Surprisingly it doesn't feature a red button!

The lower 2/3 of the playfield are dominated by the Monopoly board itself relegating all the important shots to the upper 1/3. This is more reminiscent of Lawlor's later games such as No Good Gofers rather than Addams Family, Twilight Zone or RoadShow where there were much closer scoop shots.

The additional small LED display first seen on High Roller Casino is featured on this game too in a packed upper playfield area.

There appear to be 3 flippers with an additional rotating flipper just below the upper right flipper.

This roto-flipper protects the WaterWorks capture hole and also helps remove the ball when it's kicked out.

There are 4 ramp shots, three can be made from the lower flippers and one from the upper right flipper.

The Bank ramp is protected by a retractable target and acts as the lock shot.

There is a good range of shots and several cross-playfield shots which add variety and make both horizontal and vertical ball position important.

Nerds like me might like to spot the (deliberate) mistakes on the slingshot plastics - Opposite sides of a die add up to 7 (6 on one side and 1 on the other, similarly 5 & 2 and 4 & 3, NOT as drawn on the plastics)

The classic Lawlor shot through the jet bumpers is featured in this game although the bumper look much further apart than normal and unusually there are two sets of bumpers - one set just below the rollovers and another to the left of the small LED display.

You will also find a left-side ball shooter lane - a feature not seen on a standard sized pin since Funhouse. In fact the layout is quite similar to Data East's Jurassic Park which was itself remarkably similar to The Addams Family. Throw in a dash of No Good Gofers and you have all the making of a classic Pat Lawlor design.

Of course, even with an exciting layout the game relies on drawing the player into the theme and it's only by playing the game that we can tell how well Monopoly scores in this regard. As soon as the game is finalised, Pinball News will bring you full details of how well it plays.


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© Pinball News 2001 and Terry and Dave Nelson