2005-03-05 06:47:09 UTC
Korn: Dwight owes me TWO balls.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a sample game with software that
will change over the course of the next few weeks. While we won't
blame the programmer for bugs, we will make fun of the bugs heavily.
Do not find this review six months from now (or any time using Google)
and tell us that things we felt are missing from the game are present.
They aren't at this time SO SHUT IT!
Disclaimer 2: Uh, this review contains uncensored vulgarity. If you
don't want to read that kind of language, we can ship you an instant
dyslexia kit of Clorox bleach and napalm*. Your choice. Don't say we
didn't warn you.
Wolffy: So on the last review
Korn: SHUT IT!
Wolffy: On the last review Yancy's comments were written by proxy.
Yancy: I love proxy me, I wish he was at home cleaning the house right
Korn: You've been wishing that for the last 8 months.
Yancy: Yeah but proxy me is a lazy mofo, the last thing he did was
write the last review.
Korn: Anyway we should actually get to the game at hand here.
Sopranos. BA DA BING! Should we start with a shot map? It's not like
nobody has covered the field so far.
Wolffy: I think we should just to be obnoxious.
Yancy: Start by taking diner inlane plastics and put them on Lord of
Wolffy: The playfield is a deviation for George Gomez. Completely
unlike Lord Of The Rings, Revenge From Mars, Johnny Mnemonic, and
Monster Bash, this one uses the fan layout!
Yancy: On the flyer for Sopranos there should be a quote "I'm George
Gomez's biggest fan."
Korn: Starting on the left we have ... a Billy Bass! Yes sir, STERN
bought out the entire stock of late night infomercials of singing fish,
chopped off the bodies and slapped them on playfields. It would be
really cool if it started singing "See, See Rider" when the game starts
but oh yeah, wrong license.
Wolffy: Underneath Billy Bass is a small shot with a saucer to catch
the ball to award big prizes. This shot is conveniently known as the
Korn: And during multiball it awards Add-a-Bass.
Yancy: [From back here] it just looks like it awards a turd laying in
Wolffy: [Dude that turd is looking at you.] To light the bass-hole
complete the F-I-S-H lights over the in and out lanes.
Korn: Kinda exactly like the locks on LOTR.
Wolffy: Next to Billy is the left orbit, where you can put the ball
into the right orbit. This is one of two ways to collect truck awards.
Korn: Yeah what's the other?
Wolffy: SHUT IT! Next to the left orbit is the BA-DA-BING ramp from
Yancy: It's not that bad, it's just flat so it never gets vertical
enough to pick up any speed, so I can go take a drink waiting for it to
Korn: There's not a big difference in ball speed when you enter the
left ramp. With a normal ramp when you hit it the ball slows down
quite a bit so you know you are going up hill, then normally it turns
around and picks up speed as it heads toward the player. With this
ramp it's sorta like it never left the playfield.
Yancy: They probably wanted it that low so you could see the tube
dancers and that graphic behind them.
Wolffy: To the right of that shot is the inner spinner lane which is
similar to the Otto loop from TSPP.
Korn: And then we have ... BOWLING FOR SUITCASES!
Korn: So, the big "I'm an idiot" toy in the middle of the field are the
suitcases. They have safe stickers on them but really they're just two
pieces of baggage. Whack the hell out of them until they raise up out
of the way.
Yancy: Each pair of suitcases takes more hits then the last, like MM
Korn: The first suitcase is your typical WalMart brand suitcase. One
or two hits and it's out of there. A few promotions later it's like
your banging on Samsonite Luggage. It will take a few good slugs but
will eventually give way. By the time you reach Underboss, you're
pretty much hammering on a flight case. In other words, when you get
to being promoted to underboss, you need to bowl so many times that
there's almost no way you're going to get promoted via the suitcases.
You're better of going some other way.
Yancy: As with most things in life, you can buy your way out of it,
since you can get promotions by collecting money. I like money.
Korn: I like Notepad! Anyway, if you collect enough cash envelopes,
the spinner lane will also give you a promotion.
Wolffy: Next to the suitcases is the Aron Boat lane.
Yancy: "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a dead
Korn: "It holds a measly two balls and you'll get em both right quick."
