Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stern Pinball's The Avengers (Hulk LE)

During the 2013 Pinfest in Allentown the guys from Marco Specialties had two machines of (at the time) Stern's newest game, The Avengers. Both were the "premium" models and this one in the video is one of the special limited edition Hulk versions. The backboard on the Hulk is a little bit different then the other versions of The Avengers and it also has a green dot matrix display instead of the normal red ones they've been using. As you'll notice from the title of the video, it's a "Preview" and not a review. As with both Stern Pinball and Jersey Jack Pinball, they will update the games with different rules, new modes and bug fixes. I'm not sure the version in the game I was playing or if they've updated this game since Metallica came out, but if I see another Avengers table I'll try to get another video to see if there's been any changes. For those of you that would like to know more about the table, hit the jump and read more! Big thanks to all the guys from Marco for letting me take the video and be sure to check them out for all your pinball needs!

Welcome to the jump! I thought I'd write more about the game since I didn't talk much due to the machine being so damn loud and I couldn't hit the Black Widow ramp for the life of me. So The Avengers... wow. I really don't know what to think with this. Rules aside the machine feels a bit mixed to me. Granted I was playing on a Limited Edition with extra bells and whistles. The Cosmic Cube was added in by the guys at Marco, so it looks REALLY bright, on the normal version of the machine it looks just like the cube they had in Transformers.

The game was designed by George Gomez, the same designer as Transformers, Lord of The Rings and a personal favorite of mine, Monster Bash. So you'll notice things in Avengers like lighting the lanes to light the locks for the Loki Multiball and the fanned layout of all the shots and you have to hit each shot 3+ times to earn an Avenger and also complete the mode in order to qualify for the "Battle for Earth" Wizard Mode.

I hate to say I'm going to come off really negative with my thoughts on the game. I played it about 8 times that weekend and this video was my 6th time playing it so I wanted to get a good impression on the game before I wrote more about it, so let's get everything out there now with the things I do not like about this game.

As I said the game has four outlanes that spell out LOKI that you use to start the Loki Multiball. It's the same as the Two Towers Multiball in Lord of the Rings. The problem is there's so much shit over the ramps it's really hard to tell whenever something is lit. Even on the Pro models they use super bright LED's on the outlane lights to try to make everything stand out but it does't help when there's a huge plastic piece of a ramp right over the light. The same goes for the THOR targets. They have a piece of plastic right over the targets so you can't see them unless you turn your head and look at them. They don't even have lights to let you know which targets you dropped.

The Hulk of course is the main gimmick of the game and he's also a huge problem. As you can see in the video the ramp he "picks up" often gets stuck on his fists and it locks him in place. He's supposed to be free so he can bat around any oncoming pinballs headed towards him. It looks really funny when it does work. The other problem is the way they have him rigged. Pretty much it's a torso with the two arms and he picks his arms up and down and can twist side to side. So you can tell he's going to get beat to hell. From pictures I've seen from owners he's been breaking down and you have to take him apart to fix it. Other then him totally breaking down the biggest problem is that they didn't put a sensor behind the Hulk. Often a ball will get stuck behind the Hulk's back. Since they didn't put anything there to check if there's a stuck ball you either have to be brave and try to nudge the table or wait for the game to go though a ball check. What's odd is they check everything else and the Hulk goes last so you've got to sit and wait for him to shimmy the ball loose. But other then that this game is ripe for stuck balls. On the first night this game was installed at the Two Bits Retro Arcade in NYC my friend Allen had to open the game up at least five times to move the ball. They later changed some of the things around inside and also pitched the table differently and that helped it..a little.

The Avengers also follows suit with other movie based games from Stern where they have no voice clips from the actual movie or actors providing the roles they played. Now we have "Marvel Approved" actors which aren't that bad but it would have been cool to hear them get the cast from the Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon or even the new Avengers Assemble series. Isn't it sad when we used to get movie based games were the stars would do tons of custom speech for the game and now we get generic voices? I guess the actors didn't sign off of their likeness because you'll notice no pictures of RDJ outside of the Iron Man suit. I would have loved to have heard him say, "You wanna get some shawarma?" for the end of game.

The biggest thing I hate with the game is how it looks. Just a week after I played the game at Pinfest I was in Wally-Mart where I saw they were selling a set of Avengers Wall Decals. Here's a link to them on Amazon.

Avengers Decals

Now here's a link from Pinball News of the Playfield.

Avengers Pinball (Pro) Playfield. 

Pretty much they just copy and pasted the approved photos and used them in the game. It's LAZY, there's nothing unique about the game. That's why I think Metallica is such a breath of fresh air. Even if you don't like Dirty Donny's art style I'd much rather see an original piece of art then Something that was whipped together in Photoshop in 45 minutes. I get it that they have to go with something the movie studios approve but seeing stuff like this makes me feel like an old man missing the good ol' days of pinball when everything was hand drawn.

So that's my take on The Avengers. It's lazy looking, doesn't have much from the source material, the main toy doesn't always work right, can't see major shots and the balls like to get stuck. I will try it again if I ever see one but it still could have been much better.

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