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Games Entertainment

Is Pinball Dying? 296

Hipgnosis pointed me to a story on MSNBC about what how the age old game of pinball is dying. I'm a pinball junkie: I can't resist throwing quarters in a machine whenever I pass one in an arcade or airport or something. Gotta admit this one kinda makes me sad not just because of Tommy, but the countless hours I spent as a child enjoying games, and watching others play. I even bought my own pinball table (Jackbot) a few months ago ... there's something about those little flippers and pinballs that makes the game seem so much more tangible then the N64 or anything on my PCs.
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Is Pinball Dying

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  • I must say, I'm surprised to see everyone yell "yes!" so quickly. I was up at the Pin-a-go-go in Dixon, CA a few weeks ago. It was hot, loud and packed. People were coming from hundreds of miles to go to this pin convention. I'm not much into pinball myself, but a couple of my friends were coming up from LA to go to this, and it sounded like fun.

    So while pinball may have passed from the mainstream, much like live music, there's still a very strong and devoted following. This is probably where the future of pins lies. As long as you want to play, I'm sure you can find the companies and community to support you.

    I will certainly echo what many others here have said: the games are getting rather lame. I saw some really creative designs at Pin-a-go-go, like Joust (a two-person pin) and something hill (don't remember what it was offhand, but any pin affectionato would be able to) that was this two part pin, where the game went vertical in the back, instead of having your usual graphic and score display. So rather than crank out more pins based on lame concepts (my God, the Jar Jar Binks in the Episode 1 pin was annoying!), come up with something origonal and people will clammor to it.

    Which brings me to my last rant, video games in general have gone downhill. Someone else made this general point too. All you can find anymore, even in good arcades like Gameworks (okay, maybe not good, but at least huge) is FPS's and Kung-fu games. With a bit of driving and sports games mixed in for good measure. What happened to origonal games like Spy Hunter, Rampage or Gauntlet? But then I'm preaching to the choir, aren't I?


  • Who said pinball is dying? The person that posted this comment needs to give us some proof of his claim. I still see pinball machines in almost every arcade I go into. Sure its probably not as popular as the latest Tekken 3 but that doesn't mean its dying.

    Pinball is kind of like The Beatles it had its day of fame but it will never completely die. Its to much a part of the American Culture. Ten years from now no one will even know what Tekken 3 was, but PinBall will still be kicking around. I mean ask a 6 year old Nintendo freak what Space Invaders or PacMan is and they probably couldn't tell you. Games like Tekken 3 are just passing fads, trust me they will never eliminate PinBall.

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC []
  • I remember a T2 at FT in '95...
  • In high school, I found a '73 Williams pinball machine at a garage sale. They wanted too much money for it, and it wasn't working. After the garage sale ended, they still had it, so they offered it to me for free. After a bunch of contact cleaner, and a bit of tinkering, I got it working. (the NC part of the coin accepter switch was bent, so it wasn't NC anymore.) We had lots of fun with that machine. Alas, my mom gave it away after I moved out...

    I played lots of Cyclone at college... Once I get space to put it, I hope I can find a Cyclone machine. Although, I imagine it's really different inside compared to the '73. Probably doesn't have all those relays and mechanical rotary counters and such.

    "Ride the Comet!" "Ride the ferris wheel!"
    "Hey you, step right up!" are phrases I'll remember forever. (Although, "Oooo don't touch me there" on the Addams family when you tilted... That ranks up there too.)
  • When i was very young my family owned an arcade. I loved the pinball games more than anything. Although pinball games are getting more hi tech nowadays I still love them for the basic reason that they involve more skill than any video game. Pinball games have been a part of my life for years and I always seek them out in any arcade I walk into. I only wish that i had snough cash to buy 15 or more machines and start my own pinball room in my house.

    I really hope this kind of technology does not go away because no matter how the techn0ology advances in video games, pinball is still the king of games.

    Walk into any video arcade and you will see about a 30-1 ratio of video to pinball. Maybe developers got lured into video because of the money and the shiny aspect of it.

    I for one will be totally saddened on the day that pinball machines are nolonger produced. Although this will make them more valueable but it will mean that it will cost more for me to buy one. Maybe ill start a company, Go IPO quickly and put all the stock profit into building a pinball company... dreams... wishes... it could happen....

    hoping this scenario doesnt happen....

  • tripe is really gross fish, but some people dig it, I guess. go figure, some people even like sushi....

    tripe is the stomach lining of a cow, some kind of Italian delicacy.

  • Pinball is dying, albeit slowly.

    I rarely see pinball machines in any small arcades anymore. When I ask the management why, I always get the same answer- nobody wants to do the upkeep.

    Pinball machines are VERY sensitive, and many of the better maachines require almost daily tuning with heavy use. Without maintenance, the ball doesn't move correctly, and players lose too often. This is very annoying to good players, and very discouraging to pinball neophytes. Once the machine is out of whack, it doesn't make money, gets shipped out, and is replaced with the latest hot fighting/racing/shooter/etc. game, but rarely by a pinball machine.

    The only pinball machine currently installed in a public area of the entire city and surrounding suburb I live in is a Medievel Madness machine at the local community college, and it rarely gets worked on. I remember several days in which the ball was stuck in the left hand ramp/tunnel thingy, and every time it was popped up, it hit a loose part and went right back down. This went on for DAYS. The score got into the high hundreds of millions, with plenty of extra plays. We would sit and watch it, and occaisionally someone would smack it and the ball would pop by the loose part and go into play, but other loose parts always sent it back. Eventually we jsut gave it up and a few days later it got fixed. I don't think it has been maintained since then, because the machine is now so out of whack that nobody can ever make 3 balls last more than 3 or 4 minutes. It kind of makes me want to cry.

    At this point I guess all I can do is save up and buy a machine of my own. Playing in my house won't be nearly as fun as playing in an arcade/restaurant/etc., but I'd rather do that than drive over 20 miles to the nearest arcade with a pinball machine.
  • This was the first I had heard that Williams had gone out. This makes me real depressed, I loved Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness & Monster Bash, I was thinking I'd probably rent one of the three from the arcade I play at for the next LAN party :-)

    I've never heard of the company mentioned in the article - at least I don't recognize the name. At the arcade I play at, there are WMS/Ballys/Midway (all good games) and SEGA (yech..). What games has Stern made? Can someone fill me in?

    The one thing that the article states well is how quickly the machines erode. Maybe it's just the guys that repair them, but on the ones I play something new is broken every couple of weeks. Along with the reoccuring troubles...
  • The arcades are dumping them because when an individual achieves a certain standard of skill they can get free balls quite easily, they then can start picking up free credits. Therefore one can hog the machine for bloody ages for a couple of measly credits.

    I can't remember the last time I saw an arcade machine allowing this. Probably when I was at secondary school some 17 years ago. That said, each machine may well have a series of dip-switches that will activate such functionality for all I know. Haven't seen any evidence of it mind.

    Who gives a shit about the arcades anyway. They're always empty as everyone is downloading porn, warez and pirating grossly over prices music titles.

    In the UK were starting to see entertainment machines sneaking into the pub where once a hulking pin-beast would lurk within its lair. These new "games" have taken a rather nasty turn and have the playability and gfx of some crap you'd expect to find on an old 286 heap-o-shite. They're like the trivia games that offer the *chance* to win cash without actually bothering to pay out.

    When I visit other shores, I'm always pleasantly surprised by the constant site on the glorious pin-machines. The US seems to have plenty around, and they're like a bloody virus in New Zealand.

