Date: 24th February, 2022

Multimorphic have announced the latest addition to their catalogue of games for the P3 pinball platform and their first licensed title, Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity.

The translite for the Standard Edition with the game logo
The translite for the Standard Edition with the game logo

Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity is the work of the Multimorphic team, headed up by the game’s Creative Director, Stephen Silver, who also designed the company’s earlier title, Heist!

The Standard Edition of Weird Al's Museum of Natural Hilarity
The Standard Edition of Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity

Artwork for Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity comes from Matt Andrews, while in-game graphics are by Rory Cernuda and Stephen Silver. Software is by Michael Ocean, Greg Goldey and Gerry Stellenberg with mechanical engineering by T.J. Weaver.

Sound for the game is by Scott Danesi, while Bowen Kerins and Colin MacAlpine were the rules advisors. Content advisors were Frank Serpas III and Will Beals.

Based on the singer/musician/actor/performer ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s extensive body of work, the game is set in a fictitious museum consisting of assorted themed rooms, each housing exhibits related to selected Weird Al songs.

In total there are 17 full-length Weird Al album tracks incorporated into the game, chosen by the team in collaboration with Al. They are:

Amish Paradise
Dare to be Stupid
Fun Zone
Germs
Hardware Store
Harvey the Wonder Hamster
I’ll Sue Ya
Like a Surgeon
Mission Statement
My Bologna
Sports Song
Traffic Jam
UHF
Weasel Stomping Day
White and Nerdy
Word Crimes
You Make Me
The song list in Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity

Buyers of the Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity game for the P3 can opt to upgrade their purchase to a special Limited Edition version. This is restricted to 227 units – the number 27 being significant and referenced many times in Weird Al’s productions – and provides exclusive benefits such as a special cabinet artwork package, an interactive animated topper, a special translite personally signed by Al, unique playfield plastics, an alternative apron decal and a selection of LE-specific swag.

The Limited Edition of Weird Al's Museum of Natural Hilarity
The Limited Edition of Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity
The Limited Edition translite with the game logo
The Limited Edition translite with the game logo

So, let’s take a look at the playfield design, starting with the Standard Edition.

The Standard Edition playfield
The Standard Edition playfield

The Limited Edition model has exactly the same gameplay features as the Standard Edition but has different bottom arch and playfield plastic designs.

The Limited Edition playfield
The Limited Edition playfield

Here’s a more direct comparison showing the cosmetic differences between the two versions.

The Standard Edition (top) and Limited Edition (bottom) playfields
The Standard Edition (top) and Limited Edition (bottom) playfields
The Standard Edition (top) and Limited Edition (bottom) bottom arch magnetic decals
The Standard Edition (top) and Limited Edition (bottom) bottom arch magnetic decals

The price of the base P3 pinball platform is now $8,300. The Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity Standard Edition kit costs $3,000, with the Limited Edition extras costing a further $1,800.

As with most P3 titles, the majority of the game-specific elements are contained within the upper playfield module. However, there are a couple which involve changes to the lower part of the playfield.

While Heist! introduced an upper-right third flipper, Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity adds a fourth flipper on the opposite side. As with the third flipper, games which were designed before the new flipper was introduced simply won’t activate it, while designers of future games can choose to use it or not in their designs.

The new upper-left flipper
The new upper-left flipper

When deactivated, the flipper lays flat to the side of the playfield and doesn’t interfere with the ball’s motion, ensuring no changes to the gameplay of earlier titles.

The second addition to the lower part of the playfield is the cross-playfield wireform which feeds the ball to the right inlane.

The cross-playfield wireform
The cross-playfield wireform

Like the crane in Heist! this extends over the LCD display part of the playfield, but it is specific to this title and is installed as part of the Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module.

That module packs an impressive number of gameplay features and shots in a relatively small area.

The Weird Al's Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module
The Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module

Starting on the left is an outer orbit lane which flows round the back of the playfield to the opposite side.

Next to that is the left ramp which is the entrance to the Anthropology Hall. This takes the ball up onto a section of the upper playfield, from where it can exit either along a wireform to the left inlane, or on the cross-playfield wireform we just spoke about to feed into the right inlane.

The left ramp
The left ramp

On the right side of the left ramp entrance is the ‘V’ standup target which is the first of a set of three spelling out V-I-P.

The left ramp, the V standup and the left inner orbit lane
The left ramp, the V standup and the left inner orbit lane

Under the left ramp is the entrance to the Museum’s Sports & Leisure Hall which is a short lane feeding back down the left orbit lane.

