“Tiki Bob’s Atomic Beach Party” is a wonderful ode to the past

Tiki Bob's

Tiki Bob’s Atomic Beach Party (Based on Stern’s 1980 table, “Cheetah” and Tiki Bob’s in San Francisco, California)
RELEASE DATE: July 24th, 2021
EMULATOR: Visual Pinball 10.6 or higher, PinMAME 3.3 or higher
ARTIST(S): “iDigStuff” with “Apophis”, “JP Salas”, “Joey B”, Andrei Markalov, and Rik Laubach
HARDWARE: Windows PC with an Intel i5 Quad-Core processor with a Nvidia GTX 960 or higher graphics card (Recommended)
SOFTWARE/OS REQUIREMENTS: Windows 10, 64-bit
RATING: B+

Earlier this year, we were introduced to “Tiki Time”, a virtual pinball table inspired by the retro kitsch of west coast Tiki Bars. Six months later, artist “iDigStuff” has brought us a table which also plays on that idea — but with more advanced features than what we saw on Tiki Time. Based on Stern’s 1980 pinball table, “Cheetah”, this re-skin offers a beautifully-realized Tiki bar experience.

DESIGN/ARTWORK: A

The playfield is gorgeous. Set against a black backdrop, the theme mixes Tiki bar design with a 1950’s alien/flying saucer theme — and it works so well, it’s insane. That’s the thing about Tiki Bars: you can add some really goofy, tacky stuff to a bar like that and it somehow gels. There’s the lush green of the plants on the playfield as well as a beautifully-drawn pin-up-style drawing of a female alien on the bottom portion near the flippers. In the top right corner, a volcano has been added which is interactive and actually “explodes” when you shoot into the cave underneath it. An alien ship orbit is on the left side of the table and when you roll the ball into it, the flying saucer above the orbit “beams” your ball up in a nice effect. On the right side is a kick-out pocket which temporarily traps your ball and plays broadcasts about invading aliens. Every now and then, a thunderstorm hits, illuminating the playfield with some lightning and nothing else, which is an insanely clever effect. The flippers are “made” of bamboo and I love the parrots on the bumpers. The backglass is also beautiful with palm trees, the moon, the ocean, and an alien.

MUSIC/AUDIO: A

The music is surf rock with Link Wray and his Ray Men as well as a few other recognizable hits. The slingshots on the bottom make bongo/coconut sounds when they’re hit. The volcano in the top right corner has some nice bass to it as do the random thunderstorms. I love the alien beaming sound and alien invasion broadcasts are a very nice touch. The “attract mode” is simply the sound of crashing waves on an ocean beach, before and after each game.

DMD/ANIMATIONS: B

No animations, no PUP Pack. And this table SCREAMS for one of the two. It’s really the only thing about that table that isn’t great. A regular digital DMD keeps track of scoring, which is fine, but a video PUP Pack would have been the cherry on top of this package.

GAMEPLAY/PHYSICS: B

The physics on the table are perfect and there are a variety of shots to hit. The left side drop targets are good and the volcano shot and cave targets are satisfying, as is the alien ship shot. The scoring system is about the same as older tables: hit drop targets to increase bonuses and multipliers and get higher scores. I am not sure if there’s a multiball or wizard mode for the table but you can get an extra ball should you light it.

OVERALL

“Tiki Bob’s Atomic Beach Party” is a beautiful table to look at and listen to. It’s also a pretty fun shooter. I just wish that there was a little more than just the volcano, thunderstorm and alien ship. Some callouts or a PUP Pack would have made this a four-star table. Still, the theming, design, execution of toy and table effects, and overall atmosphere make this table a winner.

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