    Okay they're big mechanical bastards that may suffer breakdown, but who gives a fsck? Isn't that half the fun, trying to jam the buggers? Once played you're hooked (assuming that fscking tilt isn't too sensitive).

    I'm mean, has anyone actually seen the pathetic level of game play these days. They're just so BORING! Most of the *fun* is bashing the fsck out of your mate on the screen. Gimme a ball bearing and a ramp any day!
  • Hate to show my age, but in the 60's (when I started playing pin ball machines) all machines were muli-ball machines. Each machine had five balls. Drop in your nickle and the five balls would drop into a 'resovior'. Below the plunger was a second lever which you pushed to raise a ball from the resiovior to the front of the plunger. If you were hard core, or just bored, you could put all five balls in play, one right after the other.
  • Yeesh. Back in high-school (89-93), the buddies and I used to hang out at a bowling alley over the lunch hour, and play The Cyclone endlessly. Here it is, ten years later, and I can still hear that chant - "Hey you... with the face." I always thought that was the most irritating phrase I would ever hear, and we even asked the bowling alley guy if he could shut it off, but now I find myself remembering it fondly.

    I'm only 24, but I've still seen a lot of the stuff I grew up on disappearing, only to be replaced by sterile, soulless computer games. Even pinball machines that still exist aren't the same as those from the 80s... remember how cool it was to break a million points on some of those old ones? Now an easy twenty to thirty million is considered a crappy attempt. Don't even get me started on the cheeseball TV show ripoff themes.

    I love technology - it's my career and my lifestyle - but I doubt that memories of Duke Nukem et al will still rattle around in my head ten years from now.

    • Adams Family
    • Twister
    • Theathre of Magic
    • Guns 'n Roses
    Theatre of Magic was a huge hit in the local arcade. Not only was the game insanaly cool, but the tilt sensitivity was set so high you could literally move the table half a meter and it wouldn't even give warning! You could also lift the table so much that a ball which was sliding towards doom in the side ramp would change direction and roll back to the playfield (but that's where I drew the line - besides, those thing are really heavy)..
  • I've been thinking about this for a while..
    I think it would be great to adapt something (keyboard?) a pinball base, have bearings etc that it rides on to detect the bump, regular flippers etc along the side..

    I dunno, might suck, but someday maybe I'll give it a try..
  • Ugh!
    SEGA tables IMHO suck real hard. The controls are weak and wierd, too many ramps, too few goals. I don't know of any SEGA table that I have ever enjoyed enough to keep pumping quarters in.
    I guess if all others are gone and SEGA still makes a new table every now and then I might change my opinion. But more than likely I will still play Medival Madness/Attack From Mars/Monster Madness/Junkyard/Star Trek TNG..
  • Having spent *cough* years playing in a league in Pittsburgh, the Steel City Pinball Association [], participated in tournaments in the past few years, and against other leagues, I think that, from the standpoint of players, pinball is not dead. From an industry standpoint, there have been some major gaffes (notably, the introduction of the Pinball 2000 system that killed Williams/Bally dead), but I can hardly imagine no new pins ever, even if they are made by small companies.

    To see a living pinball community, come to Pittsburgh, PA to compete at Pinburgh 2000 [] June 23 through 25. Top prize is $2000. You need not be a "wizard" to play, there are multiple skill-divisions.

  • This is a great pinball game for Linux. Truly wonderful music, anmation, you-name-it. all/pinballgame.html
  • The CRT-pinball idea is sort of interesting, but IMO Revenge from Mars does it better. The only real problem with these games is that the machine isn't wide enough...there isn't any space for the ball to bounce around, and the result is that it falls down the side gutters way too often.

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • a good pinball game, a good player, and the right atmosphere, and a good session of pinball can turn into a 2-hour workout that leaves you drenched in sweat!

    That doesn't mean anything, it's not heavy workout sweat, it's excitement/stress sweat, like when you get really nervous or have a nightmare. I break out in a cold sweat playing Quake or writing a calculus exam (definitely sedentary activities); it doesn't bear any relation to the sweat that pours off my body after the 1000th squat or during the third hour of judo practice (probably not sedentary...).

  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @01:48PM (#1011247) Homepage Journal

    A good article related to this. :)

  • Well, the only computerised pinball game I liked was this one called Rock'n'Ball for the nes, and that was for a simple reason: head-to-head play. Why the hell didn't anyone ever build deathmatch pinball machines? I mean, if airhockey was popular, why not that? That was one of the coolest console games of its time.
  • No... Some of my best memories of my first year in college are centered around the pinball machine in our dorm lounge. Watching everyone play, and then trying to conquer it yourself. By the end of the year, we had about 3 or 4 masters of the "Terminator 2" Pinball game. Probally one of the worst pinball games ever built (technology wise) but I loved it.

    Double J. Strictly for the . . .
  • about the same time their is no market for a 69 Mustang....errrrr....NEVER!!!

    But looking at you wacky kids nowdays -- anything is possible...

    By the way -- I just purchased 3 CD's based on songs I heard from napster and gnutella...

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @01:52PM (#1011251)
    At least with Pro pinball, you can nudge the machine in 'four' directions and you can incur a tilt mechanism. You *can* hit the ball off the glass, as well as jump certain barriers.

    The good thing about digital pinball -- it ends up costing a hell of a lot less than all those quarters :D

  • Isn't a story like this at least 20 years late?
    GCS d-(--) s+: a-- C+++$>++++$$ UL++$>++++$$ P+>++++$ L++>++++$ E--- W++$>++
  • Up here in Calgary, the one arcade that I know of that has more than 2 pinball machines also has a whole whack of old coin-ops. They are an outlet for Southern Music (who rents games to other arcades) and hence end up with a lot of old stuff.

    If you are ever in Calgary it is called Southern Fun and located downtown.

    WMS had bought Bally, so they aren't doing them anymore.
  • You're both right. Dante Aleghri wrote the Inferno, Purgatoirio and Paradiosio.

    It was also the name of a pinball machine.

    Munky_v2 []
    "Warning: You are logged into reality as root..."

  • I've noticed that I'm the only one on those pinball machines lately.

    It's a shame, too. Taco has a point about tangibility. In fact, my older brother refuses to play it with me, even though it's one of the cheapest games there.

    Even computerized pinball is dying. :-(

  • I love pinball too but how is arcade games more expensive. The joysticks are like 10$ and the buttons like a dollar each. Pinball parts are more expensive!
  • At least in my area of the country there seem to be plenty of pin-ball machines in arcades, putt-putt golf places, etc. Even new ones have gone in.

    Its not as much of a culture anymore though. My dad used to talk about his "friends" hustled people on them. (sure dad, your friends :).

  • I dropped about fifty dollars into a pinball game called Earthshaker during my junior year of college. It was on the first floor of our dorm and provided a reasonably good study break. Trouble is, most of these breaks ended up taking about an hour. Great game. Anybody ever play it?
  • There is a volume control :-)

    In fact most of the older games that I have seen are louder than most of the newer games. In my case it could be the volume is cranked down on purpose because there is a lot more noise happening
  • Here's an article that was in wired magazine a while ago. "Game Over" []

    It was a while ago that I read it, but I think it mentioned the biggest pinball machine manufacturor had stopped making them. To big, bulky, fragile, and not exciting enough for the kids with no imagination.
  • My good buddie's dad is the president of Midway Games, and I believe they just retired the pinball business for good. Kind of sad, but it was an inevitability...
  • by mbadolato ( 105588 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @10:55AM (#1011262)

    Those of us that collect Arcade machines and Pinball machines have known the sad truth for a long time. Pinball machines have long been dying.

