INTERNET PINBALL DATABASE INFORMATION:
MODEL NUMBER: 50044
MPU: Williams WPC Security (WPC-S)
Type: Solid State Electronic (SS)
Production: 2,416 units (confirmed)
Design by: Dwight Sullivan, Barry Oursler
Art by: Linda Deal
Dots/Graphics/Animation by: Adam Rhine, Brian Morris
Mechanics by: Zofia Bil
Music by: Paul Barker
Sound by: Paul Barker
Software by: Dwight Sullivan
HISTORY: Dwight Sullivan had a murder-mystery game in mind for a long time. In fact he was working on a design for it when the WD? project came along. Creating a "story theme" pinball machine was always of interest to him. So, teaming up with Barry Oursler and the awesome gang at Bally/Williams, that design became a reality. Thanks to the PinGame Journal and the pinball newsgroup for this info!
There was a rumor the board-game Clue was initially to be a license for the machine. However, that fell through and they needed to make it a generic murder-mystery theme instead. The good news is that this particular theme is universally appealing and works well without the license.
MY PLUSES: I would say the atmosphere is my favorite aspect of this game. The design supports the 30s nostalgia all the way around. I have always been fascinated with old muder-mystery books and detective stories. I don't read them.........just fascinated. Hee hee.
The casino tie-in is unique and seems to "fit" well. The slot machine in the center of the playfield is a great gimmick. The reels "bounce" a tad when they come to rest, just like the real thing. Where do my winnings come out?
Many feel the roulette part of the game is unnecessary and causes too much fluctuation in scores. I find it to be a refreshing idea. Where else can you scrounge up billions of points and then lose it all with one touch of a flipper button. Although I rarely bet (unless I'm having a terrible game or the bet is very low), watching player two lose because he/she took a chance is priceless.
The game has many areas of randomness. Many people find this another area of hatred toward WD?. However, I tend to like this aspect. You never know what you will get from game to game. This can often inflate scores or make for very long ball times. But it's a nice change of pace none-the-less.
The goal of finding, chasing, and finally catching the killer makes for a fun set of tasks. This series of events is not easy to complete. Similar to Creature from the Black Lagoon and its tough sequential two-ball multiball, shooting the phone to close the case can be fun as well as frustrating. Sigh!! :)
The game has rather good flow. Although the ball is held-up for animations or interaction with the dot-matrix screen, there is a lot to do overall.
I like the red/black/blue color scheme of the playfield and cabinet. It looks slick.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Normally while entering initials, Nick will say "Impressive" or "I'm impressed!". However, one time he said, "You'll do". I swore back at him.
FAVORITE SHOT: When it's time to "chase down" the killer, the Taxi lane is lit. If you time the two shots just right, you can loop the Taxi lane and hit the "phone" shot (to close the case) back-to-back. It's a fun set of shots and awards you a cool 100,000,000 for each hit during multi-ball play.
MY MINUSES: My biggest pet-peeve is the "Free Spin" award in the outlanes. If you are able to light-up the "Free Spin" before the ball drains, it will spin the slot machine for a free award before your ball is over. It is a great feature when it hands you a jackpot, a clue or points.
However, the fact that it often will award you a "second chance" or "multiball" is upsetting. When your ball drains and there is no ball-saver left, the ball is over. End of story. WD? will often allow you to continue your game spitting the ball back out. Once I was awarded a "second chance" on almost every ball.
I think the software should have been changed to allow for an adjustable number of "Free Spins" per game. Or, the awards available via the outlanes should only be jackpot, clue, points or an extra ball (depending on how the percentages for EBs are calculated). The game awards enough multi-balls throughout the game, let alone a "second chance" on every ball. Hmmm.....maybe we can get some changes made in the home-rom? LOL.
Another problem I have with WD? is the lack of a wizard mode. Keep in mind that I am not a person who must have a wizard mode to be happy. Many of my favorite games are mid-late 80s with only the jackpot as its biggest prize.
The problem is, WD? just SCREAMS out for one. It was released at a time in pinball history when wizard modes were "in". Therefore, the lack of one is distracting. There are five cases on the playfield to solve. If you solve them all, you get nothing. Not even a special award like the White Water Vacation Jackpot. Nada. Zip. Zilch. UGH!
I also think the "match" sequence is cheesy. Intead of a magnifying glass revealing numbers in a finger-print (or something "game specific"), the match consists of a plain set of spinning numbers. Even though I love the end music and can forgive, a more creative match would have ended the game nicely.