Thoughts on the new stuff?

I’m curious to hear from anyone who got to play the new games (Jetsons, Houdini, others?) at Texas, what did you think? It’s hard to tell what’s going on from video. Houdini looks like it has a couple of interesting catapult-y things, one of them a little like Big Guns and one that looks more like Aerosmith’s Toy Box…



I played two games on the Jetsons. It was fun to shoot, for sure. Looked great too. Seems like the objectives were just to spell character names, but I can’t tell you what happened exactly after that was accomplished.

The ramp did seem a little flimsy, but smooth anyway. I liked all the shots except the one just to the right of the ramp. It didn’t ever feel like I was hitting it cleanly (even times that it did register).

Shooting the left scoop would result in “Ball X” locked, but there didn’t seem to be any (obvious) indication that locks were lit.

Total Annihilation was awesome. I only got to play 2.5 balls, but it played very fast, had awesome music, and a very cool ball lock system. Felt like old school layout & gameplay, with with modern speed, sound, and displays.


I was lucky enough to catch a short line at Aliens, the game is much more impressive in person than on stream.
The shots were fun, the inlane/outlane area was a bit tricky, I didn’t care for the flippers though, to me they felt clunky, and with only one game to play I couldn’t really get a feel for them. For me it made shot making a bit hard.
But the work the did with the integration of the movie sound and video was top notch, Sentry Multi ball with Bill Paxton screaming at you in the back ground was AWESOME. I didn’t get a chance to ask anyone if there were adult settings for the game, since it was on a show floor it was definitely PG. Overall, I think this will end up being a great pin.

Also played the production models of the P3. They feel so much more solid than the prototype cabinets, everything felt much smoother, stronger, and overall just better. The heads up game, while simple, was fun, the baseball game was also simple but fun, deal with a random kick out, then you get one flip to get a hit, strike, or an out; neat, but not super exciting. Rocs, what can I say, it’s asteroids with flippers and pinball, great fun, little kids will love it for sure.

BM 66, I thought it was fun, obviously the code is still being developed, but after speaking with George about call outs and video it should end up being a lot more fun, it’s a fun shooter, not overly challenging, but some good shots to make.

The rest of the new stuff I wanted to play the lines were just too long.


There were lines at the P3 booth for Heads Up and Cannon Lagoon for pretty much the entire show, enough so that they swapped out a second game for Cannon Lagoon to cut down on the wait time.

Of the other games that I got to play for more than thirty seconds:

Dialed in had a lot going on, but didn’t feel particularly directed. I found myself peering around trying to figure out what to do next constantly but never really got a handle on what I might want to try and get started or stack besides starting a multiball and hitting the atom thing when it was prepped. I also had a set of headphones so could plug in and get a better idea of what it sounded like, the callouts are instructive but the audio and music tracks aren’t standing out to me - it sounds like a modern city builder or strategy game and has a kind of goofy-chill background music vibe. They definitely crammed a ton into the game, but I’m not convinced that complexity == fun yet.

Aerosmith I also got some time on as the lines weren’t too bad, I liked it quite a bit but the ruleset was pretty standard Stern, nothing too exciting stood out. It was fun regardless and the toybox catapult lock is waaaaaay cooler and better done than the Simmons head. The new display is pretty well done too but I really want to see the contrast on the scores bumped a bit.

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Yes, there’s an “Adult Content OK?” adjustment that, when set to no, squelches some of the four letter words and such. Of course, because of the theme, there’s still a considerable amount of violence and gore (if family mode got rid of all that, there’d be very little A/V content at all :slight_smile: ) … it’s arguably a “PG-13” pin even when adult content is disabled.


That is good news, and I pretty much figured there would be a ‘Cursing’ option.
"Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don’t say any naughty words!"
If you played it, what were your thoughts on the flippers?

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I don’t want to drop a huge wall of text, so as I finish my write ups for my site, I’ll link to those later. For now, here’s my basic assessment of what I saw:

Houdini - It’s got a lot of interesting stuff going on, and it has some challenging shots. That lock shot is VERY tough to hit consistently, but it’s a fair shot, just difficult. The game looks a little rough, but should be a fun game when it’s been given more time to cook. Joe Balcer is doing a great job there.

Alien - Lots to shoot for, but everything felt just a little bit off. The odd shot geometry was tough to adapt to, but that’s way better than facing a cookie cutter layout that you instantly are dialed into. The game looks and sounds great, so hopefully Heighway can start getting production games shipped. This game has a lot of potential. It’s also been a very long time when a game has had so many things to shoot for, especially from the upper flippers.

Dialed In - Easily my favorite of the new batch of games, Dialed In is incredibly smooth game with plenty to see and do. While I plan on setting it up steeper with more open outlanes, I think the combos and modes were already offering a decent challenge to complete. If you like Lawlor, this is more of that. If you’ve never clicked with Pat’s designs, this might be the one to work for you. It’s just such a clean shooter.

