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Classic Games (Games) Games

Keith Elwin Wins Pinball World Championship 110

Yesterday, writes reader woohoodonuts, "Keith Elwin won the world pinball championship in Pittsburgh, PA for the third consecutive year. The weekend-long event fielded 406 players from all over the world and distributed over $36,000 in prizes. The three games chosen in the final round were Stern Cheetah, Bally The Addams Family, and Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon. Keith scored over 500 million points on his final ball with $10,000 on the line to defeat fellow American, Andrei Massenkoff, by nearly 300 million points." Next year's gathering is slated for August 11-14, also in Pittsburgh.
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Keith Elwin Wins Pinball World Championship

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  • by splutty ( 43475 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @08:07AM (#33262278)

    The bar I worked at had The Addams Family pinball machine for about a year.

    Very good memories there :) "Thing! Lend a hand!"

    I'm glad there are still some of these weird people around that actually like a game of pinball! Way to go!

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      that was my fav also. "Now you've done it!"

      • "Keep the ball; I've got a whole bucketfull!"

        • by splutty ( 43475 )

          Followed by AAAARGH! flipflipflipflipflip CRAP.

          And with 2 balls left out of 10 :)

          • I like the Bally and Midway as much as the next chap, but this becomes a story, when the winner is deaf, dumb and blind!

            "Strange as it seems, his musical dreams - Ain't quite so bad..."

          • by v1 ( 525388 )

            I think that only let three (or four?) balls loose at once. You could do that a few times in a game. Though looking back on it, it was probably very wasteful, but it was sure fun trying to juggle the multiball.

        • by v1 ( 525388 )

          I've got a whole bucketfull


    • I have so many cool memories of the Twilight Zone machine. "Battle the Power" and the movable hidden magnets under the board still taunt me in my dreams to this day.
      • by Telecommando ( 513768 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @08:49AM (#33262498)

        The magnets don't move and they aren't exectly hidden but TZ is a fun game. If you want to talk about taunting your dreams, try repairing one of them, that will give you fits. TZ is one of the hardest machines to keep running. Medeival Madness and Addams family run a close second and third.

        But I find it interesting that two of the three games in the final round are from a company no longer making pinball games. Truly the era of pinball is coming to a close.

        • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @09:31AM (#33262804) Homepage

          But I find it interesting that two of the three games in the final round are from a company no longer making pinball games. Truly the era of pinball is coming to a close.

          Well, considering that there's exactly one company currently making pinball machines...

          Dude, the era of pinball ended more than a decade ago. I was there, working at Capcom Coin-Op programming pinball machines when the bottom fell out. All the manufacturers shut down within just a few years, between 1995 and 1999. Stern had shut down their line years ago, but they re-opened after everyone else quit. As I understand it, Gary Stern himself decided that someone had to keep making machines. I don't know if it's even profitable; it's a labor of love.

          /me is the proud owner (and programmer of!) Big Bang Bar [], due to be the next on the manufacturing line when Capcom got out of the biz.

          • by Sonny_Jimbod ( 836857 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @10:27AM (#33263332)
            I agree that Gary Sterns loves making pinball and that Stern doesn't make as much money as they used to. Trouble is, they are stuck in a catch-22 situation. It costs a lot of money to make a fun pinball, the cost of the designers, playfield manufacture and putting it all together all add up to be a lot. The more complicated a table is, the more it costs to produce. Also, traditionally new players don't really like playing the complicated games, as they don't have much of a clue as to what is going on. What Stern has been doing for the last couple of years now is just knocking out machines for as cheap as possible, with little in the way of features for the more discerning 'pinhead'. This is good (I suppose) for first time players and operators, but it sucks for anyone with half an interest in pinball. He's got rid of most of the good designers so now most Stern tables are just boring rehashes of ones from previous years. He really is treading water trying to keep the company afloat. It really is a shame to see machines from Williams/Bally during the mid-90's and what is being made today. A lot gets said on mailing lists as to what the future of pinball is, but I'm betting is going down the same route as Harley. The baby boomer demographic who has a bit of spare cash burning in their pocket is disappearing, and once they are gone, Pinball just isn't appealing to kids who have played Xbox/PS3 etc. I really hope another company pops up, but it's not likely.
            • They're not only complicated at first, but I think pinball is more expensive than most other arcade games (except things like Dance Dance Revolution - yeah I realize that's ancient now so I would come up with a more recent example if I had one).

