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August 29th, 2006


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12:19 am - "You'd be cranky, too, if you had a spring for a neck!"
Just gathered me a very large collection of pinball recreations for visual pinball/vpinmame. VPinMAME is a pain to set up but man oh man once it worked right again, it worked right.

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.

(28 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:August 29th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC)
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Awww, no VPinMAME for Mac.

But you did just remind me to check whether the excellent old freeware Royal Flush sim plays under Classic, and it DOES. (Sorry, Intel Mac owners.) It was apparently an aborted commercial project whose creator got permission to release it into the wild. Royal Flush is a simple old machine from 1976, with none of the fantabulous craziness of the 1990s revival games, but the simulation is physically superb.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:August 29th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
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...Of course, Intel Mac owners could just install a copy of Windows and run Virtual Pinball. I have to say, this is the only thing I've heard of in the past several years that could seriously tempt me to use Windows on a regular basis.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:August 29th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
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...er Visual Pinball I mean.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC)
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I've half-designed several tables in Visual Pinball. It's brilliant; the backend is entirely written in Visual Basic. I'd hand-cobbled many usual pinball routines by hand, but learned I can gank some of the tougher concepts (multi-ball routines, etc.) from open tables. This may help me complete the masterworks Cloverleaf and Abbie & Martha's Whizbang Gumball Factory!
[User Picture]
From:samethreechords
Date:August 29th, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
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I saw a Sopranos machine the other day. I played. Was fun.
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From:phonemonkey
Date:August 29th, 2006 09:52 am (UTC)
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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.

That's it. That's exactly it.

I guess in the end all we'll have left eventually is emulation.

I know. It's dying, and it's been dying ever since arcade video games first came along, despite the revival in the 90s, because of the maintenance issues. I can't remember the name of the massive arcade we went to in Times Square, but there were so many games of so many sorts that I thought there'd be at least one pinball table. Nope. And it pisses me off because there isn't anything that quite replaces it. Nothing with the combination of electronic goodness and an actual vibrating hurtling physical ball. Without pinball, there are now no non-gambling arcade games that I can actually play without copious vomiting.
[User Picture]
From:nathanw
Date:August 29th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
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"Do you know why they call me Howard Hurtz? Lord, Howard Hurtz!"

In my college days my house had a 1980 Williams Firepower machine - the first machine with speech synthesis, in glorious 8-bit TTL - which didn't quite work. I fixed up a few bits of it my sophomore year, to the significant detriment of the house GPA, but man, was it fun. "FIRE...POWER..3...2...1...ENEMY...DESTROYED...MISSION...ACCOMPLISHED" or if you particularly sucked "YOU...ARE...ENEMY". I would pay.... a lot to play that again. I still have the Pinball Lizard Tech Tips from repairing it. I hope that someday I have the space and money for such a thing, and that some poor soul will sell me one by then.
[User Picture]
From:kpht
Date:August 29th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
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Have you ever gone to Funspot up in Weirs Beach? They have at least a dozen tables, probably more. They're in the same room as the bajillion original games.

My dad's got a real one in his basement from 1936. He bought it for $5 when he was a teenager. It's electrocuted me several times.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:August 29th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
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I went there once a long time ago. Are the tables still there and in working order?
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From:kpht
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
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yes - they keep their games in reasonably good shape compared to other places like Funworld. I think keeping them in the room with the games that only adults like (the Video Game Museum, or whatever they call it) probably adds to the condition - if they were downstairs with the whack-a-mole and newer crap, damn kids would ruin 'em with their sticky hands.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Funworld was dismal. I was very sad to have gone, and I'm glad to hear it's nothing like Funspot. In fact, I seem to recall several video game records being broken up at Funspot. Feels like the little brother to Twin Galaxies, then.

Hmm.

May be worth a road trip or two.

I truly envy your dad and his electromagnetic pinball game of electroshockery doom. My mom once worked at a realty company that had an old table from the 1950s in their bathroom. This was awesome for us kids when we went to visit; the only problem was that the office only had that one bathroom.
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From:kpht
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
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My ex-boyfriend fixed the games at Funworld for a few years back in 1999 or so after high school. His claim to fame was that he was pretty much responsible for the go-kart track being shut down after he was filling a kart with gas and it backfired, lighting his arm on fire and requiring an emergency room visit. I only went there once, and it was a pile of crap.

