Word broke yesterday that one of my favorite local pinball venues, Rock Fantasy in Middletown, NY, had gotten the newest pinball machine out there - Godzilla by Stern Pinball. I had been chomping at the bit to play it, so I took the morning off and headed on up there. Here's my thoughts and a bunch of pictures.
I wouldn't really call myself a huge Godzilla fan. The new movies have been fine, but there's something about the old school "Toho" Godzilla films that has always struck a chord with me. Part of it is definitely nostalgia. I have distinct memories of watching the various Toho Godzilla movies on Saturday afternoon television on New York's local station 9 (it could have been channel 11, they were similar) as a child. That alone is enough to get me interested in the theme.
Rock Fantasy bought the Pro version of the new Stern game. That's the entry level machine, created for operators aka arcades and homeowners who want the game but don't want to pay up for the Premium or Limited Edition models. The Pro model is missing several mechanisms that are available in the LE and Premium, such as the collapsing building mech in the center of the playfield, the collapsing bridge mech and the Mecha Godzilla sculpt / magnet / rotating spinner mechs.
I have heard good things about Godzilla Pro, but one never knows for sure whether they will like a game until they have actually played it themselves. So how was it? AMAZING! I loved everything about this game (well not everything, but you know what I mean). The experience of playing Godzilla definitely exceeded my high expectations. So what's to like? The game has quite a bit of flow. There's loops everywhere, two very hittable ramps that loop around to the opposite flipper, the center building shot, a loop around the top, targets galore. Trust me, the game shoots great.
The animations work well with the current version of the code and I suspect that there is even more movie scene integration to come. My favorite is the ball save scene, when that hilarious little Baby Godzilla Dude (yeah I don't know his official name) jumps around and hugs big Godzilla for saving him. That's so appropriate. All of the various monsters that Godzilla fight have their own actual scenes from the films on the screen, not just new animations like say Stern Jurassic Park. The integration with the Toho license is excellent. I personally like the art on the game as well. I know that a lot of people have been critical of it, saying that it's not dark enough or scary enough. I guess, but I would think that bright games that Pop would do better in arcades than drab dark games so to me this art package makes a lot of sense. Stern could always revisit it later on and come out with a different art "Dark Edition" art package for the game along the lines of the Comic Art Star Wars or the Color art Munsters Premium games that they came out with after those games' initial releases.
The game starts with four Monster modes with several other Monsters locked. Each of the early Monster Modes have specific shots that one needs to hit to earn points and clear the mode. To my pleasant surprise, the necessary shots and the player's progress on the mode are very clearly spelled out on the screen during mode play. I assume that players have to clear the entire first set of monsters to unlock the additional ones. I never did get that far in the game, but I did manage to put up the Grand Champion score on Rock Fantasy's pin (excuse me while I brush my shoulder off...allow me my moment of glory until someone actually good comes along and crushes my score lol.) In addition to different Monster modes, the game had different cities that players could choose. I know that there's end-of-ball bonuses associated with visiting the various cities, but I wasn't really able to discern what each city did in the game.
In addition to the modes the game has the typical main multiball, like T-Rex Multiball in Jurassic Park or Groot Multiball in Guardians of the Galaxy, that can be started by I believe repeatedly hitting the center shot. It has other multiballs as well. Players can get assistance in the various modes by doing Monster team-ups and by activating Mecha Godzilla on the right side of the playfield. Players also can charge up their Heat Ray (I think that's what it's called) during play. When the Ray is ready, the player must hold down the center button to charge it and BOOM it automatically hits every single lit shot on the playfield. If you do the ray at the right time, the points can be humongous. I hit it during a mode and I believe multiball and raked in a cool 100 Million points. Of course, activating the ray requires players to hold down the action button for a few seconds so I drained the first two times I did it lol. The points are so huge that it was worth losing a ball for it. I was ready the third time around and hit the action button with my masked face. Take that Godzilla! Oh BTW, watch out for that single Pop Bumper in the lower right section of the playfield. it’s a tricky bugger.
One aspect of this game that I was interested in trying out was the new connectivity feature that Stern is introducing on all of its games going forward. I loaded up my Stern Connect QR Code and held it over the sensor on the machine a bunch of times. It made some sort of beep but never loaded up my account. The Godzilla at Rock Fantasy may not have been hooked up to WiFi. That would be my guess. Whatever the reason, I will have to wait until another day to try out the new Stern system.
I had to pick up my youngest son from school, so I had limited time to play this afternoon. I put in a bunch of games on Godzilla, at $1/play or 3 plays for $2. Afterwards I snuck in three games on Stern Pinball's Led Zeppelin Premium, since I had only played the Pro before, and one game on Jersey Jack Guns N' Roses.
So there you have it. To me Keith Elwin and Zombie Yeti's new game is a masterpiece...and it's not even completely done yet. I can't wait to see how the code evolves and to try the tricked out Limited Edition / Premium versions of the game. Below is a bunch of pictures that I took of the game today and some extra bonus pics of Rock Fantasy in general. Enjoy and thanks for reading!