George Gomez Streak at Texas Pinball Festival
When you are confronted with 500 pinball machines at the Texas Pinball Festival, you have to have a plan. My plan was to play a George Gomez streak.Inspired by a recent blog post on George Gomez' design language, I decided to play as many Gomez machines as they had at the Texas Pinball Festival in Frisco Texas.
So, I double checked the pinside page on George Gomez. His career started includes 17 distinct machines starting with Corvette in 1994 and goes right on through to The Beatles from fall 2018. So, let's go through them in the order I played them.
First, I found Monster Bash (2018 remake from Chicago Gaming Company) which is a George Gomez design. It is a fun shooter, with a nice outer loop with some interesting diversions. This is probably his breakout machine in terms of having most of his design elements. It has a lot of toys, including a moving Frankenstein and Dracula.
The next one I found was his most recent machine for Stern; "The Beatles." This is a retheme of "Seawitch" with new artwork, a new magnet, a spinning record, LCD animations, great sound and a few other surprises. It doesn't have a lot of his signature elements, because there are no ramps and the shots are wider than his original designs. There aren't any of these blue Rubber Bumpers on this machine. It's a great machine, and the magnets feel like George Gomez work.
Next up was George's 2003 Stern machine, "Lord of the Rings." You know, I never played this machine before. There aren't any in the places I wind up at. I never sought it out, and I was really missing out. There are a lot of shots on this one, a ton of multiballs, and several things to spell. Maybe it was beginner's luck on this machine. Or, maybe it was playing some Avengers, Deadpool and Johnny Mnemonic frequently at my home and some friends' homes. But, I could hit the ramps, make the loops, and generally do the things. The code on this machine was amazing from keith Johnson and Dwight Sullivan.
Then, we found George Gomez' attempt at redefining pinball, the "Revenge from Mars" game on the Pinball 2000 platform. It's a great game. It's an interesting integration of display and pinball. It's got campy animations, like the Martian Martini Time mode. Maybe the platform would have benefitted from the flat displays that became affordable a few years after this release. But, Bally Williams was making too much money on slot machines to keep the pinball business going, so this was his last design for the Bally Williams company. It's quirky. It has a weird cabinet. The buttons are strange. But, you can see a lot of Jersey Jack Pinball machines in here, with the heavy computer integration.
Next up is another newer machine, a 2018 Deadpool Premium from Stern Pinball, where George pretty much runs the joint. The original designer was removed from the company after serious legal trouble, George had to take over this project and totally redesign the machine to a theme that had a tight timeline.
Deadpool has all of George Gomez signature elements, including a ramp shape seen on both of his Batman machines, Monster Bash and Johnny Mnemonic. It also has multi-level ramps leading to the inlanes that are seen on Batman, Avengers, Johnny Mnemonic, Transformers and others. It also has a long metal Katana ramp, which is similar in theme integration to the Hawkeye arrow on Avengers LE.
Then, onto Batman '66 from 2016. This was an important project, as it was Stern Pinball's 30th Anniversary machine. This Super Limited Edition was the highest MSRP Stern ever advertised at $15,000 for 80 machines that featured custom callouts by Adam West, personalized to speak the owner's first name.
I missed seeing a Hulk edition of the Avengers LE machine that was on the floor, because there must have been a crowd and I didn't notice it. Since I was playing a streak, it didn't count here.
But, I learned a lot about playing Gomez Machines. I like his work. He single handedly keeps the square bumper pad industry afloat. He has some tight shots. He makes interesting use of diverters. He is not afraid of innovation, and there is a reason he's Gary Stern's chosen leader of the design teams at Stern.