    There was a resurgence in the early 80's when machines like Gorgar came out (first talking machine), and games like High Speed and Pin*Bot (both of which I own now) really caught on.

    But in the end, people went to video games.

    The saddest part is that last year, Williams finally gave up and closed their Pinball division. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin.


  • Really... she's not your wife! Does she even pay the rent? I'll bet she has done something much nastier to the place without your consent. Usually it's putting those little soaps no one uses and fluffy toilet covers in the bathroom.
  • Things that are "real" - physical objects - are in a slump these days in light of all the cool new digital stuff, but they'll make a comeback once our glazed eyes get tired of our monitors.
  • I love the Pro Pinball series and (as an added bonus), I have Fantastic Journey working pretty well under Wine!
    I had to make a couple of tiny code changes, it doesn't recognise the two shift keys as being different (so I use \ and / instead of the shifts) and the sound doesn't work (or doesn't work well enough to have it unmuted), but the game works, is playable and is at least as fast and smooth as it is under Windows.
    Drop me a line if you have a copy and want to try to get it working under Wine.
    Oh yeah, and I also have an old Black Knight machine (currently at my parents house until I have somewhere to put it) which needs a bit of fixing up but which pretty much works. My vote for best (remembered) machines? Adams Family and Twilight Zone - these two both appeared in a laser tag/Quasar place in Leeds (UK) when I used to go in there a lot, and I spent *many* hours playing them.
  • Ehh sorta
    It's not the weight but the shape of the machines.
    The pinball machines are lighter and bulkyer.. You can fit one video game machine on a dolly and carry it away.

    On many video game systems there is a basic machine and the roms change.
    It's usually pritty easy to swap out parts... No need to accually repair damaged parts when you can replace them. Any idiot can handle that...

    Pinball machines must accually be repaired...
  • Video game machines usually use the same logic. They don't wear out that fast and when they do you can swap out the damaged board with a replacement (just move the roms).

    One point is video game logic boards get tested.. Usally trial by fire I admit.. but the newer the machine the more tested the logic.
    Upgrades are made only when they are needed.

    Fix the damaged board and set it aside for the next breakdown. (It's cheaper to fix than to throw away)

    You are right however. You never have 100% uptime. But thanks to swapout replacements you can get a video game machine up and running faster.

    Also he is wrong about the heavy pinball machines.. It's the bulk...
    It takes two people to carry a pinball machine becouse the weight is distributed over the whole machine. With a video game you place it on a dolly and carry it away...
    But one person CAN move a video game machine off the floor... One strong person..
    But.. video game machines are heavyer...

    I personnally prefer the old Asteroids game.. the arcade machine not the home versions or the clones. The clones are nice.. But give me that raster display...
    Sadly raster displays burn up a lot faster than normal CRT displays... havn't seen any raster machines made sence the 1980s
  • Today, I attended an auction in Cheltenham (a suburb of Melbourne in Australia) at which a number of pinball machines were for sale. Judging by the turnout, I'd say that there's still a great interest in pinball machines. Prices realised today at the auction ranged from about A$100 or so for mounted backboards, to A$1000-A$4000 for machines.

    The machines sold today ranged from early 1950's machines of various designs (including one called simply "Pinball"), popular machines like "Playboy" and "Kiss", and a prototype "Dr Who", allegedly one of only 6 in the world that went for about A$3700.

    If pinball's dead or dying, then I saw no sign of it today, if the turnout and spirited bidding was any guide.

  • Wouldnt you even make more money beucase if you have it on 100% of time you are useing power. If you take it down to 90% witch doesnt affect much you are useing a little less power. Less money spent!
  • > When video games began to "invade" (pun intended),

    Video games from outer space :)

    I'm slightly younger than you... 30...
    I saw video games come in.. Space invaders..

    I allways saw video games and pinball as diffrent kinds of games.

    Pinball isn't dead.. just not mass market...
    I expect arcade style video games to fade into a nitch market as well over time. Maybe when I'm 60 and your 65 :)
  • Pinball is slower paced

    I have yet to see a WARNING THIS CAN CAUSE EPELEPTIC SEISURES on a Q3 box.

    You have not lived until you've played a pinball game, keeping the 3rd ball up for ~15 minutes, getting ever closer to the highest damn score you've ever seen on the machine, or a shot or 2 away from beating the objective of the game..

    I like q3, but pinball is a LOT more fun.
  • Subject of a song by the Rubinoos, complete with sound effects allegedly from the actual machine.
  • He is a political Eliza....
    That speech is a basic political speech...
    Just change things around for the occasion....
    It could be an Eliza or just a silly person..

    It is kinda funny.. pointing out the kind of nonsence that gets passed off as insightful..

    And scary enough... it makes sence...
  • Sega dropped their pinball division sometime in 1999. I have a cousin who is head of one of the development departments there. I'm studying computer engineering an so I thought it might be interesting to take a tour since I'm only a couple miles away during the school year. (now 365...) I called to make an appointment with him and he we talked for a while. During the course of the conversation, he mentioned that they were now "Stern Pinball Inc." I guess the head of the pinball division bought the division from Sega. The website isn't much at all, but here it is []. You'll notice that they actually make many of the popular games seen in arcades if you browse through the firmware library.

  • Pinball - The Lure Of The Silver Ball by Gary Flower and Bill Kurtz has lots of nice pictures.

    It was given to me by a friend who used to get the high score in the local pub whilst tripping on LSD.

    The storm is coming, return to your homes!

  • There is a game out there, Mars Attacks I want to say... Anyway its a pinball game except that there is a well more or less GUI at the back of the board. You have to hit the back of the board with the ball in predetermined spots to shoot a missle for example, this setting of a graphical sequence. What you get is a nice mixture of the two sides and just a damn good and funny game. Perhaps this could be the saving grace of pinball?
  • Spell THAN right!

  • Syberghost asked:
    Pinball is non-sedentary?

    Yes, with the right combination -- a good pinball game, a good player, and the right atmosphere, and a good session of pinball can turn into a 2-hour workout that leaves you drenched in sweat! I've done this, though I don't do it often. When it happens for me, it's when I really get in the groove, I'm doing well, probably getting quite a few replays, and I just want to keep going until I get that high score.

    Unfortunately, the machine that I can say this best about is Black Knight 2000 -- a pinball that was made in 1989. There have been a few high points since then, but nothing has matched BK2K.

    It was not long after BK2K that the pinball manufacturers introduced dot matrix displays on pinball machines, and ever since then the games have been becoming more and more video-game-like. Williams put the nail in the coffin last year with "Pinball 2000", a new pinball design which incorporates a full-color video display projected over part of the upper part of the playfield. The problem with these games is that they've essentially become video games, but a variety of video games that don't work these days. People don't really want this. People who want to play pinball by and large want something like the pinball of 10 years ago. Also, those old games were only a quarter and usually still are, while pretty much nobody sets a Pinball 2000 game below the default price of 50 cents a game.

    I played some pinball today. High Speed (the original), Funhouse, No Good Gofers, Attack from Mars, the Addams Family, and Cirqus Voltaire. This was at Salem Willows (Salem, MA); any pinball fan in the greater Boston area should go visit sometime. They have many more games than those but that's what I played today. They have both Pinball 2000 games there too, if you're interested, but I generally don't bother.

  • "Your goal is to maximize your earnings. To do this your machines must be up 100% of the time."

    Bullshit. Sure, it _maximizes_ your earnings, but certainly does not negate your earnings if your machine drops down to 90%. Plus, mechanical electronic systems are about a million times easier to fix than complex video game circuitry. Oh wait, I forgot we live in a throw-away society - just toss the old circuitboard filled with hazardous materials into the closest lake and install another one. Yah, that's the ticket.

