The Walking Dead Pinball

Pardon me, sir, but did you know there’s a Walking Dead pinball machine? Yes, I know, mind… BLOWN. You’re welcome!

With season 8 of AMC’s The Walking Dead kicking off tonight – with its 100th episode, no less! – I thought it would be a good time to chat about a Walking Dead property you may not be familiar with. You’ve probably heard of Telltale’s The Walking Dead video games, and perhaps the solid entry into the mobile gaming market, but you’d have to be part of a pretty elite group of fanatics to know about Stern’s The Walking Dead Pinball machine.

Stern Pinball is the only manufacturer left from the golden age of pinball. And surprisingly, in all that time, there hadn’t been a zombie-themed pinball machine. Stern addressed that oversight in 2014. There were 3 versions of the machine made, as is the current trend with pinball. Starting with the pro version, a base model which is the cheapest at an MSRP just over $6k (note, if you contact a pinball dealer, you will pay lower than MSRP in most cases). The pro model is typically the one that you may find on location in arcades and pubs. Then there’s the Premium, a few more bells and whistles and a higher price tag. This one’s the sweet spot for the home collector, and clocks in at an MSRP of $7700.

The Walking Dead Premium model

But if you’re wealthy or very dedicated to either pinball or The Walking Dead, and simply must have the best of the best… there’s a pinball for that. Enter the LE version. It’s got unique art, sometimes additional bling, and most importantly is limited to a set run of machines. Despite the $8600 MSRP, Stern’s Walking Dead LE has been long sold-out. You could find one on the secondary market if you really wanted to, but given this title is pretty well-regarded in the pinball community (currently #20 in Pinside’s Top 100), don’t expect to get a huge discounted deal just because it’s “used”. That’s not how the pinball seller’s market works.

As mentioned, this is one of the favorites of modern Stern machines. It’s designed by John Borg and Lyman Sheats, two industry veterans whose work is highly regarded. Fans of the show might be put off by the audio callouts, however. The callouts are done by a voice impersonator doing Rick Grimes, but it’s a lot more red-neck than you’re probably expecting. If you can get past that, though, it’s a great play experience that’s flashy, fun, and challenging.

Elements from the show such as Daryl’s crossbow, the prison, the CDC, the barn, “bicycle girl”, and the well zombie are all here, as well as the Governor’s tank of zombie heads (Premium and LE models). The art is all from the tv series as well.

If you’d like to play this bad boy but don’t have a pile of cash sitting around, you may be able to find one on location near you with either Pinside’s Where to Play Map or PinballMap.com.

Survival Games Coming in 2017 and 2018

Well hell, looks like there are a LOT of survival games coming out in the next year or so! I only knew about a few of these.  I was just getting started on a second play-through of Fallout 4, but now I feel like maybe I want to save myself.

Note: I realize I’m horribly mixing survival games and apocalypse games here. That’s really not appropriate, but since I’m a huge fan of both, it’s hard not to. Survival games, for the record, are games where the basic needs are a focus for the game’s success mechanics. So like Don’t Starve, where you need to be worrying about food constantly. A game like Days Gone, I believe, is less focused on those survival elements, and it’s more just about the apocalyptic setting. Which is still just fine with me, but I thought I should acknowledge the distinction.

Here are the ones that I probably won’t be able to resist.

Survive the Nights

This one’s got a very 7 Days to Die vibe to it, and that’s a game I have 500 or so hours of gameplay in on, so the odds are good I’m going to try this one out. The only downside for me is that it’s on the PC. I’m at a point where WASD gaming takes a horrendous toll on my hands, so hopefully it’s controller compatible.

Looks like it should be available any day now as an early access game on Steam. I know a lot of people who flat-out detest early access games, but I am not one of those people.

Raft

This is one I already knew about but it has come a LONG way from the initial alpha version I watched. I love that you’re essentially building a floating city.

Rise of the King

Oh heyell yeah. A wintry theme, which is one of the things I really like about The Long Dark, but with a more medieval flavor.  This appears to have been a Kickstarter that was cancelled. That in itself is not a game over; DreamCade Replay failed the first time around but leveraged what they learned to come roaring back for a very successful second try. However, the last post on Rise of the King’s Twitter account was back in May regarding that cancelled Kickstarter. Never a good sign when a game dev goes silent for that long. Also not a good sign when their website’s blank.

