about the next Stern game being based upto the Playboy theme started
circulating about 4 months ago, shortly after the launch of Monopoly.
here we are at the ATEI show in London and those rumours have proved
to be true.
Before we look
at the full details, some qualifications are in order. This is not the
final version of the backglass, nor is it the production version of
the game ROM, though this probably won't change very much when it finally
hits the streets. There is a small amount of tidying-up needed and a
few display animations need finishing. Monopoly will continue on the
production line until the end of January when Playboy will take over.
The game obviously
has a controversial theme so in an attempt to tone-down the content,
there are 2 different sets of model pictures supplied with the game.
These are operator installable. The pictures are revealed when certain
features are activated. One set shows semi-naked Playmates while the
other has them clad in lingerie. There is a third set using bikinis
but it's possible that these won't make it into production as they're
so similar to the lingerie shots.
shown above is by Kevin O'Connor. Game Design is by George Gomez (yes,
him) along with Dwight Sullivan and all the team at Stern Pinball Inc.
like a good combination to me so let's look at the playfield.
about not seeing too much detail, we'll look at all the various elements
in due course. Working around the playfield in the traditional clockwise
manner from the bottom centre we have:
- Normal, only two flippers on this game.
- one inlane and one outlane, rollover switches in both.
- This is unusual. It looks much smaller than usual and indeed it is
smaller than a standard Williams slingshot plastic but it is actually
the same size as those used in Monopoly.
What is unusual is
the way the mounting posts are right on the very corner of the
plastic so that a standard sizes steel protective washer extends
way beyond the plastic itself. You'll need to replace these with
You'll see that these
are also 2-layer slingshots and there's a flasher mounted on each
one (a red flasher on the left).
The mounting bolts
extend much higher than the upper slingshot plastic so perhaps
there was going to be another level or something other than a
Either way, home owners
would want to cut these down to size to tidy up the appearance.
- This is a metal box with a picture of a semi-naked woman on the front
face but hidden by a gold bead curtain.
Balls hit at the picture
are registered and when two hits are recorded the curtains are
magnetically pulled aside to reveal the picture behind.
There is also a Millions+
mode using this where each hit score 1 million more than the previous
The placing of this
make it a classic `sucker' shot - i.e. one that is quite likely
to lead to a drain. It positioned just above the left outlane.
In play this is a feature
that is easily overlooked and not used that effectively. It occupies
quite a lot of real estate on the playfield.
Above the Peek-a-boo
are the three left side shots - left loop, left ramp and left lane.
Left Loop -
this feeds round to the right loop, though weak shots can fall
into the rollovers. There is an up-post at the top of the left
loop to stop right loop shots and direct them into the rollovers.
The left loop scores
Bunny Loops and Photo Shoots.
Left Ramp -
There's a red standup on the left entrance to the ramp which scores
a Surprise Package (random award). The ramp feeds to a metal wireform
on the left side of the playfield and back to the left inlane.
The ramp scores Photo
Shoot, Jackpot, Splash, Collect Playmates and Strip Poker. There
are 2 coloured lamps as in Monopoly for these last 2 awards.
Lane is a short entrance/exit to the pop bumpers. There's a Tease
lamp to indicate when the bumpers are worth more and activate the Tease
function. Balls that exit the bumpers can either come down the left
lane or there's a secret passage below the ramp to feed the left loop.
three shots are the rollovers - three of them - with the classic Playboy
bunny logo on. Lit lamps can be rotated left or right with the flipper
buttons as usual. Lighting all 3 lights first "Strip" then
are 3 pop bumpers, each one has a sticker on it with a message - "Tease
when flashing" on two of them and "Top lanes start Tease"
on the right had one. That's typical of this game - there are a lot
of instructions written on plastics or stickers all over the playfield
which helps novices understand the working of the rules. A small matter
but they are appreciated.
one other item up by the rollovers. On the backboard (not the backbox)
is the Tease feature.
above is gradually revealed as the cover drops down. The more pop bumper
hits you make the more is revealed.
clockwise around the playfield we come to the centre shots.
- Protected by a drop target with the bunny logo on it, much like
the Cop target in Monopoly. The target is angled slightly so balls
don't get trapped behind. The ramp awards multiball locks, starts
multiball, scores jackpots and double jackpots while the drop
target scores Pyjama Party.
This is probably the
most important shot of the game as you can start multiball with
this shot alone. Just keep hammering the drop target and shooting
the ramp and you can score big points.
Drop target shots can
rebound straight down the middle but it's not common.
The ramp feeds around
to the same wireform ramp used by the left ramp, and hence down
to the left inlane.
also contains the ball locks.
They consist of an
up-post and 3 microswitches to detect locked balls. Both the left
and centre ramps can feed the ball lock.
Although it can (and
does) hold 3 balls, balls are not held here to start Centerfold
Multiball. Instead `virtual' locks are used, though the term `Lock'
is never used in the game - it just says to shoot the ramp twice
more to light multiball.
During Centerfold Multiball
itself you can have up to 3 balls locked here and the software
can release just one ball at a time if it needs to.
Above the centre
ramp is another of the game's toys - The Centerfold.
When multiball (or
Centerfold Multiball to give it its full name) starts, this metal
pack unfolds to reveal 3 picture panels showing a Centerfold model.
glare from the backbox lighting means you can't see this very
well but perhaps that's not such a bad thing or you wouldn't be
able to concentrate on the game.
To the right
of the Centre Ramp is the Centre Lane.
This lane scores
Grotto (random award), extra ball, Photo Shoot and starts Pyjama Party
multiball. Shots up here are stopped at the top by a magnet which allows
the ball to roll back into a saucer which in turn kicks the ball into
the rollovers. Some awards are given when the ball triggers a switch
on the entrance to the lane so it's not always necessary for the ball
to fully make the shot.
The Right Ramp
curves to the left and joins a wireform that runs down the right
side of the playfield and ends up at the right inlane. It scores
Splash, Photo Shoot and most importantly it also scores the Triple
To the right of this
is the Right Loop. Balls shot up here feed round to the
left loop unless they are stopped by the up-post in which case
they will fall through the rollovers into the pop bumpers. The
Right Loop scores Photo Shoot and Bunny Loops and is quite easily
Above the right
ramp is another picture toy - this time it's a rotating 3-sided picture
The face you see most
often just has the bunny logo on it, but the other two sides which
appear when triple jackpot is lit show more Playmates in various
stages of undress.
Again, like all the
other pictures of the Playmates, these can be selected by the
Below this is
the skill-shot saucer. Weak ball launches fall in here and score
the skill-shot award.
It is also used to
start Jackpot Hurry-Up, scores Photo Shoot and (unusually) can
also award a Special.
Balls are then kicked
up onto the right side wireform and from there into the right
The up-kicker arrangement
is both clever and attractive. Using a brushed metal arch to direct
the ball, the same metal is bent round and cut into the bunny
logo. It's a really nice touch.
Scoring the skill shot
also opens the magazine above it to reveal (yes you guessed it)
another picture of a scantily clad woman.
Below this is
the usual one inlane and one outlane, a manual ball shooter (with autofire)
and the single right flipper completing this round up of the playfield
one game feature that takes up more space than all the others. Set into
the lower playfield is the Playmates Calendar.
Each month lights
up as you collect the Playmates, but more about that in the next
section covering the rules and our opinions.
Back to the Playboy
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Pinball News 2002