    Understand some basic economics before you spout off such crap. I suppose you would say that a taxi must be in operation and billing 100% of the time. Or a Greyhound bus must be in operation and full of passengers all of the time to break even.

    There's a big difference between maximizing earnings and breaking even. And Tekken 3? That sucky ass, crudely done Neo-Geo excuse-for-a-game? I played that twice and realized I'd much rather play the venerable classic fighting game Renegade, than this cheap JapTrash game. Certainly I'd rather play a good pinball machine than that.

    Who the hell moderated this spewing of crap up to 5??

  • I thought that this article [] had more soul (found on Fark [] last week).

    It's sad but understandable that pinball is going the way of the dodo. A good pinball machine is a masterwork of engineering and art, and a good game of pinball manages to be captivating in a way that I've never experienced with a video game. For all that, they are insanely complex mechanical devices with a tendency to break down under normal use. Solid state has a lot going for it, and a pinball machine is the ultimate in electromechanical. How solid state can you make a solenoid?

    Pinball and Tommy (the rock opera version) played significant roles in my childhood. Pinball was my first experience of affinity with technology. It was something that I could relate to and watch with endless fascination. As a sub-teen child, pinball mesmerised me. I recall a time that I was playing Gottlieb's Hit The Deck (a circa 1978 machine, so I was probably around the 10 mark myself), and I was One With The Machine. I was only dimly aware of the others that gathered around me to watch this young pinball wizard do his thing. After a couple of decades' pinball experience, my all time favourite machine is Williams' Fun House.

    Oddly enough, I visited someone today, and noticed a new piece of furniture in the corner: they had acquired a Hit The Deck pinball machine! It was in fairly poor condition, unfortunately: my conclusion was that it had developed an advanced degree of cantankerousness that affects many old electromechanical devices, and it will not be truly playable without a major overhaul, which is probably not possible.

    While there, however, I did get to study the interior of the machine and its circuit diagram. That's when All Was Revealed: pinball machines are just big finite state machines! Well, duh! But really, even though I suck at electronics, I could understand this circuit diagram. It was just relays, switches, solenoids, and lights! It was a hard-wired computer program; a series of ANDs and ORs that I could grok immediately.

    A friend of mine suggested building a pinball machine as a project, and I told him that they are too complex. But having seen this particular machine -- an old and simple one, I grant you -- I feel that I could at least take on the task of reconditioning one with new relays and things. For some reason, this fact makes me feel a whole lot better about the future of pinball. I don't know if new machines will ever be built, but I feel assured that I could grab an old, broken machine and get it back up to a playable state if I ever needed to.

  • Honestly, I don't know either. I don't really think I said anything, but oh well, if someone wants to give me karma, i'm not going to argue : )

    You've got to love this moderation system......

    Double J. Strictly for the . . .
  • You can get games from a couple of different places:

    1) eBay - Look in the "collectables: Coin operated" category. There's tons of stuff in there. You might have to wait a while to find what you're looking for in good condition and chances are if you are looking for it so is someone else (hey, its eBay). Also you will most likely have to deal with shipping, which is a major pain in the ass unless you have a decent sized truck and strong friends.

    2) Local dealers - Belive it or not there are shops that sell old games. There's at least half dozen where I am (Chicago) and I'm sure there would be at least one in any semi major metro area. You're gonna pay through the nose if you go to one of these guys though. The one near me wanted $1200 for a Street Fighter II machine (Approximate value = $300-$400). But these guys will service the machine if it funks up on you.

    3) Usenet - try (or something close to that. Can't remember). Look for FS (insert your area here). Or ignore that last sentence if you don't mind dealing with shipping. Good deals to be had here

    4) Other Collectors - After one or two posts on Usenet looking for an old Gauntlet machine I had the email addresses of two guys in my area that could hook me up with pretty much whatever I wanted. Not too bad. Plus these guys usually know how to service them and will charge you a nominal fee to do so. When the monitor on my Gauntlet (purchased on eBay) went south on me I called up one of these guys and he set me up with a new monitor and did the install for $100 (the local guy wanted $500).

    Hope this helps anyone looking to get into the hobby.

  • http://w pinballgame.html []

    Just saw that this morning. Mac, Be, Win-32, and Linux!

  • Been there a couple of times. Unfortunately they've got the same general inventory of a bunch of driving racing games, a bunch of stand up hold the gun and shoot games, a few of the timed gauntlet sequil games and, as you noted, no pinball machines. The multi-player mechwarrior simulator is kind of nifty but pricey, short lived and hard to get on to. The virtual golf course would do well in any executive's office. I mostly go there when I'm entertaining visiting Romanians (Nothing like Dave and Buster's in Romania heh.)
  • ...they will never go away completely.

    I don't think I've ever been in an arcade that doesn't at least have a few pinball machines somwhere, if down the back. And there's almost always someone on at least one. Like you can't have a science fiction section in a book store without a Tolken book - no one buys them any more, but you have to have them to be considered serious. When I last went into a "Timezone" with a free game token from a Pepsi (Choice of a New Generation) promotion, I walked past all the same-as-each-other 3D games and straight to the Pinball games. I couldn't play the one I wanted because there was someone already on it.

    But maybe I'm coming from a bias position. I love pinball games, but what's perverse is that I love pinball on PCs. I remember spending ages as a kid playing with the Pinball Construction Kit as a kid. I had a huge number of tables I'd designed. Since then I've had at least one pinball game on every platform I've owned - PC, Amiga (CDTV), Atari Lynx, Game Boy, PSX, PalmOS (yes, there's one for the Palm). I love the physics. Simple, eligant. You make one move and the effects last forever, until the ball comes back down that it ;). It's also nicely abstract. I don't want to drive into a city then play a realistic driving simulator - I want simple, abstract pinbal game or shoot-em-up. In fact, there are fewer simple 2D shoot-em-ups in most arcades than pinball machines. Perhaps shoot-em-ups are dying?

  • Pinball has WAY too many people who have enjoyed playing it that for the next several years it could stay alive based purely on nostalgia. My dad bought 3 pinball computer games last year... If the real tables go away, we will always have computer pinball.
  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:00AM (#1011344) Homepage
    everything non-sedintary is dying. Foosball, Pinball, Table Tennis, you name it. All the fun games we grew up with are being replaced by Q3A and UT. It kinda sucks...i always thought computer games were a very good suppliment, but *definitely* not a replacement.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • I've seen several people in this story mention they want or have bought such-and-such a pinball game. Now, I can see the lucky finder coming across one in some sort of yard sale or junk pile, but that seems to be a rather haphazard way to go about doing things.

    Buying an arcade game new is out of the question for most people, with the price generally over $1000.

    So, how does one buy a used arcade game for personal use? Is there some sort of catalogue or website? Or should I just keep an eye on ebay?
  • ...especially if you pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable, AL-eht so it rhymes with "mallet," "ballot" or "shallot." That's the way I hear it when I read it. Immediately you think of something Ogden Nashish in trochees or anapests

    This AC's so angry to hear the word ALOT
    He's going to knock in your head with a mallet

    Yours WDK -

  • You're exactly right!

    Yours WDK -

  • My son loves the arcade version of Tekken 3 even better than the Playstation version. He's really good at it too. When we play in the arcade, in public and all, he kicks my ass at Tekken 3. I, his old Dad, out in public. Not that I mind.

    But when I was a teenager I took a lot of acid and played an uncountable number of genuine analog pinball games. How bright the colors were, and how my heart raced when I looked at them flashing! So now I have pinball nature and when I lean into one of the three pinball machines in the arcade and make the ball tremble and fly and the counter whirl I amaze my son and he admires me.

