Controversy Nerfed

John Wick Recoil | FunHouse Launch | Pinball Possessed | James Bond Fanfic | More Eye Opening Poll Results

This Week in Pinball has sure been a week, hasn’t it?

We’re in a very different place than where we started when we hit publish here last Friday morning. A well-done gameplay reveal stream by Stern and a couple of forthcoming interviews later, and the James Wick #gungate and ensuing controversy seems largely nerfed, so to speak.

Game on!

This Week’s Pinball Agenda:

  • Song of the Week

  • Sponsor of the Week (it’s me, I’m the sponsor)

  • Pinball News of the Week

    • John Wick Recoil

    • FunHouse Remake

    • Pinball Possessed

    • Kineticist Updates (maybe a break next week?)

  • Creator Highlights of the Week (a manufacturer returns and a supergroup debuts)

  • Poll of the Week (these just get better and better)

Did you know you can leave comments on the web version? Leave a comment noting all the pinball/arcade related layers you see in the header image, and maybe I’ll send you something fun!

Song of the Week

I personally flagged Genghis Khan by Miike Snow earlier this year for its obvious callbacks to the James Bond universe, but because the James Bond 007 pinball release cycle is mostly over, I was worried I’d never get a good chance to feature it. Well, James Bond 007 1.0 code was released a few short weeks ago, and the story of James Bond as a pinball machine was made relevant again thanks to a pair of interviews by game designer and Stern Chief Creative Officer George Gomez (more on these later).

The song is standard Miike Snow electro-dance-pop fare if you’re familiar with their catalog (Animal is their other mainstream hit), but the video is particularly fun.

I think of it as almost a James Bond fanfic piece. It takes a Blofeld-esque character and extends his reality to the very relatable premise of a guy doing a job that is dissatisfied with some part of his life, which turns him into someone he’d rather not be.

In a moment of reflection, he comes to some mental clarity on what he needs to be happy, and the rest of the video is about how he comes to terms with that and what he does to make that situation better for himself.

Who hasn’t experienced that at some point in life?

There’s a far deeper reading of the material to be had here (dancing henchmen and all), but to bring it back to pinball, James Bond, the pinball machine, was rough when it launched for a whole bunch of reasons. But it got better, and those who stuck with it and embraced the process and the progress that modern pinball machines go through have been rewarded with a satisfying pinball experience.

Sponsor of the Week

That’s right - I’m sponsoring myself!

Next Wednesday, 5/22, in conjunction with the New England Pinball League, we’ll be putting on a combo livestream/league night to celebrate BoF’s game, Labyrinth. We’ll kick off the night at 6 pm ET with rules designer Bowen Kerins on the stream to do a live game tutorial.

Anyone local to the New England area can join us in person following the tutorial for a chance to win a signed BoF playfield, a backglass, and other goodies. Be sure to follow the New England Pinball League on Twitch and YouTube to get notified when we go live! We’ll try to work in some trivia or something for stream viewers to win some BoF tees.

Check the Facebook event for more details.

Pinball News of the Week

John Wick Recoil

I don’t know about you, but my head is still spinning. We dropped our latest at 9 a.m. last Friday, and by that evening, we had a gameplay reveal stream and two brand-new interviews with George Gomez. The first was with Flip N Out with Friends and host Joel Engelberth. The second was hosted on the LoserKids Pinball Podcast.

Similar ground was covered in each conversation, but they’re both worth a listen if you’re the type of person who subscribes to a pinball newsletter.

Largely, Gomez pushed back on the leaps of logic made by some in the community and gave us all a quick schooling on the realities of licensing in pinball and how that translates to product decisions.

For example, Lionsgate requires that guns not be depicted on the cabinet or playfield. This is because pinball, unlike video games or movies, has no audience rating system and is considered an “all-ages” product.

He also offered some additional tidbits for pinball fans to grab onto, like:

  • How The Hunger Games was in development before licensing challenges caused Stern to pull the plug.

  • That James Bond 007, despite hitting 1.0 code, isn’t finished yet.

  • The “no guns” requirement was brought up later in the John Wick development process, and Stern did take a step back to evaluate if they could still make it work.

  • The Spike 3 board system is in development and is a complete platform refresh, including a cabinet redesign.

  • Venom is one of the highest-earning games on location.

  • Vaulted games are solidly on the radar, but there are challenges to producing them.

  • Tanio Klyce has largely moved to working on “game-side” Insider Connected projects.

  • Dwight Sullivan and Brian Eddy are teaming up again on an upcoming game.

  • Jack Danger is working on a new game.

  • Raymond Davidson is working on a new project, likely as the lead coder rather than in a support role, as he’s done the last few releases. I had seen some confusion in various places that Raymond would be leading a project in a game design role, but after listening to the audio a few times, I’m pretty certain that’s not the case.

Quick Notes on the Gameplay Reveal Stream

  • This was 100% the strongest material Stern put out for the initial launch. It looked like they were in a new streaming studio, which visually was a huge improvement from past reveal streams.

  • Code lead Tim Sexton did a great job playing the role of narrator/hype man.

  • The stream largely confirmed my initial impressions of the game (it’s a stronger release than I was anticipating), and I’m still really looking forward to trying it out myself soon.

Pedretti Gaming Announces FunHouse Remake

Italy’s Pedretti Gaming officially announced their upcoming remake of the 1990 Pat Lawlor-designed classic FunHouse, offered in two trim levels.

The Classic Edition ($7,499) largely mirrors the original game, with small improvements such as LCD displays, code enhancements, and other mechanical updates.

A Midnight Limited Edition ($9,999) offers an entirely new art package by artist Brian Allen, an included 2.0 code package (which is also available as an upgrade purchase for the Classic Edition), and other bells and whistles like a shaker motor and fancier light shows.