              At least way back when, pinball machines were usually at least 50 cents (or 2 tokens)/game, and most video games were a quarter (or one token)/game. There is still a place around here called Nickel City that at least used to have a bunch of pinball games. Even thos

          • can we get a final rom update for Big bang bar?

            • No, because Chelloveck doesn't own the rights to make the update, even if they still had the tools to do so.
              • No, because Chelloveck doesn't own the rights to make the update, even if they still had the tools to do so.

                That's true, I have neither the rights nor the tools. I tried to finagle a copy of the source code when I got laid off, but they wouldn't let me take it.

                However, Pfutz did make an update after I left, and got permission to distribute ROM images of all the Capcom pinball machines. You can find them linked off his home page, at [].

          • by J-1000 ( 869558 )
            The problem was the ticket dispensing machines. Pinballs (and standard video game cabinets) lost their popularity while ticket-dispensing games have endured. I understand the reluctance to add ticket dispensers to Pinballs, but they need it in order to have any shot at renewed popularity.
            • The problem was the ticket dispensing machines. Pinballs (and standard video game cabinets) lost their popularity while ticket-dispensing games have endured. I understand the reluctance to add ticket dispensers to Pinballs, but they need it in order to have any shot at renewed popularity.

              Capcom tried it. All our pinballs had a ticket dispenser option, but it was never popular. It's not a game that really lends itself well to that market. Most redemption games are either pure luck, or are intrinsically lim

              • by J-1000 ( 869558 )
                Great response, thanks. And yes, you are a mean dad ;)

                I'm glad to know it was tried. Although what you say is true about the inherent limitations of fun pinball machines, I'd also point out that you could simply cap the ticket output, or have it taper off dramatically, or have a heavy element of luck (a random multiplier) that determines the ticket output, rather than tying it 1:1 with the score.

                I just can't get rid of this nagging feeling that some things could have been done differently. For example
                • Capping or reducing the ticket payout as the game gets longer isn't really a good strategy. Good players feel they're being penalized for being good (which they are). Bad players are still better off dropping quarters into a pure-luck redemption game. Neither is good for repeat business.

                  And repeat business is necessary, because pinball machines are expensive to maintain. A video game needs to have its screen wiped and its cashbox emptied. You can hire a high-school dropout to do that. Redemption games r

        • Yeah Stern is pretty much the only company I know of that still makes new machines. There are a lot of collectors still out there though. The real shame is that Stern's new machines are apparently not all that great. I've heard they'll change the graphics on an old playing field setup and then release it as a new machine which is really lame. The creativity in the older machines is much better. I have an Addams Family machine which is in great working order. I had to spend some time and money to get i
        • TZ is one of the hardest machines to keep running.

          What about Jurassic Park? The ball went into unplayable areas regularly, and it had plenty of flimsy plastic things that jump and move and claw around until they broke. But great game play...
          • by Rog69 ( 1286124 )
            I have to agree about Jurrasic Park, I used to repair Pinball machines back in the mid 90's and it was a horrible machine to work on and had the highest call rate of any pin we ever had sited. I used to hate working on Data East machines in general. Bally Williams of that era were always the most engineer friendly machines to work on though, they had some pretty good built in diagnostics and were reasonably well put together (apart from Dr Who which was a bag of crap with that thing that was supposed to ri
      • Dont touch the door! Dont touch the door! Dont touch the door!

    • by Lectoid ( 891115 )
      I had the good fortune of working in an arcade fixing machines that had this game. Probably the only pinball game I ever got in to. I used to take the glass top off to "clean and test" it. Once I remember putting something under the flippers to catch a ball I missed so I could progress through the game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stokessd ( 89903 )

      I played Addams Family in grad school. The Student Union had it, and before that, they had Funhouse. Man did I drain a lot of quarters in that thing. A few years ago, I bought my own Addams Family, and while it's fun, it doesn't have the "magic" of going to the union and spending money I shouldn't have wasted.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheHawke ( 237817 )

      Shades of Raul Julia: "FIIFTY MILLLION!!" And there was great rejoicing (while the ball went down the drain).

      Tilting: "Heh heh heh, you're a funny guy!"

