Friday, September 21, 2012


YO! This movie is out.

That's pretty cool. You know what else is cool?
I'm pretty hyped about this movie. I mean, like, super hyped. I was just strollin' along minding my own business at Bathurst station and I walked right into this damn poster. It blew my mind. I had absolutely no idea about it and it's totally legit and TOTALLY AWWWWEEEESOOOOME! There is also a wicked badass Judge Dredd from Bally in 1993. The pinball machine takes after the comic rather than the Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone. Designer John Trudeau was a fan of the 2000 A.D. comics and opted to stay true to the source rather than slap ol' Sly's mug on another pinball machine (the other being Williams' Demolition Man).
UPDATE! I finally got to play Judge Dredd during my trip to Pennsylvania and the Pinball Gallery in Downington, PA, which I wrote a two-part trip report about here (PART 1) and here (PART 2)! I will keep the quotes from designer John Trudeau as well as the pictures and assorted tidbits I've strewn throughout but I will be also adding my own comments and pictures now that I have played Judge Dredd in the flesh! DROKK IT!

Judge Dredd is quite a busy game with 9 different modes to play, 6 ball multiball, and more ramps than the 401 (wah waaaaaah). When I say the pinball rendition of Judge Dredd follows the source material closely, I don't joke. The original comic series is completely over-the-top. Judge Dredd is a lawman of dystopian future MEGA CITY ONE and in this hella grim future, Judges have the power to arrest criminals and sentence them on the spot to jail time... OR DEATH! They are basically, Judge, Jury and Executioner. Judge Dredd is one of the best on the force and usually goes to excessive means to take down lawbreakin' thugs whether it is for armed robbery, arson or flatulence. The pinball machine carries that same over-the-top vibe from the comics. Just look at the upper playfield and all the junk that sits up there!
There is the Deadworld multiball lock, several drop targets, the Sniper Tower VUK, Nuclear Plant Captive Balls, two upper playfield flippers and a plethora of ramps, loops and habitrails intertwining throughout the upper part of the playfield. Don't forget the artwork too! Trudeau stated in his interview for TOPcast, a pinball podcast that has interviews with all sorts of people in the pinball industry (Trudeau is Episode 10), that he tried to stick as many ramps in the top right-hand corner as he could and managed to fit about 4 ramps.
This is completely insane right here. There are three habitrails that all stack up on top of each other and it was nearly impossible to figure out which ramp the ball will be going! I think the Sniper Tower leads to the top habitrail but your guess is as good as mine! It looks awesome though and is definitely one of the best ramps I've seen.
There is a neat story about the Deadworld multiball block. It was originally mean to physically hold the balls for each lock rather than falling off into a virtual ball lock or, in the case of Pinball Gallery's machine, hitting a ramp shot and locking a virtual ball. This was featured in the prototype versions of Judge Dredd like the one above that was used for promotional shots. The story goes that certain people were concerned that the crane arm could malfunction and leave the balls stranded on the spinning ball lock. The way the Deadworld multiball lock worked was, when activated, each ball would slide into one of the holes and spin around on the Deadworld spinner until a third ball is locked and multiball is activated. The crane then picks up each ball and drops it onto the playfield. Some people involved in the production of Judge Dredd felt that the crane could prove to be a nasty issue so Deadworld had to be remodeled. The spinning disk lock was cut out and instead there are now slots for the ball to fall into and not get stuck on. You can see the production version in the playfield picture posted above. The one below is a future pic from my trip to Guelph Pinball Club!
There are now modifications for Deadworld to have the spinning ball lock just like what the original design called for. Check this video out that shows the Deadworld lock in action.
After having watched that video, I kinda see what they meant by having the crane breaking down. It looks pretty sophisticated and actually reaches down to grab the balls. I was reading one of the comments on the YouTube page and one user mentioned that they often have to readjust the crane. I believe the crane wasn't operating on the Pinball Gallery's machine and the third ball would just slip into one of the slots and get dropped off when Multiball began. Also, when there are two balls locked on the platform, it seems really uneven. I'm not sure whether the person installed the mechanism correctly or if it's due to poor weight distribution but you can see the Deadworld platform rock a bit.

