Stern's "The Munsters" and making pinball accessible to novices


I’ll disagree here. I hosted a birthday part for my son in my basement, and the ability for that button to start a game and also launch the ball is worth it’s weight in gold.

The instinct of every kid that stepped up to my games with the lockdown bar button was to simply hit that first and see what happened. It starts a game . . .GREAT! Woohoo! Now how do we get this ball into play? I guess I’ll smack this button again. Woohoo! GREAT! It’s playing!

Most kids had no idea how to start a game or launch a ball on a majority of my games. At some point I had to power off my Cowpoke because even explaining the kids how to manually load their own ball through the plunger mech got a bit tiring :slight_smile:


I came back to this thread to say what @pinwizj just added, so I’ll just add that the simplicity and multi-function of the button works for adults too.


Joking aside, knowing about ball searches is actually a useful beginner skill. When I was a new player I remember telling my SO, “The weirdest thing happened! I was playing Medieval Madness and lost track of the ball, then while I was looking for it the game went crazy and the castle blew itself up even though I hadn’t shot it.” SO then explained to me about ball searches. Now, when I see casual players looking around for a stuck ball, I explain to them that if they leave the flippers alone for a little while the game will try to get it out for them.


This makes me wonder why this isn’t the default behavior of the game. Or is it? I guess this would be difficult for multiplayer, because if the button is used to start the game and also launch the ball, it can’t be used to enter multiple players.


I’m not sure how old your son is, but I’m guessing he doesn’t hang out in barcades. Young kids really aren’t the target audience for location pinball.

I’m not advocating for a ban on lockbar buttons, just questioning why it’s on a game supposedly targeted to noobs. The barcade near me has lots of noobs and they tend to play the 90’s WMS games more than newer Stern’s or TNA. The newer games are in a different area than the WMS, so it’s easy to see who’s playing what. The older games aren’t as bright and are more likely to be familiar than the newer Stern’s. Makes sense that they would gravitate in that direction first.

I know of more than one op who is disabling game start from the lockbar button. Our league has requested this. More than once, scores have been wiped because someone accidentaly pushed the lockbar button before scores were taken.

Pinball is becoming cool again. Noobs are attracted because they have friends or relatives who play. Not because of any attract mode. I don’t think we should underestimate them. Granted, Star Wars was a bit much where the player was asked to make two decisions before launching ball 1, but I don’t think we have to dial it back too far. Learning the rules and how things work is half the fun. It’s good that we have lots of noobs out there learning. We didn’t have that ten years ago.


The instructions aren’t very intuitive. I read that line, pushed the button when it flashed, and after 5 or 6 games, I have no clue what it does. Do you really think noobs will figure it out from the one line on the instruction card?


I’m pretty sure that bm66 has it as default settings


Feel free to replace my example with the sames example from every trade show floor I’ve ever hung out at. The demographics of the noobies range from 7 to 70, and most of them don’t know how to start a game or get the ball into play. YMMV of course based on your own experiences.

We’ve actually found similar issues with Raw Thrills games. We have a start button that mostly gets ignored by noobies trying to figure out how to play. For our driving games just step on the gas if there’s a credit on the game and it’ll start it for you. For our shooting games just start shooting and it’ll take you into the game.


Game start and ball launch are turned on by default now. And yes, it can get confusing. Which is why our league is asking ops to disable it.

Once you find the credit button for the first time, you remember. It might get a little confusing on older games where the credit button is on the coin door, but once you figure out that it’s somewhere on the front of the game, it’s usually not a problem.

Time will tell, but the lockbar button being used to start games and launch balls is causing more confusion than it is welcoming noobs IMO. YMMV


As I mentioned in the previous post, once you learn the credit button is somewhere on the front of the game, it tends to not be a problem any more. Why add more confusion for something that only needs to be learned once? Same goes for launching balls.

I’ve helped lots of people find the credit button. They don’t usually struggle the next time. Do we really think we’re losing players because they can’t find the credit button? That hasn’t been my experience and I play on location 300+ days a year.


That’s the point. The instruction is supposed to be easy to digest and follow.

If you want to know more strategy behind the button and when to use it, that comes with experience. If the player really wants to know they will find out.

Most people will just hit it when it flashes and be happy. Just like hitting any shot in the game that is flashing that they don’t know what it does.

At the end of the day, what makes a game fun for novices is completely different than experts. When a company can make a game that appeals to both, it’s a winner in my book.


Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing with the lockbar stuff? Haha. Trust me, the noobs aren’t noobs for long if they don’t want to be.

And this is impressive.


I agree. Game like Medievel Madness and Iron Man come to mind. You put either of those two games next to a Munsters and which one is going to be easier to explain (or understand) to a noob?

Again, only played a few games, but it seems like Stern is trying a little too hard to straddle both sides of the fence with this game. I honestly hope I’m wrong with my initial impression and noobs flock to it. We’ll see.


I’m slightly confused on this action button discourse. What makes the action button so much more radical/villified as compared to multiple flipper buttons on Haunted House, P3 System, etc? It is an implement that is added to a pinball machine; sure you might have to remove your hand from a flipper but you can figure out how to use it without digging into your need for control as a learning curve.


The irony of the action button is that for decades pinball games have included lettering on the aprons with arrows telling the player “flipper buttons on side of machine” or “flip here” or “use flipper button to change lanes” etc.

Now, there is a trend for games to have “center action buttons”, which often times are not even active for any action.

Once the game is started there is an immediate cause and effect: press the button, see the flipper move. New players can easily see that (after fumbling around trying to start a game)

However, the action button on the lock down (or even 90s games with smart bombs etc) is not user friendly at all. In most cases, it is not clear upfront what it is used for. The display giving instructions isn’t going to help matters. Even experienced players spend most of their time looking at the flippers and ball in play, not the display.

In short, these action buttons are basically asking players both new and veteran to do something that goes against the whole premise of what flipper pinball games represent.


Where does this philosophy stand on Volcano, Devil’s Dare, Blackwater 100, Revenge From Mars, Nightmare on Elm Street, P3 Multimorphics, etc where the “action buttons” are just alternate flipper buttons? Distinguishing the action button from a flipper button leads to increased clarity of it’s function by putting it in a new location. Alternatively, a new player can easily hit a “flipper button” and have nothing happen to their disappointment.


Start on coin and start on utility button (or generally any button) is fine. As long as these can be disabled.

Example. We have a wifi coin drop system with auto coin-up (free play) used in some cases. Here an auto start is not good.

Please do not get too upset about newbies having trouble starting a game. They’ll figure it out. And please do not judge by people in a free play scenario, who are looking confused but quickly walks on to the next game. Oh well.

The start button is not the best. But the key issue is a lack of clear guidance from the game. With all that real estate on the screen these days, think a little out of the box.

In attract, as soon as a coin is inserted or buttons pressed, the bottom 1/3 of the screen could be permanently allocated for guidance on inserting credits and starting up the game (1 or more players). For a solid two minutes on something like that. With the regular attract sequence proceeding only on the top 2/3.


Saw this repeatedly when having a WCS in the wild.


I know Jersey Jack does this, but it might be something that gets looked over since it’s in the lower right part of the screen. Maybe running a high contrast transparency over the screen with your design setup (bottom 3rd, show the button) would draw more attention?


I have no idea what this means. I have a Star Wars at home. I like the action button, and I don’t feel like that game goes against the “whole premise of what flipper pinball games represent” in any way. In short, what flipper pinball is, is going to be different for each person, and I have no issue with Stern or anyone else trying things on different games with buttons or smart phone integration or whatever. Every machine doesn’t have to be for everyone.


Some people don’t even know what a “credit” is.