Quarterworld is an arcade in southeast Portland that I mentioned in a previous post about Portland Pinball Map. Per Quarterworld's website: "QuarterWorld is a retro arcade museum, pinball arcade, and bar serving pizza, bao buns, and carnival inspired delights. With over 34 different pinball games and 63 classic and new arcade games there is something for everyone! Split up into 2 sides, Q Lab and Q Lounge, you can bring the whole family to have fun. We have a full bar and allow minors and adults in the same area. The establishment is clean and comfortable with nice lighting. There is Tap Tv Trivia on multiple screens to entertain the brain that can be played from any smartphone. Games take actual quarters, dollar bills and credit cards using our Pay-range app. We have a photo booth, new games and restored old school games."
Quarterworld actually has been around since 1996, when they started as a regional game supplier for bars and restaurants. They opened their arcade a little over a year ago in the old Alahambra Theater. Slotting in alongside nearby institutions like Zach’s Shack and East Side Deli, Quarterworld seems to be aiming to carve a Coney Island-esque area out of Hawthorne's famed Barmuda Triangle. Quarterworld's owners have decided to preserve the theater’s old stage area, where shows and events are hosted. Quarterworld also features Tessie, an 8-foot-tall solid-state Tesla coil with dual breakout rods tuned to emit 90-decibel tones in time with jagged bolts of electricity. "Tessie" ranks among the largest of its kind anywhere in the United States - and appears to be the only singing Tesla coil expressly built for permanent residency in a video game hall. The sound resembles an 8 bit video game interpretation of popular songs. I was unable to hear Tessie sing...since performances are only on Tuesdays and Sundays, and Quarterworld was closed on Tuesday for the 4th of July, I ended up going on a Wednesday when there was no show. That means I will need to make a return trip in the future!
Parking was a pain in the ass. I circled around the nearby neighborhoods and finally found a spot in the street in front of a nice home. Sorry, Mr. Homeowner! It was only a couple minutes walk from there to the entrance of Quarterworld. The movie theater marquee still displays prominently up front (see photo to right). Entering through the doors reveals a long hallway lined with classic arcade machines, and the old theater ticket booth is where you now pay for entry. I hit the place during happy hour, which means the entry fee was only $3. You are gifted with a bracelet that allows for re-entry if you leave the premises. I walked past the arcade machines, and discovered that the first open doorway, to the right is the Q-Lab, which holds several pinball machines around the outer walls and arcade machines in the middle. Tessie, in her Faraday cage, and also a performance stage, were on the opposite end of the room, while a bar with a TV was at the far left. Only a couple of pinball machines were in use, so I turned to my immediate left to begin playing. Prices on the machines range from $.50 - $1, with newer machines costing more, although there were a couple of exceptions. There is a Pay-range app you can get for your phone that allows paying electronically, but I preferred to use quarters for my game play. As in my previous journeys, what follows are "quick hits", or my impressions that are formed during limited play, with games I have never played before in red and those I have previously played being green.
The new Sterns sure are colorful and pretty to look at. I'm not sure I agree with the decision to use Dirty Donnie's artwork on this one...although the cartoonish caricatures are amusing, it gives the game a childish look. After a couple of plays I found myself losing interest. If I understood the rules and could hear the music better, I'm sure it would be more fun. However, I was really annoyed by the brutal side drains - every ball I lost drained down the side. My initial impression was not favorable, although I would need more plays on it and as I said before, a greater understanding of the rules, to help me form a better opinion.
Bally Game Show
Game Show is okay, I don't mind a game or two on it, but it doesn't hold my interest much longer than that. There's way too much cheese, the callouts get old, and there's not a whole heck of a lot to do. It does look nice with LEDs in it.
My first time playing a Congo! This was one of the machines I was really looking forward to playing when I planned the trip. There are lots of cool toys and ramps on the playfield - I loved the volcano - and a very forgiving ball save feature made this game fun to play, even though I didn't know what to shoot for. In fact, I won 2 extra games and 3 extra balls, so it really provided a lot of bang for the buck. The only feature I didn't like, and found myself surprised by this, was the gorilla under the playfield...I felt like this feature wasn't utilized well. I actually preferred the Creature From the Black Lagoon's hologram or MikePinballD's mod (which use the same window in the playfield) much better, which is the reverse of my previous position. I really enjoyed this game.
The Walking Dead
I thought this game was good but not great. Theme-wise, it's kind of gross. I remember bashing the big, bloated zombie toy and the church doors, but not too much more, which tells me it wasn't a very memorable experience.
Indiana Jones (Stern)
I played about 3 or 4 games to try to get to Ark multiball like I did at the Pinball Museum in Las Vegas, but I had no success. What a bummer. I still like the game but not as much as I did before.
