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Welcome to Pinball Intrigue, where I indulge my fascination with the silver ball. Here you will find posts regarding my pinball experiences, pinball machine repairs and mods, a virtual pinball build, and links to other pinball sites.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 2016 Update

Due to some personal issues, I was forced to take a long hiatus from not only the blog but also pinball in general. I had to pack up my machines and move them twice, and haven't played them in well over a year, but hopefully that will change soon. None are set up to play at this time, as I'm lacking the space, but I'm hoping by October to have, at a minimum, Scared Stiff and Popeye up and running in a permanent location.

In the time that I've been on hiatus, my two favorite pinball blogs, Credit Dot and Pavlov Pinball, seemed to have also flatlined. I thought I'd better get a post going in support of pinball blogging and to try to get my posting momentum built up again.

White Water Restoration

I bought a restored upper playfield. This will give me a chance to practice my own restoration skills on the old upper playfield without the fear that a fatal mistake will ruin it. The entire machine has been moved into an area where I can access it and work on it more readily, avoiding the "out of sight, out of mind" status.

Creature From the Black Lagoon
I have not started the speaker panel mod yet, as there are too many problems with this machine and I want to finish White Water first. I was able to get the Snackbar lighted mod that I mentioned in a previous post.

Steampunk Virtual Pinball Machine
I'm actually going backwards with this project. My home PC tried to die and I was forced to cannibalize parts from the Virtual Pinball Machine to replace it. To make matters worse, the SSD died, which had all my tables, setup files, Hyperspin, and more stored on it. I have all the tables backed up, but it's still a pain, and I'm not happy with the short lifespan of the SSD, I will definitely steer towards a more reliable model. For now, this project is dead until I can replace the computer parts, which will probably not happen until later this year.

Return to the Pinball Hall of Fame
Last Labor Day weekend I had the pleasure of returning to Las Vegas to see my friend Alan and make another trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame. This time I dragged along my friend Kelly as well. If you recall from my earlier post, I had hooked Alan on pinball, and he had considered buying a machine. Little did I know just how much the pinball bug would bite him...he is now the proud owner of Scared Stiff, Elvira and the Party Monsters, and a 1978 Bally Playboy. On this occasion we only spent half a day at the PHoF instead of a whole day, and I was happy to find a large selection of Gottlieb/Premier machines I had never played before - obviously the Museum rotates games on to the floor. We were bummed to find that the large head to head machine, Challenger, which we had enjoyed so much on the last visit, was nowhere to be found.

What follows are my standard "quick takes" on the games I played. As before, games I've played before are in green, and games I've never played before appear in red.

Bad Cats
An awful, annoying game that I passed my free game on to my friend Kelly. He soon tired of it as well. The less said about it, the better. I would not be kind.

Rocky and Bullwinkle
I loved this game! It had a great flow and there are a lot of things going on. Though I'm familiar with the title characters, I don't know all the other characters that much; however, that didn't affect my enjoyment of the game at all. And that animated backglass is so unique! I wouldn't mind owning it someday as the price is quite affordable.

Surf 'N Safari
This was the first Gottlieb machine I ran into that I hadn't played before and I'm glad to have had the chance to play it. However, it seemed more suited for kids, with the colorful theme and fairly simple gameplay. I moderately enjoyed it but I couldn't see it having any staying power in a collection.

Pool Sharks
I'm not a big fan of pool-themed machines and this was no different. It seems a bit "old-school" for its time, with no multiball and not many interesting features on the playfield, I was really bored with this one.

I really liked the artwork and layout of the game, especially the backglass which is gorgeous, but I was annoyed when my center ramps shots would get airborne and fly off the ramp, instead of rolling around the ramp and into the ball drop. It was okay but seems like another game that lacks staying power.

Freddy's Nightmare on Elm Street
I loved this game. To me this is the second-best late-era Gottlieb game behind Stargate. The artwork is awful - I can't stress this enough, it is really bad! - but the gameplay was a blast, with the plunger skill shot starting multiball on every ball. I laughed at the Freddie callouts and when his head puked up the ball on to the playfield, accompanied by a "bleah" puking sound. I never quite got the hang of the claw save, and the glove flipper is a cool idea except that it is too fragile to be of any real use. Also the game lacks ramps to shoot. For all those reasons I wouldn't own it, but I also wouldn't hesitate to play it again, as it had what I would consider a fun "party" factor - great to play at someone else's place without taking up a spot in your own collection. Alan agreed that it was probably the most entertaining machine of the day, and for the rest of the day the phrase "put another coin in!" was imitated by both of us in our best Freddy voice.

