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Top 12 Things You Should Know About Wizard of Oz Pinball

After seeing Wizard in Oz in action at the E3 show, we had to add two more items to the list. So the top ten items now is top twelve.

Cabinet

Wizard of Oz cabinets are going to be printed directly on wood and then clearcoated. This will allow for striking cabinet artwork and should also prove to be less prone to wear.

Lighting

Wizard of Oz is the first game to support RGP LEDs throughout. This means that the playfield lights can be thousands of different colors.

Put to effect with software, the impact of this new lighting should be fairly profound (as seen below).

Widebody

This is the first widebody pinball machine since 1994. Widebody machines offer more pinball playfield space and allows more fun to be packed in.

Pinball sales have been in decline since 1994 — so building extra wide machines has simply been too expensive.

Upper Playfields

The game has two completely fleshed out upper playfields. Some recent games have had upper playfields. Family Guy/Shrek and World Poker Tour come to mind.

I struggle to remember the last game that had two upper playfields.

Actually I struggle to remember ANY game that had two upper playfields!

Wizard of Oz Pinball Upper Playfields

Wizard of Oz Pinball Upper Playfields

Toys

This game might give the classic Twilight Zone some competition in the toys department.

Wizard of Oz is sporting a lot of mechanical extras.

Let me see…we have a spinning house, disappearing witch, and flying monkey assemblies.

Most recent games have one toy. I struggle to recall the last game that had 3 or more. It’s been awhile.

Magnets

I simply love magnets in games.

Black Knight was a pioneer in introducing magnets to pinball and shortly after some other games used magnets in a similar fashion.

But after that period, magnets mostly disappeared until Twilight Zone came along and blew our minds.  After that era there was another lull for many years until Iron Man did some really fun things with magnets.

Well magnet fans — you are in for a treat here. WoZ sports two magnets in front of the wicked witch and I bet that she has some scary magnet tricks up her sleeve for us.

Wizard of Oz Pinball Witch is Armed with Magnets

Wizard of Oz Pinball Witch is Armed with Magnets

LCD Screen Adds New Possibilities for Game Awareness

At first the LCD backglass may seem kind of silly or unnecessary.

But when you stop to think how complicated Keith Johnson rule sets can be (see Simpsons Pinball Party) — one can imagine how the extra screen real estate might help to alert us when close to game objectives.

Also film clips can be in full color — not the pixelated orange glow we have had to endure the past 20 plus years.

This is the first innovation since Pinball 2000 that threatens to make previous machines look seriously dated.

Crazy Rule Set

Keith Johnson has promised to deliver a rule set for the ages.

As Keith said himself recently:

“The game will in fact be groundbreaking in many ways, I can guarantee you that. But in other ways it will still feel the same. There’s a lot of room on that display, so putting it to good use is certainly a priority. Hopefully it will help explain the game better than some of what I did in the past.”

Considering the game has a brand new board set — you would assume that game computing ability is probably going to be about as powerful as we have seen in a pinball to date.

Wizard of Oz Pinball Rainbow Area

Munchkinland close up

Flippers that Mess with Your Mind

Wizard of Oz is going to mess with your mind when you play it.

The upper left playfield flipper, while on the left side is aligned like a right-hand flipper. Likely it will be controlled with the right flipper button.

The upper right playfield flipper is aligned like a left-hand flipper.

Also seen in a Jersey Jack talk was a video backglass screenshot of a mode called “Reverse Flippers”. This suggests a mode where tapping the left flipper buttons will active the right flipper(s) and vice-versa.

This may not be the best pinball machine to play while drinking. You have been warned!

Sound System

According to Chris Granner, the sound system is “just incredible. It’s so awesome. I mean it’s gonna be breathtaking.”

The sound system is going to support stereo and supposedly will have 600 watts of power.

As Chris has said, “the Achilles heel of pinball’s sound has always been…there’s not enough voltage to generate sufficient wattage.”

Williams Pinball Machine Parts

Wizard of Oz is going to use Williams parts.

That will make it the first new game since Williams’ own last games to do so.

Williams parts are easily attainable from various pinball vendors and Williams’ flipper design (even dated as it is) is much better than Stern’s current flippers.

