Sunday, July 24, 2011

Custom Re-themed Pinball Machines

(click on image to view larger)

A few weeks ago, my friend Liz Prince sent me a link to a blog post about this awesome custom-made Akira pinball machine.  In the image above on the left, you can see an image of the original playfield, which was a 1980 Buck Rogers machine.  Then, some very talented artist (I tried to follow the links but couldn't find the original source for this image - Tumblr - UGH!  If you know who did this, let me know and I'll put up a link) re-themed the playfield art for the anime Akira.

This is SO tastefully done!  Most of the scoring stuff is still the same, it's just that the characters and backgrounds have been replaced.  Jon and I saw a few re-themed machines at the Pinball Wizard Arcade that were based on Boston-area sports teams (the Red Sox, the Celtics).

I think this is such a cool idea, especially for old machines, where there was no sound yet, and all the targets just award points.  This is on my list of "someday" projects.  It would basically allow you to have a custom pinball machine about whatever you want.  Talk about a dream machine!  Does anybody know of any other custom re-themed pins?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pinball Videos Galore!

The Crazy Flipper Finger gang just posted their first "PAPA Style" tournament video over on their blog.  This is pretty exciting!  I love watching these videos, not only because it's great to watch competitive pinball in action, but also because it teaches me a lot about the game that the players are competing on.

Also, if you haven't seen one yet, starting with the new Stern Batman game, PAPA's video tutorials are now in widescreen format, with multiple view points (birds eye, flipper view, dot matrix).  They are best viewed in full screen mode with HD on.  Check them out!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Well people, TODAY I FINALLY BEAT MEDIEVAL MADNESS!!!  It was, without a doubt, the craziest game of pinball I have ever played.  Below you can read all the details...

For most of this summer, my schedule has been thus: From 9am - 1pm I work on Basewood, then I go home, eat lunch and answer emails, and then at 2pm I go play pinball for about 30 minutes (or an hour if I have a good game!).  Today I was puttering around the house for a bit in the morning, so I didn't get to the studio until 10am.  I worked until noon, and then on a whim decided to play pinball BEFORE my lunch, instead of after.  Oh what a difference a few hours made!

I booted up the machine and put three credits on it.  On my first game I got 122 million, lighting all of the blue lights except for Castle Crusher - I died with just a few gate hits left to complete.  A few weeks ago when I was doing some circuit board repair work on the machine, most of the high scores were reset (all except for my Grand Champ score of 215 million) so this was the new #2 score.  Usually if I have a good game, I stop playing, because I usually can't top it.  But it was my FIRST game, so I decided to play another.  Little did I know it was going to be the game of my LIFE!

Ball 1 lasted FOREVER.  When it was over I had a 42x bonus that cashed in at something like 25 million points, which left my score at 96 million.  On that ball I had the best castle multiball I've ever had - completing all five ramp shots AND the super jackpot with all three balls still in play.  I hit all of the subsequent jackpot shots except for the left joust by the time it was over.  With that extra ball I got into my first Royal Madness, which I screwed up pretty quickly.  Little did I know it would be the first of FOUR Royal Madness rounds for this game.

I kept making shots and kept going for the castle gate.  I got video mode and successfully killed enough vultures to get the extra ball, and soon thereafter I lit Royal Madness again - this time I cleaned up.  Every time I hit a shot, the corresponding blue light came on.  I completed all the shots (for ANOTHER extra ball) and by the end of it, all the blue lights were on except for Castle Crusher.

I only had the King of Payne's castle left to destroy, so I built up the SECOND Castle Multiball, and then when I started it, I used all three balls to attack the gate, which worked great.  I didn't win the round, but I did blow up the last castle.  When the multiball was over, I was all set for Battle for the Kingdom.  I sank the center shot and the final mode started up.

Now, I have made it to Battle for the Kingdom half a dozen times at this point.  The first two or three times I had no idea what was going on, and I was so terrified I would lose immediately.  The last couple of times though, I figured out what I needed to do.  So when the four balls started launching, I immediately set to work hitting shots.  I was on FIRE.  I cleared all of the jackpots in short order (because I KNEW there was a timer running this time!)  All I had left was the left joust.  I hit that (STILL with THREE balls in play!) and then the two trolls shot up and all the blue lights started strobing.

I have died here at least three times, but THIS time I had saved some troll bombs.  BLAM!  BLAM!  Those suckers were gone, and I still had three balls and plenty of time to get my six gate shots.  The multiball attack worked wonders and I got my shots with plenty of time to spare.  The gate opened and I hit the final center shot.

