Report and pictures by Yancy Blaylock

How would I describe The Simpsons Pinball Party in one word? Fun! Tons of modes, tons of shots. Clever shots, at that.

A hard plunge will send the ball across the playfield into the tight Kwik E Mart u-turn, for a quick 180 into the Bully targets for a skill shot. Very cool! The Bully targets are positioned similar to the Monstars in Space Jam, or a mirror image of the R&D targets from RCT.

The right outlane has an opening to the plunger lane, effectively
creating a 3-lane scenario in which the middle lane is the drain.

A bounce into the plunger lane will re-light skill shot. The two posts in
this area have a wide range of adjustment, from *very* wide, to narrow enough to keep balls out of the inlane completely.

The Itchy & Scratchy saucer is directly above the plunger lane, guarded by 3 drop targets, and is a tough low-angle shot from the left flipper.

I got pretty good at shooting a particular post with the right flipper for a ricochet shot into it, which even might be easier than shooting it directly. Knock the targets down once, and go in the saucer to light an Itchy & Scratchy multiball:

- Spay Anything
- Kitty Kitty Bang Bang
- Field of Screams
- Esophagus Now

The ball is kicked out (fast!) and the targets reset. Knock down as many as you need to squeeze the ball into the saucer again, and the lit multiball starts. Most or all are 2-ball (one may be 3-ball, I'm not sure). Jackpot starts at 100,000 and is lit on nearly all major shots.

Different shots, depending on the particular I&S mode, raise the jackpot. Scored jackpots add to super jackpot, which starts at 500,000 and has a 2,500,000 maximum. Super jackpot is lit after collecting one jackpot and knocking down at least one drop target guarding the I&S saucer. Collecting super jackpot at the saucer resets all jackpots.

Just above the I&S saucer on the right is a full-size upper flipper.
This is used to shoot the Treehouse (left ramp), the Kwik E Mart U-turn, and a gate that leads through the nuclear pop bumpers to the More Time target.

Just above that flipper and to the left is the captive Bart... er, ball.
Both, actually, because hitting the captive ball will also push back the costumed skateboard-riding Bart toy above it. Hitting this shot gets a one-liner from Bart and one of the following if lit:

- Daredevil Ramps
- Daredevil Bumpers
- Daredevil Loops
- Daredevil Targets

Once collected, each of these has a value that increments with shots to the named playfield location. The values are collected at bonus count-up after the multiplier is applied.

Between the upper flipper and captive ball is the right orbit. It has a spinner at its entrance, and can be lit for hurry-ups, Krusty's Last Stand, and probably more things I'm forgetting.

Directly to the left of the captive ball is Moe's Tavern, the orange right ramp which loops around Homer's huge head, meets up with a habitrail on the left side of the playfield, and returns the ball to the left flipper for possible repeated shots. Five shots to the ramp lights Treehouse of Terror, and ten shots are needed to light Extra Ball. Duffman also invites you to "Get Duffed!" on this ramp during his mode.

Otto's Bus Tours is the top middle lane, which curves to the right directly behind Homer's head inside the right orbit. The ball is stopped at a saucer (similar to Monopoly's mode start) before being fed to the upper flipper. Each shot to a lit Otto will start 2x scoring at one of several major shots, and lighting them all starts the mind-blowing Springfield Mystery Spot "where logic takes a holiday and all laws of nature are meaningless." And meaningless they are! You won't *believe* what surprise is in store for you here, and I'm not going to spoil it for you.

Just to the left of Otto is the garage. It has a door which you can hit to raise for a mystery award, and a possible trip to the living room (raised mini playfield). This area of the design is genius, and integrates the licensed theme into the physical design of the playfield better than I've ever seen. Not only do you get to run through the garage to the living room (just like Homer in the opening of the show), you get to watch TV and sit on the couch!

The floor of the living room has Maggie and the dog sitting on the rug watching TV, the mini tricolour DMD box. Use the Water Works sized mini-flippers to shoot around the TV for mode start, or up the ramp to sit on the couch (multiball lock).

All three lock are lit from the beginning of the game for your first multiball. As each ball is locked, the DMD shows a ball fly at the Simpsons on their couch. After they've caught three, Chief Wiggum knocks on the door.

It goes something like this:
(knock knock)
Cop: "Simpson, you're under arrest!"
Homer: "For what?"
Cop: "Hoarding pinballs!"
Homer: "<groan> Family, let's get out of here!" (or something similar)

The couch lets all three balls go down a habitrail to the left flipper, and the game gets *more* fun, if that's even possible. My memory fails me about the location of jackpots, but I do know that super jackpot is the mini-playfield ramp to the couch. This is very, very hard to hit. Keeping balls alive on the fast lower playfield while trying to watch the very top-left corner of the machine for a ramp shot from a mini-flipper... good luck!

Under the living room and just south of the Kwik E Mart is the Treehouse ramp, which I mentioned can be hit from the upper flipper. Shooting here feeds a kicker to the living room.

Just below the Treehouse is the Comic Book Guy toy, big as life, with a stand-up target which starts and adds points to hurry-ups, and is an alternate skill shot (harder to hit than the Kwik E Mart).

Hurry-ups can be lit at just about every major shot, and multiple ones can be lit concurrently. They stay lit when collected, so I can only guess that getting them all is somehow important.

Below the CBG is the gate leading to the More Time target on the left wall of the playfield (which, unsurprisingly, adds 2 seconds to all running modes). I say all, because all modes shares one timer (shown on the TV). Starting a mode resets the timer for all running modes, which is very advantageous for stacking.

Surrounding the More Time target are three standard bumpers, two of which are the grey nuclear cooling towers we know & love from the television show. Shooting up between the cooling towers into the left orbit will score a Cletus kid. If you don't know who Cletus is, watch more Simpsons!

A ball leaving the jet bumpers heading down will feed the left inlane. Right next door of course is the left outlane, particularly deadly on this game. The right slingshot can kick balls over there in a blink, and the lack of a lane divider post is murder. I also get a fair amount of "up and overs" up the left inlane, so you've been warned.

All of the quotes in the game are great, and there are lots of 'em. There are multiples for nearly every shot in the game. Bart has a few particularly sarcastic things to say to you after a quick drain. The voices sound a bit muffled to me though, at least compared to the much clearer non-voice sound effects in the game.

My few complaints about the game mostly center around inserts. They tend to be small and very wordy, which requires a small font. You learn what they are after a handful of games, but it's very hard to read what's what at first. Often times a semi-important "shoot here" kind of light will be lit but not blinking. It's hard to notice a small insert with
small writing high up on the playfield when bigger inserts in the vicinity of Itchy & Scratchy and the captive ball (i.e., closer to the player) are almost always blinking. It seems like there isn't much "<some feature> is lit!" speech to make up for the lighting situation.

Also, several modes can overlap, which adds to the confusion somewhat. Don't get me wrong, I *love* stackable modes, but there needs to be a little more "shoot for the <whatever>" going on, and better prioritization in the insert lighting. To be fair, I've only played the test machine, so several improvements could find their way in before the
game hits the streets.

Another small gripe is the choice of black rubber. A colorful game like this looks much better with white rings & yellow posts. This is of course easily remedied by an operator or individual owner who feels the same.

I'll summarize by saying that Stern has cranked out another awesome game. Easily their best game yet, in my opinion. The most beautiful playfield in years, color *everywhere*, five flippers, two playfields, several multiballs, cool custom speech, more modes than you can shake a stick at... what else could you ask for?



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