    Yours WDK -

  • You're right about the decline of pinball machines.

    After all, the machines cost a lot of money and time to build because of the many moving parts inside the machine. Today's arcade videogames are cheaper because the "guts" of an arcade videogame is the computer itself, which is generally going to last longer than a pinball machine full of intricate moving parts; it's almost akin to comparing a Swiss chronometer watch to a Casio digital watch.
  • Pinball is non-sedentary?

    Jeez, kid. You know, once upon a time people didn't play pinball to have fun, they played football.

    Pinball isn't "the good old days". It's "the beginning of the end".

  • Of course you would be hard pressed to find dammit in an english dictionary.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:10AM (#1011380)
    If they're dying, it's probably because most new pinball games are just so damn lame. The old games (reads, late seventies, when I was barely a toddler) are the ones that I enjoy at arcades. These days, they're just rip-offs of really bad movies and television shows.

    The Simpsons
    Adams Family
    Jurasic Park

    And then there are the obligatory Amusement Park variations of Pin-Ball. There must be three hundred of those games, where a clown laughs, a barker taunts you and you smack the ball around a makeshift amusement park or thrill-ride.

    If they'd try to make some genuinely interesting pin-ball titles, perhaps they would stick around longer. Pin-ball isn't dead in people's hearts -- it's just not as prevalent in society. If there were a pin-ball machine in half the locations that arcade machines are (your local grocery store, your gas-station, your cafe and mall, etc.) people would naturally pop more quarters in, and a lot would probably grow semi-addicted. As it is, I'm sure there are a lot of grade-school kids who wouldn't be able to describe to you what a pin-ball machine is, let alone ever played one.

    This also reminds me of a great story I read in a Science-Fiction/Fantasy anthology (I wish I could remember the title of the book or the authors), called Dante's Inferno, all about this guy addicted to this pinball machine in an arcade. I haven't read the story since I was about twelve, but I wish I could find it again. It was such a great tale.

    Now that I'm making a handsome salary, I need to consider buying a vintage pinball machine for my apartment. Every eccentric geek needs one.

    • Video games & pinball have coexisted for, what, 20 years or so? And yet pinball still exists, even if it isn't as common as it used to be. Maybe it really is dying -- I hope not, but I'll grant that it's possible. I think, however, that eventually we'll reach a steady-state where pinball machines occupy, say. 5 or 10 percent of the arcade space and the rest would be other things, mostly video of course, but others too. A real arcade would of course have other things too -- skeeball, air hockey, wack-a-mole, free throw basketball, darts, foosball, that foosball-like ice hockey under a clear dome thing, etc. I'd be sad to hear that places like this had all been replace by a bunch of video game parlors...
    • I'm not much of a game player, but it just occured to me that the two classes of games I like & play most are analogues for real life games: pinball emulators & various card [& board] games. Doom / Quake etc just leave me cold. Dune / Command & Conquer / Empire stuff is okay, but I'd rather play Risk or Axis & Allies. Sim City variants are nice in that they don't seem to have a "real life" equivalent, but they get stale too once you catch on to the strategies used by the game. The real life games are so much rewarding becaue they have that physical &/or human element. No two pinball games are exactly alike, but no two video games can ever be more different than their pseudo-random number generator algorithm will allow. *yawn*.
    • A professor formerly with my school was studying computer vision, and was using pinball as his test case. He had a machine rigged up in one of the labs here with a couple of cameras aimed at it such that he could write code to get the machine to play against itself. Pretty cool stuff to watch. Now he's gone though unfortunately [too bad -- he was the first one to expose me to *nix, Python, cvs, and /usr/games/bin/fortune -s hahaha) but now they're trying to do similar thigns with robotic soccer. To that end we have a ping pong table set up for future robots to run around on. Neat-o.
      • Ho hum. Like I say, random thoughts, any coherence is strictly unintentional...

  • What saddens me the most is that it has been a slow, 15+ year decline. Pinball got cancer in the mid 80's, and the chemo hasn't been working.

    From the article:
    Rather than staying old school, the companies tried to compete with video games. "They gave pinball lots of glitz and gizmos," Levine said. "But they had games with very little soul."

    I would somewhat agree with this, but the last Star Wars pinball game had a pretty fun video mode. Plus, not all innovations were bad. Black Knight's Magna-Save was great. Pinbot had a cool lock. The LCD animation in The Adams Family was fairly entertaining. Really it was the few terrible ideas that stick in your mind (like PacMan pinball. Yech!) when you could tell that the game makers were desperately throwing in the kitchen sink.

    Anyway, I'm just rambling in my despondant sense of slow loss. If anyone knows a good location of games near Austin let me know. I've got lots of quarters, and who needs to do laundry anyway?

  • Even computerized pinball is dying. :-(

    Oh my god, no, it is most definately NOT dying! Check out Pro Pinball [] for the best pinball simulations ever created on a computer. The four games of the Pro Pinball series are getting progressively more realistic, down to the ball hitting the glass, expert moves such as bang backs, and incredible complex and GOOD tables... Timeshock! is by far the best pinball game on any computer/game system ever made... I still have a long ways to go to master the thing, and I've been playing the heck out of it for months.
  • Sucks to hear about Williams, cool to hear Sega's still doin' 'em. Howsabout Bally?

    I remember hearing about it Williams stopped making pinball machines. That was the biggest disappointment, as they had made, IMHO, the best pinball machines out there. High Speed. Pinbot. Funhouse. Comet/Cyclone/Whirlwind. Earthshaker. Twilight Zone. Addams Family. Star Trek:TNG. Demolition Man. I pumped so much money into those machines for years, always going for them over the machines made by anyone else, because they had such a better feel.

    I need to find somewhere around me that has some machines, to see if I can get back into the feel of it. At least until I have the space to pick up a few machines, which I have already determined I am going to do. Who knows, if I feel like being mechanical at any point, I might make a hobby out of fixing old machines, trying to keep pinball alive as long as possible.
  • by cancrman ( 24472 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:17AM (#1011406) Homepage
    Think about it for a second. Pinball machines are big, heavy, expensive and insanely complicated. Not just electronically complicated (which they are) but mechanically complicated. All of those ramps, balls and bumpers are going to break or get stuck from time to time. Now think about this: You are an arcade operator. Your goal is to maximize your earnings. To do this your machines must be up 100% of the time. Pinball machines are never up 100% of the time, they can't be. So the dead machine is taking up valuable floor space where a much more lucrative Tekken 3 machine could be (Fighting games also get two people to pay to play at the same time) Also operators generally don't have the expertise to fix them when they break. So they have to pay someone to come in and fix it. Walk into pretty much any arcade these days and you will find four types of games: Fighting, gun type games (Time Crisis), racing games and the occasional classic (Galaga or Centipede). Maybe, maybe you'll find a neglected pin or two but that's about it.

    I also remember reading somewhere that Williams/Midway recently said that they would be ceasing pinball production entirely. They tried to simplify the operators experience with their Pinball 2000 cabinet (one generic cabinet with easily swappable playfields and ROMS) but they only produced two of those (Attack from Mars and Episode 1). It really is sad. I guess I better snap up a Twilight Zone and ST:TNG machine before they all end up in other people's hands.