Everyone: "You'll get em both right quick!"
Korn: The boat is the gimme 2-ball multiball in the game. Lock two
balls, they flop back out, that's about it.
Yancy: Did you mention the drop target at the front of the ramp?
Korn: The one with the artwork riveted to it?
Yancy: Yeah that one!
Wolffy: There is a reverse drop target in front of the ramp. If you
pound it from the front the thing often doesn't move, but tap from
behind and the thing drops like a $5 whore.
Yancy: It's also possible to sneak the ball by the drop target up the
Wolffy: And if you do that you get a quicky bonus. Alright moving on
is this feat of pinball engineering called the Meadowlands.
Yancy: I'm just going to call that shot Jersey.
Wolffy: Ok, well don't be under the illusion that this shot is the
right ramp, that's the Aron Boat shot. This is a strange scoop that
ends up in a habitrail.
Korn: Yeah that's about it, it's a vertical u-turn ramp.
Yancy: I would make a Big Hurt reference but no one's played that game.
Korn: The shot kinda sucks though. Even more so than all the other
shots in the game.
Yancy: Damn dude, you're harsh!
Korn: But even more so than all the other shots in the game, unless you
hit it dead-dead-nut center it's just not going anywhere. It's not
even *trying* to go anywhere.
Yancy: The good news is the ball seldom drains from rolling out of that
shot, if it did the game would be unplayable.
Wolffy: And if you miss the shot, it's surrounded by Yancy's Blue Nubs
of Death, or even worse, the drop target!
Wolffy: Finally, there is the right orbit, which will either dump the
ball in the rollover lanes or the left orbit.
Wolffy: Alright, so, are we done talking about the fan yet?
Korn: Yeah let's talk about the game play. Honestly, if you're not a
pinball sniper, as in EXTREMELY accurate with your shots, you're going
absolutely nowhere with Sopranos. Either you hit your shots dead nut
center, or the ball is going to rattle around or impale on a blue
Wolffy: The truck orbit (left or right, take your pick) actually has
some of the smoothest flow in this game. Unfortunately, at the other
end of the scale is the spinner shot and the bass hole, where the ball
always seems to end up by complete accident.
Korn: When the game wants to, it flows fairly decently. For example,
if by some miracle you manage NOT to have anything lit on the spinner
shot and then hit it, the game pulls the plunger down ahead of time
allowing the ball to exit unobstructed. That's good.
Wolffy: Unfortunately, it's flowing right into a jet bumper area,
which (at least on this game), the ball never hit a jet bumper when it
went into that area!
Korn: Continuing on, if Ba-Da-Bing isn't about to start, the game will
lower the post on the bad-a-bing ramp so that the ball does not stop on
the ramp. Again, a good thing. But the problem is that the game is SO
tight on the shots that unless you're a flow player AND an excellent
"on the fly" marksman at the same time, you're just not going to _get_
much flow. Let's say the ball comes screaming off the ba-da-bing ramp
towards the flippers, and let's also say that you make something less
than an excellent shot at Meadowlands. I'm not saying you made a BAD
shot at Meadowlands, I'm just saying the aim was something other than
dead-dead-nut center. The flow is _broken_ right there because the
shot is so tight. The ball rattles around the entrance to Meadowlands,
and eventually gives up and reverses direction towards the flippers.
Wolffy: It's not that there is NO flow to the game, it's just that
it's just so hard to keep the flow going even though the game is trying
Korn: The game isn't trying to be a stop and go target shooting game,
but winds up being one rather unintentionally.
Yancy: So that's the flow, now on to the rules. *DING* RULES. ("Ski
Wolffy: Ok, the start of each ball is the loser skill shot, in which
you need to hit the lit R-I-P rollover lane. For some reason though, I
could only see 2 of the 3 lanes.
Korn: That's because you had BOAT in your eye!! Stern cut the front
out of the boat so that you can see through it, but it only helps if
you are 6'2" or above.
Yancy: Sorry Wolffy! You're shit out of luck.
Wolffy: Then there's the other skill shot.
Korn: FOO' YOU!
Yancy: It's the AFM super skill shot except minus the super. Hold the
left flipper, plunge, then hit any shot for exactly zero points above
the regular skill shot value.
