By Bernard Blvd.
What do Pat Sajak, buying vowels, and a generous “Free Spin” ball saved feature have in common? Wheel of Fortune pinball, that’s what! WoF is a recent addition to the Stern repertoire, and man, is it ever fun! It is a lot like the television show, which is fast-paced and exciting without being too cheesy… Well, maybe it is a little cheesy, but hey! Who cares when it is so flippin’ addictive?
The playfield is bright and colorful, and, of course, has a huge spinning prize wheel near the top. There are 3 contestants in the middle of the game towards the top, named Keith, Maria, and Lonnie. When you hit one of the characters, they make an attempt at solving the current puzzle by guessing letters, and the results are displayed on the screen. The best contestant is Maria, who is from California and shouts her letters like she is screaming at her mischievous kids. When she says “A!” it sounds like someone across the room is yelling “HEY!!!” Pretty funny.
The aforementioned Free Spin ball saved feature is awesome. The Free Spins are located under each side drain, and there are 2 on each side. That’s 4 possible saved balls! To light the Free Spins, you have to hit a drop down target or make the mini ramp when Free Spin is lit. If the ball goes down one of the side drains, if one or both of the Free Spins are lit and the ball rolls across that switch, you get another ball! This creates great suspense when one Free Spin is lit, because there is a rubber post that, if you shake the machine just right, can bounce the ball over the switch with the lit Free Spin. But WoF giveth and WoF taketh away: The center drain has a column of rubber posts right in the middle, and while it is useful for bouncing the ball back into the playfield, this feature creates a slightly larger drain hole between the flippers, and leaves 2 chances for the ball to go straight down the playfield and into the drain. This happens a lot when hitting the contestants straight on from the flippers. Unique feature, but is it fair? You decide.