Author Topic: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review  (Read 3140 times)

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Offline Strangeways

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Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« on: January 01, 2015, 06:12:40 PM »

It is unfamiliar territory for me, a restorer, to review a NIB game - but I thought I'd give it an honest attempt at reviewing a "The Walking Dead" LE that I unboxed with the new owner and friends. Now this is MY review, and it is NOT going to make everyone happy, or be the negative diatribe that people may expect. I may have to stick to restoring games - as it might not be everyone's "cup of tea"..

REVIEW TIME !

The game was delivered around 2 weeks ago at APR. It has been sitting here waiting for the Repair Kit from Stern as per their recent Bulletin. I was told NOT to play the game until the kit arrives. That is VERY disappointing, but almost expected from Stern's QA dept.. Off to a bad start..

But here is the game in the box ;




Already out of the box. No, we didn't follow the instructions on unboxing..





First thing we noticed was a metal rear panel on the headbox, a new bolt system for the head to bolt to the body and the metal leg protectors ;





The right side of the game. artwork is amazing !





A seriously detailed backglass (edit - it is a translite). The artwork is simply amazing !





Setup - but not ready to play. A VERY nice package.





Playfield is really well set out and the graphics are incredible. The horror theme is very well transferred to the pinball by the artists.





So what is the reason we can't play it yet ? The "Bicycle Girl" ramp SLAMS into the playfield and creates divots in the wafer thin clearcoat. So Stern's brainstrust sent us two very small foam pads with adhesive backing to fit under the ramp, so it does not slam into the playfield. There is a small patch of very thin mylar in situ - but that already had a hole in it from factory testing ! So we placed the foam on the ramp and also installed another TWO longer pieces of real mylar. Stern also sent out a replacement ramp protector to stop those nasty fly balls - or maybe to distract the owner from the two divots they have in their playfield ?

It is real amateur hour at Stern with these "fixes". The Easiest way to fix the problem was to place a piece of rubber or plastic on the metal suport in an upside down "U" shape. There's a cavity where the ramp itself hits a rubber stopper to stop the ramp from flying up too hard. Just do the same for when the ramp drops ? Maybe replace the spring in the mechanism ? A less powerful spring sounds too obvious.

Here's a picture of the old plastic piece that was on the ramp. I placed it under the actual ramp as a "brake". So easy to create something here - even a 3D Printer mod to place on the metal part ?




Here is the mylar we added ;




The Cabinet

Amazing. Simply jaw dropping with the artwork. NOT "kid friendly", and definitely not for "non horror" fans. The metal plate on the headbox (rear) is a nice touch and the new bolt system to hold the head up is good thinking. Two rubbers are on the headbox so that when you lower the head, it had the rubber inbetween the headbox and the siderails - nice design !

The backglass is a translite. Should be a backglass.
The game is a horror theme, but the designer placed a colur changing LED in the Crosbow button. Um... pink and blue look VERY stuoid on this game. I'd be replacing the button with a black or red opaque button very quickly, and placing the factory button on the Stern Tinkerbell LE...

I give the cabinet a 9/10. Best cabinet artwork I've ever seen on a pinball.

Playfield

Amazing artwork. Attention to detail with clear plastics having "blood splatter" on them really gave the impression that "something" was butchered on the playfield. a really GREAT effect. ALL the artwork is amazing.

Design is almost good. Here's the BIGGEST problem with this game. In ALL pinball machines, the object is to progress through modes and achieve high scores. The objective of this game is to totally AVOID the Prison. Whoever "thought" that placing a magnet in a DIRECT line inbetween the flippers is a MORON !!! IF the magnet catches the ball and does not "flick" the ball into plastics or ramps... then it SLOWLY releases the ball - SDTM. EVERY TIME - WITHOUT FAIL. So remove the tilt on this game IF you want to play the game as if it was "normal". Initially, during the honeymoon period - it is funny - but then it is the most annoying piece of crap on ANY pinball machine I've played. I counted the ball being captured in a 4 player game - and out of the 12 balls - 10 were lost because of this STUPID design. Yes - occasionally - the magnet "flips" the ball, but the best strategy is to remove the tilt plumb, and shake the game while pressing the flipper buttons in the hope that the ball will be tossed or flipped rather than dropped SDTM. There's NO excuse for the moron that put the magnet there. Really dumbass. Then the SDTM "guide" off the Arena. The solution ? Place a Bally / Williams rubber post so that it stops the SDTM. WOW. Did ANYONE field test this table ?