      That thing sucked more quarters out of my pocket in one day compared to when Gauntlet hit the streets.

      I don't think Cousin Itt is ever going to like me; I used him as target practice every time he came up.

    • After almost 20 years of playing Addams Family I FINALLY completed every room in the house just recently. Let me tell you....all hell breaks loose!
  • slow news day?
    • Not at All (Score:4, Funny)

      by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @08:16AM (#33262320) Homepage Journal

      Stuff that Matters :-)

    • The news is OK, IMO, but the reporting is terrible: no pictures, no article, just the results tables. I was actually hoping to see a video of some awesome moves and the pictures from the event to get the feeling of it, but.. well, keep googling...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Cylix ( 55374 ) *


        You totally missed the flying double jump kick to the right bumper. He later followed up with a round house flying dragon fist to the left bumper.

        Though nothing beats the final move that helped the winner beat the loser by 200 million points.....

        He performed the triple lindy to simultaneously trigger both bumpers in multi-ball mode. Without such a devastating move he wold never have been able to become champion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Why Idle? Winning the World Pinball Championship sounds extremely nerdy to me, seems to fit in with what /. is meant to be. While the article isn't anything special, I think the news fits in well.
    • by MRe_nl ( 306212 )

      News for Nerds.

      Pinball Alleys -> Video Game Arcades -> Bulletin Boards -> The Internet -> Slashdot.

      Now get off my lawn.

      • Pinball Alleys -> Watching service engineer -> Understanding relays and solenoids -> Understandingg tubes -> Understanding transistors and ICs -> Becoming electronic engineer -> Discovering embedded systems -> Learning Unix -> Becoming system architect.

        For many of my generation, the pinball was the first electronic machine you could interact with, before even programmable calculators, and a lot more interesting than BASIC on green and white alternate line paper. Understanding how it

  • There's got to be a twist!
  • by Yuioup ( 452151 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @08:39AM (#33262434)

    Are there any pictures or videos of the event?


  • elsewhere, in the world of anachronistic sports ...

    1. Gertrude, "the Beast", Rosensplinter wins 2010 Grosvenor championship.

    2. Punjabi Cricket referee sanctioned for under-regulation sock length.

    3. Bull-baiting champion Clive Rosenrochflockensberger retires after 15 years. Recalls many fine seasons at Hockley-in-the-Hole. Disparages Tutbury.

  • Did he get a crown?
  • In my opinion, the best pinball game ever was Black Knight 2000. []
    • by fl!ptop ( 902193 )

      One of my favorites of all time was Gorgar. [] Other of my favorites over the years include:

      Comet []

      Superman []

      And of course, the multiball classic High Speed. []

      • I remember playing Gorgar. It's on eBay right now for $850. Other notable pinball machines I remember playing are Caveman (a pinball/video game hybrid, it had a joystick on the front between the bumpers), and also Pinbot & 8-Ball Deluxe.
        • by fl!ptop ( 902193 )

          also Pinbot & 8-Ball Deluxe

          I totally forgot about Pinbot, that was a pretty good one. I liked 8-Ball Deluxe too, but was annoyed that the guy on the score background looked like the blacksmith on the farm I worked on. "Shoot for......8-ball.....Go for.....Deluxe!" Them was the days!

    • Not sure if could list a favorite... too many to choose from. I'll always remember White Water and Medieval Madness, as they were probably the hardest games to "complete" (meaning that after 6 months or so of playing, I finally achieved the final super jackpot thingy after completing all the other mini-games).

      I find the best formula for a pinball game involves :

      - A good story / event actions that make you laugh (Addams Family, Medieval Madness, Fish Tales)
      - A "final event" that's difficult to achie
      • By your list I'd opt for Xenon. No pin has ever looked as hot and the final event is a geek's ultimate wet dream. Flippers and tilt were great as it was a Bally game.

        In Williams country I'd nominate ST:TNG for its numerous stories, great final event, acceptable video mode, exciting warp factor progression and those insanely great launchers.

        Down Gottlieb way I'd vote for Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the digital category, and Spin Out in the Best Value when you only have one Quarter at the Ar
    • by nolife ( 233813 )

      Mine is Time Machine from Data East. A close second was Funhouse, Black Knight, T2, or Rollergames. I guess I liked just about all of them except for one machine circa mid 80's which had a wavy no flat glass play field, a magnetic hole, and a lot of proximity sensors but I don't remember the name.

