NO MAGIC IN THE WIZARD OF OZ
There has been a lot of interest & numerous comments made about the lengthy development & evolution of the Jersey Jack manufactured pinball The Wizard of OZ. I have been asked numerous times for my thoughts but until recently I have not had enough information to make an informed comment or prediction.
I have watched videos, listened to pod casts & read several articles on this pinball & I consider this particular venture into pinball manufacturing to be somewhat bewildering. To my knowledge there have not been many intelligent criticisms of this game, concept or the creation of a new company manufacturing pinball machines.
I have always been a huge pinball fan. I consider myself an enthusiastic player who was fortunate to get an opportunity to work in the industry in 1983. I still love playing pinballs & I have a private collection of around 80 machines with games from the early 70′s through to the 90′s. My career & business has continuously been in coin op since 1983 & I continue run my business to this day in 2012.
I have considerable experience in just about every aspect of coin operated Pinball machines & Video games. I am an electro mechanical & electronics technician & I continue to diagnose & repair games on a daily basis. I have operated Pinballs & Video games in both street locations & amusement centres.
In 1991 my business partner & I re established a distribution network in Australia for Gottlieb Premier pinballs & continued on as the Australian distributor until 1993. I ceased operating games in 2001 after the goods & services tax (GST) was introduced. Since 2001 my business has focused exclusively on the home market primarily providing service & repairs to pinball & video games along with sales, refurbishing & restoration of games. In 2006 I began manufacturing new 80′s style table video games along with pinball & video game servicing.
Now that I have shared some history & background I will share my thoughts on the Jersey Jack venture & Wizard of OZ pinball machine. I consider the market for new pinball machines to be in steady decline. The idea of a new manufacturer is at best VERY risky. Having said that, if I were to venture into making pinball machines now my top priority would be to make a game that has a chance of capturing the interest of the younger generation (under 20′s).
Relying on the established pinball followers is a guaranteed recipe for failure as numbers are a dwindling every year. It’s essential that the younger generation develop an interest if pinball manufacturing is to be viable and survive. Lets face it, pinball is on life support right now & the outlook is terminal.
Choosing The Wizard of Oz as the theme for a new pinball machine is just about the worst possible choice I can imagine, quite frankly I think it’s folly. There are so many things wrong with this game. Firstly who or what is the appeal here? Certainly not to the younger generation, in fact not even my generation (40 or 50 something) will find this theme appealing. If your target market was well over 60 then I’d say great but how many 60 somethings want to buy or play a pinball machine? Very few.
I have viewed online videos of Wizard of OZ being played. From what I have seen the game music is very repetitious & quite irritating after a short while. The playfield layout looks to be ok although the rules appear to be over complicated & not intuitive (yet another geek’s game). I am also concerned about reliability, serviceability & longevity. I see the use of multiple can motors & other gadgets that appear to be rather fragile & potentially quite troublesome. The electronics are in the cabinet base, not the head box. I know from experience how much electronics like to have loose screws from the playfield fall on them…..they don’t like that AT ALL.
The head box has a huge monitor instead of a backglass & score display, WHY? Most pinball players don’t want to look at a monitor or play a video game, they just want to see their score periodically & focus on flipping the ball. It’s a simple formula & one that separates pinball from everything else, the mechanical interaction. The players focus, attention & entertainment is & should be focused on one thing, flipping the ball. It’s this simple appeal that has been somewhat discarded.
I also wonder what it will cost to replace the monitor in a few years and will I be able to even source one that will fit?? Probably not! The game will have no visual appeal when switched off. It’s always been a very bad idea using a monitor in a pinball machine no matter what it’s purpose, that’s not likely to change. The money would have been better spent on the playfield or not at all to keep the cost down…,. and how much will The Wizard of OZ cost to buy, it’s been suggested well over USD$6000 making it the most expensive new pinball ever made.
Irrespective of the price, this game is fundamentally flawed in so many ways it’s doomed to fail, there is no doubt at all. I have heard some sales people talk it up but the facts clearly indicate the game won’t succeed.
At the time of writing (Nov 2012) I see Wizard of OZ takes some time to initially power up. This is a big problem. If an owner or operator is servicing the game & wants to test it he will have to wait a while each time it powers up.
This delay will be very tiresome with repeated power ups when servicing or testing. Using a computer based system rather than a dedicated pinball control board system is foolish & very undesirable. What operating system is in use here…Windows?? Yet again I have to ask what are the Jersey Jack people thinking? The whole concept & application of The Wizard of Oz Pinball is illconceived & 100% guaranteed to be a complete failure, commercially, financially & with players both experienced & new. I stake my reputation on that predication.
If Jersey Jack does manufacture a second pinball machine, hopefully more thought based on the reality of the pinball market & what the emphasis should focus on will be applied.
I wish Jersey Jack’s venture the very best of luck, I really do. I’d love to be proven wrong but I’m certain I won’t be. I was fortunate to have lived through they hey days of pinball twice.
As a enthusiastic teenage player in the late 70′s & again as an enthusiastic player, operator & distributor in the early 90′s. I would love to see pinball reclaim its’ former glory & popularity but unfortunately Jersey Jack’s The Wizard of Oz recipe has absolutely no chance of achieving success AT ALL in either the commercial or home markets….. Time will soon tell that IT’S RUBBISH.
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