  • by RonaldReagan ( 112997 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:20AM (#1011411)
    For pinball to grow, companies absolutely have to develop the inexpensive architectures. It's so clear that a horizontal market in pinball -- never before so advanced -- provides an indication of resource-leveling platforms; we are convinced a leadership position continually is not the momentum needed to bring pinball out of its slump.
    These, the visions of what pinball should be, are never easy to fully accomplish. If we can foresee the benefits of technology, then the customer-compliant drop dates will assure us enterprise-wide deliverables. Third party research tells us that the drop dates repose methods of empowerment for the pinballing community.
    The customer base *MUST* be galvanized in order to assure that the task-oriented piball machine will dominate the market, and to be certain that the price-intensive sponsorships are going to help in the concepting of new multimedia for the machines. The deliverables will knock your socks off, notwithstanding that the architecture really signs up for a quality-oriented new generation of technology. As always, the task-driven pinball design team will provide SUPPLE support for paradigms, and bring pinball back to life.

    That's just *MY* two cents on the issue.

  • What I don't understand is how arcade video games remain popular. Some of the best stuff in the arcade runs at home perfectly on my Dreamcast. Kids are hanging out at home instead of going to the arcade.

    The pinball experience, however, can never be duplicated in the home cheaply. If arcade operators want to stay in business, they need to push pinball via contests, classes to teach you how to play, and techs who keep the machines clean and working well.

    Our local arcade first pushed out pinballs and replaced them with video games. Now THEY are being pushed out and replaced by kiddie "games of chance" where you bop groundhogs or play skeeball, get tickets, and buy stupid prizes.

    This is the most disturbing trend. Nothing like teaching little kids how to grow about and be a gambling addict...

  • There is a lot more to pinball than pressing a left and right button to nudge a couple levers. But in a digital version, that's all there is. [...]I want to be able to throw my weight into the game and control, for just a little while, that 200lb piece of wood, metal and glass.

    After a long session of real pinball I've found myself physically exhausted. I guess it's because I push the buttons more forcefully on a big heavy machine than on a computer. There's something about the physicality of a pinball machine, the realness of it that sucks you in the way a CRT never can.

    With a computer game you can mentally "become one" with the machine. I remember feeling exhausted after my first few Doom deathmatch sessions, but it was a mental exhaustion, not the same as after playing pinball.

    With pinball, you physically "become one" with the machine.

    Or if you're having too bad of a day to "become one" with anything you can just take out your frustrations on a pinball machine and it will affect the game, whereas banging on a video console is like banging on a brick wall.

    Sci-fi aside, I think there will always be a noticable difference between virtual and real.

  • The Episode 1 Pinball game is one of the more interesting pinball games I have seen in a while - but it seems to be a deviation from other pinball games. Essentially, you shoot a ball into a black space, where an image is reflected from a CRT display hanging upside down. No more bumpers and lights and whatnot. The machine tracks the position of the ball as you fling the ball at images reflected onto the glass plate.

    It's some freaky stuff.
  • I see a few major reasons for the so-called recent death of pinball. Back when I stopped playing around 1994 due to RSI in my wrists (a combination of typing and pinball messed up my ulnar nerve pretty fierce), the 'art' of pinball was actually at its highest. Funhouse (1989?), The Adaams Family (1992?) and The Twilight Zone (1993) are arguably the best pinball games ever. Deep rulesets that were well balanced and allowed both novices a fun game, while experts had a variety of goals; a sense of humor; and well-laid out shots.

    However, all through the 1990's Data East pinball (who became Sega and are now Stern) continued to pump out mediocre games using licensed themes. Simpsons, Jurassic Park, Tales from the Crypt... even up to South Park recently. (I haven't played any of the new Stern games) The game would suck in the average arcade goer who wanted to play a game tied to the latest hip cultural trend. They'd find a game with flippers that were hard to control (compare an early-90's Data East to a Bally or Midway of the same era for "flipper feel"), and had boring gameplay. Thus, the person attracted to pinball for perhaps the first time, would find that it just wasn't that much fun.

    Top that with the need of operators to actually *maintain* the games (hahah!) -- something as simple as a slightly weak flipper could ruin a game with the advent of ramps on the playfield, I belive in Black Knight from 1981 or 1982. The longer gameplay combined with the ability of an expert to get a replay and continue playing for free, and operators simply were not making much money in the same amount of time as with the (then) hit chop-socky games such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II -- both of which almost guaranteed a new quarter being pumped in every 90 seconds or so, especially during two-player games. When I was good I could easily play for ten or fifteen minutes for fifty cents on Addams Family, after only about one school term's worth of daily practice.

    I think the final nail in the coffin was Bally/Midway/Williams's attempt to update the pinball game by bringing in a video monitor for their Pinball 2000 [] line of two games - Revenge From Mars and Star Wars Episode One. Unfortunately neither of these games were real barn-burners in the fun department and the setup to reflect the monitor obscured shots and made play difficult. They bet the farm on this idea, and it failed.

    Fortunately, pinballs still live on. Stern (who made games back in the 70's, and I'm sure earlier, I'm just too lasy to hit the pinball database []) purchased Sega's pinball division, and that's it for currently manufactured games. Let's hope they don't continue the Data East - Sega tradition. Some people [] are starting to make their own personalized games. And eBay has a nice category [] of pinball stuff, which, as all things eBay, can be both a ripoff or a treasure.

    And, finally I have to mention the simulations. I forget the company, but one group put out "Timeshock" and "The Web" (and, I'm sure, more since then) for both Windows and Mac which struck me as very nice and realistic feeling new-style games with dot-matrix display and all. Another company put out a number of originals ("Loony Labyrinth," "Crystal Caliburn," and recently "Angel Egg") that are pretty good, and two reproductions, ("Royal Flush" and "Eight Ball Deluxe"), all for the PC and Mac. I own 8-Ball Deluxe and found it very fun and pretty good physics, and much as I remembered the original. They had also programmed most of "Funhouse," which many were drooling over, but it was never released. The company apparently split into a Japanese group which is still producting games and the American group doing the reproductions which has been dead for five or six years. Anything with Sierra's name and "3-D" on it is probably a waste, it only looks like pinball but sure doesn't play like it. And, surprisingly, the Game Boy game Pokemon Pinball is an excellent little simulation for the $25 it cost and has given me more pleasure than any Game Boy game I own.
  • by Wintermancer ( 134128 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:32AM (#1011443)

    Yes, it's a breakdown-prone analogue device. So what? Life's not solid state, you know.

    Unlike most reflex-twicth games, (ie: if it moves, {shoot, kick, avoid} it), pinball is directly kinesthetic in nature. The joys of a subtle table slap to full-on, tilt inducing hip check are uniquely pinball. Not to mention that pinball uses real world physics, not an approximation found in digital arcade games. No trickery or savvy programming here, folks. Just hard Newtonian rules and a dash of chaos theory to keep it fresh every time.

    That's the fun.

    Not to mention that I feel like a lab rat pressing a lever to get a food pellet every time I play a digital game for hours, and I know that I'm not alone in this feeling. Pinball won't die, but it will be relegated to a niche market (and this is not a bad thing).

    Pinball is Dead! Long live Pinball!
  • No, it was part of a Science Fiction / Fantasy Anthology, as previously mentioned, about a man who stops an an arcade and becomes addicted to a pinball game called Dante's Inferno (which, coincidentally is also a real pinball game from around 1986 I believe).

    Something about wagering his soul... Certainly higher stakes than I would place on a game of pinball, but what the hell.

  • I'm 35 (it's not that old dammit!) and grew up just as the video game revolution was coming into full swing. Just before that, pinball machines and other games were fully mechanical (i.e., solonoid powered). I used to go down to the Balboa Fun Zone in Southern California, and loved playing them for hours. 3 games for a quarter, 5 balls / game!