    • by sho-gun ( 2440 )

      The original Black Knight was IMHO better. It was far more challenging and was around the time when
      Williams used some cool-ass sounds. Of course that was back in the heyday where the arcade operators
      were pinball fans and kept the tables in top shape.

      The first High Speed ranks up at the top as well. Other Williams honorable mentions: PinBot, Adams Family,
      Twighlight Zone. F14 was cool (I wonder how many flippers operators went thru with those extra strong kickbacks)
      but way too easy in most arcades.

      Bally favor

  • I know mentioning Episode 1 may get me tagged as flamebait - but that was a seriously fun pinball game.

    But I think the best game ever had to be the Twilight Zone. It freaks me out just thinking about getting the "POWERBALL!".

    The fact that they included the Addams Family as one of the games in this contest definitely makes it legitimate IMHO!

    • Revenge From Mars is much better!

    • Twilight Zone was excellent. I miss that machine. My local bowling alley (with attached arcade) had one I'd visit once a week, and suddenly one Saturday it was gone and replaced with Terminator: Judgement Day.
      • by Cylix ( 55374 ) *

        To which that annoying machine would randomly spout out, "It's judgment day."There must have been some deal because nearly the exact same thing happened in my local cinema. On the far side of the theater was Adam's Family, but it tended to be offline a good deal. At least with judgment day it had a mini-game which would give you a chance for one last free ball. For those of us who were never quite that skilled it was a very welcome reprieve. I do remember the balls in that game had a tendency to fall down t

        • I used to play that game on a ferry ride and when it was time to get off an hour later I had at least several free games left... waiting for the next lucky person. I'm guessing whatever settings were on that thing were set to "way too easy" mode, or that it was just an easy game all around.

          • Yeah, I'm still pretty terrible. My only high score entries on a public machine came on that Terminator: Judgement Day machine.
  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @09:42AM (#33262872) Journal

    I can't believe this got posted on Slashdot, and am thrilled that it was. Such a great, great event. If you like pinball in the slightest, you need to head to Pittsburgh next year for PAPA 14. The tournament is the emphasis, but the PAPA facility is huge and filled wall to wall with one of the largest and most amazing collections of pinball machines in the world. Everything from "bingos" to the newest pinball machines. You don't need to play in the tournament to enjoy this event, though it's even better if you do play in it. Also you can pick up essential skills just by watching the top tier players, and this year there were 3 HD video cameras that made it possible to actually see them play. Hopefully next year more cameras will be put in place so that all the games can be watched, or perhaps just more HD cameras, with the facility able to switch which are shown on the big screens. That would make it possible to keep the action showing on the screens during the finals without needing to fork out for more TVs.

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @09:58AM (#33262984)

    It's to bad most games on site are beaten to death and they don't get fixed as well.

    At least a few places like game works try to keep them working and they even get new test games as well.

    • Fixing pinball machines is expensive...

      • by splutty ( 43475 )

        Actually. Fixing pinball machines in itself isn't all that expensive. Some of the more exotic parts might set you back a bit if you don't have your own metal shop, but mostly it's just very time intensive.

        Now fiddly bits like the lights you have to change, for which you have to basically take half the machine apart are horrible. The later designs thankfully are a bit more maintenance aware in that you only have to take about a quarter of the machine apart :)

        Where the real cost comes in is if you want to res

        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          Why don't they make "hobbyist" machines, like Arduinos and bread boards but for pinball machines?

          Why should there even be "exotic parts"? Surely in all of mankind's engineering prowess we can figure out how to build a pinball machine with common, pre-machined parts.

          • by DZign ( 200479 )

            A lot of people are working on their own custom machines - some just change the artwork and layout of a playfield, some make everything including the whole hardware and software from scratch.
            On my site [] I have an overview of custom pinball machines.

      • I have an Addams Family machine and it isn't too bad. I had to pay someone to take a look at it when we first got it because it was reseting (turned out just to be a harness problem) but lots of the typical repairs require no more than maybe some pliers or a soldering iron. I'm pretty sure that many machines in arcades could be fixed pretty easily but the arcade owners are too lazy or won't take the few minutes to figure out what needs to be done. Parts aren't even that expensive. A whole flipper kit is
    • by keytoe ( 91531 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:37PM (#33269272) Homepage

      It's to bad most games on site are beaten to death and they don't get fixed as well.

