Following the announcement of Pinball Brother’s new ABBA pinball machine, last Thursday, Pinball Magazine is reporting from the ABBA pinball launch event, held on April 6, 2024, in Orebro, Sweden.

The Clarion hotel in the center of Orebro

The location for this ABBA pinball launch is the Clarion hotel in the center of Orebro, the city which is home to Pinball Brothers CEO Daniel Janson. Four ABBA pinball machines are at the venue. The party will have the band Punsch perform.

The stage is set…

During setup, I was able to take the following photos of one of the games.

A little after 6:00 PM, Pinball Brothers CEO Daniel Janson was interviewed about how the ABBA pinball machine came to be. Daniel explained he was approached by Ludvig Andersson, son of ABBA’s Benny Andersson, about making an ABBA pinball machine.

During the launch event, the above video was shown for the first time in public.

Later on, Ludvig was called on Skype, which was projected on a large screen. He explained he played a lot of pinball in the ’90s and was particularly fond of the game Medieval Madness. The presentation of the games and the Skype call with Ludvig Andersson where broadcasted live on Pinball Brothers’ social media, although the quality of the audio was not the best.

Following the Skype call with Ludvig, the four available pinball machines were turned on and the people attending the event could start playing. As a livestream was announced, many were expecting a livestream with a streaming rig setup over one of the games, but sadly that wasn’t the case. While attendees lined up to play the games, Daniel Janson continued on stage doing interviews with more special guests via Skype, but those were missed by most in attendance as they had more eyes for the games being played.

Attendees lining up to play one of the available games
More attendees lining up to play the two games in the back of the venue

Around 8:00 PM the band Punsch started their performance, which lasted for over two hours. The band consists of veteran musicians and played a mix of ABBA songs and their own material as well. The vibe was very good and the band know how to get the party going.

Punsch on stage: party time!

After 10:00 PM the lines to play the games became shorter as the band had finished and most people left the venue or went up to their hotel room. Pinball News’ Martin Ayub, our friend Julian from the UK and I ended up with the machine that was setup in the conference room for ourselves. This allowed us to play numerous games, up to the point the game was turned of as it was close to midnight.

The illuminated ABBA Arrival LE prototype with playfield glass removed

Daniel Janson took time to explain some of the goals in the game, and demonstrated what happens when a player completes the four A-B-B-A inserts on the playfield. The game then switches into a different mode with video from the Voyage show of which elements were used on the cabinet artwork of the Voyage Edition of the game. Completing the lit shots in this mode will award 1/5 of a medallion. Objective of the game is to complete the medallion, although that seems close to impossible for the average ABBA fan, or even advanced pinball enthusiasts.

At the end of the evening, several members of the development team behind the game posed for a group photo. Note that the team is actually a lot bigger, but not everybody was attending the party.

ABBA pinball design credits:
Playfield design: Alexander Spohr
Art: Andreas Bennwik, Aurich Lawson
Sound: Olof Gustavsson
Software: Joe Schober
Animation: Kelly Mazurowski

Having played three of the four prototype games present at the launch event, I think it’s only fair to say the game still needs tweaking. Mostly in the software department, as the games were running on game code version 0.035. According to one of the Pinball Brothers employees present, the code was about 60% done, but that seems highly optimistic to me. I also found that the three different machines that I played, played very different. On one machine, it seemed very easy to qualify modes, while on another it seemed almost impossible. On one game a ball released from the scoop below the helicopter would 80% of the time go straight down the middle, while on another machine the ball would be more directed towards the left flipper. On the game I played the most games on, I had difficulty aiming for shots. Some shots on the playfield seemd very tight, but could easily be opened up by moving the standup targets next to it slightly out of the way.

Considering the machines at the launch event were prototypes, and having played them myself, I’d say the game is very promising. Opinions from people watching the livestream may differ, but that’s most likely because the livestream wasn’t what some were expecting it to be. The music in the game sounded very good and was edited in such way that the energy kicks right in when selecting a song. As the current two editions are both limited to a combined total of 800 machines, I think that number doesn’t justfy the potential of the game. I would suggest to Pinball Brothers to go for a third, unlimited model, with artwork that’s more aiming for the masses, which considering ABBA’s popularity seems only appropriate.