Date: 20th March, 2020

When the P3 Pinball Platform from Multimorphic was first revealed by Pinball News back in 2012, we gave extensive coverage of its technological advancements and its modular system which allowed new games to be slotted into a base cabinet to provide a wide variety of titles, playfield layouts and gameplay options without having to purchase a whole new machine each time.

The original P3 machine
The original P3 machine

The internal and external hardware underwent several reworkings and refinements in the following months, so that it ended up looking much more like a traditional pinball shape, even if the interior build and the technology under the playfield was anything but.

The final design was really locked-down when Multimorphic released their first full-featured game for the P3, Lexy Lightspeed – Galaxy Girl.

The game was further developed to become Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth and rapidly established its role as the company’s showcase title, demonstrating the ball-tracking, walls and scoops, rotary ball lock and a comprehensive art package which showed the possibilities of dynamic playfield art.

One of the first production P3s
One of the first production P3s

Several simpler mini-games followed – ROCs, Barnyard, Heads Up!, Wizard, Cannon Lagoon, Grand Slam Rally, Hoopin’ It Up! and Secret Agent Showdown – using a mix of existing and new playfield module designs, but it wasn’t until one of the original launch titles – Cosmic Cart Racing – was ready for release in 2018 that we got to see the second full-featured title.

Cosmic Cart Racing 2.0 featured an impressive upper playfield module festooned with RGB LEDs to produce an amazing lightshow alongside an innovative ball lock system which holds balls on the ramps.

The Cosmic Cart Racing upper playfield module
The Cosmic Cart Racing upper playfield module

That game went on to acquire networked multi-player capabilities, allowing players in locations around the globe to link over the internet and battle each other.

Now, Multimorphic have revealed their third full-featured game, complete with a dedicated upper playfield module and comprehensive gameplay package. Meet Heist!

The backbox display image for Multimorphic's new Heist! game
The backbox display image for Multimorphic’s new Heist! game

The name alone gives you a good idea of the theme and the overall objective but to flesh out the storyline a little, the action takes place in Ocean City where a crack team of experts work together to take down the king of the city, Frank Bigalow, a.k.a. Mr. Big.

The Heist! cabinet artwork
The Heist! cabinet artwork

Each member of the Heist! team has their own unique set of skills, but in order to succeed they need your help to keep them out of jail and fulfil their individual roles in Mr. Big’s eventual downfall.

Artwork for the new game comes from Houston-based comic artist, Jose Fernandez, who drew both the cabinet/backbox art and all the in-game assets, while all the game’s music tracks are composed by Jonas Hornqvist.

Together with the new artwork, music and ruleset comes a brand-new upper playfield module designed by the team at Multimorphic led by Stephen Silver. It depicts various locations around Ocean City such as the bank, the station, the police HQ and the art gallery.

The upper playfield module for Heist!
The upper playfield module for Heist!

There are eight shots packed into the upper playfield module, plus several standup targets and the game’s most prominent feature, the crane.

Pinball News asked Multimorphic’s head, Gerry Stellenberg, to tell us how this third full-featured title fits into the existing line-up of P3 games.

He said, “Heist! is a game we created with pinball enthusiasts in mind. It’s the most fully-featured and deepest game we’ve developed so far. The story is beautifully conceived, the playfield is packed full of features, the software offers a great balance of stackability, depth, and difficulty, and the A/V presentation is super immersive.

Whereas starting with a licence often provides a bunch of ready-made assets and an instant degree of familiarity for the player, choosing an original theme and then developing the storyline and characters to make them understandable and appealing can be a challenging and drawn-out process.

Gerry told us how they picked the Heist! theme for their new game. He said, “Deciding on the theme was a pretty long process. The whole team helped brainstorm, with everybody pitching their ideas and backing them up with implementation possibilities. Then we voted and came up with a shortlist of ideas with the most internal support. Then we put together a focus group and worked through the list with them. There were three ideas with a lot of support, but Heist! was the clear winner. TJ, our lead mechanical engineer, originally championed Heist! and once we picked it, Stephen Silver led the full creative design process.

Some of the buildings in Ocean City
Some of the buildings in Ocean City

Stephen might not be a familiar name to many pinball players, but he’s been working with the Multimorphic team for some time, as Gerry told us. “Stephen has been making our promotional videos for years. He’s super creative and great at crafting a fun story around any idea. Heist! is a theme that needs a great story, and Stephen volunteered to take the reins.

So, let’s take a look at the playfield design, starting with that crane.

The end incorporates an electromagnet to grab, hold and release the ball at appropriate points in the game.

The crane holding a ball
The crane holding a ball

The crane arm, as you would expect, can move left and right. It can also move up and down, allowing it to lift the ball from one location and drop it at another.

