The Pinball Arcade has taken a hit with the Williams tables no longer available but it still marches on with the first new release since the change. Two new machines join the lineup in the form of Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons and Big Buck Hunter. While the latter machine isn’t particularly hard to find it’s usually located in terrible bars and badly in need of cleaning and repairs, so digital preservation would be the best way to play it. Whoa Nellie: Big Juicy Melons, on the other hand, is a fairly scarce machine and a bit of an oddball to boot.
The original Whoa Nellie! was made from a 1957 machine that looked absolutely nothing like what it was turned into. There were a total of three Whoa Nellie! units made, and seeing as the base was a classic solid-state machine so was the original run. The Pinball Arcade version, on the other hand, is based on the re-release from Stern, which is a modern solid state machine with digital sounds and an LCD display. The digitized guts of the table don’t make a lot of difference, though, because the feel of the game is defined by its classic-styled features. The tiny white flippers at the bottom flanking the small bumpers guarding the outlane are the most prominent throwbacks, but there’s also a passive bumper (which is like a bouncy bumper except there’s no push-back on a hit), multiple star roll-overs, and an open design that’s more about precision shooting than covering every square inch in targets. Seeing as it wasn’t initially made for wide distribution the art package is a little spicier than usual, like a cheesy habanero pepper-jack. Just don’t look too closely at the expression of the woman on the backglass, because that… smile(?) doesn’t reach her eyes.
As for Big Buck Hunter, um… Like all machines there’s a free trial available. It’s probably for the best.
In other Pinball Arcade news, the long-awaited announcement on VR support is still coming off but getting very close. This feature will be for Stern Pinball Arcade, rather than the main branch, but it’s a start that might hopefully lead to full coverage. Zaccaria Pinball really could use a little competition on the VR department.