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Kingpin, the extremely rare game from Capcom, will be REMADE by Circus Maximus! The intention is to have a Kingpin available for play for the entire Texas Pinball Festival, and to build significantly more than just the test machine they are bringing to TPF. The plan is for production is late 2018 or early 2019.
Make sure to check out the Circus Maximus seminar at Texas Pinball Festival at noon on Saturday! There will be food!
The History of Kingpin
Don’t know much about Kingpin? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – there were only nine ever made. It is believed that eight currently exist. In recent years, they have been said to sell for over $40,000. Kingpin was to be Capcom’s game after Big Bang Bar, but unfortunately their pinball factory closed in 1996, and neither machine made it to full production.
Kingpin was the last physical pinball machine designed by Mark Ritchie. Mark Ritchie has designed many famous pinball machines, including Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure, Fish Tales, Diner, and Taxi. According to the Internet Pinball Machine Database, the following people were part of the team of the original Kingpin:
Design by: Mark Ritchie
Sound by: Chris Granner
Software by: Tony DeFeo, Steven King
The Interview with Circus Maximus
This Week in Pinball: When and why did you decide to build a Kingpin?
Circus Maximus: Back at The Texas Pinball Festival (TPF) in 2015 we were talking to Mark Ritchie telling stories about Python and talking our Python’s Pinball Circus project and the idea came if we were interested in possibly doing Kingpin. Since then Kingpin has always been near the top of mind, although we didn’t really decide it was time until James and I had a long ride back from Pinball Expo 2017 and we plotted out the project and the goal of showing the game at TPF in 2018. Some told us we were crazy when we explained our plan and timeline, but being over-tired from Expo and our drive home it sounded like a reasonable plan to us.
As for the why, and specifically why we are working on getting Kingpin into production before Python’s Pinball Circus (PPC)? We see it as a way to help us keep our promise to Python. Kingpin is an easier build as it is a normal sized pinball machine and cabinet. It would fit on an existing pinball assembly line. It’s also a cheaper BOM and likely would be in a higher demand than PPC. So James and I both felt that doing Kingpin first would give us the resources required to keep our promise to Python since we are getting these games ready for production with our own money.
TWIP: How long did it take to build?
CM: We started assembling the game we brought to TPF on December 29th, 2017. Of course, we had some prep work that we started prior to that, but basically the main project kicked off the middle of November 2017 when we took apart a friend’s Kingpin, and the project just accelerated from there. Having the friend willing to give us access to his game and spare parts, and trust us to take his game apart has also been critical to the project getting to where it is so quickly. Our buddy Jimmy Lipham has also been hard at work on the emulation side of things during this whole time too. He’s the third ring of this three ring circus. Eric at Titan Pinball has also been an incredible help in getting us a machine that is presentable for the show in such a short time period.
TWIP: Do you plan to produce these for the public to buy?
TWIP: What differences will there be between the original Kingpin and the ones produced by Circus Maximus?
CM: The main difference is that we will be using the P3-ROC system of boards. This gives us great power and flexibility, and the developer community & support built around their boards is quite an asset to the project. Guys like Jimmy Lipham and Michael Ocean have made it much easier to bring a product like this to market with their support and prior work on the PROC framework.
We also intend to give the owners the ability to play the original game and a new updated game. So those that are pinball purists will be able to play the original, and those that a more modern game appeals to will be able to play the updated game. On the updated side we are intending for full HD graphics that are expected on today’s current games and a ruleset that is heavily based on the original game, but can be expanded/completed. Of course, not everything is finalized yet until we stamp it ready for production, so any of this could change.
TWIP: Do you have any idea on production numbers?
CM: We expect the production to be higher than Python’s Pinball Circus will be, but ultimately it will depend on demand. If there is demand for only 250 games, we will build 250 of them. If there is demand for a thousand or more, we’ll make em.
TWIP: Will there be a limited edition model?
CM: We have commissioned famed Bally artist Dave Christensen (Fireball, Nitro Groundshaker, etc) to do a new set of artwork for a possible LE edition. He’s already completed the backglass and cabinet artwork. At this time we don’t believe there will be any other differences in an LE model other than the artwork and the limited number of them.
TWIP: Do you know what the cost will be?
CM: Until we have a complete BOM, not really. The BOM and getting parts tested and ready for production will be our focus immediately after TPF, so we should know more in the coming months.
TWIP: Will you be taking pre-order money to fund the build?
CM: Our team doesn’t believe in using other peoples money to fund the development of the games, so we will continue to get these games ready for production with our own money. Of course, much of the stuff we sell via our web storefront and at shows helps us fund these projects, so if anyone would like to support these projects, that is the best way to do so.
TWIP: Are you contracting with someone to build the machines or setting up something in house?