(Note - It does drop the ball SDTM LESS with the code update to 1.19)

The Skillshot is cool. The pop bumpers are a blast. You CAN make a coffee while waiting for the pops to finish, and you will have the ball returned if the ball drains after a 20 minute wait for the ball to be released to the flipper (on the odd occasion it does not drop SDTM). I wish the brainiac that implemented this ball return worked on the magnet issues.

Ramp shots are brilliant. I love the flow of the ramps. The Arena ramp does have issues with flyballs that needs to be addressed. Multiball CDC Ramp rewards are very good.

Bash toy is really good. There's a RED LED that lights up the guts. cool effect. Keep bashing the bash toy for Well Walker multiball - this is when you pound the prison as the ball is returned while the well walker mode is active. You can progress from the well walker multiball to the Prison multiball - but the ball return coil would be red hot while this is happening !

Bicycle Girl bash toy is great fun. Prison is a part of the game that needs to be finished - it is just random as to when the door opens, and when the magnet catches your ball to drain it for you.

Drop targets - Great placement and they help you progress through the modes. Crossbow is surplus. No real point other than after you shoot the ball, you can't see where the ball is because the crossbow takes too long to return back on to the apron.

Playfield with shipped code (Prison problem) - 4/10

Playfield with updated code (Prison problem seems to be partly alleviated with shaking the game, and flipping both buttons and the ball ALWAYS is thrown) - 8/10

Sounds - AWESOME ! I love the soundtrack, the music and the corpse grinding. The calls outs are very annoying. Some redneck trailer park drunk that makes no sense at all. In fact, with the shipping code (1.1), I had a 15 minute game and could not progress any further as there was nothing to shoot for, so I captured the ball on the left flipper and pulsed the right flipper for a status report, and it gave me an "Extra Baaalll"... Unreal.

Sound package - 8/10

Other strange things - There's a woodscrew doing nothing above the top pop bumper. Just sitting there - doing nothing except maybe keeping the ball away from resting there ? The "Extra Ball" Woodbury shot can sometimes bounce of the siderail and back into play, denying you of the Extra Ball. The piece of plastic over the entrance to the Bicycle Girl ramp needs to be re tightened every 20 or so games. It was completely loose ! I also had "Switch Error 60" in the diagnostic report - Switch 60 is "not used" !

The GOOD

Amazing art package
Great theme
Great soundtrack and sound effects
Playfield layout and design has potential, but needs simple code completion to be a winner
Fantastic player ONLY if you avoid the Prison

The BAD

Clearcoat is very very bad. Wafer thin. After 20 games it looks like the surface of an Orange peel.
The Bicycle ramp "fix" - Seriously ? Two little pads ?
Prison Magnet - Did ANYONE at Stern test the game BEFORE sending it out ? Why implement a DELIBERATE design fault to capture the ball and deploy it SDTM ?
Call outs - PLEASE have some characters from the show..
Modes - Siege and Horde - do they work ?
Before the code update - I renamed the game - "TWD SDTM LE". It was that bad.

CODE

Had a LOT of problems with the shipping code. The game "lost itself" a couple of times - nothing lit to shoot, and a status report gave me an Extra Ball !
Prison Magnet. This needs to be fixed, or simply disable the magnet to make the game playable again. I would recommend disabling the magnet until the code fixes this issue.
After 20 games on the old code, I could not score over 80 million. Two games after the code update and I could progress through modes and I have 108 and then 205 Million after 20 games.

