Now showing at the Casino arcade in central London, Stern's latest game is Austin Powers. It is priced at 3 games for £1 or 7 games for £2.

The first view of the game is a side view and it is very striking.

Bedecked in the Union Flag of the United Kingdom and the Austin Powers logo, it's hard not to notice the new game's presence.

When you move round to the front, though, the sight isn't so impressive.

The backglass is illuminated by a single strip light and the result, as you can see above, is a very unevenly lit. You miss out on the shapely delights of Heather Graham. Even the Stern logo is barely visible in the gloom.

If you've looked at the pictures elsewhere on the Pinball News site, you may be surprised by how open the playfield is in reality.

It looks quite crowded, but in actual fact all the toys are at the top of the playfield.

The lower part is dominated by the bonus counter - a circle of lamps surrounding a "bonus held" insert.

These lamps count the number of flowers earned throughout each ball. Each one scores 1K points and is increased by the bonus multiplier.

1K doesn't sound much, but you earn flowers very easily and in a good ball you can exceed 1000 flowers and a bonus multiplier of 10X or more, so that is several million points bonus.

The playfield design is bright, colourful and inviting, especially if you are a fan of the theme.


There are up-posts fitted above each outlane and a centre up-post, but on this game none of them were working.

There's been quite a lot of comment about the quality of the artwork, and in particular the printing. The backglass has a strange brush effect as you can see in a blown-up section below.

The brushwork doesn't look real nor does it enhance the effect of the artwork so it's hard to imagine why it was done.

It's a shame really as the montage of people and scenes from the movies is well done and doesn't need any "enhancements" of this sort.

The quality of the playfield artwork is perfectly good (and when using such strong colours as in this game, you can get away with a certain amount of dithering).

The worst quality, though, can be found on the slingshot plastics.

As you can see on the right, it hardly does justice to the delightful image of Ms Hurley's curvaceous shape, and the same is true of Heather Graham on the other side of the game.

(And putting the lock-nut right there....well, honestly!)

The black circles around the slingshot kicker and switches are perfectly well printed so perhaps Stern just didn't have any decent quality images to work with.

The apparent lack of suitable media is an issue we'll look at later in this review.

Anyway, lets get to the gameplay.

When you press the start button, you immediately score 570 points when the game kicks out the first ball. This is before the skill shot, so it seems a bit strange to have scored points before you've actually done anything. It also looks odd on the display , since the display font isn't the clearest and it looks a bit like "STO" next to the skill shot animation.

There is a nice musical loop playing before you launch the ball, at which point the main theme takes over.

The skill shot itself is a simple choice of 2 rollover lanes. You have to put the ball through the flashing one, but you can change the lanes with the flipper buttons in the usual manner.

The plunger is a manual one with an auto plunger under game control.

When the ball makes its way down to the flippers you find that they aren't the strongest flippers ever made.

They are good enough to make the fairly shallow ramps but you need to get a bit of a push behind the shots if they're not 100% on target.

Over time they're only going to become weaker.

The slingshot kickers aren't very strong either, which means that the ball spends a lot of time bouncing around. This is enhanced by the significant amount of rubber in the area above the outlanes. It means that you have to give the game a moderate amount of nudging to save outlane drains.

You have to be careful not to nudge too much, of course, or you might get a tilt. On this game a tilt can be a severe penalty indeed. In one game, ball one was nudged just a bit too much (despite surviving a deathsave) and the game tilted. There was a very long wait of about 30s before the game did a ball search and kicked out the ball from the toilet lock.

It then put up ball two and immediately tilted and after another 30 second wait it also tilted away ball three and ended the game.

Bad enough, but after waiting a minute or two, it immediately tilted all three balls of the next game too.

A vigorous shake and it played fine, so I guess the tilt sensor can get stuck and ruin the game.

The aim of the game is to start and complete all six modes. Each mode is started by making the relevant shot 4 times. The modes are:

Mini-Me (left loop)
Fat Bastard (toilet shot)
Laser Beam (centre-left ramp)
Time Machine (centre ramp)
Subterranean Drill (right ramp)
Evil Henchmen (right loop)

Starting all six lights Virtucon Multiball, while completing all six lights Moonbase Multiball wizard mode. The count of the number of shots is carried over between balls so it's not too difficult to get to Virtucon Multiball, but Moonbase Multiball takes some hard work to achieve.