Tee'd Off
It's strange that I don't remember much about this game after playing it, other than it being a poor clone of No Good Gophers. The gopher in the dome as a topper was a bit strange. Since I don't have any thoughts about the game, I must not have been impressed.

Cue Ball Wizard
Despite not being a fan of pool-themed machines, I really enjoyed this one, with the giant cue ball in the middle. It was fun trying to smack that oversized white ball into targets, kind of like a giant captive ball. Definitely unique.

Mario Andretti
This is an okay game, but I don't like it nearly as much as Indy 500. It was pretty to look at but it seemed rather sparse, like there wasn't much to shoot at.

Haunted House
I was really pumped for this game, since I've seen and heard a lot about it, and I wasn't able to play during my previous trip to the museum. It is certainly a beautiful game (love that backglass!), but the play was so-so. The three playfields looked intriguing, but the lower playfield was actually not much fun and felt more gimmicky. The ball moved really slowly across the playfield, making the game really boring. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to play it but it ended up being anticlimactic and somewhat disappointing.

I actually enjoyed Waterworld more than I thought I would, earning multiball and a free game. The rotating ship that locks balls for multiball is a cool feature, and the jet ski and crane diverter are good toys. That playfield, though...it is ugly and cartoonish as heck. Still, I thought the game was fun. The ship dumping the multiballs on the playfield reminds me a little of the Ark in Stern's Indiana Jones.

Starship Troopers
This game was terrible and boring. It's also ugly and doesn't make good use of its toys. Yuck!

Dr. Dude
This is a Dennis Nordman design that I wanted to try on my last visit but it wasn't working. You can see elements that Nordman would incorporate in a similar fashion in White Water and Scared Stiff. I think the theme really holds this one back from being a good game - I can appreciate the "comic book" look when it is well-done like Judge Dredd, but this one was just a little too "kiddie" in style. This is the first Nordman game to disappoint me, but it laid the foundation for his other great titles so no big deal.

Flintstones (giant redemption pinball)
I saw this weird looking huge game at the end of the aisle and decided to give it a play. The flippers are giant clubs, which is appropriate because it has to smack around a plastic, oversized white ball. The overall affect was quite strange, as the ball didn't behave like a normal pinball, the club flippers were awkward, and the ball time was short. But it was kind of cool from a "you don't see that everyday" kind of standpoint - a truly unique experience for sure.

Wizard of Oz
I had to play it again. I did okay this time, but my game was still over all too soon, especially for the cost per play...

Star Trek
This was the premium version and looked gorgeous. It was also faster than hell but I did pretty well on it for only my second time playing it.

Cactus Canyon
I played this once before and since it is so rare I decided to give it another try. What I blast! I had an amazing game that was a lot of fun. I'd love to own the Cactus Canyon Continued version for sure, but the price makes that a pipe dream.

Tales of the Arabian Nights
I did terrible the last time I played, but this game was much better and restored my faith in the fun factor of the machine. This will always be on my wishlist as one of the best pinball games ever made.

I wanted to evaluate Stargate again as I have been seriously interested in acquiring one. I was not disappointed, what a blast to play and I love the Egyptian theme, I always liked the movie too despite the 80's cheese factor. This is one I will definitely acquire sooner rather than later.

Safe Cracker
The rare game reviews continue with another "crack" at Safecracker. Like my previous play on the machine, I was disappointed and think of it as more of a novelty than anything.

Pinball Circus
If you've read my previous trip to the museum, you know I really loved this game, so I just had to give it another play. I didn't do nearly as well as the last game, but I still love it. I've read that it's being re-manufactured, but the price is out of my league, which is really a bummer.

Fish Tales
I have played this a couple of times in the past and I really like it. I think Mark Ritchie is one of the most underrated designers in pinball. I left feeling like this game or Stargate is the next one that will be added to the collection.

Elvira and the Party Monsters
Okay, so this wasn't at the Museum but was instead played on Alan's home machine, which is in beautiful condition and has some mods and LEDs installed. I was eager to give it a try since I love Scared Stiff and I had played EATPM once before, but the machine I played on was so badly broken I don't really count it. Like Dr. Dude, I was struck by the similarity of certain elements to SS. I also noticed that the sound was terrible compared to SS, and it's funny how big of a difference the DMD (or lack of one) makes - I have become so accustomed to having one. I enjoyed the gameplay, although not as much as I had hoped. After a half dozen games on it I managed to get my name on the high score list. Alan was still giving me crap about my initials being up there!

 So that's all the news I have for now. it might be a couple of weeks before I have anything more to report, but I'll try to not be gone as long this time...