First Takes: Stranger Things Premium

First Takes: Stranger Things Premium
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First Takes: Stranger Things Premium
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First Takes: Stranger Things Premium
Published on
January 23, 2020
Updated on
January 23, 2020
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Initial Impressions of Stranger Things Premium from industry employees and hardcore hobbyists

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW – these are initial impressions of the game based on the reveal stream and images that have been released. Impressions are based on the CURRENT state of the game as of the reveal stream. An aggregate review of the game will follow in the coming months.

BIAS: There will always be bias, it would be silly and ignorant to pretend otherwise! Reviewers include people from all major manufacturers and hardcore hobbyists, and they have been encouraged to give THOUGHTFUL impressions.

REMINDER: The best way to decide if you like a game is to go find one and play it!

Stranger Things Premium First Impressions

Game Design and Layout


Reviewer 12: “Obviously designer Brian Eddy played it pretty safe and based this fan layout on the much loved Attack from Mars I do find of few interesting quirks like how the right inner loop feeds the the left outer orbit (could have been a boring horseshoe around the centre drop targets)…”

Reviewer 44: “On the simple side, possibly too much so. Shot geometry seems good, with the exception of the right ramp. The featured mech, while fitting of the theme, lacks the punch and wow factor it could and should have…”

Reviewer 200: “The layout may not be new or innovative, but it does use a proven design that has remained at the top of the charts for quite some time…”

Reviewer 158: “After a 20+ year hiatus of Brian Eddy the expectations were very strong for this new title and this game falls short . I applaud Stern for introducing some new technology with the projection mapping but it’s quite literally underwhelming with relying on this versus some real ball interaction mechanisms…”

Reviewer 37: “The layout looks to be a now fairly standard fan layout from the master of the fan. It looks to play very smoothly and shots appear to feel quite nice. The center shots are quite deadly as drop targets…”



Reviewer 138: “I’m a fan of the cabinet and backbox art. The playfield seems a little muddled, which may be due to the amazing number of inserts in this game…”

Reviewer 53: “The art seems serviceable but ultimately just a step above Photoshop-montage. Clearly drawn and oversaturated (keys to winning over pinball fans) I don’t think it’s offensive but it is forgettable…”

Reviewer 44: “Seems like a package that is built from assets already established. I would appreciate a more hand drawn style with more nods to the humor and nostalgia the show is known for. Not a complete miss, but somewhat underwhelming by today’s standards….”

Reviewer 165: “Over-saturated and underwhelming, but gets the job done…”

Current Rules/Code


Reviewer 125: “Rules and code, as they stand now, seem straight forward to me and easy enough to grasp for the casual player. That’s a big plus in my book. A game with deep rules yet easy to grasp basics for the novice player are the key to a good game….”

Reviewer 175: “Where do I begin? The code is what makes it really obvious that Stern rushed this game out the door. This can all be fixed down the road, but it is becoming common practice to see “Get it out the door – we will fix it in post” operation. Simple things can be done to this code to give the player better satisfaction, but the current code isn’t providing that…..”

Reviewer 31: “Definitely full of typical Lonnieisms. Can’t think of any particularly new ideas that I saw here…”

Reviewer 53: “Rules and code seem to be in a solid place for an at-launch title. The highlight appears to be the mode-based play. Less impressive is the Upside Down hurry-up mode (a bit one-trick) and the ease of obtaining the primary ball lock….”



Reviewer 65: “I think the animations are good. Stern has come a very long way since they started integrating LCD displays…”

Reviewer 12: “For the most part, the custom animations seem very flat and simplistic. The only exception to this would be the battle with the demigorgan which is a well-crafted animated character that seems to react to every time the pinball strikes the toy…

“Reviewer 88: “Mostly clips from the show it appears. The ones that look custom aren’t very detailed, and some appear missing. Though, updates will remedy that….”

“Reviewer 125: “The display is exactly what it needs to be. The needed info is there, the animations look good. Not the best Stern has done, but they get the job done well….”