      I never really understood pinball or enjoyed it much up until a few years ago. In my mind, the premise of pinball was to bang the ball around, cross your fingers and hope it didn't go down the drain. Repeat for three balls, insert more coins.

      Then, a few year ago I had a friend who worked at a bar where the manager was into pinball. This manager made sure that there were always a couple of well maintained pinball cabinets with good gameplay. The staff would finish a night shift and play pinball until dawn on many occasions, which hooked my friend.

      He in turn explained to me that there was actually strategy to these things. You didn't just bang the ball around - you made sequences of shots to advance a game. You calculated your shots. You aimed. There was a process to gaining a multiball - and more importantly, there were times when triggering the multiball was much more advantageous in terms of your score.

      Once enlightened, I was hooked. At one point, I used to be able to plop two bucks into The Lord of the Rings for the 5 credits and play for a couple of hours off the replays. Regrettably, that manager moved on and the cabinets fell into disrepair. Nothing kills a good game of pinball quite like a dead switch making it impossible to advance the story. I quit playing there, and they lost my beer money. There are currently zero places in town now where I can get a quality round of pinball.

      This is the tragedy of pinball as I see it. The money required to manufacture and maintain these things is so large compared to the income derived that it's not surprising, to be honest. Even worse, your target market actually becomes less profitable as they improve and earn free games. Basically, you're hoping to capture the 'bang the ball around' crowd as your primary income source - which runs counter to making good, deep games.

      My long term goal is to buy a cabinet for myself. I'm actually looking forward to the maintenance as a hobby!

      • I tryed to play LOTR games with bad / poor flipper buttons / flippers and that just kills the game a few years ago I was in reno NV and there 3 of them all with bad flippers one place did have a roller games that I think was working good for it's age. The VP + VPM ver is not as good the real game but it's better then the beat down game on site.

        LOTR is a real good game.

        • by keytoe ( 91531 )

          I tryed to play LOTR games with bad / poor flipper buttons / flippers and that just kills the game a few years ago I was in reno NV and there 3 of them all with bad flippers one place did have a roller games that I think was working good for it's age. The VP + VPM ver is not as good the real game but it's better then the beat down game on site.

          It's a great game - chock full of complicated bits that can go wrong, and when any of the bits go wrong, it's a terrible game :)

  • I've been working with a guy called Brian Dominy (last time I checked he was 132rd on the wppr) who has designed and created an open source operating system that runs on the original WPC hardware found in pinball tables: [] You can use it to change the rulesets and animations for WPC games, I have to admit it's been great fun working on the project and I'd encourage others to do so as well.
  • He will have his cool set up that places video cameras over the playfield so you can watch the amazing action. October 1-3, Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, CA. [].
  • Just curious if anyone here that attended knew about the tilt settings for these games. There doesn't appear to be anything in the rules or contest information. I find that a critical part of the enjoyment and challenge of a pinball game is being allowed to wiggle the machine a bit to save that ball if necessary, at the risk of losing your turn if you shake the machine around too much. Ultra-sensitive tilt is no fun, but If the tilt detector is non-existent there's no challenge either as you could almost
    • I have never played in a tournament but my understanding is that the tilt is set to be very, very sensitive. A tilt setting that a "normal" player considers to be just loose enough to be fun is too easy for the truly good players. I have seen videos of players nudging a game in such a way that the ball works its way back up out of a side drain... You don't want that in a tournament, you'd be there forever.

  • When will the "World" Championship be outside of the US?
  • So he won the World Championship, but the important question is, can he make the Android live?

  • I skimmed the headlines earlier, and I swear I saw paintball world championship. Yeah, I guess pinball makes more sense.
  • Surprised this didn't get coverage []

  • Being an avid pinball player I was pleased to see this make it onto /. I thought I would post some other great pinball events in California.

    Already occured (but will happen again next year)
    Pin A Go Go [] May 14-16 Dixon California
    California Extreme [] July 17-18 2010 Santa Clara California

    Pacific Pinball Expo [] Oct 1-3 2010

    All of them are great shows and we're lucky here in northern California to have 3 great

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"