Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hip Shakin' Pinball Action! Stern's ELVIS

If yer hopin' for a little less conversation and a little more action then you're in for a treat!

Miranda and I were moseyin' along the Danforth last weekend and I was doin' my usual pinball patrol (which means staring into bars for an uncomfortably long time.) We were near Pape and and Danforth and my silverball senses went crazy! We were walking by the Eton cafe at Eaton and Danforth (just a block away from Pape Station) and I saw it through the windows...



Now this isn't a machine you see everyday! Stern's Elvis is one of the more elusive tables to find out in the wild. Hell, it's hard to find anywhere! The only other time I have ever seen it was at Michigan Pinball Expo 2011 tucked away in a corner of the banquet hall. Keep in mind that Elvis is a pretty old table, having been released in 2004, the same year as Stern's Ripley's Believe It or Not! Elvis is also the first in Stern's series of musician-related machines, the other two as Rolling Stones and AC/DC... And speaking of AC/DC, Elvis was also designed by Steve Richie! This table features Steve Richie's trademark, the double ramps.

 Just like on Richie's other Stern productions, Spider-Man and 24, the double ramps are featured on Elvis. These ramps are so hard to hit accurately but successfully hitting the left ramp is pretty rewarding. Note the playfield behind Lil' Elvis (hip shakin' and all).

Perhaps a precursor to World Poker Tour and it's more fleshed out mini playfield, Elvis features a mini-playfield complete with HEARTBREAK HOTEL

As I said, successfully hitting the right ramp and getting a chance to play on the mini playfield is so awesome! Even better if you can hit the doors of Heartbreak Hotel. Once the doors flip open, you can shoot the ball in to the Hotel and light multiball! Once you get some momentum going on the mini playfield, it's easy to keep things going with some clever nudging. During my session with AK last Saturday, I was able to find my way up to the playfield and activate multiball in a single visit to the Heartbreak Hotel.

Another multiball mode is Jailhouse Rock and it is definitely not worth the risk to go for. I don't know why but for some reason on this particular table, the saucer for Jailhouse Rock was friggin' RIGGED.

 That damn saucer. It's so conveniently placed and so easy to accidentally to hit when you're trying to make the right ramp shot. It's all fine and dandy but the problem is when it launches the ball back out, it launches right down the middle. It was just killin' us! The only way to save the ball was to nudge and boy were we getting all shook up! harhar. I had the exact nudging down at first and managed to save a few balls but as the night went on and my glass got emptier, I seemed to be having more trouble with surviving. Also of note is the third flipper on the right. Mis-timed shots can knock a ball into the saucer too. The saucer is vintage Medieval Madness by Williams, where the saucer can be a boon as well as a curse.
 Right there in big old letters. TROLLS! Trolls can be such a pain in the ass. Normally that shot will activate Merlin's Magic, MM's version of Mystery rewards but if Trolls! is lit by hitting the two targets in front of the castle gate, you gotta fight for your life! The trolls have a bad habit of smacking the ball at high speeds straight down the middle. That or just killing all momentum when the ball gets stuck behind one of them or if it doesn't hit the castle gate hard enough. Sometimes you just get to sit and stare as your ball makes a slow descent into the drain. 

Seeing as this is a table about Elvis, of course music plays a big factor in the table. When AK and I went to play it, there was a band playing so we could not really hear the music or sound effects. Besides that, I read a neat tidbit about the music featured in this table. The music featured is from the television specials "68 Comeback" and "Aloha from Hawaii". From what I did hear when there was some downtime, it was pretty solid stuff. It came as no surprise as the soundtrack is also put together by Chris Granner, the music artist for such tables like Bally's Twilight Zone and Williams' Diner.

The artwork isn't much but it works well in it's simplicity. The artwork sort of reminds me of an earlier Stern table from 2001, Austin Powers. Something I guess in the computer generated graphics but something stands out to me. I think it's the thick black borders around the lights, the fonts and the simple colours and gradients. It's just something that stands out to me from Stern's youth of their second iteration. A table that's a bit removed from Elvis and Austin Power's is Stern's Playboy, released in 2002.
The difference is much of the table is hand-drawn from what it looks like. If you want to try out Playboy, swing by Stag's Head in Oshawa! There's a pretty decent Playboy table there...

... Of which I know quite .... intimately. (3-time Playboy champ wooo)

But I digress, back to Elvis. If you haven't guessed it yet, this table is HARD. It has a couple of tough shots that can be dangerous and the table requires some serious nudging and finesse. You have to be at the top of your game and be wicked focus if you even want to get close to the replay, which sits at about 42,000,000.

My score on the left, AK's is on the right.
I think it's safe to say though that Elvis is currently one of my favorite tables. At least, one of my favorites in the wild. It's tough as hell which makes it so much more satisfying when you do well. The mini playfield is one of my favorite gimmicks and it is awesome on this table. Hitting the Heartbreak Hotel is a blast! The table is bright and the lights are always flashing. If you're ever in the east end and looking for pinball, I definitely recommend swinging by the Eton House near Pape and Danforth and dropping a few loonies into Elvis.

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