Reviewer 166: “There is no question on this – they have outdone themselves on this aspect of the game. Innovation abounds on this title (for the Premium/LE trim) and this is exactly what pinball needs to continue to innovate. The projector screen(s) are impressive and they integrate well with gameplay…”

Reviewer 158: “Give props to Stern for trying new technology with projection mapping but I think it falls short, the game looks barren and there’s simply not enough there compared to other games that have better mechanisms…”

Reviewer 151: “The Demogorgon shot is sterile and unimpressive. They went all in on the projector, which doesn’t add anything to gameplay or the physical fun of pinball we all love….”

Reviewer 200: “The demogorgon toy does look like fun and could be quite a challenge. I am worried that it might be too challenging to the point that it would get frustrating. I will need to see how the projection works in real life to get a better feel for it, but I think it has enough potential at this point that I will give them extra credit for the innovation…”

Theme and Theme Integration


Reviewer 165: “This is a huge license. The integration is different than what I was expecting how I would’ve done it – it lacks the humor from the show and could’ve been a more nostalgic with the 80s vibe – but it is still pulled off really well. The sound and assets draw you into the Stranger Things world…”

Reviewer 22: “Good theme, they missed a little as there’s not many kids callouts or Joyce. Glad there is some custom speech though…”

Reviewer 12: “I think the mode progression going from chapter to chapter was a nice way of bringing the player into the narrative of the theme. I still don’t necessarily feel like I’m playing something which is set in a scary ’80s horror film, but there are moments like when the “upside-down” which occurs which are dramatic and in keeping with the suprising moments it occurs in the show…”



Reviewer 166: “With so many inserts on the playfield, I was impressed with how much we saw at the current code level and the capability this machine will eventually have for an impressive light show is really unmatched in recent games….”

Reviewer 33: “Light work. They flash different colours. They do what lights do, except anything memorable…”

Reviewer 37: “Pinball lightshows are hard to make, and I think they’ve done a good job. More than serviceable, but not something I’m going to run out in the street and describe to the nearest passerby….”



Reviewer 151: “Best part of this game. It sounds incredible…”

Reviewer 12: “I find that the musical score is quite lacking and unimpressive and wowefully under-uses the main theme to the show which I find adds a lot of tension and tempo to the atmosphere of the game. The game seems to be a sonically barren soundscape of discordant and bleak synth tones. So far not a single track of any the popular ’80s music which is so intrinsictly tied to the setting of the show….”

Reviewer 125: “The music and sound is superb. The theme from the show sets the mood perfectly, the sounds of the spinner and drop targets are unique and add to that mood. Very, very well done….”



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Reviewer 165: “Though he sounds a little bit un-enthused in a lot of the callouts we’ve heard so far, getting the actor that played Jim Hopper (David Harbour) to do custom callouts is a home run…”

Reviewer 55: “Callouts seemed limited, not many exciting / funny / surprising callouts that I noticed… only exception was “What the hell?!” on an outlane drain…”

Reviewer 125: “Callouts seemed a little uninspired to me. Not enough excitement or feeling. That may be by design to match the mood of the theme, but that could change as the code develops….”



Reviewer 4: “Overall ,it is a familiar layout that has the potential of been something great. But with such a familiar layout, the code, projector, and theme integration is going to be the make or break point of this pinball machine.”

Reviewer 65: “I guess I would just simply say it’s ok. I’ll play it on location, but from what I have seen it isn’t something I would consider purchasing. Given the talent of Brian Eddy and the team he had to work with, I was hoping for something more special…”

Reviewer 44: “Brian Eddy has been thrusted back into a different era of pinball that requires wowing with less. Effective designers have avoided budget pitfalls with alternative shot layouts and creative use of the space they are afforded. Brian will have to change his design focus if he will add to his incredible legacy using modern games. This is fun, but not next level incredible…”

Reviewer 125: “Overall this looks like a great game that will get dialed in with code updates and tweaks to the game. The issues with the Demogoran stuck balls and rejections will have to be addressed some how. If that happens the game is solid….”