Why oh why did I play this game? I played it hundreds of times in my youth, and it showed as I won free game after free game after free game. I finally walked away after 6 free games, leaving a credit on the machine, because I wanted to play some other games!
The Simpsons Pinball Party
I didn't do so well on my only play, so I decided to move on to some other machines. Besides, I've played this game a lot in the past.
Revenge from Mars
The was the first of three highlights of my trip. I had previously been critical of Pinball 2000 mostly due to my experiences with Star Wars Episode 1. I may have played Revenge From Mars in the past, but if I did I don't really remember it and formed a bad opinion, so I'm counting this as my first play. Well I'd like to retract my previous statements bashing Pinball 2000 because Revenge From Mars WAS A BLAST! I managed to complete Saucer Mode and Martian Attack, which earned me Martian Multiball and Saucer Multiball. In Saucer Multiball I moved on to Mothership Multiball, which freaked me out because during the start of the mode the flippers went dead and all of the balls drained. "What did I do wrong?!" I wondered, until Mothership Multiball started. After the game ended, I thought I must have done well, because I had high score #1 at 189 million, and missed grand champion by a measly 9 million. Although I only played that single game and did not go back for the rest of the day, it had changed my opinion of Pinball 2000 completely...well, almost...I think SWE1 still sucks. Revenge From Mars, however, is a great game! I entered my initials as BLG, because I recently changed my last name and I'm not BLT anymore.
|That's me, BLG|
Leaving the Q-Lab, I headed out into the hallway and down to the open door on the left side where the hallway ended. Through this door is the Q-Lounge, with the bar itself to the left, a giant TV screen straight ahead with a row of pinball machines directly underneath it, large blacklight tapestries on the walls, and more arcade machines. In what would become a constant issue in this room, the noise level made it almost impossible to hear the games.
This was my first time playing a Black Rose and I was not disappointed. It's a beautiful machine with a great pirate theme, cool ramps and an awesome cannon shot up the middle. I couldn't hear it very well, which was a shame. I've heard parts are hard to find for this one but the game offers a lot of bang for the buck. It was fun, but probably even more fun if you know the rules. I like Pirates of the Caribbean a little better for the pirate theme, but I think this one makes it a close call.
Rob Zombie's Spook Show
I really, really liked this game, and it became the second highlight of the trip. I had no idea what to shoot for so I just blasted away and did really well. Unfortunately a ball was lost during multiball and the software didn't handle this well...every ball that drained after that prompted a ball search. When the game didn't find the missing ball, it popped one into the shooter lane and the game continued. This lasted for about 10 minutes until I realized that the game was never going to end. I let a tech know and he put the game down. But despite the flaw, I thought the game was awesome: great graphics and sound, cool toys and multiball action. I especially like the way the colors changed in the backglass during the game - or maybe I just imagined that.
Game of Thrones
I really liked Game of Thrones, a lot more than some other recent Stern releases like The Walking Dead and Aerosmith. The dragon shot that rockets the ball back at you (like the shot in F-14) was awesome. I did earn multiball and won 2 free games and walked away impressed. It doesn't hurt that I am a big fan of the show. The Starks and Lannisters on the backglass are a little uninspired, and the cabinet would have benefited greatly from an LED screen showing clips from the show instead of a static blackglass, similar to The Hobbit's approach. I'd really like to get more plays on it in the future.
Guns N' Roses
This version felt a little more clunky than the one I played at the Las Vegas PHOF, and I think there was a loose ramp or gate that affected ball movement. I also couldn't hear it very well. I won a free game but it was not as fun of an experience this time around.
Like Guns N' Roses, I could not hear the music at all, and I think takes some of the enjoyment away. I love the big bomber toy in the playfield, it's really cool.
I played this game a ton in the 90s in bars and pizza parlors after it was released, and for awhile it was my third favorite game behind White Water and Twilight Zone and just ahead of Attack From Mars. But after many games back then, I felt it was too shallow and repetitive. Would that impression change here, years later? Although I did not post a high score, I won 6 free games and I was on the machine for close to 40 minutes. By the last game I was more than ready to move on, with my previous feeling about it confirmed. And with the game hard to hear, that certainly reduces the fun factor because the callouts are so funny. For some reason, it was the only game I forgot to snap a photo of.
I returned to the Q-Lab, which was now a bit more crowded, to play some machines I hadn't gotten to yet.
The X Files
When I walked up to the machine, there were 10 credits on it. When I left the machine, after about 6 games, it had 8 left. Free games were way too easy to obtain. I liked the playfield layout and the way the file cabinet would rise up from the playfield and capture balls for multiball. I was never a fan of the show, but if this game was a little more challenging it would be a lot more fun.Still, it was better than I expected.