Aerosmith - Not a bad game by any means, but it feels very, very familiar. The ramp shots are great on both models, and I’m really happy with the ability to delay multiball. I think that the lock shot is pretty terrible though, as 90% of the time it will slop in there from the magnet or another sort of ricochet. The ball finds its way into that shot constantly on accident, but making it deliberately isn’t so easy. I’m also getting a little bit of magnet in front of the bash toy fatigue. That said, they’re doing cool stuff with the lighting and the display, and the release code is fairly complete. Pretty vanilla experience, but it’s well done.

Total Annihilation - This is just a pure joy to play. The music, the lights, the ball locking system, and the sheer speed of this game just make it a rush. I really had fun with this and I’m hoping we see more from this in the future.

P3 - It’s looking ready. It’s ultimately not for me, but I’m thinking that people who go in on one are going to find plenty of cool things with the platform over time. I really like what Gerry has created and what’s it’s also allowing other people to do in the hobby.

AFMr - Plays very close to the original, just much faster. Obviously that speed will come down as it ages, but I think they put together a good product and it’ll sell in big numbers. I didn’t like the huge display until I saw it in person. After getting eyes on in person, it looked nice.


The P3 Wizard Trainer was a highlight of the show for me. It gives you tasks to complete, shows you how, then you practice and get a Ritchiesque F if you do poorly.
I didn’t get to play Aliens or Houdini. Dialed In was excellent, Batman 66 was lots of fun, Aerosmith was fun but I agree with Jeff, seemed very familiar. AFMr was ok, I think it will be a big seller. The new stuff to me was a lot of the EMs I hadn’t seen before. Knock Out was lots of fun! Freedom was the only middle-pop game I saw.

The Kahr board saved the day on Indy 500 during the tournament. One lady was lighting it up in Multiball past 300 million and it rebooted. Ken installed a Kahr board and I don’t think it had another problem.


I didn’t get a chance to try Aeromsmith, Batman 66, or Houdini. So, moving from that:

Jetsons: I found it pedestrian. I know I’m not the target audience, and I didn’t think it overly easy or anything (my ball times were sufficiently short compared to any other game I might step up to). I got a multiball very easy from the left scoop (felt like a “gimmie” multiball). Other than that, just an approachable layout that seemed pretty intuitive. I like the playfield look… thought the dots were sub-par however.

Dialed In!: Highlight of the show for me in terms of manufacturers. I am not a Lawlor fan and for my fun his designs have been hit or miss. Personally, I think this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a Lawlor game (of course that’s a bold statement given it was only one game). Also my favorite JJP game I’ve played so far. The shots felt great, it puts on a great show, was fun to watch how the crowds reacted when they got things like selfie mode and such. Toys were well integrated, art package is probably the weakest area. If I were in the market for pins at this dollar range, it would be hard for me to say no to this one.

Alien Pinball: Better than I expected, but it did not blow me away. The theme integration was better than I felt when watching it streamed. Good integration of the film clips (and the actors are pretty prevalent in the displays and callouts), great integration on the sound. Lots of shots… I personally feel widebody pins are inferior (per the rules of geometry) to standard width, but Heighway’s wides have always felt faster than anything else I’ve played (yes, that includes JJP). Alien is not Full Throttle flow, it deliberately slows the ball down in fact, but there are so many shots that I never felt like I was stuck waiting for the side-to-side action to subside. Loved the modes where you were to make particular shots and were punished for making the wrong shots; hope to see more of that in other games. Still, no Sigourney Weaver was very noticeable and I feel hurts theme integration. I did not like the mode select scoop being near the middle at the top, it seemed to cause a number of STDM drains in the group of four I was playing with fairly consistency and likely will need to be something to watch for when setting it up. Overall, would I say this is better than Full Throttle? Yes. Would I buy one? No.

P3: I played this last year. The production cabs look great, much more professional. There were people playing it all the time. I only played one of the new games for it, the pitch-and-bat (it was neat but not something I’d invest much time in).

AFMr: The LE has the best topper in pinball, very cool. Love the large-size color displays. Otherwise, well, it’s AFM. My personal favorite game from the 90s. I’m not in the market for one, but I think the three-tier price structure will be competitive with what the used market is demanding, and personally if I had a choice I’d take the remake.

Buffy: Fun game. Won best custom at TPF, and I understand why. I guess it was a playfield from Swords of Fury, but when I looked at it I didn’t see it (so good job with the modifications).

Total Annihilation: What I think should have won best custom. Holy cow, I wish this was a production game. Total 80s vibe but with the power of modern tech. In-line drops with the ability for the balls to lock in between the drops? Awesome. Unique layout with one weird pop bumper off the the right? Awesome. Single-level playfield that feels like it has unique segments? Gottlieb wishes this is what their “street level” pins had been able to be (had that been true, we’d probably see a very different present than we do now).