Above that is the entrance to the Ticket Counter which is blocked by an illuminated drop target. When the drop target is down the ball can be shot into the scoop behind which kicks out into the left orbit lane.

Between those two lanes is the second of the V-I-P standup targets.

The Sports & Leisure Hall lane and the Tickets Booth lane
The Sports & Leisure Hall lane and the Ticket Counter lane

The centre lane is the next shot in the Museum, and this passes two Supplies Closet standup targets as well as a trio of pop bumpers tucked away under the upper playfield and the Hamster Wheel. A grab magnet sits towards the end of the lane, with a subway entrance into the rear ball trough at the very end. This then allows the ball to be kicked back onto the playfield from several locations.

The centre lane shot
The centre lane shot

To the right of the centre lane is the Harvey target. Hitting this causes one of the scoops in the row running across the playfield above the LCD monitor to pop up. This represents Harvey the Wonder Hamster, and shooting the scoop enables a ball lock at the hamster wheel.

The central area of the playfield module
The central area of the playfield module

The hamster wheel is a motorised feature located above the Harvey target.

The hamster wheel and the centre ramp
The hamster wheel and the centre ramp

It can lock balls for multiball and is accessed either from the centre ramp or from the right ramp.

The motor drive for the hamster wheel
The motor drive for the hamster wheel
The hamster wheel spins
The hamster wheel spins

The entrance to the centre ramp features a lift mechanism, allowing balls to either travel beneath it or be shot up the spiral wireform. It also represents the entrance to the Crime & Punishment Hall.

The centre ramp
The centre ramp

On the right of the centre ramp is the final V-I-P target. Completing these three raises two scoops in the centre of the row of scoops to give instant VIP access to any of the Museum’s five halls.

Shoot the scoop to access the VIP Ticket Booth
Shoot the scoop to access the VIP entrance

Next to the centre ramp is a U-turn mini-loop lane with the left entrance being the Business & Industry Hall and the right the Health & Medicine Hall. The UHF standup target is between the two entrances. Hitting this target enables a ball lock. The balls are held in a motorised TV camera positioned above the target.

The UHF target and camera ball lock with the right horseshoe lane
The UHF target and camera ball lock with the right mini-loop lane

The balls can get into the camera lock from the mini-flipper on the upper playfield when the camera lock is lit.

The UHF TV camera
The UHF TV camera

When three balls are locked, the camera turns and deposits the balls onto the playfield.

Balls exit the camera for the start of UHF Multiball
Balls exit the camera for the start of UHF Multiball

The third ramp is on the far right of the playfield module. Like the centre ramp, this right ramp features a lift mechanism allowing the shot to either be a ramp or an orbit lane.

The right ramp entrance is down, allowing balls to enter
The right ramp entrance is down, allowing balls to enter

The ramp is also bi-directional. When the lifter mechanism is up the ramp allows balls to exit from the upper playfield and onto the wireform which runs down the right side of the game to the right inlane.

The ball travels across the raised ramp entrance and down the right return wireform
The ball travels across the raised ramp entrance and down the right return wireform

We mentioned the upper playfield a couple of times, so let’s take a look at that next.

The Mezzanine upper playfield
The Mezzanine upper playfield

Fed from the right ramp or the centre ramp, the upper playfield is the Museum’s Mezzanine level and it features the Little Hungry One Café which is another mini-loop lane featuring the ketchup ‘Just’ and mustard ‘Eat It’ standup targets.

The horseshoe lane and standup targets
The mini-loop lane and standup targets

There is an additional standup target which is revealed or hidden by a diverter to the right of the mini-loop.

A single mini-flipper is used to control the ball and shoot either the mini-loop lane, the three standup targets, or send it down from the Mezzanine through one of the exit lanes.

The hidden standup target and the exits from the Mezzanine upper-playfield
The hidden standup target and the exits from the Mezzanine upper-playfield

If the mini-flipper doesn’t manage to make the shots on the upper-playfield, the ball can roll past it and exit on either the left return wireform or on the cross-playfield wireform.

The bottom exit from the upper playfield
The Weird Al's Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module
The Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module

That concludes our look at the Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity playfield module, but of course there is much more to the game on the LCD panel which features the usual ball-tracking technology with two sets of side targets, the row of illuminated walls and scoops stretching the the width of the playfield, and the usual slingshots, inlanes, outlanes and flippers.

All the in-game information is shown on the LCD panel and there’s an extensive range of graphic displays within the game. Here are a few examples:

Dare To Be Stupid multiball begins
Dare to be Stupid multiball begins

During Dare to be Stupid Multiball, shooting the mini-loop lanes spins the wheel to give one of a wide range of awards which modify how the mode works. The awards include changing the jackpot values and jackpot shots, adding a ball, giving an immediate points award, and limiting the number of flips available.

The Dare to be Stupid wheel awards Halfpots
The Dare to be Stupid wheel awards Halfpots
The Chore Board from Amish Paradise mode
The Chore Board from Amish Paradise mode
I'll Sue Ya mode
I’ll Sue Ya mode
Like a Surgeon mode
Like a Surgeon mode
Sports Song mode
Sports Song mode
The Ticket Lobby
The Ticket Counter

Here’s a summary of the game’s rules:

The Museum of Natural Hilarity is a fantastical museum with exhibits and items that connect players to the Weird Al’s songs and his hilarious and descriptive song lyrics. Al acts as the museum curator, welcoming players and guiding them through the museum.

All balls begin in the Museum’s Lobby with Al’s instrumental song Fun Zone playing. There players can visit each of the five exhibit halls (listed below) and then go to the Ticket Counter (scoop behind the drop target) to select between the two available song modes for that exhibit.

Alternatively, the player can shoot the V-I-P targets to raise the two centre scoops that represent a VIP Ticket Counter. From there, the player can choose any of the ten exhibit hall song modes.

The five halls are:
HallShotSong 1Song 2
Anthropology
Sports & Leisure
Crime & Punishment
Business & Industry
Health & Medicine
Left ramp
Left side orbit
Right side orbit
Left mini-loop lane
Right mini-loop lane
Amish Paradise
Sports Song
Word Crimes
Mission Statement
Germs
White & Nerdy
Weasel Stomping Day
I’ll Sue Ya
Traffic Jam
Like a Surgeon
Upon selecting a song mode, theatre-style curtains close on the screen. When they reopen, the scene has changed to an immersive environment specific to the chosen song.

Each song mode has a unique set of rules that connects physical shots on the playfield with the lyrics of the song. After completing a certain number of shots, the ticket counter shot becomes available to exit back to the Lobby, or the player can continue progressing in the mode until the full song plays.

When back in the Lobby, the player can activate the right lift ramp and spiral lift ramp for access to the Mezzanine Level (upper playfield) by rolling over the ‘meal ticket’ inlane icon.

The main feature of the Mezzanine is the Food Court, where the player can shoot the ‘Just’ ‘Eat It’ targets to collect food items to light My Bologna, and the Mezzanine loop to collect spatulas to enable a one-time use outlane ball save rollover target.

My Bologna is a mode that has the player building bologna sandwiches via Mezzanine loops and targets.

There are three stackable multiball song modes:

Hardware Store Multiball: Hitting the side targets represents items being broken in the museum. After breaking 27(!) items, the rear hole through the pop bumpers lights for Hardware Store Multiball, during which the player collects tools and helps repair the halls.
It's time for repairs
It’s time for repairs
Dare to be Stupid Multiball: Hitting the Harvey standup target causes Harvey to periodically poke his head up (represented by one of the P3‘s scoops opening) while the song Harvey the Wonder Hamster plays. Shooting the scoop lights the hamster wheel for a Harvey Lock. Shooting the hamster wheel via the right ramp or spiral ramp locks a ball for Dare to be Stupid Multiball. Dare to be Stupid Multiball is essentially a game within a game, where the player can shoot the mini-loop shots to spin the wheel, and item selected will do one of a number of things, including change the jackpot shots, change how the flippers work, award a gift, etc.

UHF Multiball: Hitting the camera standup targets lights the camera lock. Then shooting the camera lock with the upper flipper locks a ball in the camera. Locking three balls in the camera starts UHF Multiball, where your goal is of course to save the station!

One other song mode, You Make Me, is a mini-wizard mode that becomes available after playing at least one song mode in each exhibit hall.

After playing all song modes, Running with Scissors lights for a final trip back through the museum where the player relives all of the hilarity within.
The completed songs are shown below the player's score
The completed songs are shown in pairs below the player’s score
Other features help you progress, award gifts, or provide scoring advantages. Examples include Squeezebox combos for scoring bonuses, Hawaiian shirt collection that leads to awards and scoring multipliers, and the Supplies Closet that of course includes a lost ‘n found that occasionally acts as a mystery award.

There are a number of changes to the standard P3 system introduced with this game which will be used in current and future P3 builds. Let’s look at two of the biggest.

First, the backbox design has changed to include an illuminated speaker panel featuring title-specific artwork. There are separate designs for the Standard and the Limited Editions and, because the P3 is a modular system which encourages the swapping of the upper playfield module and the loading of alternative games, there either are or will be designs for other P3 titles.

