Dr. Who, Whirlwind, The Getaway, Demolition Man, Dirty Harry, No Good Gofers, Road Show, Batman Forever, and Rollergames are all worth checking out in that budget/needs range. Lots of gameplay variation in those listed there, but one of those would probably fit into what you’re looking for, I’d think.
I’d put most of those in the “would get boring quickly” category. For example, I’ve owned a NGG and RG in the past and both were pretty lame after a minute*. I have kind of wanted a Demo Man for a long while, but the aesthetic is not my favorite. Haven’t played much Batman Forever… but not super attracted to those oddball Sega games of that era. Getaway might be worth thinking about though. That’s a pretty fun game and that super charger is super cool and crowd pleasing. Good suggestion.
*NGG really did get boring fast. Just not much to do in that one. Rollergames… THAT SONG!!! But fun game
Some games my wife likes in your price range would include fish tales, road show, junkyard, diner, and bad cats (although bad cats doesn’t have multi-ball). If you could let her try these maybe you would find one she likes.
BUT I WANT ONE
+1 for @Barry10’s suggestions of Fish Tales and Junkyard, although the con to either of those is that Dast and I will be at your house constantly.
I’ll go a bit off the beaten path here:
World Poker Tour? Revenge From Mars?
I agree with @CFFLegs that BSD isn’t a great game for casual players. Its redeeming quality is that it lights Mist Multiball on ball 3 if you haven’t already lit it, and phase 1 of Mist Multiball is certainly a crowd pleaser. But you can have many games in a row without making anything interesting happen, and that’s not too fun for casual players. Combined with the very long/steep/difficult left ramp, IMHO BSD is just harsh.
Junk Yard isn’t that easy for casual players, I’d say. Fast and furious… Fish Tales would be a better choice I think (although the missed shots to the boat with their instant center drains could be a downer).
I’m still enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. Gauntlet is hard enough to reach that I’m still interested after many games, but there is a lot going on for less-skilled players too. Not sure whether that won’t be outside your price range though.
Another one that’s nice for casual players is South Park (but experienced players usually hate it).
Getaway also strikes me as a good suggestion. Not too hard to have fun as a beginner, but challenging for experienced players after many games. Rule set is a bit shallow though.
I think WCS is the game that fits your wants the best.
Its a very approachable and easy to “get” game for new and casual players. It has good feedback and callouts. WCS always seems to be a game that new players enjoy a lot.
Its one of the best games for hardcore player practice (imo), and won’t get old.
I’ll pitch a bit of a strange one… Data East’s Jurassic Park (caveat: put in the ChadH code; I’ll explain that in a bit).
Basically an Addams Family rip-off, but easy to find sub-$3k. It’s got several multiball modes (Tri-Ball, Raptor 2-ball, and Chaos 6-ball). It has one ramp (with a diverter so it can feed back to either the left or right flipper). It has a DMD. It has three flippers and has shots that require using the upper one. Theme is exceedingly family friendly. It has a lot of modes for the era, and you don’t see them in the same order so it mixes things up. Can have short ball times but is not an overly brutal pin.
You definitely want the ChadH code, however. It takes away the “free” Tri-Ball reward on ball 3, removes a bunch of bugs, makes it so you don’t always have to start with Stampede mode, balances the Mr. DNA choices, and balances out the scoring on the modes.
When I have guests over, Jurassic Park is a big draw. It is easily the biggest draw for those that do not regularly play pinball. Kids like the T-Rex eating the ball and the captive ball to “hatch” baby dinosaurs. Better players appreciate that you have to hit scoops to advance modes and ball control skills are needed to last very long. It has a lot of shots. And, thanks to ChadH code, rather than being a casual mess in software you have a balanced game that isn’t overly easy.
A lot of people got started on Bride of Pinbot. Easy enough to just spam the ramp to get MB. Once you get better you start collecting the ring values, or bumping the lane values or going for the backdoor billion shot through the center ramp shot.
Once it is mastered you can bump it to 2.0 and get a whole new game out of it.
For some reason casual players tend to love BSD at my place. The mist ball is a big reason I think. I don’t understand it because I usually have my BSD setup hard. I have Shadow too and people tend to prefer BSD. Maybe my friends are all masochists?
Does your wife like pinball? If not, don’t buy a pinball machine that she might like. I did that and my wife could still care less about pinball.
My 3 year old daugher LOVES BSD. It’s always the game she runs over to play whenever we go in the basement.
I have no idea what that means as a data point . . . and most likely says more about my parenting skills (or lack thereof) as her father compared the qualities of the game itself?
Fair point. My wife does “like” pinball, but I think mostly just because I do. I’m kind of just using her as an example of a casual player. We have parties from time to time and I’d love for people to actually be interested in playing the games, rather than just saying… “oh pinball. cool…”
Maybe I’ll just use your, and @pinwizj’s data points to justify the fact that I just want a BSD. Thanks for that
I think just about everyone that comes to my place that isn’t already into pinball thinks, “oh… pinball… cool…” no matter what i have in my garage. Get BSD if thats what you want
Could you please elaborate, what makes this great for practice?
After having a party once where most of the guests said “oh pinball. cool…” and seemed too intimidated to play, I put $10 bounties on a bunch of the games and put a target score on the backbox. First player to get the target score got to keep the $10. It cost me $60 but worked way better than I could have imagined. Now when friends that aren’t involved in the pinball scene come over, I don’t even have to encourage them. I’ve even caught some of them convincing others to give it a try.
I find all the gasping in BSD really annoying, and I don’t like the art much. Watching the movie just made it worse. It’s a bit hard to play, I didn’t like it as a beginner either. But mist multiball is pretty cool and automatically qualified on ball 3…
I will apologize for not knowing prices - I don’t buy or sell and the price guide website wasn’t working just now.
The machines at my house that our non-pinball friends like to play are Tales of the Arabian Nights (which does have a multiball but it’s not a very deep game), Lord of the Rings, and Attack from Mars. Not sure if any of them are even close to your price range, though - they’re pretty popular.
LOTR is a really great training pinball machine, by the way - it gets you thinking about how to qualify the different multiballs, and you have reasons to try to learn to make all the shots.
Fish Tales and WCS might be good. Congo?
Shadow is a little bit of a steep learning curve, shot-wise - I hated the game until I decided to not try for the skill shot; missing those leads to really short ball times.
Star Trek TNG? Whodunnit?
Wizard is a pretty attractive game, though it doesn’t have a multiball.
Jackbot is fun and playable at multiple levels, and not as sexist as Bride of Pinbot. Bride also has some difficult shots; it’s not super accessible to beginners. Jackbot has been in our pinball league clubhouse for over a year and it’s still earning well.
X-Men has been popular with newbies in my house. The multiball from Wolverine is easy to start, and the hero modes (“just try to make the same shot as many times in a row as you can”) are easy to explain. It’s a bit hard, though, especially when you have the outlanes wide open.
Any of the Oursler/Python rollercoaster tables are FUN! And for some reason Bad Cats is a big hit with the ladies. I always find this interesting with Bad Cats as the layout is very similar to BSD. The rules… not so hot, but if this game isn’t really for you… so what. All of those games are well within your price range.
Best of luck!