To me this is an enormous disadvantage to later players. At least in Doctor Who, the later players can get credit for a lock with a single target hit. In Popeye it’s three shots per lock, and two of them are super dangerous.


Also there are other good scoring options in Dr Who. In Popeye if you can’t start multiball there aren’t really any good scoring opportunities.


Game Note: Play as one player


Sure, but weren’t you one of the people who said single-player-only setups suck? :slight_smile:


I said that for Pinburgh for sure, but I think in other contexts it makes more sense. I am doing some of the games as one-player for our state champs for instance.


Popeye gets a bad rap…I guess I understand why, those that don’t understand the rules, shots that are hard to see, alot of games are not in good playing condition. I worked hard to get mine playing as it should. The Bluto lock is problematic but you have to get the mech leveled properly to get the balls to roll to the right spots to activate the switches so they register.
After I got mine and got it working right, I realized that as it was the Bluto lock was the only thing to go for because the huge jackpots. I wanted to be able to use it in league and make it fair and encourage folks to go for other things in the game to earn points. So we came up with a plan to block the light lock shot on the skill shot wheel. It works pretty well, you can not light a lock from the skill shot so you have to go for another choice. There fore making the Bluto lock more difficult as you have to hit the stand up targets on either side of his mouth to light the lock and that is not an easy/safe shot. It also gets harder each consecutive Bluto MB it requires hitting each target twice to light the lock. The fact that the light lock is not available on skill shot leads people to choose collect item which will also get you closer to Item MB. This MB is not as lucrative as Bluto MB because the jackpots can’t be as big but it is still worth good points. There is also the Animal hurry up is worth good points and the loops (if you keep comboing it) completing the fight Bluto modes are worth good points and you can light a spinach can on any of those shots which doubles the point value for the shot. Finding Sweet Pea on the upper PF is worth good points but it doesn’t happen alot on mine. Using the elevator to go to the upper PF you get to choose a Jeep award (which confuses some because of how you have to choose) but you can light lock and get other good awards this way also.
Yes it is sometimes an advantage to go first, if you light locks and lock the balls because once the lock has 2 balls in it any other balls going in there (unless it is starting MB) will kick back out of the scoop which can be unpredictable (although I’ve got mine so it pretty consistently kicks to the right flipper). Also if you have MB ready to go but fail to lock the third ball and your opponent locks 3 balls and gets the MB, when it is your turn again you will have to re-lock all 3 balls in order to get the MB.
It has some strange rules but most that have played mine and figured out that there is more to it than meets the eye have changed their opinion of it. In league it usually gets picked a few times. 400 million is a good score in league to shoot for. The average is usually in the 100 millions. I do however think that getting rid of that light lock in the skill shot is key to making the game more balanced and fun. Even just playing for fun it encourages you to go for the save Olive MB, rather than just hitting Bluto over and over. Learning other things to do in the game helps as well.



Having to disable a major feature is not exactly the hallmark of a good game :slight_smile: though I’m glad it plays better for you guys.

There are other sucky things about it… The blocked view of left inlane/outlane was always a huge negative in my eyes; the fact that you light extra ball from ramp shots on the left outlane always irritated me; the modes are tedious with their negative progress, and that doesn’t improve my mood when you are forced to win them all for Fight Bluto or whatever.

There are a couple interesting things, I guess. The whole ark thing is… interesting. It’s the only 3-ball lockup I know with switches in 3 different planes. So that’s something.


I would not consider disabling 1 choice on the skill shot a “major” feature of the game. You can still get the Bluto lock you just have to earn it. It’s not like I totally blocked the Bluto lock scoop or anything that would be disabling a Major game feature. I also considered blocking the light items shot on the skill shot wheel so that the item MB is earned by hitting the Sea and Hag targets then shooting the ramp, but honestly that is even harder than lighting the Bluto lock especially in league games with EB turned off. I agree with the EB thing, I don’t like the idea that you have to loose a ball to get an EB. Basically it is a virtual Ball Save similar to games out today.
As far as the Bluto modes a couple of them are easy to complete, the others it is best to start prior to going into a MB but in MB they can be completed fairly easily. (if you know which targets to aim for) again I think that is one reason why some don’t like it, it has complicated rules and if you are not familiar with them then it can be difficult to finish modes.
Popeye is certainly not in the top 100 for most…but it isn’t as bad as all that either. I know the game is not for everyone but I like it and some that have played mine (that had played it in the past) said that it makes it a more interesting game by not lighting lock from the skill shot and gives it more dimension and things to shoot for. Not sure why in the world they even put that as a skill shot, since once you get the feel for it you can get what you want pretty much every time.




I’ve never been good at shots I can’t see, which is every shot on Popeye unless you’re Lyman or 5’0". Game is basically unplayable garbage IMO, and I will never bother to learn the rules. Feel free to pick it in a tourney against me for an automatic win.


I played a version of Dr Who that spit out locked balls between players. Effectively nullifying the play as player 1 and lock balls and do loops strategy. Is it not a common rom?


I’m not sure which ROM that was, but I was glad to see it as an option. The next one I tried setting that way didn’t have it in the menu, so I’ve been wondering this as well.


We’ve had a Popeye at my pinball spot for some nine months recently. And it was surprisingly (I too never saw the point) popular with players. And resurrected itself some for me. Had good fun.

I generally regard elaborate launch award mechs as a waste of resources and playfield real estate. And Python (+ Ousler/Richie) was keen on them for sure. At least on some games they are in play a little more than just start-of-ball and seldom locks made.

Who knows, if these features where actually bringing in the crowd back then. A feature to get the curious casual player interested. And sometimes a helping hand into game goals.

The best one is Taxi. Fun, skillful, choices (well, two) to decide on, potentially significant for the outcome of a game and nicely tugged away in the upper corner, second level. And quite a lot in play with easy light lock and fast in/out multiball action.


To quote Steve Ritchie, “The theme was stinky and the geometry was funky, chunky and clunky.”


Check out this very in depth review of Popeye - spoiler alert he loves it


I also love it.


OH! I just thought of one legit thing I like about the game. It has some of the best HSTD music ever.


And great multiball start. Several different exchanges between Popeye and Bluto. Different one every time!


This is a great write up!! I had never seen this one before, I even learned a few things I didn’t know before! I agree that it is a misunderstood game for sure…
Yes it does have some really cool animations (they look even better with the ColorDMD thanks Shrekman!!) and some cool music. Not sure about the main theme…Popeye calypso style, but when entering your GC initials it is a pretty cool song!



So glad I was able to force Dave to color popeye!