Oktoberfest first impressions

The Joe Balcer Oktoberfest machine was revealed at Expo. Most people in attendance really enjoyed the game.

Curious your first thoughts? Heard a few players/collectors say it was fun to play, so the interest is there. Will the theme make people put in their FIRST quarters into it on location, especially with other recognizable titles? Time will tell. If people do put their first quarters into, I think they’ll enjoy it.

For me looking at it…

  • good art package. It was fitting, tasteful, good animations
  • great sfx
  • fun Coaster ride shot
  • I liked and immediately noticed the toys on playfield.
  • extra flipper button for lots of magnet saves and a cool feature where you can play one handed on right side…so you can hold a beer on left hand.
  • 14 tent modes (I think 6 are ready now), and many other modes. @joe got a lot of warranted compliments
  • @raydaypinball made a good point saying of lot of Joe’s greatest hits features like TSPP upper flipper ramp shot, lots of stand-up targets (22?), Houdini like Stein entrance.

I flipped a couple of games, here are my thoughts.

  • lots to shoot
  • no shots as tight as Houdini, although scoops kicked out a few, I thought I nailed.
  • loved the ducks
  • interesting ball save stand-ups. Think of Iron Maiden left stand-up above the inlane. I don’t think you can Shatz these ones on Oktoberfest, they are more for slings hitting them as they go in the outlanes.
  • left orbit/ramp will be fun, and maybe even backhand possible for ramp.
  • even with the magnet above the upper right flipper, the side ramp shot is TOUGH! Hard to find on first few games, but satisfying when you make it.
  • Stein selection features are a good help to your game.

Your thoughts?

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I think it’s great Jeff - much more friendly than Houdini and has some superb satisfying shots when you hit them.

The good:

  • The game looks very premium/shiny, with an interesting layout. Just about as packed as Houdini, but without seeming nearly as cramped.
  • I wasn’t excited when they announced the theme, but it seems integrated nicely in a smart way. I could see it doing well in bars.

The not-so-good:

  • The display text and display effects need polish and/or lots of work to live up to the rest of the game.
  • The narrator dude says the following at the start of the game: “Welcome to Oktoberfest. I’m Otto. What can I get for ya? Use flippers to see options. Hold both to select.” Just… no. Holy crap no. There’s a reason that no pinball machines (other than Houdini) have this level of monologue. It’s super off-putting, and this info should be given by on-screen text or pictures or even the rule card.

How does one activate this feature? I’m not considering sharking Pittsburgh by offering to play dollar games one handed or anything…

People seemed to think it was an adjustment in the menus.

Both my wife and I thought the bad German accent sounded a lot more like a bad Jamaican accent at times. It was strange.

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It’s a menu option.

Hey, thanks, Jeff and everyone… definitely looking forward to all feedback, both good and bad.

Right, the idea is for you to nudge the ball off the top of the slingshot into the ball save targets.

Backhanding the roller coaster ramp is possible.

Absolutely. We’ve got a ton of A/V refinement to do over the next few weeks before games ship.

Ditto. We’re on it.

It’s currently an operator adjustment, but we’ll probably figure out other ways to expose the feature. It’s surprisingly fun to play one-handed, and not as hard as I expected it would be.


BTW, there’s actually no “saving” with the player-controlled magnets. You can use the magnets (“MagNab”) to catch the ball at the top lanes (which advance Playfield X when completed) or at the upper-right flipper (four possible shots off that – five if you count the Duck – including the Beer Barrel lock and the bartender/stein collect shot).


This game sounds like it’s going to be so good.


I watched most of Jack’s stream and looked at the detailed pictures sent from PinballSTAR. I must say that this is a really interesting and promising looking pin. MagNab looks cool, similar to both Elvis and Roller Games. The wireforms remind me of Ripley’s, LW3, and RCT. Physical ball locks are a nice feature. I’ve gone from zero interest since the announcement to very excited to play this on location or in someones collection.

Regardless of theme or anything like that, I’ll be interested to see if it simply plays better than the turd otherwise known as Houdini, so we can see if American Pinball is headed in the right direction. I have high hopes.

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The playfield artwork looks incredibly busy, at least in photos, not sure if it looks better in person. The roller coaster looks cool and I like original themes over licensed tables any day of the week.

Oktoberfest looks freaking great. Congratulations to Joe and the team.

Great to sense a unique look and feel to AP games. And I really dig the plethora of second level tracks. Criss-crossing and all that. We have not seen much of that in recent years.

Seems a major step up from Houdini on all accounts.

Noticed a couple of things…

My major concern is an upper flipper with four shots - seemingly hard shots with lock being one of them - with seemingly no way to feed it for a controlled shot other than the magnet. And will it hold a shot from the left flipper?

Similar concept to TSPP. But that game is different for exactly that. The feed.

The scoring display. Do not use a “digit” for the separator(s). Embed it to the digit where it sits. And, of course, in Germany they use the dot. Not the comma.

The German accent characters’ voice work is too lame, I’m sorry. It will have to be redone. Either scrap the idea or hire native German voice actors with the right level of act. Please.

Good job.

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You can generally shoot left orbit for a loop-around feed to the UR flipper, basically like a classic Lawlor game such as Funhouse. The captive ball and bartender shots are not too difficult; the lock ramp is a bit harder than intended right now, but I believe that will get tweaked before production. The 4th possible shot – the scoop – is very difficult from the UR flipper, but thankfully that’s not the intended way to hit the scoop, that’s more of a “oops, too late on my ramp shot” outcome. As for feeds, there’s also a ~50/50 chance of pop bumper exits coming down the right lane to feed the UR flipper, which would be analogous to a Funhouse lock eject to upper flipper.

As for your second question, if you’re asking if there’s any problem with a left flipper -> right orbit shot catching on the UR flipper magnet when Auto MagNab is lit: none at all. We tested that a zillion times and I don’t recall it ever missing. Catching it manually via the button is of course harder, that’s a player skill, but it’s very doable. (Pro tip: hit the MagNab button early. The magnet stays energized for a couple seconds.)


Yep, we hear ya.



Played a long 1M score game, reached both the Corkscrew and Beer Keg Multiballs. Neat layout and magnet features. Like what I see so far.

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I have to second that. I’m a native Bavarian, and the first thought I had was “that’s a terrible fake German accent, let alone a Bavarian one.”

If you re-do the voice acting, please get a Bavarian with an accent. If you take someone from northern Germany, you’ll still get a completely wrong accent. (The vowels in Bavarian are all different in their intonation.)

I played a bunch of games on it as well and found it fun! The modes (think there may only have been four coded so far) were easy to understand for the most part and I agree that the side ramp was hard to hit. The “Picard maneuver” left orbit > side ramp is a fun combo to try and the playfield being busy isn’t really the case when playing. I had no idea how to play but found it intuitive to know what to shoot for.

The juggler mode on second start I don’t think should still be a MB? but not really sure if that’s the intent or if it’s just early code - i figure you should have to earn +balls in the mode on subsequent starts vs starting it again as a 2-ball but just initial impressions.

Hope we get one around here for sure! We even have a local Bay Area guy who has only one arm so he might crush this on one-handed mode :slight_smile:

That reminds me, I wanted to thank whoever animated 2 ball juggling as 330. Well done.