VERDICT

A VERY good game AFTER some of the issues are addressed. Unfinished code is Stern's biggest hurdle and if I can spot serious issues after 20 games, why can't their testers pick up the problems ?

As a playing game - immensely enjoyable. I really like the flow and the ramps. Very well designed except for the Prison Magnet placement.

It is not a $10,000 game. It is a $7,000 game at best. For $10,000 - I would want the extras - topper, a spare playfield with a real clearcoat, a set of plastics, a set of ramps and a $1000 voucher for my next Stern purchase.


I rate the game as a 7/10. With simple code fixes - 9/10 - If the game was sold for $7000 - I would own it.
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Offline pinnies4me

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 06:26:07 PM »


Great review mate, appreciate the detail. I still want to get my hands on one of these for a few games (hopefully one that's been set up and dialed in properly given your observations) as the theme certainly attracts me.
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Offline guyricho

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 06:53:39 PM »
Great theme and it does look nice

Offline Cursed

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2015, 10:58:20 PM »
Great read, thanks for taking the time.

Offline Strangeways

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2015, 07:03:09 AM »

Another tedious design issue is that the outlane posts can be moved as the plastics set was designed with the holes to allow for the screwdriver to access the posts screws. BUT you need to remove both ramps to access the screws ! So an operator wanting to make the game easier, needs to pull apart a few items before adjusting the posts.

This could be a big problem IF an operator sited the game and wanted a 5 minute fix to make the game easier.
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Offline oldskool1969

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2015, 07:32:50 AM »
Great read, thanks for taking the time.
yep  ^^^
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Offline Dluth

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2015, 08:44:21 AM »
Excellent review thank-you. I was havin the SDTM problem with the magnet (on a location pro) but learnt how to time a little nudge as it released the ball. Now it seems to flick the ball a little to the left on release - not sure if this is due to the code or some physical change.
PS more reviews of other machines would be very welcome!  ^^^

Offline RatBag

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2015, 11:11:29 AM »
What was the point in reviewing/playing the game with the shipped code when there was an update for the software available before you unboxed it, ::)
Why would you bother!!
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 11:17:09 AM by RatBag »

Offline Strangeways

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2015, 11:31:23 AM »
What was the point in reviewing/playing the game with the shipped code when there was an update for the software available before you unboxed it, ::)
Why would you bother!!

1 - I was unaware of any updates until I started digging for solutions for the prison magnet issues and the fact the game clearly has unfinished code.

2 - having a NIB game sitting for two weeks waiting for 2 pieces of foam kinda distracts from code issues.

3 - How long should I wait until it is an appropriate time to write up a review ? When the code is finally finished ? When will that be ?

Your comments only highlight the biggest issue Stern face with prospective buyers. Lack of testing and unfinished code. Why don't you contact Stern and ASK them why they present the game to the public unfinished ?

Also, can you explain to me how the code updates will address the out lane post adjustment ?
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Offline RatBag

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2015, 11:45:21 AM »
What was the point in reviewing/playing the game with the shipped code when there was an update for the software available before you unboxed it, ::)
Why would you bother!!

1 - I was unaware of any updates until I started digging for solutions for the prison magnet issues and the fact the game clearly has unfinished code.

2 - having a NIB game sitting for two weeks waiting for 2 pieces of foam kinda distracts from code issues.

3 - How long should I wait until it is an appropriate time to write up a review ? When the code is finally finished ? When will that be ?

Your comments only highlight the biggest issue Stern face with prospective buyers. Lack of testing and unfinished code. Why don't you contact Stern and ASK them why they present the game to the public unfinished ?

Also, can you explain to me how the code updates will address the out lane post adjustment ?