Everyone: FOO' YOU!
Wolffy: From the loser skill shot the ball is most likely to end up in
the jet bumpers. Two of the three jet bumpers are equipped with
flashers that seem to blink just randomly.
Korn: They don't blink randomly but they don't blink when the ball hits
it either. When the ball hits the pop bumpers, a timer goes off and
the game eventually flashes the pops. Whether the ball is anywhere
near them at that point, or not.
Yancy: This game's code needs a made in china sticker. Ok, maybe just
the pop bumper code.
Wolffy: There's no flasher on the third jet because some poor soul put
a bunch of boat in the way. There are two main goals you need to
complete in this game. First is to advance your rank up to the Boss.
However you need to complete a second goal to advance your rank past
Underboss. That second goal is indicate by 8 little red lights you
have to complete: Episodes, Ba-da-bing, truck heist, food...
Korn: FOOD YOU!
Wolffy: ... suitcases, RIP, Superjackpot and Meadowlands. To advance
rank is easy, you just beat the hell out of the suitcases. The
alternate way to do it is to collect the four money shots which will
light "advance rank" on the spinner shot. Once you've bashed the
suitcases open, the ball will go into a saucer, which will then
catapult the ball to the truck at the back of the game.
Korn: Since they are basically going to fling the ball to the back of
the game anyway, I don't know why they didn't turn the truck into a
TSPP style couch lock. Instead they just put an air ball protector
around the truck. Missed opportunity if you ask me, especially since
they spent money on Billy.
Wolffy: Hmmm... ok moving on, there are two stand up targets on the far
right side of the playfield, "lite" and "pork store".
Costanza: "The line is jerk store! I'm going with jerk store!!"
Wolffy: When you lite the pork store hit the spinner shot for a select
group of random awards. You can get big points, light extra ball,
advance meadowlands, advance rank, and the game's favorite to award on
ball 3, "hold spinner value". YIPEE! They went all out on that one.
Ok, you're right it's a jerk store.
Korn: In general, there is only one rule to Sopranos, and this applies
to every single shot in the game. Hit this shot 'x' number of times to
start a mode or collect something. The game really IS Monster Bash in
Yancy: It's Monster Bash in a lot of aspects.
Wolffy: Keeping that in mind, what I do want to point out is that if
you have Fish lit, be careful of when you want to collect it. Shooting
the Bass-hole when no modes are running will give you a cash envelope
award (because, you know, fish ALWAYS have money) which usually is an
award around 50K or so. However if you shoot the Bass-hole with a mode
running, the awards will be worth more.
Korn: MOVE YOUR BASS! No, wait it doesn't do that. Pity. So in
multiball, if FISH is lit it turns into an Add-a-Bass hole, which is
much more useful than the envelopes.
Yancy: The mode starts have been done before but it's a tried and true
formula for a Bash.
Wolffy: That is so true, even down to the yellow standup targets that
spell out your Sopranos (aka phantom flip). Once you have phantom flip
lit hit the spinner lane to start Arson. There are actually five
episodes that you need to play in the game but chances are, you are
going to play Arson.
Korn: Well you could also play the executive game. DON'T PLAY
Korn: Executive Game is video texas hold-em poker.
Yancy: Executive Game is Seven-Stud-Hold-Em hybrid.
Korn: It's not Texas hold 'em and it's not exactly seven card stud.
Not that it matters cause you are going to get your ass beaten every
time. So you might as well fold from the start and save your points.
Wolffy: Agreed. Fold the first chance you get on that one. Even so
you'll get credit for the mode.
Wolffy: The other modes are horse race which is five shots are lit and
hit all five. Then there is Satisfaction in which five shots are lit
and hit any five, including repeats. Then there is exterminate in
which one shot is lit on the left and the lit shot moves right with
each made shot, skipping the suitcases. Hit all five.
Korn: Satisfaction had some sound bugs in it which made it oddly
Yancy: I thought that was one of the cooler modes where you are
stalking the guy and getting closer and closer. That mode tells a
story, albeit brief.
Wolffy: But if you get to the end it has a cool light show.
Korn: Overall, there isn't much to say about the game's play mechanics.