Suddenly, the flippers went dead and thunk thunk thunk my three balls drained.  I was like, "HUH?!" and then the King of Payne started screaming, and I was awarded FIFTY MILLION POINTS.  There was a cool animation with all of the peasants celebrating the King's downfall, I managed to snap a shot of it with my cell phone:

Then the game entered some sort of crazy victory lap mode, where all the jackpots were lit and each one gave me some ungodly amount of points (5 million?)  I only hit three of them before the ball drained.  At this point my score was something like 275 million, SHATTERING my previous high score.

But the game was not over!  I still had an extra ball, and was miraculously, somehow still only on Ball 2.  I went back to work.  I got the extra ball for blowing up the "second" castle (though it was really the EIGHTH), and another for completing my 10th hurry up, which somehow I had not done up to that point.  I lit Royal Madness again, had another Castle Multiball, had another video mode and then lit Royal Madness AGAIN.  At the very end of the game I realized that I only needed one more catapult item to start barnyard multiball.  I started that (which was CRAZY) just before my last ball finally drained.  When the dust settled, my final score was 377,204,710 points.  Which means that even AFTER I had beaten the game, I put up another 100+ million points!?!

Not only did I set the new Grand Champ score, I got the first King of the Realm ever entered into the machine, and records for 11 Castles, 7 Jousts, 7 Catapults, 7 Peasants and 7 Damsels.  I suspect it will be some time before I touch those records again!  I've never beaten a pinball machine before - this is the first time.  It is a pretty amazing feeling.  I've now seen everything this machine can do, but you can always get a higher score, right?  Well, here's to trying!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More pinball finds from the Quechee Antique Mall!

My old comics pal Liz Prince is in town for a few days, so Claire and I took her up to the Quechee Antique  Mall to look around.  Once again I found some pretty cool pinball stuff for sale!

First I spotted two bagatelle-type games, where you send a marble up a simple playfield with pins and wires and little indentations which redirect or capture the ball.  First was "Kick-Back" and the second was "Trik-E-Shot."  Both had really great looking designs:

Next up was a Smoky backbox, inexplicably detached from the rest of the machine.  It would have been cool to see the whole thing.  I think this was going for like $200?

Lastly was an Atomic Pinball, which was recently reviewed by Classic Game Room (that's a link to a video where you can see this tiny pinball machine in action)

I didn't buy any of these items, but it was just cool seeing them mixed in with all the other artifacts.  It seems like there is a pinball collector in this area, who keeps putting items from their collection up for sale.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Yesterday I visited my sister in Worcester, MA.  On the way back, I got to go to the Pinball Wizard Arcade in Pelham, NH.  We've already written here and here about how much we here at Drop Target HQ love the Pinball Wizard Arcade.  Owner Sarah St. John runs a tight ship, and all the machines were in perfect order.  There were a couple of new machines, including Hook (Data East), Riverboat Gambler (Williams), and TRON!!!!! (Stern).

I was told that the machine had gotten there a day earlier; it was in perfect working order!  This will probably the closest to "out-of-box" that I'll ever get to playing a game.  Here are a couple of my quick reflections on the game.

The shots felt real smooth and satisfying.  I didn't have a problem figuring out the timing and position on a lot of the shots except one.  In the center rear of the playfield there was a gate with targets that protected a spinning light disc that you need to hit to start multiball.  For the life of me, I could not hit the shot from the right flipper.  I know that there are tons of shots on almost EVERY pinball game that can only be hit from one flipper, but since the disc is pretty centrally located, I kept on trying to hit it from the right.  Take all this with a grain of salt.  I'm NOT the best player, an might just have been eff-ing it up.

I loved the music and the color scheme.  The sound effects were really great.  I could tell the video effects on the dot matrix screen were really good, but my eyes were glued to the game, so I didn't get a good look.  I had a great time playing the game.

The only other thing that I didn't 100% love about the game was that more than once I had NO idea what the game wanted my to shoot at.  I started a couple multiballs without knowing it.

Again, I'm not the best player in the world, and I only got to play 2 games.  The game was, understandably, really popular.  I really hope that I get the chance to play it again soon so I can get a better impression on what the deeper gameplay is like.

Friday, July 1, 2011

NY Times Covers the National Pinball Museum!

My buddy Pat Barrett sent me this NY Times article today all about The National Pinball Museum and its recent woes.  It sounds like an amazing place.  Hopefully I'll get to visit it in a new venue this Fall, when I head to D.C. for the Small Press Expo or maybe it will still be in its current location.