Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stern's Indiana Jones

*DERK'S NOTE: This is an older review, from back in the Spring/Summer of 2013 while Indiana Jones spent some time at California Sandwiches. If you have been keeping up, The Walking Dead and Star Trek are now at California Sandwiches and Indiana Jones is long gone. If you do want to give Indiana Jones a shot, go west to Bowlerama West!*

A new challenger has emerged in the Toronto Pinball scene! This time around, it is Stern's Indiana Jones!
Not even a week later after I posted that California Sandwiches replaced Spider-Man with The Rolling Stones, they replaced The Stones with Indiana Jones. I don't really mind losing The Stones as it's a sort of lack luster machine and the Mick Jagger toy was stuck which made the game a pain in the arse. Indiana Jones runs a helluva lot better and is much more fun to play. The table was released in the wake of Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull, however, it is not soley focused on the fourth installment. The table's theme actually covers the entire Indiana Jones series with references to Raiders of The Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and *What's the third movie", as well as The Crystal Skull. Each installment has it's own version of Multiball and a little toy to represent it.
Indiana Jones was designed by John Borg and is definitely one of his better tables for Stern. It's a bit more "tame" compared to other Borg designs such as TRON: Legacy and X-Men and is more along the lines of Iron Man. IJ's playfield is pretty open and only has one ramp one the left and a big toy on the right, similar to Avatar. The design of the table is less about building combos and more about making precise shots. There's two different captive ball shots as well as the table's big shot, THE LOST ARK.

There seems to have been some restraint on the part of Borg for this table for only one of his main signatures shows up on this table, that being the bumper cluster shot with eject hole.
Despite being a pretty minimalistic table compared to others that came out at the time in 2008, alongside Pat Lawlor's Shrek and CSI and George Gomez' Batman, Indiana Jones is a blast to play. (Sidenote: 2008 was a pretty solid year for Stern despite the emergence of the Recession) Each of the multiball modes are really easy to activate and don't require a ton of shots to activate.
One of the multiball modes is the Mystical Stone multiball. To activate this, hit the lower captive ball that is near the eject hole. It will rise on a little platform, similar to Stern's Harley Davidson and the Motorcycle ball lock. Once it is open, shoot the ball in there to lock a ball. The Mystical Stone Multiball is a three ball Multiball but why go for that when you can get...
EIGHT BALL MULTIBAAAAAAAAAAALL! To activate 8-Ball, you must hit the Lost Ark enough times to spell 'Raiders of The Lost Ark'. Once it is activated, hit the toy one last time to activate one of Stern's coolest Multiball activation sequences. The whole playfield goes dark save for the toy which glows and pulses red. After the long DMD animation, the Ark rises up....
and four balls come flying down to the flippers! The last few balls will be launched from the plunger lane. This is a crazy Multiball mode and would only really work on a table like IJ and it's open playfield. Another table that also shares a 4+ Multiball is Tales From The Crypt with it's 6 ball Electric Chair multiball (not to be confused with Metallica's ELECTRIC CHAI-AH). Tales From The Crypt is also a Borg design form his time with Data East; it too has an open playfield concept that a large multiball mode benefits from.
8-Ball is not difficult at all to earn and makes it very easy for novice players to activate a pretty wild mode. It's also not obscenely difficult to relight 8-Ball after the initial round, it only requires a few more shots than usual to activate 8-Ball again.

The artwork is pretty plain with basic photoshopped movie stills and bright, bold lines highlighting each shot. The main bulk of the artwork looks like a map which is really similar to Pirates of The Caribbean's playfield artwork.
The issue with Stern's Indiana Jones is that it gets a lot of unfair comparison to Williams' Indiana Jones. I have not played enough of the Williams iteration so I went into Stern's version of Indiana Jones with a clean slate. As I had mentioned, Indiana Jones is not one of Stern's more complicated tables; CSI, which was released alongside Indiana Jones in 2008 the more in-depth table for the year and is moreso designed for serious players. Indiana Jones' ruleset is clear and simple and many of the shots are easy to make. I enjoy the overall design and in particular the Lost Ark which is a really neat toy. The playfield feels clean, open and very easy to make a lot of shots. It is easy to keep track of the ball and you're not often scrambling to keep a game going. This is definitely one of the more forgiving tables for beginning players or for a more experienced player looking to get some good mileage and a long game out of as little change as possible.

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