Once you get the idea to pound any particular shot X times, it holds
true for the rest of the shots. It's not like you are doing anything
different, you're just doing it in a different place on the playfield.
The exception being maybe the boat, but even after getting the boat the
first time you have to hit it multiple times to light your locks.
Yancy: This game is all about the stack. It's almost like TSPP where
stacking is everything but there aren't as many modes or creative ways
to stack them. The scoring on almost every mode, except for Underboss,
is sickeningly balanced. I never get the feeling of big risk, big
Korn: There are no super death shots and their aren't any super payoffs
to make death shots (which aren't there) worth taking.
Wolffy: Yes people, this is a gangster themed pin!
Korn: But the thing is though, the whole time I was playing Sopranos, I
kept feeling like I was playing Lord of the Rings but having less fun.
14.28% less fun to be exact. I have the idea that George Gomez was
sitting around the office and said to himself, "If a 7 shot fan is fun,
then an 8 shot fan has to be AT LEAST 14.28% MORE fun! Right??"
Unfortunately it's not.
Wolffy: I agree that it feels like playing Monster Bash all over again.
The problem is Monster Bash made me want to come back and play it
again. Sopranos, even though we haven't gotten to the fun parts yet,
is still kind of blah. At the rate Stern is going, they should have
just created Monster Bash. Which, by the way, is a license!
Korn: The fan can be a fun layout, but if every shot is the same thing
it's just not interesting for very long.
Wolffy: There are a couple of interesting things going on in this game.
For me, they all center around the different multiballs. One thing
that is slightly different from "hit this shot three times" is the boat
Korn: Yeah it's "hit the boat two times".
Wolffy: Even so, one hit to the drop target lights a lock, then hit the
ramp to lock the ball. After locking two balls you start the
multiball. Once you start mutliball you can make it a 3-ball multiball
with a shot to the bass-hole. Of course, if you re-light the bass-hole
later on, the additional award seems to be spot R-I-P instead of
add-a-bass. That is so disappointing. It takes a little skill to
relight that so why not add another ball? I mean what bass-hole came
up with that lame rule?
Korn: But see that's entirely symptomatic of what the problem is with
this game. The entire "drop target in front of the lock, pound the
lock, then pound the lock some more for jackpots and supers" was lifted
almost verbatim from T3 and dropped in place on Sopranos. The sequence
wasn't that great on T3 the first time around, and it's certainly not
good enough to be worth repeating. MOVE THE SHOTS AROUND! MAKE ME
SHOOT SOMETHING ELSE!
Wolffy: Plus, it's not that rewarding unless you do something like
stack it with Ba-da-bing, which off the top of my head is the only
thing you can stack it with.
Korn: Stacking Ba-Da-bing and Stugots is pretty lucrative. Especially
considering how Ba-Da-Bing works.
Wolffy: Ba-Da-Bing: You want to hit the ramp three times...
Korn: ...a la Monster Bash...
Wolffy: to complete Ba-Da-Bing.
Korn: No shit!
Wolffy: Now while it will hold the ball there, you will NOT be
starting multiball. Instead, you'll be 75 switch hits away from
starting Ba-Da-Bing multiball.
Korn: that's for ba-da-bing #1. Second time around it's 100 hits,
third time around it's 125.
Wolffy: And each time you have 30 seconds to get those hits. However,
if you don't achieve the number of required hits, you'll pick up where
you left off the next time you start ba-da-bing. What YOU want to do
is start ba-da-bing, then immediately pound the boat. Note that if you
start the boat first, then start bad-a-bing, the game has this nice
litle trick of shutting all the lights off to bring your eyes to the
Korn: Of course, you're still playing multiball at the time, yelling
at the top of your lungs "I'M TRYING TO PLAY THE GAME HERE!!"
Wolffy: The only other thing that's kind of interesting is the
Korn: Underboss is a neat mode where you get approximately ten seconds
of unlimited 4 ball multiball action. After that, then it's up to you
to keep the balls in play or to add-a-bass. All shots are lit, and
making one gives you a letter in UNDERBOSS. Complete UNDERBOSS to
light three jackpots. One is on bad-a-bing, one on stugots, and one on
meadowlands. (I think) You get ten seconds to collect all three, and
if you collect one the timer does NOT reset. Either you collect all
three (cha-CHING!) or you're back to spelling UNDERBOSS again.
