The Big Lebowski Pinball Review

The Big Lebowski Pinball Review

Below are Five Likes and Five Dislikes on The Big Lebowski pinball machine after playing 20-30 games on this machine.  The Likes/Dislikes will be focused on the machine itself, and not on the production issues facing Dutch Pinball.

 


Five Likes

1. Theme integration

Between the music, the callouts, the movie clips, the bowling theme, the art, and the attention to detail on the toys and the playfield, playing this game makes you feel like you’re completely immersed in The Dude’s world.  The modes are entertaining and funny.  Although the rules could use a little polishing, the rule structure fairly straight forward and also represents the movie well.  You can tell a lot of thought went into the design and make of this machine, and it feels like the designers were big fans of the movie.

TBL Rules Diagram

2. Playfield art and lighting

The playfield and lighting look incredible in person.  All of the main parts of the movie are represented in some aspect on the playfield, which has mostly hand drawn art.  The art looks cartoony, but in a good way.  Add in the visual aspect of the lower playfield bowling lane, and it is simply a beautiful machine.

3. The build quality

The machine just feels solid.  And when was the last time a machine was produced with both an upper and lower playfield?

4. The layout

The shots on this game are smooth and feel great.  The lock shot in particular feels very satisfying.  The exit on the upper playfield can be a bit clunky at times, but overall the layout is familiar enough to not feel unorthodox, but also feels unique.

5. The toys

The toys go well with the theme integration.  The rug toy, the car bash toy, the lower playfield bowling alley, all fit the theme well and are entertaining and fun to interact with.  On this particular example, there were no problems with the rug registering hits.  The lower playfield is works well, and the lighting on the lower playfield also looks amazing.


Five Dislikes

1. Car bash toy mechanism

The motor that moves the car bash toy is not very smooth, and sometimes it doesn’t open or close all the way.

2. The faces on the playfield

My only complaint about the playfield is that the character faces on the playfield seem out of place and don’t seem to fit well with the rest of the art.  As with any licensed theme, it is hard to know what was approved/not approved behind the scenes – this may have been the only option to include the character’s likenesses.

3. Maude lane changing

Some people love the Maude lane changing feature, but it takes a lot of getting used to.  After 20 or so games it was still difficult to get the unlit lanes to the right place.

4. Bowling ball bumpers

Assuming the bumpers were supposed to be half of a bowling ball, something should’ve been done to make them look more like a real bowling ball.  Do the holes need to be closer together?  Or the tops of the balls more rounded?  They look like mushrooms with three holes.

5. Availability of parts

With all the uncertainty surrounding the future of The Big Lebowski and Dutch Pinball, it may be extremely difficult to find parts for this machine.  (Oops, production issues did come up.)

Conclusion

Some rare machines are fun to play just because they are rare, others are rare and fun to play because they’re actually fun machines.  The Big Lebowski pinball machine is the latter, it is a fun experience, especially if you are a fan of the movie.  It is one of the best theme integrations of all time.  Even if things go perfectly for Dutch Pinball going forward, it is going to be quite a while before we see more machines built and shipping.  The October goal for the first prototype machine seems overly optimistic, but hopefully it happens.  My hope is that the remaining machines are someday shipped to owners, not only because so many have waited so long for their machines, but because this is a machine that deserves to be built, and should be played and enjoyed by many pinheads.

 

Disclaimer: All opinions are subject to change because I’m fickle with pinball machines the more I play them 🙂

 

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