An odd assortment of things are wrong on this TSPP pinball machine. Are they related? Let’s look into what’s wrong and where we should look to fix things?
This has now turned into a multi-part series where I also discover some other issues:
So here’s the take-away from the first 5 parts of this series.
Everything was basically inter-related (except I believe the slingshot and pop bumper coils were separate failures). The trouble with the ball trough opto led to the failure of the shooter lane coil. When the ball trough opto started failing, it signaled false switch closings, tricking the game into thinking balls were moving through the trough and causing the VUK to try to clear a problem, which caused multiple balls to go into the shooter lane. This happened faster than the auto-plunger could handle and once X number of balls went in there, the plunger could not clear them, and eventually the MPU sent too many “fire-the-coil” signals and blew the driver transistor — interesting that it blew the driver transistor before it melted the coil — I suspect either (or both) can happen in this circumstance.
What’s interesting about this, is that this problem could be compensated for by software. It’s also possible the other coil failures are the result of a similar characteristic: Not having a certain timeout or duty-cycle enforced on coils. Meaning… the software could check to make sure that if a coil is firing too much (say x amount of times in y time), that it knows there’s some kind or problem and then put the game into some sort of error state rather than blow the coil or the drivers. I know in some later games this happens… when errors are encountered, the game just stops trying to fire coils rather than blow them.
This obviously isn’t the case in some of these 2000-era Stern games. I’ve noticed this on several titles including WPT and NBA as well.
Unfortunately, there’s not likely to be a software fix available, so what is important is to keep an eye on game behavior and try to catch switch malfunctions before they blow things. Had I been told about the shooter lane situation earlier, I could have fixed the opto before it blew the driver transistor on the SDB.
In this video designer Stephen Silver shows us the inner workings of the P3 system. It’s a very interesting and efficient design that makes the game surprisingly easy to service, with lots of features not found in typical pinball machines.
NOTE: This is just an initial “first impression” and I reserve the right to change my mind – the code is very early and obviously unfinished.
I’ve had a chance to put a dozen or so games onto the new James Bond in both the pro and the premium and I thought I might jot down my first impressions because that is also what casual players are first-time players might experience. so here are my thoughts.
Also, after I did this video, I probably put another 40+ games on both the pro and the premium versions. I still think my initial first impression holds… HOWEVER, I seem to recall I had some similar concerns with Gomez’ design on Deadpool (specifically the cross-playfield katana shot that I thought was going to be very difficult to achieve and frustrate players — however, that shot ended up NOT being a critical shot in the game’s progress so even though it was difficult, it wasn’t required). This may be the same situation with the far left ramp shot (that feeds Jet Pack Multiball) but it also seems that this shot may be needed to qualify some of the modes — not sure, but if that’s the case, it becomes more difficult. I do know that Gomez can turn around things like this with tweaks to the ruleset, but I continue to feel, the feed from the plunger/pops to the slings creates a high degree of drains without getting flippers on the ball. This will be a game to watch to see if they can address this via the ruleset… I just don’t know.
In summary, here are some of my concerns:
Upper skill shots are very predictable and consistent
Pop bumpers are like Avatar… the ball can get stuck up there longer than is probably ideal
Pop bumpers feed ball to the outlane or the slings – meaning like Avatar and Ghostbusters, you can lose the ball without ever getting a flipper on it
To compound the previous issue, the lower left kickout will throw the ball back into the pops regularly
The left ramp shot is very difficult to make – not only is it very tight, but it requires maximum velocity and if you miss it can go SDTM or to the slings
It also appears that the left ramp shot may be required to qualify modes – a hard shot that will frustrate players
The lower left kickout area just looks and feels “unfinished” from a design standpoint – it covers a large area and the ball often falls into it and then kicks up to the pops — it just seems like an odd playfield feature that might have been a cheap compromise instead of something more expensive like a subway entrance or exit
The upper left flipper has a number of shots to make, but they’re not easy and those right ramp shots appear to be necessary for various modes
The right outhole shot feels even more difficult than the one on Godzilla (and Godzilla has a pop bumper to help you hit it) and it appears to be very important in starting many modes, so a lot of key shots are particularly difficult
The center loop shot appears to be easy but it’s much more difficult to hit due to the switch that registers the hit being at the top of the orbit. It has a very narrow feed and not a very wide opening, and it’s slightly angled. This is the lock shot for Bird multiball – the most obvious and easiest multi-ball and it’s frustratingly difficult — and if you miss, it can go SDTM
It seems obvious the software has a LONG way to go, and can fix some of these problems, but I’m concerned it can’t fix others. We’ll have to see.
Ok, here’s an interesting discussion I’ve wanted to do for awhile. What are your thoughts on rulesets and how deep they have become? Do you think you should have to study 20+ pages of instructions in order to fully-enjoy what a pinball machine has to offer? Do you think competitive pinball has evolved from a game of mostly skill, to a game of mostly knowledge and who has more money and resources? Here are some items to discuss debate
This came as quite a shock. My pristine, Wizard of Oz, Emerald City LE edition, which has basically sat in the same climate-controlled location since the day it was delivered from the factory, seems to have a serious issue….. Are other ECLE owners running into this???
I wrote to JJP weeks ago and still have not received a response.