Wolffy: The last mode is food fight, which is a poor rip-off of White
Water. Which, when collected, seems to start the mode of death,
because every time I started this (or seen someone start this) the ball
has suddenly drained.
Korn: Moving right along, let's talk about... the art!
Yancy: The playfield is a step up from Stern's recent Photoshop fest.
Korn: I thought the playfield was a Photoshop fest.
Yancy: It's really only a Photoshop fest between the Boss insert and
the flippers. Three-fourth of the playfield is decent with line art,
bright colors and well defined inserts. It's a step in the right
direction. But all the red and white checker board patterns in the
lower part of the playfield make the game look tacky.
Korn: It makes the game look like an ice-cream shop.
Wolffy: The playfield is better than some of the previous examples,
but they've taken all their artistic resources away from other areas,
like... the translite.
Korn: Translight fucking looks like ass!
Yancy: Two words: Dark and Grainy.
Korn: No, Two words: ASS!
Yancy: Can't we all agree the cabinet art is sharp even if it is a bit
on the plain side.
Korn: It's like how I design websites, two colors: black and white.
Yancy: And Red.
Korn: And I *suck* at designing websites. But what I do know is sound.
Korn: The sound on this game is pretty decent. Not surprisingly,
you're treated to the Soprano's theme song. Surprisingly, the game
sings the first few bars to you. Stern learned their lesson with
Elvis, and the game only sings the lyrics on Player 1 Ball 1, which
prevents you from having "see see rider" brains. VERY appreciated!
After P1B1, you get the music only (no voice).
Wolffy: Arson music is cool! Ya ya, ya! Horseface mode where there
is no music only horses' hooves is a great contrast that really sounds
cool. Ya ya, ya!
Wolffy: But overall, I think the speech clips themselves were
incredibly lackluster. And what the hell was Itchy doing in the game?
Korn: While not Stern's fault per se, the voice quotes lack a
certain... emphasis. It sounds as though someone wrote "ba" on a
card, held it up in front of James Gandolfini's face, and he said "ba".
Then they wrote "da" on another card, held it up, and he said "da".
Finally they wrote "bing" on the last card, held it up, etc. In short,
the delivery is flaaaaaaat. Ba...Da....Bing. Whoop....De....Do.
Wolffy: GIMMIE THE MONEY! Except it's not GIMMIE THE MONEY, it's more
"gimmie the money. well, if you want to. pleeeeeeeease, I'll be your
friennnnnnd. Oh YOU'RE NOT NICE!"
Wolffy: I was also surprised at how many noticeable sounds they just
dumped from TSPP into this game.
Wolffy: I was also disappointed that they have this animated bass that
doesn't integrate well with the game. I understand the whole "sleeps
with the fishes" reference, but it's presence is just so under used yet
commanding on the playfield that it clearly doesn't contribute as much
as it has the potential to.
Korn: Lest we be too negative (and moving right along), the flippers
feel much better on Soprano's.
Yancy: Oh Shit! I didn't mention how good the flippers felt. There is
no more stiff button feel.
Korn: That's true cause a few times I actually accidentally activated
the flippers. Before on Stern games I needed a sledge hammer to
accidentally activate a flipper. But these flippers, and in particular
the flipper buttons themselves, are more of the feather touch style.
You know, like a certain company that now makes slot machines' pinball
machines used to feel like.
Wolffy: So let's wrap this up.
Korn: I guess if I had to say anything about the Sopranos, it's that
there isn't anything really wrong with it per se. But there isn't
anything really right about it either. It simply doesn't call me back.
I wouldn't be upset if it showed up on location, but I don't know that
I'd seek the game out, either. Kind of just left me flat, like Reality
Wolffy: For me it left me flat because it's Monster Bash from '98 with
a complexity of software from a game from '92 (like High Speed 2), and
slightly less innovation than the first WPC game of 1990. There is
nothing in this game that I haven't seen before. OK, maybe one thing.
Yancy: Speaking of which, have any of us actually SEEN an episode of
Korn: SHUT IT!
* Instant dyslexia kit only available in Morristown, Tennessee.