So, as I mentioned last week, the next pinball ad flyer we’ll be looking at is for Williams‘ 1995 follow-up to Bride of Pin-Bot, which is entitled Jack-Bot.
Here’s the ad’s front side;
And here’s the back;
Right away I have to say I am less drawn to this flyer than I was for Bride of Pin-Bot‘s, and will have to try hard to not constantly compare the two in my head. I do like the art on the front, with its merging of Renaissance imagery and Kubrick-scifi styling. It is also a great comparison between the 80s style of “future high-tech” that influenced Pin-Bot’s design, and the 90s style that went into the Bride’s design. The cuff, cuff link, and literal ace up Pin-Bot’s sleeve is a neat detail I missed the first few times I looked at the flyer.
In the end the front page gets me to turn the flyer over to learn more (especially thanks to the Bride’s nicely detailed hand), so I will give it that. Also, it gets points for looking to be original art made specifically for the flyer – I don’t see any spot on the pinball table itself that replicates Pin-Bot and the Bride reaching for each other. Of course, the imagery also has nothing to do with the table, so it’s sort of win-lose with the theming considered.
On the reverse side of the flyer we’re treated to a nice view of the backglass, and its wonderful visual of the Bride in Pin-Bot’s arms amidst a casino theme. Sadly, only scant other images are included on the back, as much of the page is taken up with description (some of the text implies that the Bride’s name may actually be The Machine, but also later refers to her as “Bride” with a capital B so I will continue to refer to her as such for simplicity and continuity).
I like the backglass. It is prettily done, with nice detail on to the characters. The roulette wheel space ship is a cool addition. The Bride has had some aesthetic adjustments (upgrades?) since the last time we saw her, mostly from the waist down. Her legs have a slighty new design and she now has removable shoes! Again, Pin-Bot also looks suitably “80′s future low-tech.”
But what grabs my attention, and is who I am counting as a new Fantasy Woman of Pinball for this table, is the little gynoid climbing the cards in Pin-Bot’s right hand (on the left side of the image). She has no name or mention in the text, so I’ll call her Jokerette thanks to what looks like a jester’s cap on her head. Is she the result of Pin-Bot and the Bride getting busy on their honeymoon? Some tag-along they couldn’t shake? Sadly there’s no explanation of her origin or purpose. But this tiny tinny woman intrigues me.
Of note is a small image in the flyer’s upper-right, which shows one of the table’s two women. It could be either Bride or Jokerette, but I am 99% sure it is the Bride because of her look (although she’s scaled to the cards more closely to Jokerette). I point it out because this image (which also appears in the center of the playfield) features the character wearing long black gloves. It’s an interesting addition to her look.
Besides a close-up of the dot matrix screen, and a zoomed-in look at the isolated section where players can raise Pin-Bot’s visor and shoot his eyes, we only get one look at the table’s playfield. The text itself says that the table has been brought “back to classic pinball at its basic best.” I do see that reflected in the visible playfield, as there seem to be very few ramps or isolated areas (there may be more than I can see but the image makes the sections hard to differentiate). Perhaps pinball connoisseurs would find this a refreshing break from the chaos of other contemporary pinball machines, but personally I am a little disappointed by it. I like a busy playfield, and since this table has a casino theme I’d think a little hustle and bustle would be appropriate.
I am also disappointed by all the text on the ad, which does little more than explain that pinball and casino gaming have been mashed together, with the familiar faces of Pin-Bot and the Bride used to lull in players. The sound system (complete with voice work for our robotic stars) and bonus round “Casino Run” are highlighted, but most of the text’s description is about the excitement of the other things that the machine has tried to distill (Keno, Dice, Slots, and Poker), not description about the machine itself. As I mentioned, there is absolutely no explanation for the presense of Jokerette. The only reason I even know there’s multi-ball is because of the caption under the Pin-Bot visor close-up.
Despite a lack of physical business on the playfield, there is quite a lot of art and lights to fill the space. Both Pin-Bot and the Bride have two appearances on the board, one of each involves them in the ball play directly. Most of the board is decorated quite nicely, if lacking little details here and there (which could be attributed to the bold-lined art style).
Ultimately, this flyer has made me want to…
Play - As much as I love the Bride, Pin-Bot, and the mysterious Jokerette, I am not blown away by the table. Or, at least, my opinion of the table, based on the information in the flyer, is not over-the-top amazed. When trying to think of reasons why I do or don’t want to Own it, I realize it is how often the word “enough” pops into my head that stifles my enthusiasm – the art is pretty enough, the playfield looks fun enough, the ad informed enough. There isn’t a single part that makes me believe that anybody spent late nights thinking of ways to make this prettier, more fun, or better.
Honestly, it is the flyer itself that almost destroys my opinion of Jack-Bot. The display of the art and pinball table is enough to get me to want to Play, but the ad portion is more interested in sell than story. Why tell me I can cheat at the casino games but leave out any mention of the third robot? If it had engaged my imagination at all – perhaps this is our robotic stars’ casino honeymoon? - I would be more invested. Instead, the flyer makes me feel like someone in upper management said, “Hey, you know what is popular? Casinos. Let’s take one of our popular lines, add casino stuff to it, and see what happens. Get started on that, Bob.” And Bob did his job well enough that I still want to plunk down some quarters. I want to play to support characters I enjoy and want to see more of, but part of me wants to resist because it feels as if the table was produced with little love for them and was simply a cash-grab.
Maybe it would have been good to not literally use the phrase ”Jack-Bot cashes in.” When the vibe the flyer gives me is ”the Alien3 of pinball tables” someone screwed something up along the way (at least Pin-Bot, Bride, and Jokerette all look poised to survive this story). Honestly, even though I’ll be spending some quarters, the ad flyer itself is a fail for me since it not only missed its opportunity to get people past the commercialism and invested in the characters once more, it has actually negatively colored my opinion of the table.
I can only hope actually playing Jack-Bot some day can reverse some of that damage.
Well, that’s the end of our robotic-themed adventures. Tune in next time when we turn from the unexplored reaches of space and take a look at the unexplored corners of the ocean depths!