Jaws pinball review | Stern Pinball

It’s been several months now since the beast emerged from the depths of the ocean. It’s time to put the Jaws pinball machine to the test. As our Lazarus acquired it, several of us spent a few hours on the machine.

We won’t go into the description of the playfield (read the Jaws preview for that), but rather the experience offered to us. And there’s a bit of material to sink our (shark) teeth into.

Jaws pinball review: successful, if watered-down, immersion

When you play the Jaws table, do you feel like you’re living through an episode of the Jaws saga? Yes, a thousand times yes! The soundtrack, animations and call-outs are both memorable and relevant. Special mention goes to the humor that creeps in at the end of the game, both during the lottery and the closing sequence. And a new mention for the chum line, which turns red to represent the bait poured into the water for the great white shark. The license is respected. More than that: the license is honored by this adaptation.

Flipper Jaws Stern Pinball Limited Edition Playfield

However, should we regret that only the harmless, all-audience scenes have been retained? First of all, let’s face it: in recent productions, no theme carries off 100% of its violence when transposed to the world of pinball. Horror film adaptations by Spooky Pinball, for example, have been toned down. Jaws pinball is no exception. So let’s not be surprised.

It’s easy to see why: a pinball machine is destined to take pride of place in public or family settings, so it would be awkward to see poor Quint getting chewed on the backglass. And as much as I’m not a puritan, an endless cold buffet for the Great White would be enough to ruin my appetite for the long haul.

Flow and pleasure in game

Playing sensations are not universal, and depend in particular on the environment in which you’re playing. In this respect, a private gameroom is probably the best way to enjoy a machine. But I felt the same pleasure at the Jaws Launch Party the we organised, so there must be some truth in the lines to come.

The pinnacle of satisfaction: shooting the shark’s fin. Although it doesn’t stay up for long, the difficulty is well balanced and its position when the ball is returned to you is ideal for a bull’s-eye shot. Even with my average level, I was able to knock it off every other time, and a little more if you add in the bounces and last-ditch attempts.

Flipper Jaws - Stern Pinball - Haut du plateau

I wouldn’t say the same about the captive ball in the boat (Premium and LE versions only), which gave me more trouble. It’s not enough to just hit the ball, you also have to hit it at the right angle so that it validates the shot at the bottom of its cage. But when the ship gives way to the Great White, everything becomes simple! Shots become permissive, counterbalancing the previous phase.

No trajectory is difficult on this pinball machine. What’s more, the clever arrangement of the third flipper to block the ball makes all three drop targets easily accessible. It also offers a way to slow down the pace of play if necessary. A welcome innovation is the ability to leave the small flipper in the up position for a few seconds during a multiball, by pressing the lockbar button!

Flipper Jaws Mini flipper

Jaws pinball review: rules that lack clarity

The pinball game’s main scenario consists in triggering five missions (Night Swim, Beach Panic, Scars, Pond Attack, Raft Attack) to access Mini Wizard Mode: Rescue Multiball. It sounds simple enough, yet the story’s main challenge is poorly conveyed on the playfield. Ordinarily, it should have been presented to us on the lower part of the playfield. Here, this area tells us about all but the most important objectives! In fact, for a long time I thought that the hunt for the various sharks led to the finale…

flipper Jaws Detail plateau avancee missions

So, if you want to get the most out of the experience, it’s a good idea to bring along a connoisseur for the first few games. This is a recurring flaw in Keith Elwin’s designs. In trying to offer so much, he sometimes loses us. I’d hoped that this simpler architecture would be accompanied by a purer code, but it’s not the case. It’s not crippling, but it’s infuriating to see our designer so narrowly miss the perfect score.

Once you’ve got past this difficulty, the mechanics are easy to appreciate. Multiballs are frequent and enjoyable. As previously mentioned, the third flipper mechanic is very useful.

Score progression is well-balanced and natural. Your score will be roughly proportional to your playing time. Aiming for lit inserts works, and there are no major pitfalls once the game is underway. No complaints here.

Limited use of the Stern Insider Connected

Jaws pinball takes advantage of its Insider Connected module. If you have logged in with the QR Code, the number of points for shark hunts increases with each game, until the sharks are collected.

This remanence between two games is of much less importance in the course of the game than for Venom pinball, the manufacturer’s previous game. Stern Pinball is probably still breaking in this new mechanic, looking for the right balance. It’s not impossible that the code will evolve to refine the game.

An upper playfield we could do without

The Premium and Limited Edition versions feature an upper playfield in the upper left corner. Its use during missions leaves much to be desired, as does the pleasure of moving the ball around it. This is the only downside to the playfield structure.

So much the worse for Stern, but so much the better for purchasers: the Pro version, stripped of this mini playfield, doesn’t lose much. So you get the best of the Jaws experience for a little less. A welcome saving! We’re far from saying the same thing about all tables.

Jaws pinball review: almost flawless

In a nutshell: the atmosphere is impeccable, the fun is intense. Could do better on the clarity of the rules and the usefulness of the mini-playfield. If you like the theme, you won’t be disappointed. And even without it, you’ll have a great time.

Stern Pinball is to be congratulated on the consistency with which it produces pinball machines that oscillate between the good and the excellent. Here, we’re on top of the game.

Collector of friends who have pinball collections.

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