Oh - also, their indoor roller coaster (full of lame) was responsible for almost decapitating the manager, who had the great misfortune of working on it while it was running.

Anyway, not the safest place ever, is what I'm getting at.
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From:zorndeslammes
Date:August 29th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)

re:

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I miss the days of NH pinball. The place up in Weirs is supposedly year round, and I know we've talked about it. Its just a matter of actually me getting up and doing it.

The Pinball Hall of Fame is real in Vegas on Tropicana Ave, however this past trip saw me unable to attend. It may honestly be easier to get me to go to Vegas than Weirs Beach if you're ever interested.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
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It may honestly be easier to get me to go to Vegas than Weirs Beach

I'm with you on that one. Hell, since they got rid of Frankensundae and kicked my campers out of Geneva Point, I haven't had much reason to go back up to Lake Winnipesaukee at all.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:07 pm (UTC)

Re:

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Funspot is, indeed, open year-round.
[User Picture]
From:allicat42
Date:August 29th, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC)

If you ever find yourself down in the Atlanta area...

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let me know. A friend of mine has about a dozen pinball machines - including Twilight Zone, Cyclone, Blue Lagoon... and a whole bunch of other classics. (Did I mention he has about a dozen video arcade games too?)

Kid you not - all set up in his living room. Tokens available by the handfull. I've spent a few New Year's Eve and Super Bowl parties playing pinball at his place. *grynz* So if you ever find yourself coming down this way, I'll see if I can hook you up. =)
[User Picture]
From:cursethedark
Date:August 29th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
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I had no idea that pinball maintenance was so expensive. But hey, since I'm only fantasizing about someday owning a house, I might as well fantasize about what I put in it. (Trapdoors, pen of attack lemmings on the roof, kangaroo mail delivery service, and now, the Pinball Room.)
(Deleted comment)
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
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"Now you've done it."

The best part is both Rudy in Funhouse and Gomez in The Addams Family say it, and both are equally ominous in their delivery.
(Deleted comment)
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I've also heard Fun-O-Rama isn't open anymore, but a quick Google didn't turn up any tales of the place going under ... yet.

There was also a Dream Machine (imagine that!) in Old Orchard Beach as recently as 2003, but I hear OOB is undergoing a lot, a lot, a lot of turnover and the Dream Machine may be gone, gone, gone.
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From:fancycwabs
Date:August 29th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
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They have a "Nightmare on Elm Street" at the outlet mall game room. They used to have four nice nouvelle pinball machines at the arcade for kids whose parents were a-gambling at the Grand Casino in Tunica ($0.125 per token!) or adults who thought that it was a much better value per dollar and weren't terribly embarrassed by having to crawl through the ball pit.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
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I'd say I know the feeling of getting your first Lost In The Zone, but I've only ever seen other people do it. Twilight Zone is INCREDIBLY FRICKIN HARD, and even more so when half of the toys on the board are broken.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
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I've made Lost In The Zone exactly twice on an actual table. One time was up at Noah's Arkade and the other was at some random pizzeria outside Peterborough. Nobody was around at Noah's Arkade and the pizzeria people weren't too impressed except for a couple of kids who were amazed you could make a pinball machine "totally flip out." And yes, all the toys need to work.

The two biggest maintenance nightmares I've heard of regarding TZ is the Powerball, which was made of some kind of crazy ceramic composite, and the clock, which actually melts due to the heat in the table. The one toy I've noticed that almost never works, however, is the upper "Power" playfield.

Lost In The Zone is seriously is the best endgame mode ever, even beating out Monopoly's Land Grab.
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
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What's Salisbury Beach like these days?
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:August 29th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
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Dead.

Pirate's Fun Park is gone, and the last time I visited the arcade across the street, it was somewhat lacking in the silver ball category.
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From:cheezdanish
Date:August 31st, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
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I keep TELLING you. The Pinball Museum WAS. NOT. OPEN. When last you were in town. It did not open until JANUARY OF THIS YEAR. Stop making it sound like I was the wicked trollop who denied you pinbally treats.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:August 31st, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
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wicked trollop!
[User Picture]
From:cheezdanish
Date:August 31st, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
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omg h8 u
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:August 31st, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
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><;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

omg cat get off the keyboard

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