There was a slight bug noticed when starting the Evil Henchmen mode. As it is started from the right loop shot, the ball loops back to the flippers and it is possible to make another right loop fairly quickly. Even though it is lit, it is usually not awarded if shot too quickly.

The centre right scoop awards mystery prizes and starts Mojo mode when Dr Evil rises up from the playfield in front of the Time Machine.

It is hard to read the writing on the lamp inserts pointing at the centre right scoop.

The middle on actually reads Mojo Multiball (I think!) but at first glance it looks like 30 Million.

They are also not illuminated very brightly, unlike the red Jackpot shots which look excellent with flashers behind them.

The kickout is well aimed, falling squarely on the right flipper which you can leave and the ball bounces nicely to the left flipper. There were no instances of the ball being shot straight down the middle from the kickout - which was nice!

There is the usual problem with Sega games and to some extent with Stern's that the sound samples are very repetitive. Hit the same target and you'll always get the same sample. This is becoming less true with every new game and there is a good range of sound clips in this one. Some are impressively long too and potentially very embarrassing when they're played very loud (imagine playing when someone passes by to be greeted with a loud "Do I make you HORNY baby? Do I?). However, it's clear that they are all taken from the two Austin Powers films, so in situations where there is no suitable sample, they are noticeable by their absence.

You won't get any sound for a ball save (or any display effect either), nor for a Shoot Again situation. Perhaps they could have used a "Shag Again"?

Obviously there aren't many occurrences of the word "Multiball" in the films so you wont find any suitable intros here either. I guess the project budget didn't stretch to getting Mike Myers in to record some unique samples.

Let's take a look at the toys in the game.

There's no one dominating toy, so starting from the left we have the Mini-Me spinner.

It's nothing very complex, but it looks good and works well. Shots up this lane aren't registered until they hit a rollover switch much further up the lane.

The Mini-Me spinner does score points, but they're fairly insignificant.

Next to Mini-Me is Fat Bastard and his tasteful toilet. This is a simpler device than the toilet in South Park. It has no lid and doesn't animate in any way.

Balls which are shot at the toilet fall inside and are released to the left side into the Mini-Me spinner lane.

The ball rolls down and bounces on the top of the left slingshot and can lead to a left side drain if you're not careful.

Any shot into the toilet results in a suitably tasteless sound effect and sample.

Starting the mode for this shot starts Fat Bastard Multiball. The display animation for this is taken from South Park and leads to plenty of gross sound effects as you would expect/hope.

Scots will be dismayed to hear "Scotland the Brave" played during this mode.

This is the Time Machine - a circular magnet which traps the ball, and then throws it either forward or backwards.

The spiral rotates when the ball is held. On this game it rotated rather unsteadily and sometimes not at all.

Shooting this 4 times starts Time Machine Multiball.

Often you don't need to fully make the shot. Just partially making the ramp is often enough to register the shot.

This is supposed to look like Austin Powers.

It sits atop the centre right kickout and spins round when the ball enters the scoop.

Behind this - under the VE symbol - is a model of Dr Evil which rises up during Mojo mode and registers hits. It also pops up briefly at the start of the game.

On this game it seemed to be slightly raised and caused shots to the Time Machine to jump and not go smoothly up the ramp to the magnet.

Behind the flippers is the "Frickin Laser Beam".

When you make 4 shots to the Laser Beam left ramp, the 5th is diverted to this device which rotates out across the playfield with the ball at the top.

You then press the fire button on the lockdown bar and hopefully shoot the ball into the centre-right scoop to blow up Washington.

There's a funny animation looking suspiciously like a scene from Independence Day.

We've pointed out some of the good points and bad points, but in essence Austin Powers is a fun game to play. Obviously you need to like the theme and if you do you should get a kick out of some of the sounds and display effects.

And speaking of the display, it's worth making a special mention of the high quality of the visuals. There are a few standard Sega-looking frames but the custom work is very attractive and well integrated.

There are some nicely generous timers for the modes, so you still get a couple of seconds at the end to make a final shot for the jackpot.

One slightly naughty bug spotted was the display in attract mode advertising a replay at 50M when in fact the game awarded an extra ball instead.


And finally...

...a purely selfish plea.

Could we have 1 more letter for the high-score table name please!


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