    When video games began to "invade" (pun intended), I started playing those a lot. But I still loved to play pinball. The thing about pinball is that it takes all the reflex talent of video games, but it has a mechanical unpredictability, and liveliness that a video game just never has. I never managed to hold a record in my local video arcade, but I held several pinball records (the typical arcade back then would keep the names of the local kids who held the records on the wall -- gotta encourage people to keep spending quarters!).

    It's funny that this came up today... just yesterday, I played a pinball machine in a video store for the first time in a few years. Won a game the second time I played it. HA! I still got it. :)


  • What are some of the best pinball games you've all played? And just so this post has a point, I'll get the (silver)ball rolling:

    Twilight Zone
    Star Wars (the one with a big R2-D2 in the play field)
    Adamns Family
    Jurrasic Park

  • Something else that I always liked about Pinball was the artwork. A lot of the old machines had really cool artwork. It seems like video games never really had anything as cool.

    Anyone know of any books of Pinball machine art? If not, someone should make one! It would be a shame if it all disintegrated in someone's garage without being preserved.


  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @11:49AM (#1011462)
    The physical pinball table is getting big and clunky; it takes up a lot of space, and it is one where the newer boards require less skill and more luck; too many flashy lights can also be a problem.

    However, I suggest that for those with win-enabled machines to check out the series of pinball games from Pro Pinball (Empire games). The series is "The Web", "Timeshock!", "Big Race USA" and most recent, "Fantastic Journey". The boards are very similar to today's tables with lots of overhead ramps, more 'mechanical' features, and generally play as well as many of the recent physical tables. In addition, the physics and gameplay of the Pro Pinball series is super enhanced compared to anything else, with very tight gameplay and nearly bug free.

    Pinball the physical game will be phasing out soon, but pinball is certainly not dead.

  • Pinball Consruction Set?

    I _LOVE_ that thing. I spent countless hours on my Apple //e building hundreds of pinball boards. It was the saddest day when the floppy (5 1/4, thank you) that I had saved one board that I had spent nearly a month on died.

    I really wish(ed) that someone would remake the game for newer computers. Hey, anyone want to write a GnuPinball Construction Set?

    A wealthy eccentric who marches to the beat of a different drum. But you may call me "Noodle Noggin."
  • ...I spent a lot of time being too short, marveling at the bad-boy mystery that was pinball, waiting for the day I would be tall enough. Around 1976 or 1977 I got tall enough and was able to persuade my dad to spot me the occasional quarter. That lasted for about 8 months. Then Space Invaders came out, followed by a lot of other classic arcade games. Guess where my quarters went.

    I wouldn't say it's dying though. I think it will always be around, and who knows, it might have a nostalgia based revival someday.

  • There is nothing as satisfying in any of the modern day video games as the loud "ka-klaccckkk" sound that a pinball machine gives you when you win a free game. It's so much more visceral than the eye-candy video games of today.

    The great thing about a pinball machine is that you can play a game for ten minutes on one quarter. Can you say that about any video arcade game?

    The words "Ride the Cyclone!" and "Hey you, with the face!" will forever stay in my mind. If I had the space in my apartment, I would go out and get a Cyclone pinball machine today.
  • by mbadolato ( 105588 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @12:02PM (#1011481)
    Unfortunatly, Williams owns Bally and Midway so there is no chance of those companies picking up the designers.

    Gottlieb had been sold off to someone else, but may be back on their own now. I don't recall.

    Williams always had great games (some under the Bally name though). In the last few years, Medievil Madness, Monster Bash, Attack From Mars, and Tales of The Arabian Nights

    Classics from the 90's also included Addams Family and Twightlight Zone.

    And of course, others like High Speed, Pin*bot (and the 2 sequals), Fun House, Cyclone, Comet, etc. They made GREAT machines.

    My next house I buy will have sufficent room for me to make a massive gameroom, which will have at least 10 pins...

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @12:33PM (#1011484)
    Sorry, but pinball videogame style is just really pathetic. You might as well sit and watch television or listen to NPR or, for that matter, read Cosmopolitan magazine.

    There is a lot more to pinball than pressing a left and right button to nudge a couple levers. But in a digital version, that's all there is. I want the audio pointing in my face and the scoreboard glowing in my eyes off the backplate. I want the plink! and smack! of the sliver ball whacking the glass when flipped too hard. I want to see things spin and whirl and launch the ball around. I want to be able to throw my weight into the game and control, for just a little while, that 200lb piece of wood, metal and glass.

    I don't imagine I will ever touch the digital version anymore than I'll play a football or baseball videogame. If I want to play football, I'll go find some friends and get the pigskin out. I'll play videogames when I want to fire a plasma rifle at stinky aliens and start wars with other countries; things I can't do in real life.

  • I loved those games in high school...still do. My friends and I would ditch English class nearly every day to go over to the pool hall and play ST:TNG. Theatre of Magic was about 20 miles away; reserved for weekend trips.

    It was almost cultish... I haven't seen the game around in a few years, but I still have many of the sound FX embedded in my brain (ya can't beat Star Trek for cheesy melodrama):

    Q:&nbsp Bonjour mon capitan!
    Picard:&nbsp Q, what are you doing here?!
    Q:&nbsp Let's play a little game!
    Angsty Riker:&nbsp Q! We don't have time for your games!

    Ah, those were the days...

  • How the heck did you crash Hydro Thunder? The only explanation would that the machine had been recently moved and the connections on the inside of the boards got loose. Happens alot. All you gotta do is open up the back and double check all of the connections. Takes 5 minutes and my little brother could do it.

    While some newer arcade games are more mechanically complex (Namco's Alpine Racer and Sega's Top Skater)these are still relatively simple when compared to a pinball machine. Have you ever looked under a pinball machine's playfield? Woah, lots going on under there. More than a couple of pressure sensors and a lever that's for sure. Sure the newer arcade games are mechanically and developmentally complex, that's why it costs $1 to play them.

    Unfortunately you are correct about your second point. Kids these days, sheesh! Sure they don't play foosball or air hockey (Skee ball is a quater sucker designed to take your $10 roll of quarters and turn it into a chinsy prize), but put either of those machines in a bar and you've got yourself a game that will be occupied 90% of the time. That's also why you don't see many Golden Tee games in arcades. Pinball's ideal place is in a bar. Unfortunately the aforementioned golden tee has pretty much become the universal bar game.

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @12:04PM (#1011491)
    Well, if you can't afford to buy/maintain your own table, there's always the computer version...

    Pinball page at Softseek []: List of a whole bunch of downloadable pinball games.
    Epic MegaGames Pinball []: My personal favorite. Especially the Android table.
  • Bah!

    Re-read your message. Arcade games suffer the same problems. I've crashed Hydro Thunder more times than I've caused a pinball machine to break. Arcade games have joysticks and buttons that break, stick and malfunction. I have yet to see an arcade game without moveable parts, and each year, the machines get more and more complicated. It used to be that a skiing game put you behind a joystick with maybe a jump button. Now, you actually climb into an apparatus that takes your movements and translates them to a character. If this isn't both mechanically and developmentally expensive, I don't know what is.