New Board System

As JJP sources have revealed:

“This board has been designed with serviceability as its primary feature. It uses traditional, readily available through-hole components to ensure minimum down time. Operators, technicians and collectors alike will be pleased at the many features incorporated into it and the JJP system. The factory warranty on this board is one year and JJP authorized distributors will be able to offer longer periods based on the needs of customers.”

Innovation

Wizard of Oz looks to be the first new pinball machine since Pinball 2000 to seriously push the envelope.

Compare any Stern of the past twelve years to Williams/Bally machines from the early nineties and you feel like you are looking at a mirror.

Stern simply just stuck with the same old model, and even re-used their own sounds, playfield designs, ramps, etc. and placed them in new machines.

Stern did not even attempt to try to take pinball to a new level. In many ways their new machines were even inferior to classics from the early 90’s.

More Information

You can learn more about Jersey Jack Pinball at http://www.jerseyjackpinball.com or you can order your own Wizard of Oz pinball machine at http://www.pinballsales.com.

Steve Cartoon

While no machine that I can recall had two upper playfields, Haunted House had both an upper-level and lower-level playfield.
The Addams Family “Feel The Power” magnets long pre-dated Iron Man and were just as intriguing/frustrating.
Great article, this. Can’t wait to play this at the NW Gameroom Show this weekend! We’ll send pictures! (har, har, har)

Bart

Nice article, but regarding the magnets not very accurate. Black Knight had magnets as did Jungle Lord, Pharaoh and Solar Fire. Rollergames had a magnet (upper right flipper), The Addams Family has magnets (the power), World Cup Soccer has a magnet (left flipper), Lord of the Rings has a magnet (the ring), Spiderman has a magnet (Dock Ock). I’m just summing this up from the top of my head, so I may miss a few… WoZ may be the first game to have 4 magnets…

admin

Thanks for your comment…I see your point. Although between BK, Jungle Lord, Pharaoh and Solar Fire, etc and Rollergames/Black Knight 2000 was about a 6 year gap. Then another 3 before Addams Family and TZ. Then after World Cup Soccer there was a gap of about another 6 years before LOTR. Another what 6 years before Spidey came out.
So there have been huge chunks of time where no games have done anything with magnets. Which is what I was trying to convey. Also few have done anything really original with them. TZ and Addams did. I think Iron Man too in a way (although a lot like Addams).

admin

Yes and there were some other 3 level games too, such as Elektra (but it had only one upper/one lower). Yes good point. Addams was a lot like Iron Man.
But not associated with hitting a target and it send the ball back at you as in a fight. So Iron Man gets a little credit for making it maybe more interesting I think.
Thanks for the comments!

Dave

Theatre of Magic, Cirqus Voltaire, Tales of the Arabian Nights. Lot’s of magnets used in those games to great effect.
Simpsons Pinball Party had a great upper palyfield and used reverse flippers. Of course, Keith Johnson did the software on that.
I look forward to seeing WOZ, though I don’t like the theme. I think you are being too negative on Stern though. Some Sterns are classics, some aren’t. Some B/W are classics, some aren’t.
Dave

admin

Thanks for your comment Dave.
Was not trying to name every game in pinball that ever used magnets. Yes I missed some.
Again those you named were all mid 90’s games just after TZ came out. Shadow also used magnets as well. But not trying to name every game ever that used it. Just saying that there has not been much use of magnets in a machine in a while — outside of Iron Man. Woz has what 4 or 5 magnets. Nothing has had that many since probably TZ.
On Stern. Stern has had 12 years to innovate and do something new. What have they done? I can only think of one thing (the playfield LED displays that are in some games like Simpsons Party and World Poker Tour).
Wizard of Oz has more innovation in one pinball machine than Stern has produced in well over a decade. That is just a very poor mark on Stern that I cannot ignore.

Eric P

I’m really looking forward to this machine. It is cool to see all the innovations going into it, and, yes, it has lead me to more or less the same conclusion: that Stern’s pace of innovation is glacier at best.
That said I’m grateful that Stern is around. Until JJ arrived Stern has been the *only* mfg making new pins for almost the last 2 decades. And they make quality pins!
I just hope there is room for both companies to survive and thrive!
Eric

