Date: 15th July 2007.
Toy company Zizzle caused a stir late last year when they introduced their two reduced-size pinball games onto the market. Disney's Pirates Of The Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest and Marvel Heroes & Villains were two variants of the same playfield layout created by John Popadiuk, Jr for the three-quarter size machines.
Since then, the two brands have been in action again with the release of the Pirates Of The Caribbean - At World's End and Spider-Man 3 movies, so Zizzle has taken the opportunity to not only update the themes promoting the new titles, but also to make improvements to the games with the second generation - or G2 - models.
First of the two is Pirates Of The Caribbean - At World's End.
Apart from the renaming, the whole playfield and backglass artwork package has been redesigned to give a lighter feel and make it representative of the final movie in the trilogy.
The dead man's chest has gone, to be replaced by the Flying Dutchman ship and new decals have been added to the ramps. The slingshots and other playfield plastics also sport new designs.
There are also changes to the hardware based on hundreds of customer reports and suggestions from purchasers of the earlier G1 model. They include new and improved playfield plastics to look more attractive and help eliminate ball hangs, redesigned pop bumpers to improve the action, a stronger plunger assembly made from a glass-filled material to help prevent breakage, and some improvements under the playfield by putting all LEDs on PCBs and streamlining the wiring.
But probably the most noticeable change to both new games is the extra lighting. The slingshots are now illuminated as are both ramp entrances, the rollover lane guide and the toy feature at the top centre. All four areas are lit with blue LEDs, matching the Flying Dutchman and the five mode inserts, giving an impressive look in the dark.
The second game has also changed its name for the second generation model. Now called Marvel Super Heroes, it brings Spider-Man to the fore following his recent big screen adventures using his blue and red suit colours as the main theme for the totally new artwork package.
While Pirates Of The Caribbean has become lighter, Marvel Super Heroes' art has gone in the opposite direction, matching the Spider-Man 3 movie's theme of exploring the character's darker side.
If the theme is darker, the playfield includes the same additional lights as Pirates Of The Caribbean and like the other title, it also includes the final new feature - backbox illumination.
The backbox image is now lit by six LEDs with a special optical design to give the best effect possible. If there was any doubt about Spider-Man's promotion to lead role in the game, the backbox image now makes it perfectly clear. He's the hottest of the intellectual properties right now, and one of the things Zizzle excels at is knowing how to market their products.
But it's not just marketing. Without doubt, the new lighting effects and the extra artwork on the playfield plastics make the game look more polished and complete. These are not just minor changes either. The concepts may be the same, but the scope of the rebranding and improvements clearly indicate Zizzle believes the range has potential for further sales in the run-up to the crucial holiday season.
John Popadiuk, Jr. told Pinball News how the new games came about:
Despite the new additions, the price of the games has not increased from the $249 or less retail level. The new games are currently in production and should start appearing in the stores in September.
Pinball News asked John about his future plans for the Zizzle range of pinball games and he told us he has plans for some totally new designs, but also said how many people are asking for a full-size game to be manufactured.
But for now, the focus is firmly on the new Pirates Of The Caribbean and Marvel Super Heroes games. As John told us:
For sales information contact: Brad Slavin from Zizzle at: firstname.lastname@example.org