that … kid sure plays a mean pinball

Thanks again to another GAF thread, I have the bug to go play pinball. I can’t remember the first time I played pinball, but it was well after I’d already started playing video games. I probably didn’t get around to it until I was well into middle school at the earliest. It’s funny how I can remember the very first video game I played, but not my first pinball machine. It is entirely possible my first pinball game was the “3D Pinball” that came with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95. Yet I still have fond feelings for pinball, just as much as for video games. While I was trying to think back to my early pinball machines, I remember playing a Terminator 2: Judgment Day machine at a pizza joint back in my hometown. I know I also played the Indiana Jones game at a hot dog stand in the Chicago suburbs and I couldn’t get enough of the “See you later, Indiana Jones!” sample when you lost a ball. Then it was a Jurassic Park machine at GenCon back when it used to be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After that I started playing way too many of them wherever I could find them.

The game room in my dorm building in college rotated White Water and The Addams Family every quarter or so and I was frequently down there taking a break or taking out frustrations from studying when I wasn’t doing the same on the Virtua Fighter cabinet. This was the start of how I’d be sure to play most pinball games I came across if I could wherever I was, although I can’t say that I’ve specifically went out thinking, “I need to find a pinball machine and play it.” There used to be an arcade at Chicago’s North Pier building (near the super-touristy Navy Pier) that had an arcade that I went to because it was across hall from the Virtual World BattleTech Center there. Which, if I can digress for a second, I was totally obsessed with at that time too. I was an early member (first battle: 08/06/91) and still have my card to prove it. I only remember playing The Shadow table there, although they had at least five tables set up on one of the space the arcade had. Those times have been the only times I’ve played pinball in an arcade to date. Kind of sad almost.

Once I was of age and had the motivation to go to bars, I would always take a couple plays at whatever machine they had, if they had one, and most of the bars I ended up going to had them. It was from going to bars that I got to play Twilight Zone at a bar in Saint Louis and Dr. Who at Club Foot, a bar by my apartment in Chicago. Both are among my favorites, although I haven’t had a chance to play Twilight Zone recently. Now when I think about it, I really haven’t played any other pinball machines since I started frequenting Club Foot, which I have now stopped frequenting since I moved away to Seattle and no longer live 3 blocks from there. Which is kind of sad but not really. But it doesn’t solve the fact I still really want to go play pinball and I am in an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar places. Of course I could start walking into bars to find one, but that’s obviously not the way to go about it.

A Google search makes it appear that the best place for me to do this is at Shorty’s here in Seattle. According to their site they have the following machines:
The Addams Family
Flash Gordon
Freedom
Getaway
Hurricane
Lord of the Rings
Medieval Madness
On Beam
Revenge from Mars
Scared Stiff
Simpsons
White Water

Their retro arcade cabinets aren’t too shabby either although I could just as easily play Joust or Robotron at home on XBLA, so I’d stick with Galaga or Donkey Kong. Once I get to go and grab one of their Vegi Dogs and hit a few pinball games, I’ll be sure to report back on how it felt to be go nudging the tables again. I can’t wait for the Lord of the Rings or some of the super retro tables. I’m also looking forward to Medieval Madness, a lot of people on GAF spoke highly of it and it’s even due to be re-released.

All images courtesy of contributors Allen Shope, Jeff Ball and Ari Sovijärvi from the Internet Pinball Database

Leave a Reply