David Thiel

I have to take issue with one of your statements:
“Stern simply just stuck with the same old model, and even re-used their own sounds”
This is simply not true. I am working on the 14th pinball sound package right (X-Men) now so I can speak to this assertion with some authority.
I started in 2006 with Pirates of the Caribbean. I take pride in creating sound assets that are unique for each game. Sound assets that maximize the connection with the license. Sound assets which support game play and if you can hear them make the game more fun.
As a client Stern has never asked me to reuse old sound assets. They are a demanding client and they have paid the money for fresh, creative sound assets for every project that I have worked on.
You may not have been paying attention but having 600 lines of Seth McFarlane in six different characters was a break-through in pinball audio (Family Guy). The fully playable Stewie playfield that Pat Lawlor created was innovative and fun as well.
Using a full range 12″ speaker and playing 12 complete AC/DC tunes is innovative.
Pat Lawlor’s Nascar for Stern used magnets in a truly innovative way. You must have missed that.
It is great that there is a new pinball manufacturer. Competition is good. WOZ will stand on its own merits without trashing Stern with untrue assertions.

admin

Thanks for your comments David. You are right, the sounds packages in Family Guy and some other Stern games was impressive no doubt.
NASCARs ball moving around the playfield was pretty amazing too. Not sure I am with you on AC/DC’s sound though. I was not impressed by it at all. With all of the talk about how great the sound was, I was pretty disappointed in the fidelity of it.

admin

Thanks for your comments Eric. I guess to be fair to Stern. When you are the only game in town and with inflation and such the cards may have been stacked against them in terms of evolving pinball.
But still I think it is fair to say that pinball machines from 2012 (AC/DC) should not be so much like a pinball machine from 20 years prior. Outside of LED lighting (which I really am not a huge fan of anyhow) it does not have any features or abilities on it not seen in machines from two decades ago.

JonAbrams

TZ had 4 magnets. It can support 5 if you mod it.

admin

Yes, in fact the GameRoom Blog office sports a Twilight Zone Sample machine with 5 glorious magnets!

Jon Abrams

I agree with David. While WoZ looks really exciting and innovative, there’s no need to act like a fanboy and crap all over Stern. Innovating to this degree is great, but it’s also expensive and risky. Williams tried it, and now they’re gone. There is also merit to sticking with what we know works. I for one am glad that we’ve had Stern churning out quality games over the past ten years like Family Guy, Spider-Man, and Tron (thanks Dave!).
I’m also glad that there’s someone out there now to try drastic innovations again, but realize it’s still not clear if all these innovations will actually be profitable! If JJP can prove that this is all profitable, then hopefully Stern will follow suit.

admin

Fanboy? The post was “Top Ten Things You Should Know about Wizard of Oz Pinball” — not “Top Ten Reasons Wizard of Oz Pinball is the Best Game Ever” or “Top Ten Reasons Why You Need to Buy a Wizard of Oz Pinball.”
Frankly, the only fanboy comment here is yours.
We are not asking Stern to give us Pinball 3000.
But when a brand new company can create more progression and innovation in their first pinball machine than Stern did for 12 years — its reflects poorly on Stern’s record.
Use the Fanboy term all you want, but it is exciting to finally see some great progress in pinball this year with upcoming Wizard of Oz, Predator, Captain Nemo, and P3 games.
All you could argue are serving a growing population of pinball fans hungry for something truly new.

anonymous

Star Wars: Episode 1 used magnets as well, and it came out in 1999.

904 Pinball Zine

Correction, the last Widebody game was Batman Forever in 1995 (I should know as I own one haha). Hyped about WOZ everyone?

904 Pinball Zine

Nice article, WOZ is refreshing see and hear about. I’ve got a few friends that have ordered them and personally can not wait to play it. Stern has a challenger in the ring don’t they?

Pat

While the technology looks really cool, and I hope Stern incorporates some advances now that there’s competition, I personally think this theme will fail. WOZ is pretty much a girls theme, but mostly guys play pinball. I just don’t see this being a big seller just because of the theme. I hope these guys put out a more universal guy theme for their next pin. I just know I would not buy it because it would be too embarrassing to own.

admin

Thanks for the comment. I know it is not the theme for everyone. But it is a pretty iconic movie and being that Jack said he wants to attract new people to pinball, a pretty good theme from that point of view.
As far as sales…you could possibly argue it is already a sales hit. More LE versions of WoZ have sold than AC/DC — 1000 sold vs 500 of AC/DC.
The 1000 LEs are also probably more than the entire run of recent Stern games such as Big Buck Hunter or NBA — which certainly are more male dominated themes as you suggested.

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