I've spent a large chunk of time this evening going back and forth between The Addams Family ("KEEP THE BALL, I'VE GOT A WHOLE BUCKETFUL!") to The Twilight Zone ("DON'T TOUCH THE DOOR DON'T TOUCH THE DOOR DON'TTOUCHTHEDOORDON'TTOUCHTHEDOOR") to 8-Ball Deluxe ("Get the. 8-Balllllll. Corner pocket.") to Cirqus Voltaire ("I am the Ringmaster, and I challenge you to a duel!")
If I'd touched upon Theatre of Magic or Medieval Madness ("I'm Lord Howard Hurtz, who the @#!*?! are you?!") or Cyclone ("Hey! You with the face!") I'd probably still be playing, but as it is, I need my sleep.
I miss pinball. I really miss the physical playing. I miss the silver ball and I miss the physical cabinet-smacking and, most of all, I miss the gloriously loud replay THWACK. The game is not static, it's kinetic, it's random and strange and when the ball gets a bit of English on it things get really weird. It's not like memorizing Pac-Man levels or pumping more quarters in to "beat" Golden Axe or anything. The feeling of accomplishment you get when you make your first Lost In The Zone, say, or when you tour all the rooms in the Addams Family mansion is incredible, because you had to beat the odds (and some unfair side-lane drains) to get to it. And I'm terribly out of practice with it all.
I know there's still places around the Boston area what have tables, but this is not the time nor the place where you go "oh but there's pinball at the MIT student center" or "oh but there's pinball at canobie lake" or "oh but there's pinball at dungville-by-the-sea." I know where there's pinball around here. Trust me. Nothing new has come around in ages. In fact, things are shrinking at a terrible rate. Good Time Emporium, for one, had some tables, and they treated 'em like absolute shit. Their Theatre of Magic is gone, gone, gone, and the last time I was there, their Twilight Zone wasn't working so good. Weak flippers, credit dots, bustificated triggers, everything. A real sad state of affairs.
There used to be an incredible arcade up west of Manchester New Hamster on Route 101A called Noah's Arkade, where there was an entire room just filled with pinball, ranging from a Whodunit? to a well-shopped Addams Family. To save electricity, the tables were all turned off; you were allowed to manually switch on the ones you wanted to play. I spent entire afternoons and whole $20 bills in that place back when I had a car. Hell, I'd drive up from Marlboro just to spend a day there. It was glorious.
A few years ago Alan C. and I drove up to Manchvegas and while we were around, headed over to the place. I regaled him with tales of the inside and we were all good and psyched to drive up to find the place closed and dark on a Saturday, which was not a good sign. We had to content ourselves with Fun World in Nashua, which had a handful of newer Stern tables, none of which were working particularly well.
I later read that Noah's Arkade had closed for good. Sonofawhore.
Owning and maintaining a pinball machine at home is a bitch of an enterprise. For one, you've got to have the room for a heavy-ass table and a heavier-ass backglass; for two, you've got to know your electronics down because you'll be doing your own maintenance; and for three, since many of the parts, decals, and plastics were custom-made for each table, it's very hard and very expensive to find replacements. It's like owning a '72 MG BGT in pre-Internet days with only one shop nearby what even bothers to find import parts for you. (I speak from family experience on that one, though I certainly never had to pay out the nose for replacement parts. I was busy playing with my Matchbox Super Spin Car Wash.)
I guess in the end all we'll have left eventually is emulation. Lucky for me I got VPinMAME working again and 400 tables to keep me busy.
There is that nice warehouse museum in Las Vegas which I swear I'm going to this year, after SOMEONE talked me out of a trip there last time I WONDER WHO THAT WAS. Either that, or we used the day to drive out to Primm. I forget.