During the Guelph Pinball Club, my buddy Adam got the balls stuck on the crane magnet mid game. Because of this, the crane kept trying to move back and forth but the magnet held the two balls together. Eventually, we had to turn the machine off just to get the magnet to let go of the balls but upon restarting it, the crane stopped working.
Other than that though, the lock is a really cool toy and Deadworld looks great when it lights up. Each time something is hit, Deadworld flashes a bit. It is certainly one of my favourite toys, it just looks so beautiful when activated.

An unusual feature of Judge Dredd, or should I say lack of, are the pop bumpers. What I'm saying is that there are no pop bumpers. Judge Dredd is one of the few pinball machine that lacks pop bumpers. The other two I am aware of that have done away with pop bumpers are Williams' Big Guns and Junkyard. I find that to be a really post-modern take on the average pinball machine. Nearly every pinball machine has had pop bumpers in some form or another, usually in a small cluster of three. Stern's Ripley's Believe it Or Not! by Pat Lawlor even goes so far as to have six pop bumpers. Pop bumpers tend to take up a bit of real estate on the playfield due to the fact that there are usually three pop bumpers clustered close together. Despite being a SUPERPIN model, (other Superpins include Bally's Twilight Zone and Williams' Red and Ted's Road Show)  Bally's modern rendition of the widebody pinball tables of yore, such as Bally's Embryon (The last of Bally's widebody tables for that era) and Stern's Big Game, Judge Dredd's playfield does not seem like it could contain a set of pop bumpers. The upper playfield is already packed to the gills and sticking pop bumpers in there would have just been overload (and probably a pain in the arse to replace).
The soundtrack in this game is really badass. The music sounds like some great 80's heavy metal that has some serious dirty riffs and tasty solos. I'll say it again and again about Judge Dredd but the pinball machine perfectly compliments the satirical and over-the-top nature of the comic series even down to the music (if the comic had music).
This is the music for Deadworld Multiball. Dig it, the music sounds amazing and gets you totally pumped to take on the Dark Judges during Multiball!
The soundtrack was created by Paul Heitsch, whose work was most prominent during the early nineties. His soundtracks can be found on Bally's Creature From The Black Lagoon and WHO Dunnit?, both of which feature licensed music. I'm not too sure of what CFTBL has but I do know that WHO Dunnit? has the Peter Gunn Theme as the main play tune!

Now the artwork for Judge Dredd is something else. It follows the source material, the 2000 A.D. comic series and it is a mighty faithful rendition.The colours are bright, bold and beautiful. The artwork really stands out in person and looks like it was torn out of a glossy-paged comic book.

The Pinball Gallery keeps all of their machines in pristine condition and there was not a bit of grime or a scratch anywhere on Judge Dredd. I mean, look at this picture of the Dark Judges.

You can't spot a single imperfection, it's just so shiny! 

Even Walter The Wobot makes a little appearance on the slingshot!
The playfield is nicely spread out and does not feel cluttered at all. Not every square inch of the playfield is covered in artwork. The use of red and blue to differentiate the lanes is a nice touch and really enhances the flow of the whole table. Kevin O'Connor did the artwork for Judge Dredd and did an amazing job. O'Connor has had quite the career in pinball, spanning different eras and having done artwork for nearly every pinball company. He's done work for Bally (Flash Gordon and World Cup Soccer), Williams (Monster Bash and Dirty Harry), Stern (Playboy and The Simpsons Pinball Party), and Data East (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons). O'Connor's style combines solid colors and bold lines to create a great sense of motion. His designs of the licensed properties is always faithfully done. The Dark Judges in particular look amazing and would fit perfectly into a regular Judge Dredd panel (just check out the picture above!). Two particular favorite playfields of mine with O'Connor's work are Stern's Playboy...

And Bally's World Cup Soccer...

Similar to Judge Dredd, both Playboy and WCS have big lines drawing your attention towards the lanes and the shots. Kevin O'Connor's artwork has been consistently great throughout the years and he has a definitive style whether he is working on licensed themes or original titles.