    When I go to game arcades and pinball machines are present, they are almost always filled. Most of the time it's an older generation, though. The same holds true for such classics as air hockey and ski ball. Kids aren't playing them. The real reason such machines are dying is because a younger generation raised on virtual reality, super-realistic graphics, and ever faster-paced games doesn't have the interest in something that requires both an understanding of truly real-world physics and an imagination of what exactly a Black Hole of Doom really is. It's not because of game companies are losing money on mechanically inferior pinball machines.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday June 10, 2000 @12:47PM (#1011502) Homepage Journal
    I think the entire arcade industry is hurting pretty badly. These days a coin op arcade is an arena of sameness, with the same coin op game cliches that haven't evolved since the late '80s. At least the pinball tables were trying to innovate to stay alive. Here's to hoping the rest of the industry finds itself in this position pretty soon. Maybe we'll actually start seeing some creative games appear on the market again if that happens. Until them, well I'll just stick to Lokisoft games and save my quarters for the ravenous mountain dew machine (of traal.)
  • That's the title of a small piece [] Erik Davis wrote on the February issue of Wired Magazine.

    I quote:
    "The more we go digital, the less of a foothold pinball has, because the game is still sunk waist-deep in the old electromechanical biome. [...]In essence, the preferred playspace is no longer physical space at all, but the increasingly immersive digital space. Ironically, it was pinball that first seduced us into exploring a world behind glass, a world we could touch only by fusing our fingers with control devices. In retrospect, pinball was only a bridge between the machine age and the digital age. Like it or not, we have reached the farther shore."

    You may want to take a look at this, it's has some insights on pinball history and it's of course very well written.

  • Well, once, late at night, I was using Windows 98, and during a particularly long file copy process, I got the Blue Screen of Death, but it said, "TILT"! I think I was desperately in need of sleep at the time...

    My favourite pinball machines are Doctor Who (being a big Who fan, myself) and Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (yes, there was a Street Fighter II pinball game). The Dr. Who pinball game is really hard to find, since I live in North America where One Is Supposed To Like Star Trek instead of Who. Hell, I can't even get Who on TV anymore.

    The Street Fighter II: Champion Edition pinball was pretty cool. There was even a little bonus stage where you beat the crap out a car (just like in the video game) by hitting the ball against a small model car with a third flipper.

    I like pinball games that have loads of ramps, holes, and traps and other cool stuff on the board and look really complicated. The more the better. The digital dot-matrix displays on the newer ones are pretty cool, too. The older pinball machines with seven-segment LED displays and fairly simple boards are quite bland, by comparison.

    Now, I don't know how many of you had this... When I was about 6 or 7 years old, in the early '80s, I got a miniature pinball game for my birthday called "Arcade Action Pinball". It was a little pinball game, about 20cm across and 40cm long that took 5D-cell batteries. It had all sorts of cool sounds and action. The board design was pretty simple, just a trigger to launch the ball, some magnetic targets that throbbed when ball hit them, and some plastic channels and ramps and roll-over score digits. But I loved it. I still have it today. I'm not sure if it still works, as I haven't played it in a while. I have never allowed my parents to throw it out, even though they tried many times. It's pretty old (it says "copyright 1979" on the bottom), but it was a lot of fun to play...

    I've never been a fan of video pinball games. They completely lack the feel of a real machine, regardless of how precise they get the physics.

    One thing I don't like is that because pinball requires such a physical presence, it can't be emulated. I can grab an emulator and the ROMs for Trog, World Heroes 2 or any video game that's been out of the arcade for years, and play it at home on my PC, whenever I want, but with pinball, I'm at the mercy of the arcade. That's why (again) I'm pissed that I can't find Doctor Who pinball anywhere. It's a game I really want to play, but I can't because the arcades won't carry it, and since it can't be emulated, I'm S.O.L. for it.

    I'm not in the habit of nudging or bumping the machine a lot, since everytime I do, it goes "TILT". I'm also afraid some uneducated and uncultured arcade owner will think I'm beating up the machine.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but does anyone know what the ball is made of? The way it rolls around so freely and lightly, it can't be steel. That would be too heavy. Someone once told me it was filled with mercury (and presumably made Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  • Pinball dies every decade. In the late 1970s, when video games really took off, the end was predicted for pinball, but it hung on. In the late 80s it looked bad once again, only to be followed by a wave of some of the greatest pins ever: Black Knight 2000, Terminator 2, Bride of Pinbot, FunHouse, Fish Tales, Addam's Family, etc. Of course this time around things look worse than ever, because Williams is out of the pinball business.
  • The early 90's brought us the advent of a new boom in pinball. I remember reading a Smithsonian article on the pinball craze of the early 90's.

    Pinball will always exist, but as another poster stated, the new ones are just so damn lame. The downhill started when you could buy extra balls. It shifted from a contest of skill to the contest of the moderately skilled rich kids.

    If you want some advice on the best pinball games ever then checkout:

    The Getaway II (My favorite of all time)
    Adams Family (Close 2nd and still today found in bars and parlors)
    Terminator II
    Bram Stokers Dracula
    Twilight Zone

    And lets not forget the classic that turned me onto pinball in the first place Fun House.
  • Terminator
    Adams Family

    Interestingly, those are two of the best loved pins of all time. When Addam's Family was released, it captured the hearts of most regulars in
  • Good lord. Pinball is dying. For me, that's like cutting a piece of me off and throwing it into Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

    My Pinball heritage began before I was born. One fateful day at Cornell University, the man and woman who would later become my parents first met at a pinball machine.

    Around the time I was a toddler, my Grandfather owned a vending-repair shop, and he routinely repaired pinball games. Somehow, he acquired one, and it ended up in the basement of our townhouse. I used to spend many hours of my toddler-life downstairs on that machine. I'd need to use a stool, because I was still too short.

    The summer camp I went to for five years straight (7th through 11th grades) always had a pinball machine in its collection of three or four arcade games. Not a day would go by that I wouldn't play it once. I had bad days, and good days. I also had days when I would play for about a half-hour on end because I got so many replays. There were a couple times that a crowd of people, from little fourth-graders to people my age, would gather to watch me beat the heck out of that little metal ball. I frequently had to leave a replay for someone else because I had to be somewhere, and was still playing on the same quarters.

    I'm sure there are many people out there, for whom pinball is such a part of them. Pinball is in my blood. For me, and the others like me, Pinball will never die. It'll just become, as some others said, a niche market.

    For those doubters out there, let me offer this: Pinball is the only truly 3D arcade game. You can have all your fancy 3D-lookalike games, but Pinball is true-to-life 3D. Beat that.

  • Videogames will never replace the magic of pinball. I've been playing since the mid 1970's (my uncle's Captain Fantastic and Fireball tables) .. between my roommate and I, we own 7 tables, ranging from Earthshaker to Revenge from Mars (Pinball2000). I would like to post a few clarifications to thing's I've seen in this thread..

    1. Currently, the only pinball company still making games is Stern Pinball (formerly Sega). I have heard of another startup company being formed, but no games have been announced from them. Stern's newest game is Striker Xtreme (soccer theme) .. find one and give it a shot.

    2. WMS was the leading manufacturer of pinballs up until their exit from the market on Oct. 25, 1999. Their newest idea, Pinball 2000 ( was a revolutionary step forward in pinball design, and was selling quite well.. unfortunately not well enough for WMS upper management, who pulled the plug to concentrate solely on gambling devices.

    3. Pinball 2000 games are driven by a MediaGX-based PC to drive the graphics and DCS-2 stereo sound. TCP/IP support was included in the last revision of the Revenge from Mars software, with a small webserver and telnet capabilities (for a screenshot of the webpage generated by the server, go to

    4. Some people think pinball died in the early 80's when video games became popular, however, pinball enjoyed a resurgence in the early 90's, with The Addams Family setting a modern sales record with over 20,000 units sold. Sales began to drop off after '92 and culminated in the shutdown last year.

    5. Finally, I don't care how good computers get, they will never be a good enough substitute for a steel ball, wooden playfield and flippers.

    -Keep on flipping!

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM