“Party Zone” – Pinball Showcase and Review

I just pulled this game off route and decided to do a showcase video, so enjoy this quick overview and introduction to this really neat, rare, early WPC DMD game, “Party Zone” by Bally.


1991 Bally early WPC DMD game by Dennis Nordman with art by Greg Freres. Review and play overview and game introduction. This game also plays “Pinball Wizard” by the Who. It has lots of humor, is a non-licensed theme featuring a variety of characters from other pinball machines including Elvira and the Party Monsters, Dr. Dude, Monster Bash and others. Features cool 80s music and 2-ball multi-ball.

Basic Rules:

Start multi-ball and build jackpot. Special song plays if you hit the max jackpot (Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix). Visit the club three times to qualify multi-ball (shoot the right orbit-like shot, which isn’t an orbit but deposits the ball in a kick-out to the right ramp). During multi-ball shoot left orbit or right orbit shots to build the “rock-it fuel” jackpot, then the left ramp to collect. There is no ball save.

Various interesting features including, Captain B-Zarr – an amusing comical DJ that will play different songs you can select by hitting the center saucer after qualifying by hitting the two targets flanking the saucer.

Supersonic Robotic Comic: Random award qualified by hitting the three stand up targets to the right of this saucer, which kicks to the right ramp feeding the right flipper (same kickout the club shot goes do). The robot talks backwards in random gibberish and awards things like multi-ball, laugh attack (all switches score extra points), random points, and bop-till-you-drop where the pop bumpers score 1m each and punk music plays.

Eat, Drink, Be Merry: Shoot green stand up targets on the left to qualify, then shoot the left ramp for Eat (1m), then the right saucer (Supersonic Robotic Comic) for 2m, then the center saucer for “Be Merry” for 3m – amusing animations.

Way Out Of Control: Shoot the lower right stand up targets to qualify, each time enables a different mode for the far right shot (5m, 10x playfield, special, etc.) – when not qualified shoot this shot for 1m and more each shot.

End Zone: Outlanes when lit, reward points; more points by hitting the football player targets

Review:

Great game with great flow and a fun, unique theme. Beautiful artwork. Ruleset is simple yet challenging. A great game to practice pinball technique including nudging. Reliable game on location, lots of playability in home use as well. Short ball times with lots of repeat playability. Great game for competitive pinball.

Gameplay: 8 – Fun, challenging game with a lot of repeat playability; a bit difficult/unforgiving for beginner players.

Playfield Design: 8 – Excellent flow and satisfying shots; cool and unique ramps; looks more simple than it is.

Ruleset: 7 – Shallow but fun ruleset that gets players shooting all over the playfield; a few modes stack with each other allowing strategic play for higher caliber players. But otherwise a short list of modes and features that interrupt each other. Scoring is well-balanced.

Art: 7 – Gorgeous day-glow art package that is fun and frivolous. People are likely to either love or hate the art, not because of the talent or quality but depending upon whether they appreciate the offbeat theme.

Music: 7 – Another hit-or-miss. If you can appreciate the intentionally kitschy 80s-style adaptations of popular songs which fit in with the theme, you’ll enjoy this.

Theme: 7 – Unique, non-licensed theme.

Creativity: 7 – Overall a very creative pinball machine that takes more chances with art and theme than playfield or mechanics.

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Behind the Scenes: Designing the Dominos Pinball Machine

I attended a seminar in Houston featuring some of the design team behind the Dominos Spectacular Pizza Adventure pinball machine. Yea, yea, I know. But I was there and I recorded the seminar, so if you’re interested here’s some info on the process which led to that machine…

I got a chance to play the game and I was not very impressed with it. But then again, I don’t honestly think this is a game for pinball enthusiasts. It’s a marketing thing for Dominos. Along those lines, it’s very cool. I absolutely love pinball machines being promoted and used for promotion. So that’s a good thing.

But as a pinball enthusiast, I thought the game was somewhat lackluster. The DMD animation was not on par with other games, the sound effects were invasive and chaotic. There were a lot of tight shots on the game – I think the designers added too many shots so those shots are more narrow – and that’s where I think the design fails. If you’re targeting this game to non-pinball-enthusiasts, it should be easier; it should be flashier, but this game is hard to play. In any case, they had most of the games sold before they even started production — such is the pre-order model. So there you have it.

However, if you’ve ever wondered what goes into licensing and approval to make a pinball machine, this panel discussion goes over the process and the design changes and challenges. Pretty interesting…

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Stern Ghostbusters Pro Pinball – One Shot Pinball Review

One of our awesome members, Paul, decided to have his new Ghostbusters machine shipped to the PinChurch to share with everybody so it’s been hanging around here for the last week. I put a bunch of games on it and am posting my first impression of the game and how it works for you all to enjoy.

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How to survey, appriase and evaluate a pinball machine in the wild?

I made a video for a friend who was going to check out a game for me at an estate sale, and I thought, in the process, let me outline a few basic ideas on how to evaluate, appraise or give a “look-see” to a pinball machine in the wild and determine what kind of condition it’s in? There is no fool-proof guide, but here are some ideas and suggestions for when you come across a game, what to look for and what to do in order to asses its value.

If you have friends that know you’re a pinball enthusiast who occasionally forward you leads on games, this video also is worth them seeing so they know what kind of info you are looking for, and what to look at with these machines to determine if they’re worth pursuing. In this video I go over all the basics, including identifying the different “eras” of machine and what makes them more/less valuable, as well as how to disassemble and transport a machine.

By the way, I am available to help appraise pinball machines if anyone needs any guidance. ūüôā

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Comparing Online Pinball Suppliers

Sometimes getting parts can be frustrating and time consuming. Is there a source for the best parts and service with the best prices? Or does it depend upon what type of parts you need? I decided to do a short study on parts and prices. These prices cover a span of several months or longer as I put together this article, but the pricing and availability for any specific part were all checked on the exact same day.

NOTE: These results have been tabulated over a long period of time. I first started comparing prices more than a year ago, and realized how tedious it was, and I created a draft and didn’t finish. But every once in awhile when I’m looking for a part, I research it and post the details here. So these prices may not reflect current prices but they do reflect prices offered at the same time from various suppliers over a period of a year or more. (On newer comparisons I will list the date I looked things up)

The results are quite interesting. In some cases we found price differences on the same part by more than 250%! It pays to shop around.

 Comparing online pinball suppliers:

5647-12133-12 Microswitch - A common switch used in outholes/troughs
(8/7/2013) - This was the result of looking for a trough switch assembly 
A-10417 which was not found anywhere - this switch would be part of it 
I believe.

Pinball Life            3.25
Mad Amusements          3.25
Marco Specialties       5.95
Competitive products    N/A
Planetary Pinball       nothing - their microswitch page was completely empty
Bay Area Amusements     N/A (had some other switches but not this one and no 
info on comparables)


 1" White rubber ring:

 PinballLife:           0.27  (10+ .243)
 Mad Amusements         0.29  (5+ .27)
 Bay Area Amusements    0.29  (no qty discount)
 Competitive products   0.41  (100+ .38)
 Marcos:                0.49  (10+ .45)
 
555 incandescent bulbs (clear 1 box of 10) (6/29/13)

Marcos:                 3.00 (qty 1), (10+ $1.50)
eBay:                   (10+ $1.25 - $1.50 some with free shipping)
Bay Area Amusements     3.00 (no qty discount)
PinballLife             N/A (closed)
Competitive Products    1.50 (sold individually @ 0.15 ea)


Game-specific Parts:

Bally Black Rose back ball trough (Part #A-14825) 6/26/13

Marco                 79.95
Bay Area Amusements   69.00 (out of stock)
Pinball Life            N/A (entire store closed until 7/6/13 for vacation)
Mad Amusements          N/A


Bally Black Rose Cannon Body (Part #03-8566) (date not noted)
  
Bay Area Amusements     69.00  (door for $12, no decal, actually upon 
contacting them, they had the decal out of stock $25 but not listed under
 parts for the game)
Marcos:                $89.00  (door for $19, no decal)
Mad Amusements            N/A
PinballLife               N/A
Planetary Pinball         N/A  (door for $19, decal for $25 out of stock)

Simpsons Pinball Party Couch Weld Fix (Part #535-9307-00 on 3/28/12)

PinballLife            $14.95
Bay Area Amusements     46.00
Marcos:                 46.40
Mad Amusements            N/A
Planetary Pinball         N/A (doesn't appear to sell Stern parts)

Red & Ted's Road Show plunger link assembly, used for slingshots 
- common on many B/W games (#A-15847  9/9/12)

Competitive Products    $2.25
Planetary Pinball        2.75
Bay Area Amusements      3.00
Marcos:                  3.99
Planetary Pinball         N/A
Mad Amusements            N/A

Attack from Mars - slingshot/kicker leaf switch - the assembly was unavailable
but the individual switch could be found.  (#SW-1a-420 9/4/13)
Pinball Life has the entire assembly with the bracket for $6.95. Marcos
did not.

Marcos                    4.50
Pinball Life              2.75
Bay Area Amusements       2.75

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