As per your points
1 - We both know thats not true as your customer/friend was told about the code update before the machine was delivered
2 - You could of unboxed the machine when it arrived,I did with mine
3 - Right a review with the latest available code installed

Games shipped with unfinished code is what it is ,if it bothers you buy the game S/H in 12 months time the only way to stop it is not to buy sight unseen.
As far as the inlane post adjustment this is nothing new on some titles,AC/DC and Xmen to name a few ,its not that hard to loosen a few screws to get to them.Im sure even you could manage that.

Offline Caveoftreasures

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2015, 01:15:11 PM »
I am impressed.
This was a honest review.
I did play both the LE and the Pro and surprisingly never once got a magnet straight down the middle and the magnet threw the ball off in a random direction every time on both the Pro models and the one LE. It was the original shipping code as well. I am guessing that the magnet on the various games has an alignment or strength randomness to it/them.
Your review was straight from the heart and was technically sound.
I am not as mechanically harsh with the engineering of a game because the "imperfectness" of any pinball is what makes them unique and interesting and unusually attractive to me.
If a game doesn't have its quirky personality disorders, then it becomes just like any other.
I actually like a game that gives you a lot of "straight down the middles" because it wakes you up and makes you stay alert.
Any game that makes you swear at it often gets my tick of approval if that makes sense.

Even though I am a blatant Stern fan, I found the review to be very honest cause a real review has both goods and bads. When I do a review I try to be very light on the criticisms because I worry that someone might change their mind and not buy the game which I wouldn't want to happen but you can't have ya cake and eat it too.
A good review has both the goods and the bads.

Your review was very honest. Can't ask for anything more than that.  ^^^




« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 01:30:45 PM by Caveoftreasures »
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Beware of Stalkers & Walkers when playing The Walking Dead

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Offline Freiherr

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2015, 03:47:32 PM »
I swear F...... B.... at all my machines even though they are not on FB.
The dimpling on Stern playfields is normal under shiny light and does not affect play.
The magnet STDG  issue sounds similar to my Star Trek. I stuck a level across the playfield front and back and found one side about half a degree lower. I adjusted one leg and guess what! No more STDG.
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Offline GORGAR 1

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Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2015, 03:52:33 PM »
I swear F...... B.... at all my machines even though they are not on FB.
The dimpling on Stern playfields is normal under shiny light and does not affect play.
The magnet STDG  issue sounds similar to my Star Trek. I stuck a level across the playfield front and back and found one side about half a degree lower. I adjusted one leg and guess what! No more STDG.

Exactly right  ^^^ you have to dial all new games in :) you can't expect to pull a game out of a box and expect it to be 100% beleive it or not even the old Bally/Williams games had issues out of the box and the good thing about new games like JJP/Stern a code update can fix most issues  *%* geez I had to change a Rom to get ball save on my WH20 lol

120 games in on my Walking Dead and maybe 5 SDTM  %$% Prison MB is a blast killing walkers is fun :lol
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 04:00:29 PM by GORGAR 1 »

Offline Strangeways

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2015, 04:59:55 PM »
What was the point in reviewing/playing the game with the shipped code when there was an update for the software available before you unboxed it, ::)
Why would you bother!!

1 - I was unaware of any updates until I started digging for solutions for the prison magnet issues and the fact the game clearly has unfinished code.

2 - having a NIB game sitting for two weeks waiting for 2 pieces of foam kinda distracts from code issues.

3 - How long should I wait until it is an appropriate time to write up a review ? When the code is finally finished ? When will that be ?

Your comments only highlight the biggest issue Stern face with prospective buyers. Lack of testing and unfinished code. Why don't you contact Stern and ASK them why they present the game to the public unfinished ?

Also, can you explain to me how the code updates will address the out lane post adjustment ?

As per your points
1 - We both know thats not true as your customer/friend was told about the code update before the machine was delivered
2 - You could of unboxed the machine when it arrived,I did with mine
3 - Right a review with the latest available code installed

Games shipped with unfinished code is what it is ,if it bothers you buy the game S/H in 12 months time the only way to stop it is not to buy sight unseen.
As far as the inlane post adjustment this is nothing new on some titles,AC/DC and Xmen to name a few ,its not that hard to loosen a few screws to get to them.Im sure even you could manage that.


