Pulp Fiction SE (2023) Detailed Thoughts after Flipping On Location

By Todd Russell Mar5,2024

More and more Pulp Fiction pins are making their way out into the wild. As of this writing, Pinside reports a mere 14 public locations to play with 42 having in their location worldwide.

Last year at the NW Pinball & Arcade show June 2023 in Tacoma, WA, there were nearly constant lines to play the Chicago Gaming Company Pulp Fiction pins. They had a couple of them and before the three days of shows were over, we got to flip the game one time.

Photo credit: Pinside

On Saturday 3/2/2024 we finally saw a Pulp Fiction SE (feature list pictured above) put in new at the Dorky’s Arcade in Tacoma, WA and we could put in a bunch of quarters and flip it more.


Pulp Fiction SE (Chicago Gaming 2023) now on location at arcade near us. Got to flip this one other time at NW pinball show in June 2023. Light show is impressive, reminds of a JJP lighting more than Stern. Low scoring, older LED. #chicagogamingcompany #pinball #pulpfiction

♬ original sound – playgamesmore

LIKE – Theme

Theme-wise, Pulp Fiction, the movie is something I enjoyed, but not a super favorite theme/IP to me. Nowhere near Jaws, that my son just purchased, which is iconic. I like Pulp Fiction as a theme better than Labyrinth and The Princess Bride. It’s more interesting to me, again theme-only, than John Wick and Matrix. I like Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Spooky) more as a theme. Looney Tunes, the other Spooky machine? Maybe about the same interest. Scooby Doo? I like that more as a theme than Pulp Fiction. Aliens, like that theme more, as well.

MIXED – Playfield Design, Mechs & Toys

First reaction to playing Pulp Fiction last year was it reminded me of what Stern did with Bond 60th Anniversary. Where it’s a more 70s and early 80s style pinball, single level playfield, but with some cool toys that Bond 60th doesn’t have. Bond has the spinning Oddjob hat, Pulp Fiction has the spinning briefcase multiball, which is super cool. It also has the Pawn shop up the middle and the cheeseburger to the left.

Pulp Fiction is more fun to flip than Bond 60th. There just feels like there’s more to do — and is — than with Bond. For those curious, I ranked Bond 60th #18 out of 22 Spike 2 Sterns, see: 2023 Ranking All 22 Spike 2 Stern Pinball Machines. Some of what I don’t like about Bond 60th, I also don’t care for with Pulp Fiction.

LIKE – Translite

I do prefer the Pulp Fiction translite, more than Jaws. The art is really well done on Pulp Fiction. It just screams, “this is a pinball machine!” Just wish there was a DMD with Pulp Fiction movie assets there.

DISLIKE – Plunger / Skill Shots

Prefer skillshots on plunge to start the game as progressive, intuitive and satisfying. Didn’t really detect what these were on Pulp Fiction, so it’s “no” on intuitive.

LIKE – Gameplay Flow

The Pulp Fiction flow of the table is very good. Shots are satisfying. The descending knock-down targets to lock ball for the briefcase is a seductive, repeatable shot. There is a magnet ball grab to the right — it got stuck one time, btw, and I had to shake the machine to have the ball go free.

DISLIKE – Low scoring, bummer.

I get it, machines in the 70s and 80s didn’t have higher scoring. It’s going for the classic LED scoring so you can’t chase a billion as a “good” game. More like a million plus score is a good game. There just aren’t that many LED spots for higher scoring. My second ever Pulp Fiction game was over 600,000 with multi-ball and that’s a pretty good score. In a modern pin, I don’t want low scoring. Low scoring instantly makes a modern machine feel dated. I would much rather Pulp Fiction had a more modern LED with movie clips than the older LED scoring. Nothing wrong with older machines, some of my favorite ever machines are like this (Taxi!), but scoring-wise modern machines need connectivity, shared leaderboards and higher scoring.

DISLIKE – Lack of DMD and movie assets

Sorry fans, I really miss the DMD and movie clips for this table. Compared to Jaws, which has probably the best movie clips and callouts I’ve seen in a pinball to date, Pulp Fiction feels empty and barren on the backbox. Like something is missing. Dare I say, cheaper?

LIKE – Music/sounds

The music and sounds are really good, although it’s hard like most pins to hear them in a busy/active on location. “Get Down” is one song from the movie that plays during the briefcase multiball mode. You’ll be grooving and moving, like we were. Good stuff.

I did notice the speaker a bit distorted on the machine and maybe that’s a result of the volume being turned up a bit too high. Our vendor friend said he “cranked up” the volume. He might have cranked it too high. Need to hear in environment where the location sound level isn’t so loud and distracting, but what we could/did hear besides the distortion here and there, was enjoyable.

LIKE – Lighting

The lighting might be among the biggest selling points on this game. It’s like Jersey Jack Pinball level of lightshow quality. Better than what Stern does on their games. Stern needs to step up their lighting game and by looking at what Chicago Gaming did here and Jersey Jack Pinball does on every one of their machines, the guide is there.

One thing our vendor friend, Candyman, pointed out from a future maintenance/service standpoint, is the lights are all on one board, so replacing/fixing would require significant effort. He did not like how this was designed.

DISLIKE – Additional Game/Video Modes

Since there is no DMD, there are no DMD modes that we saw. I like mini-game modes on pinball. This doesn’t seem to have any. Yes, there are multiple multi-ball modes, but that’s sort of standard fare on any pinball machine that we come to expect.

DISLIKE – Lack of Connected / Social Features

No global leaderboards, only local leaderboard on the machine. Have covered why this is important in another article, so won’t restate here, except pass along this related link: OPINION: Stern Pinball has Feature Every Modern Pinball Needs

DISLIKE – Pricing

After playing a few times, both my son and I felt this machine would be a good buy at $5,000. At $7,500 it’s like buying a Stern LE vs. Premium in pricing vs. value difference. It just feels at least a couple thousand too expensive in 2024.

Pulp Fiction is selling for more than a Stern Jaws Pro (Jaws pro is $7,000, Pulp Fiction is $7,500). Looking at a Nitro Pinball listing for the details.

Whether or not people like the comparison to Stern Jaws Pro, it’s another modern movie pin and feels like a more than fair comparison. Have played Jaws Pro a little more at the same on location arcade and immediately upon flipping Jaws, was wowed by the DMD, the movie assets, callouts. Pulp Fiction is just devoid of this part of the backbox/DMD experience.

MIXED – Overall early feelings – Would not buy, will continue to seek out/play

If I was grading Pulp Fiction after a few games played, it’s a mixed bag, maybe a C+. I like it way more than Bond 60th, which feels like the closest modern pin comparison, but it’s not on par with Elton John and Jaws. I haven’t played Labyrinth, Looney Tunes or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so can’t compare to those. I think the biggest drawback for Pulp Fiction is it feels like an older machine priced like a modern machine.

Would not want to buy or own a Pulp Fiction unless somebody offered me a screaming deal on a NIB or barely played and super well-maintained machine. Will play this on location from time to time. I’m more excited about this after playing than after playing Scooby Doo last year from Spooky, which just left me feeling … meh.

Pulp Fiction is a decent modern pin. Something I can see playing here and there, but not drawing me back to play more as much as contemporary competitors Elton John and Jaws.

Have you had a chance to play Pulp Fiction yet? Or maybe you’ve already preordered one and anxiously are waiting? If not, what’s your interest level in playing? Share your Pulp Fiction pinball story in the comments.

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