Forgot I had played others. Alien:

I felt the same, as did the two others I talked to. Is it the geometry being off, or just getting familiar with the flippers? Sounds, look and atmosphere are awesome, but I haven’t seen much action on this game go one for more than one or two shots before a ball just ends up rattling out from a shot and falling back down the flippers.

That upper ramp shot…is it supposed to be nearly impossible? After watching/playing 6 games in person, I haven’t seen anyone shoot it successfully.

P3 Pinball Trainer was really fun. They changed the code at some point over the weekend. I played the version that had the cubes popping up a lot. Apparently, they got a bit worn out and those modes had to be removed. I’m not sure what will become of this platform, but hopefully it can be used as a pinball gateway drug for the uninitiated. I’d be really curious to see the response from these games at a show with more casual pinball people.

P3 Home Run Derby was okay…if it was a little more explicit about where the pitch was coming from, that would help. Also, giving you more than one flip per pitch would be nice.

Dialed In: I played it at Expo and loved it. Still loved it. The most flow of any Lawlor game I can recall. Most flow and fastest action of any JJP as well. The lines weren’t any longer on those than they were on any of the other new machines, but people seemed to be enjoying themselves playing it.

AFMr: plays just like how I imagine a NIB AFM played back in the day. I didn’t care for the lighting of the inserts (very bright and starburst-y), but everything else seemed spot on.

Aerosmith: I had fun playing two games on it. Felt less like KISS than I expected. Hard to rave about it. The toybox locks are super cool. I expected the center ramp to be easier and smoother than it was. I found myself rattling out quite often. I was surprised how often balls would ricochet into the lock…which may end up being a benefit to the game.

Freedom was the only middle-pop game I saw

I loved this game. Apparently it was a prototype, and the production game had a standard flipper layout. I’ve really also enjoyed Spanish Eyes for the pop bumper between the flippers.

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Disclaimer: I’m the primary game programmer for Alien and therefore might be biased…

I think the flippers are fine. They’re a little different in feel from WPC flippers or modern Stern flippers… to me not particularly better or worse, just different. On my prototype, almost every shot is very reasonably makable on demand, except the Chestburster lane (which is a rather tight shot, but can be made from both the lower left and upper left flippers) and the lock ramp, which is quite long… the first thing that popped to my mind when I played it was Whirlwind’s Millions Plus ramp. Not easy to make, but quite satisfying when you do.


And isn’t it cool that they can do that!

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Houdini is the surprise - on a positive note. The company was received with some sceptism, to say the least, at Expo.

But this game is not only a beautiful and finished mechanical prototype. But also features some new playfield ideas, and still within a traditional setup. No dubious stuff or even the temptation to go widebody.

What I really like is, that they seem to have thought things over and redesigned components their way. The apron looks really nice, for one. And the backbox - is different.

Congrats. I hope the production and reception and finished product will not turn sour.

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Note: I’m the programmer of Grand Slam Rally for the P3

All of your findings are spot on with some of the modifications I plan to make. Seeing the game played at TPF gave me a ton of notes on things that need to be tweaked.

I’m adding an operator adjustment for multiple swings/flips per pitch (and there’d be an on-screen indicator explaining how many you have left.

I’ll also add an operator adjustment for pitch indicators, so we’d have arrows coming out of the 5 upper lanes denoting where the pitch would come from.

Thank you so much for the feedback! It helps us improve the product.

– Jimmy


@joe Bias/pride; either way I’m fine with that.
From what I could tell the programming and rules were pretty solid, it may not be saying much since I was only able to put in one game, but man it was fun from what little of it I was able to explore in that time.
Maybe it is the fact that the flippers feel nothing like WPC or Stern flippers that I just couldn’t wrap my head around, hell up to about 8-9 years ago I would avoid Stern machines cause I did not like the feel of the flippers. I’ve have gotten over that bias since I started operating them.
Anyway, I loved the game, and hope to convince my operator to get me one soon, along with a P3…


Indeed. This was a huge help, and a great engineered solution to a common voltage problem.

The pins I found most impressive:

  • Total Annihilation: Wow. I echo others comments that it was a pure joy to play. Simple. Exhilarating. Fast. And challenging.

  • Dialed In: Great game to shoot with incredibly satisfying and smooth shots/combos. Lots to do. While it’s still not a theme that draws me in, the catastrophe-style modes (with plenty of fun references to other Lawlor pins) and fun humor of the game make it appealing.

  • P3 Wizard Trainer: very VERY cool way to teach new and old players alike both basics of pinball skills, as well as advanced skills (on one mode, it was teaching a player how to post trap, which I consider an advanced skill). And when you did a skill that it wasn’t calling for, it still recognized it, and told you that you’d done it.