|Reference added: 560|
"South Park and X-Files: two rather shoddily-made tables from Sega."
Sega, 1995. I really like the layout of this table. I think I am also a little biased towards it because in the one play session I've had so far, I got six credits for the price of one. It must have been the space aliens!
Three of those credits, actually, were from end-of-game score matches. Considering that success rate in these on most tables is ten percent or less, I may have gotten really, really lucky. Either that or the operator set the match percentage ridiculously high. Either way, I'm not arguing.
The other two unaccounted-for credits, however, I cannot strictly account for. The machine gave them to me, but I'm not really sure why. I think it had something to do with the fact that this particular machine, at any rate, could not keep track of balls very well at all: in my six credits of play I saw it launch two balls at once instead of one, for instance. And then balls were constantly getting stuck, or not being shot up out of a hole hard enough to clear the rim, and the machine would try to free them for a while, then give up and give me another ball. Once the first ball got knocked loose and came back down, the machine would get, well, confused, and it was anybody's guess what would happen.
Now, the machine was not on strictly level ground, but still, the number of errors I saw was extraoridinary, and I have to blame most of them on the quality of Sega's manufacturing. The entire machine feels light, cheap and plasticky, rather similar to other Sega tables (see entry 560, for instance), and although here the layout is nice (I'll get to that in a moment, I promise), you can for instance skip the ball off the angled top of small obstacles in the central playfield, sending it careening around the table to land gosh-knows-where.
All right, enough of the bad, let's cover the layout. Two flippers only, just how I like it, and a nice open central table area crowned with numerous fast twisty ramps, again just how I like it. A raising and lowering "file cabinet" ball trap sits up in the middle, used for locking balls and triggering various modes, but it's a bit of dead weight when it isn't active for anything, as the ball just plonks into it and then drops straight back down. Oh, either that or it gets stuck on a seam right in front of it, but nevermind. Sometimes a hatchway opens in front of the ramp immediately to the right of the file cabinet, and getting the ball in there starts a scoring mode mission. Hit the hatch wrong, of course, and the ball will skip up into the air and ricochet around the table. Oops.
The ramps, fast and multilevel, incorporate several loops, and the bumpers cluster is tucked away beneath translucent ramps in the upper left, which works fairly well. Ramp entrances are fairly tight on the whole, so hitting a particular ramp on purpose may take pretty good aim.
The table has tons of lights. When not illuminated, the table is fairly easy to read thanks to the subdued table graphics, but when you activate something tasty colored lights flash and ripple everywhere in reasonably impressive fashion. I only don't like the bright white light that glares out next to the filing cabinet.
Sound, at least on the table I played, is quite muted. There seem to be voice clips but they were hard to make out, and nothing much else stood out about the sounds.
The table is multiball-crazy. Very easy to activate, and not hard to extend, multiball will occur over and over. Unfortunately it provides a good arena for the table to lose track of balls, but when that doesn't happen, it's pretty good fun.
The table has an automatic button launcher, which I don't like (and which is buggy), but on the plus side it has a little rubberized pin right down between the two flippers, so if the ball goes straight down it will probabably bounce back up into play. A nice feature that you don't really see much on the newer tables.
Score numbers are kept pretty low, the extra credit score on the table I played was just eight-million-something, for instance. Despite all the ramps and file-cabinet missions you have to do some pretty good work to get a decent score. Just keeping the ball in play, however, is quite a bit easier than on most tables.
Except maybe for the file cabinet being a dead area sometimes, I really like the layout here. Unfortunately this is also the most buggy, shoddily-put-together table I have ever seen. On the plus side, you'll probably get a few free balls out of the deal.