It would be a great idea to read the review in entirety, but to answer your assumptions ;

1 - No "we" don't know.. I spoke to the "customer" this afternoon, and he confirmed that he had a couple of conversations regarding the game with the distributor and yourself, and his comment to me was "I don't remember anyone mentioning the code update". If it was mentioned, it was never passed on from the customer to me - so I had NO knowledge of the code update until the next day when I mentioned the issues with the game - with the customer.

2 - I quote the customer - " I just got off the phone with the distributor and we will not be unboxing the machine until the ramp kit arrives". Customer has the last say. So NO, I could not have unboxed the game due to the hold up.

3 - OK. I'll delete the thread then ? I'll sit on the Stern support page and refresh the "code page" every half hour  !@)

If Stern are happy to take the customer's money, then there should be NO PROBLEMS dealing with game reviews. POSITIVE game reviews = more sales. If you read my review, you would also notice that I mentioned the code update SEVERAL TIMES. You would also notice that I rated the code from a 4/10 - 8/10 once updated. Did you even read my review ?

Just on that - It is MY review. I really wanted to go through the process and enjoy it. It is 100% accurate ? To me, "yes". To others "no". I didn't write my review to please the Stern fanbois, or welcome the Stern bashers. This is the review of a passionate pinball person that had the opportunity to unbox a pinball for the first time in 30 years. Instead of restoring a game, I had the opportunity to try something different. If you cared to read my review instead of poking holes and replying with assumptions, you may have read my conclusion ;

"With simple code fixes - 9/10 - If the game was sold for $7000 - I would own it."

If anything, I'm promoting the game. I fail to see how posting absurd personal crap like "its not that hard to loosen a few screws to get to them.Im sure even you could manage that" is helpful ? Insulting me because I could not find that extra 1/10 to make the game a perfect 10/10 - WTF ?
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Offline Strangeways

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Re: Stern "The Walking Dead" LE Review
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2015, 05:09:10 PM »
I am impressed.
This was a honest review.
I did play both the LE and the Pro and surprisingly never once got a magnet straight down the middle and the magnet threw the ball off in a random direction every time on both the Pro models and the one LE. It was the original shipping code as well. I am guessing that the magnet on the various games has an alignment or strength randomness to it/them.
Your review was straight from the heart and was technically sound.
I am not as mechanically harsh with the engineering of a game because the "imperfectness" of any pinball is what makes them unique and interesting and unusually attractive to me.
If a game doesn't have its quirky personality disorders, then it becomes just like any other.
I actually like a game that gives you a lot of "straight down the middles" because it wakes you up and makes you stay alert.
Any game that makes you swear at it often gets my tick of approval if that makes sense.

Even though I am a blatant Stern fan, I found the review to be very honest cause a real review has both goods and bads. When I do a review I try to be very light on the criticisms because I worry that someone might change their mind and not buy the game which I wouldn't want to happen but you can't have ya cake and eat it too.
A good review has both the goods and the bads.

Your review was very honest. Can't ask for anything more than that.  ^^^






The problem was not that the ball was being "thrown" SDTM - that is totally random and I have no issue with that.

What was happening with the shipping code - on most occasions - the ball was captured and is held completely still by the magnet. After a short period of time, the magnet dis engages (not "throw" or "slingshot"), but literally was dropping the ball SDTM. AFTER the code update, I noticed the ball was captured but rarely dropped SDTM. By this time, I had read other reviews and found that you can flip both flippers and the magnet will "pulse" rather than "throw" the ball from the Prison magnet.

Either Magnet "throwing" the ball randomly, resulting in a SDTM is fine with me. But simply stopping the ball, and just standing there waiting for the ball to drop was annoying (Ver 1.0 code).

Anyway - thanks for taking the time to read my review - as you know, I'm not exactly Stern's biggest fan, but this game is very good.
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