Perhaps the best thing that represents Judge Dredd in, or I should say on, is the GOLD EAGLE.
In his interview with TOPcast, Trudeau said that the topper was the toughest part of the machine to get approved as it added nothing to the machine besides cost. Fortunately, it got approved! It is a really neat addition to the machine as a whole seeing as the eagle is such an iconic part of Judge Dredd. It's a part of the Judges' uniforms as badges and shoulderpads. It also sits upon the Mega City-One Hall of Justice, watching over the city just as it watches over this table.Trudeau said the gold eagle topper is "the overachievement Dredd stood for." I saw this topper for sale at the Michigan Pinball Expo but unfortunately I could not afford it otherwise I would have bought it in a flash even though I don't own a pinball machine let alone a Judge Dredd one.

The Eagle topper looks amazing standing on top of the machine and definitely signifies Judge Dredd's over-the-top nature. the topper was a little dusty on the top (yeah I touched it WHAT OF IT) but otherwise it still shone like it was made of solid gold.

Pinball toppers were becoming quite popular in the late 80's and early 90's. Nearly every machine from the 90's had a topper in some form or another. My top toppers would have to be Williams' White Water, which simulates a flowing waterfall through the use of clever lighting. Don't forget Williams' THE GETAWAY and its police siren.
I know it's pretty simple but damned if I don't get hyped when multiball is activated and that damn thing just starts going off. Not only do you have the cherry top flashing but you also hear the siren and IT'S DANGEROUS (AAAAAAAAAAH!) Shane, my father and I were at an Auto Antique Swap Meet during our trip and I saw a couple of old cherry-top sirens from former police cars for sale. I don't mean little sirens. I don't mean little sirens like the one on The Getaway but the big old ones that go across the entire roof. Imagine sticking one of those onto a Getaway table and having that flashing instead. It would be blinding! (Also, if you want to read further about The Getaway, might I suggest checking out the trip report for The Pinball Gallery *wink wink* )
The modes are easy to activate but are tough as hell. Some of the shots are placed in such a way that you have to be dead-on accurate. You need a lot of  skill and finesse in order to make some of the shots, like the Sniper Tower and the Nuclear Plant captive balls.

The Sniper Tower can be hit from the main flippers which is pretty impressive or you can use the mini-flipper to make the shot by shooting it up the left orbit which will bring the ball down the lane and by the mini-flipper. The Nuclear Plant captive balls are located on the far right of the table, sort of like the captive balls on Data East's Tales From The Crypt, except they are located on the far left side of the table. What makes it such a difficult shot is it has to be perfectly timed. The ball must be on the edge of the flipper to make it that far to the right. If you don't flip quick enough, you can risk draining the ball. The Battle-Tank is also a pretty difficult mode as well. You have about 30 seconds to hit the lit targets to destroy the Battle-Tank. One of the shots is on the side of the right ramp and can be quite a difficult shot to make. It is easier to hit the target from the upper left flipper but due to the severe time constraint of the Battle-Tank mode, you have to make every shot count. Bad Impersonator is a funny as hell mode with a little guy doing a Jig on the DMD as you try to knock him down. Shane got this mode and when he drained the ball, he just stepped back and said "What the hell was that?"

A weird little thing I noticed is how the right outlane is shaped.

It's curved towards the table which means there is more of an opening for the ball to drain through the outlane (and boy does it ever!). The upside is that if the ball has a too much speed when it hits the right flipper and goes flying up the outlane, the curvature will propel it back onto the playfield rather than going straightup and bouncing off into the outlane. However, the curved outlane is a double-edged sword; sometimes it will launch the ball right at the slingshots and cause you some unpredictable trouble. Judge Dredd is all about maintaining control of the pinball but there are plenty of ways to lose control and spin out.

Judge Dredd also features an entirely separate game called SUPERGAME. For an extra credit, you can play SUPERGAME that starts off with multiball and has it's own exclusive modes.

Also take some time to check out the promo video for Judge Dredd. There are a ton of pinball promo videos posted on YouTube. Some can be pretty bad though (I'm looking at you Twilight Zone). On the other hand, The Dredd is one is pretty badass. There's a shot with smoke everywhere and it looks really cool!

There's some serious HEAVY METAL playing over this.
And here is the video in question..
Now that you have read all about the Judge Dredd pinball machine, go out and see DREDD 3D! Show some love for the movie and maybe we'll get to see some sequels with the Dark Judges and maybe even another pinball machine! Although I don't think Stern could make one as cool as Bally's Judge Dredd. If you happen to see Judge Dredd in the wild, play the hell out of it! If you don't... FIFTEEN YEARS FOR INSUBORDINATION.

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