The crane mechanism
The crane mechanism

But its most note-worthy feature is the ability to extend the arm. This allows it to bring the upper playfield’s action further down onto the main playfield and closer to the player, crossing the previous divide created by the wall targets.

The crane can extend over the playfield's LCD monitor
The crane can extend over the playfield’s LCD monitor

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also software-controlled RGB LEDs at the end of the crane’s arm and it incorporates a switch to detect when the arm is struck by the ball too.

The RGB LEDs at the end of the crane, plus it can sense hits to the arm
The RGB LEDs at the end of the crane, plus it can sense hits to the arm

Gerry told us, “The crane is obviously the feature I’ve been teasing for a while. Other games have had cranes before, but they’ve been nothing like this one. Its three-axis movement and the front of it having both a magnet and a bashable target make it incredibly versatile and allow it to interact with the ball over a wide area of the playfield.

Although Multimorphic have traditionally pushed the P3‘s ball-tracking capability and its ability to create dynamic virtual targets which appear on the playfield LCD, Heist! is very much a physical game with lots of real shots, lanes, orbits and playfield mechanisms.

Some of the assemblies and shots on the Heist! playfield module
Some of the assemblies and shots on the Heist! playfield module

In fact, it adds a new feature to the P3 which changes the dynamics of this title as well as future ones.

Gerry told us about it, and the other physical features of the game. “There’s the upper flipper, which is integrated into a backwards-compatible side target module, the jail cell, diverters or magnets on every loop and ramp in the game, five different ways to launch balls from the ball trough, and a fully RGB-lit, 3D and interactive cityscape.

The new upper flipper
The new upper flipper

The new upper flipper is paired with the right-hand side targets in a single replacement for the existing side targets module. The new module is included in the Heist! kit or costs $250 to upgrade earlier games. For those earlier games the flipper just acts as a ball guide, but for Heist! and future titles which wish to utilise it, it adds cross-playfield ball movement and the option to incorporate more shots than a game designer could achieve with just the two lower flippers.

Some of the cross-playfield shots from the upper flipper
Some of the cross-playfield shots from the upper flipper

We asked Gerry what the team at Multimorphic wanted to achieve with the new Heist! game, and what features did they want to include which hadn’t previously been seen on a P3 game?

He replied, “Quite simply, we wanted to add a third full-featured, conventional game to the P3 game library and further increase the value of owning a P3. With a retail price of $2750, Heist! packs quite a punch, and P3 owners with all three conventional P3 games will have paid much less than they would for three new single-themed machines. Many in the community have expressed serious interest in the P3 but were waiting for there to be more full-featured, conventional game kits. That time is now.

New features Heist! brings to the P3 include the crane and upper flipper, both of which bring interactions much closer to the player than our other games, more software control of where shots end up and how balls are fed to the player (through the use of various launch tubes and diverters), and a number of unique mode rules that we can’t wait to see people experience.

The right ramp entrance
The right ramp entrance

The game has been in development for the past two years, although that work has run in parallel with other game titles and infrastructure work, meaning it’s around a year’s solid work for all the Heist! team members.

In that team, the software developers are BJ Wilson, Greg Goldey and Thomas Law, while mechanical engineering comes from TJ Weaver and Les Pitt.

The pop bumper area complete with standup target bank
The pop bumper area complete with standup target bank

When Pinball News visited the Multimorphic factory in 2019, there was ‘mystery’ fourth upper playfield module in a box. We weren’t allowed to look at it at the time, but it was actually Heist!

The mysterious fourth playfield module
The mysterious fourth playfield module

We asked Gerry to take us through the rules, objectives and storyline for Heist!

He said, “Watch your favorite heist movie, and you’ll probably have a good idea of what the objectives are. From a high level, you have to play each character mode once to add them to the crew, work some jobs to gain experience, avoid the cops and stay out of jail, and then go after the main mark, Mr. Big. Modes and multiballs are stackable, the cops patrol the streets at random times, and Mr. Big occasionally takes over some features and tries to throw you off your game, literally.

The Ocean City Police Department's jail
The Ocean City Police Department’s jail

To make the game understandable to a new player, it has to guide them through the tasks and objectives. While there is a narrator in the introductory video, within the game all the vocal guidance is provided by the seven characters.

They are:

  • Willie Burnett – The Driver
  • Kat Burgess – The Cat Burglar
  • Maggie Machado – Heist Mastermind
  • Franklin Cooper – The Safe Cracker
  • Liz Sterling – The Hacker
  • Leo Myshkin – The Demolition Expert

Vocal talent is provided by Joe Grisaffi and John Swasey plus other voice actors they brought in, while game designer Stephen directed them and recorded their speech at Space Cowboy Audio in Houston, Texas.