Ylands

Not for me, probably, but I think my kids are going to LOVE this one. They’re big into Minecraft and Roblox, and things like Terraria and Don’t Starve. I tried playing Minecraft with the kids, but for survival gaming, the graphics just don’t work for me.

State of Decay 2

I didn’t actually play a ton of the original State of Decay. It was a little too “on the rails” for me, I prefer more of an open world style (and I know it became that, but not in the time I played it).

The sequel sounds more open-world, so I’ll be tempted, but I don’t have an XBox anymore, so that leaves PC as the only option yet again. I have a decent gaming laptop at this point, but I tend to be more PS4-focused these days.  The multiplayer elements do sound interesting, but they require an XBox Gold subscription. This one’s probably going to get cut from my roster for that reason, but I’m leaving it here because it’s a solid entry in the survival games genre.

Frostpunk

As I watched the video above, I was writing down games that caught my eye. I drew 2 stars next to this one. It was only later I found out it’s from 11 bit studios, the creators of one of my all time favorite survival games, This War of Mine.  Count me in. LOVE these guys, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this game is going to be right up my alley.

It’s obvious they’re carrying forward the tough choices element from This War of Mine.  Which, by the way, if you haven’t played, get it. But be warned, it’s brutally difficult.

Days Gone and Far Cry 5

Caught the reveals of both of these during this year’s E3, and I’m on board for both, no question. They look fantastic! Days Gone reminded me of Dying Light, another one I really enjoyed playing, and one of the few I’ve finished in recent years. And I realize that makes me sort of a hypocrite, not liking State of Decay for being on the rails, but loving Dying Light, which is very much on the rails. Hmm. Maybe it was playing in 3rd person that turned me off on State. If so, that’ll be a point against Days Gone, too.

Days Gone: They see me rollin’… they hatin’…

I’m a late-comer to Far Cry, but I played almost all the way through Far Cry 3. The “burning the drug fields” level is one of the most memorable segments I’ve experienced in any game, ever. It was a perfect song choice, and gave you that feeling of being the star in a movie.

So that turned me on to the Far Cry series, and I’d be interested in Far Cry 5 even if it weren’t for the fact that it takes place in Montana and I grew up in Montana. Done deal. Where do I sign? I’m also really enjoying the character videos they released. It’s feeling like it’ll be a world I can lose myself in, and these days, that’s really what I’m after. Plus, there are indications it may have fishing…

I will acknowledge one problem with the list above. There’s no way I have time to play even just the games mentioned here, and Red Dead Redemption’s coming in 2018. I’m not sure how I’ll handle this problem, something’s gotta give. All I can say is thank the gods Bethesda hasn’t got an Elder Scrolls coming in 2018, because then I’d REALLY be screwed. Gah, but the new Wolfenstein’s due out in October. It’s Bethesda, it’s a Fallout-ish aesthetic, and that’s my kryptonite.

I have to come to grips with the fact that I can only play one or two big games any given year. At the moment, these are the “gotta haves”:

  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (Oct. 27, 2017)
  • Frostpunk (TBD, maybe by end of 2017)
  • Far Cry 5 (February 27, 2018)
  • Red Dead Redemption: (Spring 2018)

Raft and Days Gone are tier 2 for me. I’ll play them if by some miracle I get through the list above and don’t then go back to Fallout 4. Survive the Nights is kind of a wildcard for me. If they can actually pull off what their teaser video showed, I would have to get it. But it’s coming at a time when there’s just so much survival games competition. I like wine, but I can’t drink wine 24/7, you know?

And it gets worse. I just found out that Mojo Bones actually did wind up releasing Impact Winter this year. I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this one, but it was another Kickstarter that didn’t work out. And another dev team that didn’t let that stop them, it seems:

Impact Winter appears to be having a rough time of it right now on Steam, though, with mostly negative reviews focusing on bug issues. Bugs can be fixed, so I hope they sort it out, but I’ll hold off for now. At this point I’m kind of glad to have the excuse.