This game wasn't bad at all. With an understanding of the rules, I would probably really like it. The Hulk toy is a great feature. I need more plays on it for a better opinion.
This game is taking a lot of heat on Pinside, and I think much of that is due to the price point. I absolutely loved this game and it became the third highlight of the trip. I'm not really a fan of the goofy TV show - I remember watching it as a kid - but the theme is so well done here. The crane toy was a blast, and I loved the batphone, mini LCD on the TV in the playfield, and the LCD screen under the backglass instead of a DMD. The color and lighting is absolutely beautiful, right up there with Ghostbusters. I even like the the topper. Like all machines that I play for the first time, I couldn't figure out what to shoot for, but I had some great games and enjoyed it immensely. I don't think I'd ever own it due to theme, but I wouldn't have any trouble playing it on route or in someone else's collection, and look forward to playing it again at some point0.
I had never played this before and wasn't impressed. I think there was something mechanically wrong with it but I don't think that was the sole contributing factor to my issues with it. True to a Nordman game, it had a lot of ramps, but it just felt like something was missing (perhaps the theme itself is uninspiring). However I'll keep an open mind and play one again and the next opportunity. For now I can check another game off of my bucket list.
I played this a lot in the 80s and 90s and gave it a spin for old times' sake. It's pinball, so it's fun, it just feels really dated and clunky compared to other machines. Between this, Bride of Pinbot, and Jackbot, Jackbot is definitely my favorite of the series.
Theatre of Magic
I was surprised to see this was $1 to play despite its age, putting it on par with new releases like Batman '66 and Aerosmith. The card says $.75, but it said $1 on the coin door. The price is totally unjustified and seems like gouging based on the tables ratings position on Pinside and IPDB, which are unfathomably high on both of those sites. I will admit I liked playing it here much more than I did at other venues and had a fun game, but I still didn't feel like it was worth $1 per play.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
I played a couple of games on this but I just couldn't get anything going. This has to be one of the most frustrating machines when I play, as I go back and forth between good and bad games. It's so beautiful, though, and I just love that theme.
Ghostbusters was being played frequently the entire time I was at Quarterworld. When it became available I jumped on it. It looked as good as I remembered it from my previous play at the Seattle Pinball Museum, but I was instantly reminded of my dislike for the wide gap between the flippers. After one game that was over pretty quick I decided to move on since it was getting late and my supply of quarters was by now considerably lighter.
Lord of the Rings
I had a bad game and moved on.
This game is really terrible and greatly suffers from the lack of a ball save, which was apparent when my plunge shot drained straight down the middle. I played one game that was probably over more quickly than any other game that night. Yuck, moving on!
I played this again even though I don't like the theme. I still don't like the gameplay, but love the playfield, which is like a small diorama similar to White Water. So it was one and done.
About this time I stopped to have a hard cider and Bae Mihn pulled pork sandwich because I was really hungry and thirsty. The cider was pretty good, but the sandwich was outstanding, bursting with what seemed like 100 different flavors. Man it was good!
I played one game, did terrible (never even got to the Ringmaster).
After sensing a pattern of terrible games, I figured I was getting tired. I decided to head out. When I got out on the street a noticed a small bar next store called . I stuck my head in and noticed two "overflow" pinball machines from Quarterworld were in the back. I walked back to see what they were and got sucked in.
This is not an interesting theme to me, but I still enjoyed it. I do not understand the talking fish but maybe it's in the TV show? It was moderately fun and since I won an extra game I was able to give it an extended look. Not bad.
Attack From Mars Remake
Attack From Mars is one of my favorite games of all time and the remake did not disappoint. It felt very heavy and solid, similar in feel to The Hobbit, and the lighting was spectacular. I played about 3 games (one of them being a free game) and loved every minute of it. The shaker motor was a nice addition. I wish I could afford to add this to the collection but it just is not a possibility. Still one of my favorites for sure, and I was very impressed with the quality of the remake.
Lots of games to choose from
Little to no leveling & maintenance issues
Prices are mostly pretty reasonable
A few hard-to-find games and new releases
More games in nearby bars
Great hours - open 7 days a week and until 1 AM for adults over 21
Tessie performances only 2 days a week
Hard to hear games in the Q-Lounge
Finding parking is a challenge
Quarterworld is a great place for pinheads to visit, with a variety of new and old games, most in excellent condition and with no leveling issues that I experienced at other venues. The food and drink was awesome, the temperature is well controlled, the lighting is perfect, and the prices are reasonable. I'm disappointed that I missed Tessie but that gives me another reason to go back in the near future.
Hours played: 5
Credits played: 54
Drinks consumed: 1
Total Cost: $38 (including entry fee and food and drink)