Although the game uses lots of physical shots, the core P3 system still incorporates the arrays of IR LEDs either side of the playfield display which make up the ball tracking system. We asked Gerry if this system is used in Heist!?

Gerry explained, “It’s used a few different ways in gameplay, presenting dynamic targets to hit and detecting when the ball is shot into unique locations. For instance, when you hit an ATM standup target, some money flutters down the playfield. You then roll over the money with the ball to collect it. Collect enough money, and Mr. Big will come after you! The tracking system is more than just a ball-tracking system though; it can track any physical object. We even use it to help calibrate the crane’s movement.

The crane extends over and interacts with the playfield LCD display
The crane extends over and interacts with the playfield LCD display

In this Cat Burglar mode video, you get a good idea how the crane can work in concert with the playfield LCD’s animations.

Heist! incorporates a number of new, unique mechanisms such as the crane and the jail gate. Gerry told us that they use “mechanical simulations and high-iteration movement and impact tests” to ensure the reliability and durability of these parts. This reliability aspect is especially important as the company has recently announced a limited two-year warranty for their base P3 and its upper playfield modules.

Mr. Big's bank and vault
Mr. Big’s bank and vault

While Multimorphic has been promoting the networked gameplay capabilities of their Cosmic Cart Racing and Heads Up! titles, Heist! is a more traditional game and doesn’t currently include that capability.

However, there might be the possibility of future games using the Heist! upper playfield module, as has happened with other titles. Gerry told us, “We’ve talked about a number of different stories or chapters that could work with Ocean City (the Heist! layout). I never expected the Lexy Lightspeed playfield to have a basketball game (Hoopin’ It Up) or a Quest For Glory game written for it, so never say never.

Heist! was originally going to launch publicly at the Texas Pinball Festival in March 2020, but with that show being cancelled it is being promoted online instead, with Pinball News being part of that launch.

The P3 with the Heist! game kit
The P3 with the Heist! game kit

To go along with the launch, several promotional offers have been announced.

Until 17th April, 2020 buyers can get a fully-loaded P3 with all four game kits, the mini-games, the upper flipper assembly and the backbox display for $15,995 – a saving of $2,695 on buying the elements individually.

Alternatively, the P3 pinball platform with the upper flipper assembly, the backbox display and the Heist! kit is available for $9,995, saving $1,195. Both deals also include a collectable 78″ x 33″ standup banner featuring a Heist! character.

Existing P3 owners can add Heist! to their system for $2,750 – that’s $2,500 for the game kit and $250 for the upper flipper and side targets assembly.

The Heist! playfield
The Heist! playfield

More information can be obtained by e-mailing sales@multimorphic.com or visiting their website, while you can watch a promotional video for the Heist! game right here.

Manufacturing has already begun and Heist! game kits are available at launch for immediate purchase. Once they are sold out, further kits will be made to order.

And will Multimorphic ever go after a licenced theme for a future game? Gerry is certainly open to the idea. “When the time is right and the budget allows it, we’d love to build a game around a licensed theme. I know it’s easy to say “Get a great license and sell thousands of games!“, but there’s obviously a lot more to creating a great pinball game than that. The P3 game library now offers three great and deep traditional pinball games, a redemption-style game, a couple of head-to-head networked games, and a number of mini-games. We’re looking forward to working licensed properties into the mix.

  • Hot Wheels pinball from American Pinball

    HOT WHEELS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED

    After the game was initially shown at the Amusement Expo trade show in New Orleans, Americ…
  • Hot Wheels from American Pinball

    HOT WHEELS REVEALED

    At the Amusement Expo coin-op trade show in New Orleans, American Pinball unveiled their t…
  • Playfield detail from Oktoberfest: Pinball on Tap

    OKTOBERFEST: PINBALL ON TAP

    Having revealed the production version of their Houdini game in March 2018, American Pinba…
Load More Related Articles
Load More By Pinball News
Load More In GAMES

2 Comments

  1. larry

    29th March, 2020 at 7:59am

    That’s not a Pinball game! It’s a video game. $10,000??? You got to be kidding.

    Reply

    • dc

      1st June, 2020 at 9:18am

      That was the whole point of Jerry’s project to evolve pinball with the direction taken towards a mix of video and pinball action. The 10K includes base game which can be reused in future game swaps. You could say the same of pinball2000

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

LATEST RETRO ATOMIC ZOMBIE ADVENTURELAND SHOWN

On Saturday 21st November, Deeproot Pinball placed two prototype models of their upcoming …