CM: We have a 12,000+ sq ft space we can use to build the games, but we are open to working with a manufacturing partner . My guess is it will be mid 2018 before we have this more defined.
TWIP: Do you know when the manufacturing will start?
CM: Production sample games will likely be built during the 3rd quarter of this year, with a hope of beginning the production run while there is still an 8 on the end of the year.
TWIP: When do you plan to go back Python’s Pinball Circus after Kingpin, and is this a way to help fund that project?
CM: Most likely we will be back working on several aspects of Python’s Pinball Circus before Kingpin enters production. We have a new CNC machine arriving in the next several weeks that will be able to cut full playfields and cabinets, and those will be utilized for the next PPC prototype which will feature the same system, P3-ROC, that we have in Kingpin. This means an LCD Screen and full color HD graphics are coming for Python’s Pinball Circus too. Plus the next whitewood should significantly improve gameplay.
The main reason we pushed Kingpin ahead of Python’s Pinball Circus is mainly from a funding aspect. Remember, we have completely self-funded both projects so far, and we felt that we could get Kingpin to production quicker and get some cashflow going that will help us get PPC to our promised finish line.
After PPC is completed, who knows what the next project will be. But odds are it will be an original game. We have no intention of just being known as the company that only has a blast building rare games from the past.
(Some of) The Rules of Kingpin
In speaking with Circus Maximus to understand more about this rare game, Paul Kiefert shared some great information regarding the rules:
“With the original Kingpin, the rules were mostly complete. The concept was that you are playing as a young kid (Hence the “Welcome to the Big City” callout that is common when starting a game) that is moving up the ranks of the gangsters and challenging the Kingpin to take over control. The main modes are related to working for some of the henchmen and completing tasks and basically “dispatching” those henchmen if you complete the tasks fully. It seems that if you don’t complete the tasks fully, you then have to contend with that same henchmen in a different way (or more if you didn’t fully completed multiple tasks) before you can challenge the Kingpin.
The original roms had two playing styles. One was the traditional X number of balls game. The other was an unlimited ball game that was tied to a power meter. As long as you continued to hit shots, your power meter would stay full, but when you started to miss stuff, your flippers would get weaker and weaker until the game was over. The original roms let the operator setup the game in either mode. What’s very cool is that if you complete some of the modes, at the end of a normal 3 ball play game, if you have power in your power meter you get an additional ball to play in the new style of play. This is called “Sudden Death” and you only get it if you have power in your power meter at the end of regular play. The flippers actually get weaker. It’s pretty wild, but takes a little getting used to as even I find myself starting to back away from the game after I drain my last ball forgetting that there is a “bonus” ball sometimes.
The music, dots, and voices are all quite superb in this game. We’ve been talking to Kevin Loza who did the original dots in the game, and he was telling us how their intention was to make the dots (and everything else for that matter) better than just about anything that was done prior to that point, and I think they succeeded in that goal. He’s super happy that people will get the opportunity to see what they worked so hard on originally.
One other interesting thing about the rules of the original game is that you are looking for the Kingpins stash/vault. And if you complete any of the modes, it will give you a clue at the end of the mode on where the vault is. Something along the lines of “The vault is to the South” or things like that.
Then there is a mode where you use those clues to find the vault.”
Here is the rules card from the original game:
In working your way to become the Kingpin, you working through the following gangsters (yes, it is a little violent):
- Frank: Tossed from window
- Butch: Struck by blow from behind
- Jimmy: Strangled
- Pat: Crushed under thrown boxes
- Rocco: Cement shoes, slept with fishes
- Trixie: Methodically shot, jewelry shot off first
- Kingpin: Shot full of holes, face rots away to skull
The main toy on Kingpin is the slot machine:
The Changes Between the Original and Remake
As mentioned in the interview above, the new Kingpin will use the P3-ROC system of boards.
Also mentioned in the interview above, they “intend to give the owners the ability to play the original game and a new updated game. So those that are pinball purists will be able to play the original, and those that a more modern game appeals to will be able to play the updated game. On the updated side we are intending for full HD graphics that are expected on today’s current games and a ruleset that is heavily based on the original game, but can be expanded/completed.”
They also shared that “The new HD side will start out being very similar to the original ROM rules wise as we will be using the original sound assets, etc. As the game code matures it will most likely continue to expand on those rules and sounds.”
Circus Maximus is planning on full HD graphics that will be somewhat similar to the graphics expected on today’s modern pinball machines.
Bally artist Dave Christensen will be doing new artwork for the possible Limited Edition Version (see below for pics). They would be cleaned up and most likely changed color wise as these were colored by Dave and Circus Maximus would likely change them slightly for a cleaner look and ease of printing.