Right now there is speaker panel artwork for Stephen Silver’s previous game, Heist!, as well as a generic panel design.

Speaker panel designs for the Limited Edition and Standard Edition models, plus one for Heist! and a generic design
Speaker panel designs for the Limited Edition and Standard Edition models, plus one for Heist! and a generic design

Speaker panels for earlier titles may be produced if there’s enough interest from game owners.

There have also been changes made to one of the fundamental features of the P3‘s playfield – the row of walls and scoops located just above the playfield monitor.

The illuminated walls and scoops have been re-engineered
The illuminated walls and scoops have been re-engineered

Until now, these have all been raised and lower by individual solenoids. The solenoids have been effective but not too subtle in their activation, especially when two or more have operated simultaneously or in rapid succession.

Now, the wall and scoops are motor-driven. This provides a much smoother and quieter operation and also provides the ability to electronically level the scoops so that they are always flush to the playfield.

Pinball News asked Multimorphic’s head, Gerry Stellenberg, to tell us more about the game’s creation.

With any licensed game needing a fan of the theme to help drive the project, who, we asked, was the biggest proponent of a Weird Al pinball at Multimorphic?

Gerry told us, “Stephen and I discussed it a while back and thought Weird Al and his music would make for a great game. We didn’t know at the time, but we have a few Weird Al super fans on our team.

A licenced game needs initial buy-in from the rights holder(s) – in this case Al himself. We asked Gerry how involved Al was in the initial concept and the subsequent development of the game. He said, “We proposed the concept to him, and he thought it was great. He and his team have supported us throughout development with suggestions and feedback, and we did a voice recording session with Al for HOURS.

In fact, Al recorded over 2,000 voice calls for the game to add to his 17 music tracks plus additional original music from Scott Danesi.

One unusual problem using Weird Al’s music is the way many of the tracks are pastiches or parodies of other popular tracks which makes licensing significantly more complex compared to just using the original artist’s music. We asked Gerry how they selected the tracks to use in the game?

He told us, “All are album tracks. The only bespoke pieces are incidental items created by Scott Danesi and approved for use in the game by Al.

There’s so much to choose from! We wanted to include a bunch of his more well-known parodies so that casual fans would feel connected to the game, and we chose a bunch of his original songs both to give his bigger fans more to enjoy and to introduce others to some absolutely incredible music they might not already know.

A bunch of factors played into our parody selections. Our team voted up some favorites, we filtered things based on Al’s opinions, and then we locked in ones that worked well with the museum concept. For the originals, we listed out all of our favorites and then narrowed it down from there.

The Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity kit adds an additional upper-left flipper to the main area of the playfield in the same way Heist! added one to the upper-right, but it also adds a cross-playfield wireform and introduces a whole new illuminated backbox speaker panel design as well as an animated topper.

One of the great benefits of a modular platform such as the P3 is the ability to quickly and easily swap from one title to another. As games expand beyond just the upper playfield module, becoming more heavily themed and less generic in design, we asked Gerry if the modularity of the platform starts to become compromised.

He said the dynamic nature of the artwork on the main playfield display – something which is unique to every title – is key to immersing players in the overall look and feel of the game.

Our overriding goal is to deliver an immersive and feature-rich playing experience. We pour everything we can into our games and commit fully to the theme without too much regard for future rethemes and add-on games. There’s more packed into our $3000 Weird Al game kit than in most full machines, including ones that cost 3-5 times as much.

Our playfield display also helps immerse people into whichever game they’re playing, regardless of the artwork on the playfield module or other physical elements. Delivering immersion is one of the biggest advantages of the P3, and it’s delivered in spades in this game. Every exhibit hall song mode makes you feel like you’re living inside the story of the songs and like you’re interacting directly with the lyrics, and that’s almost entirely because of how we use the playfield display to help with the storytelling.

Overall, Gerry said the team at Multimorphic had had a great time developing Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity. He told us, “Al is absolutely fantastic, as is his team. Working with them was even easier than I hoped it would be, and that made it a joy to create a game we’re all thrilled to present to the world.

A small number of Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity kits are available right now for existing P3 owners, although these were mostly pre-purchased months ago, long before the game’s theme was revealed.

Orders for game kits, as well as the LE upgrade and the base P3 platform, will be opened up through the Multimorphic website’s webstore from 9am US Central Time on 28th February, 2022.

Multimorphic have also released a promotional video for the game. Here it is:

Multimorphic’s promotional video for Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity
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