Contaminated Soil

ABBA Photos, RAZA & Magic Girl Live On, Tournament Pinball, Flying Colors Tutorial & More!

Last week, we had a diverse selection of content for you, which, judging by the feedback we received, was taken well. This week we’ve got less breadth but more depth with a couple of stories I wanted to spend some more time on.

But first, because sometimes it’s fun to toot your own horn, here’s an interview I did this week with Wormhole Pinball and Jamie Burchell, who I’ve highlighted here a few times prior. It was honestly a great conversation and look forward to checking out their space in Houston one day.

This Week’s Pinball Agenda

  • Song of the Week

  • Pinball News of the Week

    • Pinball Brothers Confusing ABBA Launch (plus photos!)

    • DPX/Dutch Pinball Acquire RAZA & Magic Girl Rights

    • A Supremely Detailed Tutorial of Genco’s 1935 Classic, Flying Colors

    • A First-Hand Account of a Memorable Tournament Experience at Past Times Arcade

    • A Couple of Small Kineticist Updates (go check out Pinball Map!)

  • Creator Highlights of the Week

  • Poll of the Week

Song of the Week

Pinball Brothers’ ABBA will be officially revealed on Saturday. Once again, instead of going for an easy pick with an ABBA song, I’ve got a track that has been described by some critics as being ABBA/disco-inspired, which, admittedly, I can only hear if I squint (to the extent that squinting improves hearing abilities). It comes from the British band IDLES off their latest release, Tangk, and it’s a danceable ear-worm with a video that I’ve been watching on loop. It helps that James Murphy and Nancy Whang (LCD Soundsystem) provide some vocals on the song as it leans into that LCD “dance-all-night” vibe.

Pinball News of the Week

Pinball Brothers Confirm ABBA; Official Reveal Saturday; Photos Released

On Monday (April Fools’ Day), Pinball Brothers announced on Facebook (and the following day on their website) that their next game would, in fact, be the much-rumored ABBA-themed pin.

It was honestly a bit confusing. Announcing on April Fools’ Day causes its own set of issues, but going a bit further, the press release itself almost looked like a part of the joke. It felt like PB put their hands up and just said, “Ehhhh, screw it, everyone knows it’s ABBA anyway,” and in imagined exasperation, threw some stuff into a Word doc and called it a day.

It was so confusing that before running with an announcement post as I might normally do on Kineticist, I reached out to the [email protected] email address listed prominently at the bottom of the release to confirm these details, lest I accidentally cover an elaborate April Fools’ joke as fact. Sadly, I received no response. Fortunately, Pinball News would run with their own confirmation later that day, so at least someone in the know backed it up.

We got photos of the game Thursday morning and more details slowly trickled out later in the afternoon (Pinball News has a good rundown).

Some Things We Know Pre-Launch Event

  • The game is based on the music of ABBA!

  • Did I mention we have photos?

  • There are two editions, a Limited Edition and a Collectors Edition ($9,995 and $10,995 respectively). The major difference between the two appears to be the art package.

  • We know there will be 20 songs in the game. It will be based at least partially on their Voyage show in London, which features digitally recreated versions of the members of ABBA (maybe this was the impetus behind the use of AI art in marketing materials like the website), an attempt at “merging the physical with the digital” as producer Svana Gisla says in a promo video for the show.

  • The story for the game is wild and involves creating “ABBAtars and soul-stealing.”

  • The 20 songs are in close alignment with what I can find for setlists for Voyage, with some swaps made, like Money, Money, Money, and Take A Chance On Me.

  • The helicopter eats the ball.

Depending on how much new information we get from the official reveal on Saturday, I may put together a Deep Dive post over the weekend; otherwise, it will wait until next week.

DPX Buys RAZA, Magic Girl & AiW Rights from Turner Pinball

This one is a head-scratcher. Last week we learned about the launch of the DPX sister company sub-brand thing from Dutch Pinball, where they teased Alice in Wonderland. At the time, I speculated that one of the likely reasons for this move was so that Dutch could take on some riskier projects while insulating their core brand from any potential fallout from failure.

My cynical take is that Dutch Pinball may lack confidence in the Alice in Wonderland game, or (more likely) they want the flexibility to take on more risk without causing too much collateral damage to the Dutch Pinball brand should something go wrong with a DPX release. If one of those fails, it’s OK because it’s not a Dutch Pinball release; it’s a DPX release, and DPX games are experimental and “pushing the envelope.”

I now think that is even more of a motivating factor than I did last week. On Wednesday, Knapp Arcade shared a story that DPX had registered the trademarks for both Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland (RAZA) and Magic Girl, both properties that are even more associated with the stink of the Zidware and deeproot failures.

However, I think the real story is how DPX acquired the rights to those games (as well as Alice in Wonderland). Because last we heard, Turner Pinball had possession of those rights following a deeproot asset auction years ago.

I checked in with Chris Turner of Turner Pinball to see if I could get some of the facts of the situation, and he confirmed that he had come to an agreement with Melvin Williams of DPX for the rights to those games.

Turner Pinball seems to be focused on making a different style of games (family-friendly) and assessed that none of those themes fit his company's vision.

Undergirding that decision, however (and this is my personal opinion, to be clear), is how downright toxic the Magic Girl and RAZA assets are to the pinball market. Smartly, Turner essentially acquired tech and other business assets from deeproot and sold off the most tarnished stuff to someone else who wants to give it a shot.

It’s one thing for DPX and Dutch to acquire Alice in Wonderland, which never came close to seeing the light of day. It’s another to take on RAZA and Magic Girl, which did see the light of day in various forms and wound up being abject failures.

From a marketing perspective, it feels like making a move to acquire the land rights to the Chernobyl site. It’s just totally contaminated soil at this point, and it is such an uphill climb to make anything work on it. This isn’t to say it’s an impossible task but at the position you’re starting at, I think it’d be better to start fresh on new titles.

The Most Detailed Guide to Genco’s 1935 Flying Colors You’ll Ever See

Described by someone on Reddit as the “best pinball shitpost I’ve ever seen,” this was our April Fools’ contribution, courtesy of James McFatter. It’s absurd and fun, and we hope you have as much fun reading it as we did putting it together for you.

Inside Ohio’s Biggest Pinball Tournament

Matt Owen took us along for the ride as he competed in Past Times Arcade’s recent Mega Matchplay tournament which featured 100 players from 11 different states competing.

Kineticist Updates of the Week

  • I’ve been working on updates to the games database search/filter page, which were rolled out this week. The goal was to make it easier and more efficient to use, from better surfacing tutorial content, mods and topper listings, and game ratings from users. It’s a work in progress, so feel free to pass along feedback if you have some.

  • On a related note, Pinball Map rolled out an update to their website and app this week, and you may notice a small change! They now include links to Kineticist game pages on machine detail screens! We’re simply overjoyed by this change and look forward to getting more feedback from users on that experience and continuing to improve our game content over time.

Event of the Week

Midwest Gaming Classic takes place this weekend in Milwaukee! 3 days of all sorts of gaming, including a ton of pinball. Expect to see all the most recent releases from Stern, Jersey Jack, Multimorphic, Barrels of Fun, Chicago Gaming, Spooky Pinball, American Pinball, and Turner Pinball. Tickets are still available.

Creator Highlights of the Week

  • Don’s Pinball Podcast Patreon episode was really good this week. I’m a sucker for personal stories and enjoyed learning more about his background and start in pinball. Kick in the $5 to give it a listen if you’re not already a member!

  • COOLTOY highlighted a fun product by Stellar Pinball that turns your Nintendo Switch into a mini replica pinball cabinet (they are unfortunately sold out at the moment, but you can sign up for a waitlist on their website).

  • MarcoTV did a deep dive on JAWS pinball mechs with Stern Pinball’s Harrison Drake.

  • I guess it’s more of a manufacturer highlight, but Jersey Jack Pinball shared a timelapse video of Steve Ritchie and team assembling one of the first Platinum Edition Elton John games.

Post of the Week

I’m going to give this one to Stern Pinball this week for their April Fools’ post teasing an obviously fake I Think You Should Leave machine (click the link to see how I imagine a focus group for a pinball machine would go). The problem is I think that’s a game a lot of people wouldn’t mind seeing, myself included!

Poll of the Week

If money were no object, which of these would you be most interested in buying?

Based only on what you know of the Zidware/deeproot versions or theme alone.

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Last Week’s Poll Results

Will you go down the rabbit hole with DPX?

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Interested in buying (20)

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️ Interested in playing on location (29)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 No thanks (34)

“Already been burned once by Dutch. Won’t do that again!”

TWIP Reader

“I mean, looks like a packed game”

TWIP Reader

“TBL is such an awesome game. I’m sure Alice in Wonderland will be an even better showing as all the legitimate Pinball manufacturers are stepping up their games. I just hope I can afford it as I near retirement. :-/”

TWIP Reader

“I'm not waiting another ten years for a Dutch Pinball!”

TWIP Reader

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