See Pedretti’s website for a full feature matrix breakdown between the two models.

I was indifferent about this release coming out of the gate. I like what Allen’s new art package brings to the table, but I didn’t see the need for a full remake version of this particular game.

That said, I was extremely surprised by the reaction we received to our Facebook post about the game reveal, particularly considering it came late in the day and was not accompanied by a full reveal article like we might normally create for launches like this one.

Maybe I’m in the minority for this release!

Demon Queen Pinball Machine; Pinball Film of the Year Candidate?

This find is too good not to share. I don’t know how much overlap there is between pinball fans and cheesy low-budget horror films, but Spooky Pinball exists as a company, so I suspect there’s enough to make this interesting to at least a few readers.

There’s a new film in development from director Joe Davison (he had a bit part in the 2nd season of Stranger Things) and the premise for it is really something else. It’s called Demon Queen Pinball Machine, as Rue-Morgue explains:

“Two broke video-store owners, Derrick [Davison] and Max [Viola], take a job from Kyle [Wilson] delivering a pinball machine to a mysterious client, Eddie [Ferguson]. Little do they know the pinball machine is possessed with a revenge spirit. Along the way they meet occult specialist, River [Daw], who inadvertently gets possessed by the machine. Once they arrive at their location, all hell breaks loose when the Demon Queen [Dowling] arrives to fulfill her destiny.”

I contacted the director to see if we could get some questions answered for a future newsletter. In the meantime, I was able to ID the machine used for the shoot: Atari’s 1978 widebody game, Middle Earth.

Creator Highlights of the Week

  • Wormhole Pinball interviewed Ian Jacoby of Nudge Magazine. I’ve said I try to mix these creator highlights up in the past, but Wormhole keeps putting out interesting interviews!

  • Jersey Jack Pinball revived their official podcast with host Ken Cromwell with their first episode since 2022. Ken had conversations with founder Jack Guarnieri (a very topical discussion on licensing), Elton John software lead Bill Grupp, and designer Steve Ritchie.

  • Barrels of Fun opened up their factory for a live tour with CEO David van Es and CBO Brian Savage. They answered live viewer questions throughout, so give it a watch for some interesting info on pinball production.

  • There’s a new pinball podcasting supergroup in town. The Silverball Syndicate put out its first test episode yesterday, and it combines the talents of Don Garrison (Don’s Pinball Podcast), Ryan Barry (Phantom Tilt Podcast), and Albert Agar (Pinball Nerds Podcast). Check it out!

  • Past Times Pinball released a new episode of their Pinball History series covering another Atari widebody, The Atarians. Some folks have asked for more pinball history and repair content, and Past Times has been providing one of my favorite pinball history watches lately with this series.

    I’ll also be on the lookout for more repair-focused content. It’s not a part of the hobby I’m focused on right now, but if anyone is interested in contributing a regular series, HMU!

Kineticist Updates of the Week

I may have to break my streak…

  • We pushed a slight refresh of the homepage this week based on some user feedback we’ve been receiving. The goal is to make it a little cleaner and better surface all the content we have here. Feel free to let us know what you think!

  • Some may have noticed that we merged the old TWIP Facebook page into the Kineticist page this week. At our size, managing two separate pages on the same topic didn't make sense, and luckily, Facebook makes this process pretty easy. So, follow us here for updates on Facebook from Kineticist and TWIP.

  • When we re-launched this thing, I mentioned that I may be taking breaks from time to time. And even though I’m as susceptible to gamification tactics as the next person (seriously, the image above is from a feature my publishing platform rolled out recently, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t motivating), I have some commitments next week that may keep me from my normal publishing schedule.

Poll of the Week

Are you in or out on Pedretti's FunHouse remake?

Bonus question to answer in comments - does the Rudy head freak you out?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

A few notes before last week’s poll results.

  • When I get comments, I try to share a range of opinions that reflect the possible answers in the poll.

  • I don’t edit comments, so if strong or charged language offends you, skip this section.

  • The poll results and comments from last week gave me so much life! To me, it demonstrates that we’re building the right kind of community here (people who love the game of pinball first and foremost), and that’s super encouraging to see.

Last Week’s Poll Results

What's the more important aspect in a John Wick pinball machine?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Gameplay (113)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Guns (22)

“Gameplay over everything at the end of the day.”

-Selected “Gameplay”

“For me today, gameplay is the most important aspect for all games. Not so much the theme or the lack of something in it. I admit, some themes touch my fancy more that others, and I have been guilty in the past of discounting a game just because of a theme, the lack of toys, or what seems like a plain playfield. I found that the majority of the time, when I discounted a game and then eventually played it, it turned out to be one of my favorite games. The lack of guns in the artwork and playfield is fine. There looks to be a lot to explore in the game already, and I really look forward to playing it.”

-Selected “Gameplay”

“The GodFather Pinball has been criticized a LOT!… and honestly that game respects their fans and customers with all the characters snd guns around(the Thompsons, Michael Corleone’s Revolver, pistols, a shotgun on the multipliers. Etc), The GodFather Pinball equals freedom in our games…. The John Wick Pinball equals socialism.”

-Selected “Guns”

“For fuck sake of course it is gameplay infinitely more important how the fuck did you not go with Big Business's song Guns?”

-Selected “Guns” (I think in jest, also great song rec!)

“I hope all the guns' feelings aren't hurt OMG jk fuck guns I do not care lol get a life ammosexuals”

-Selected “Gameplay”

“The art package is not a true representation of the core character and environment in which he operates in. A licensed them should capture such more accurately. Gameplay is certainly important, but a modern game should be as immersive as possible when it comes to presenting its theme.”

-Selected “Guns”

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