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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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Monday, August 15, 2016

Portland, Oregon: A Place For Pinheads

I've lived most of my life in the Portland area, and I've admitted that prior to my trip to Ground Kontrol in 2013, I hadn't stepped foot inside an arcade since the early 90's. After my trip to Ground Kontrol (and my return a year later), I had spotted a post on Pinside talking about the best places around Portland to play pinball. What I didn't realize was exactly how big Portland is regarding the pinball scene. So after doing some digging, what did I find out?

It's pretty freakin' huge.


PORTLAND PINBALL MAP

That moment of realization came when I finally decided to go to Pinballmap.com. I had heard about this site from Pinside, but although it has been around since 2009, I had never checked it out until recently. Per their website:

"PinballMap.com is a crowdsourced pinball locator, showing all the public pinball machines in select regions of North America. Pick a region to find pinball machines to play near you! Help keep your map up to date by adding and removing machines from locations, and by submitting new locations that aren't already listed."


So when I first pulled up the site, I wasn't sure what to expect. There was a list of regions, with each region reporting the number of locations that have pinball machines and also the total number of machines. As I looked through the list or regions, I was impressed by the number of locations and machines in some areas...the Bay Area was truly impressive with 257 locations and 602 machines, but it is a huge area, and traffic is crazy, making it tough to get from some places to others. It also includes the Pacific Pinball Museum with its 86 machines. Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Seattle also have an impressive number of machines, and Wisconsin has a ton of locations, but it's a listing for an entire state. But then I got to Portland, and my jaw dropped.


293 locations, 711 machines.

Wow.

Here are the top 5 regions for "number of locations" on PinballMap:
Wisconsin - 312
Portland - 293
Bay Area - 257
Chicago - 204
Los Angeles - 190

And the top 5 for "number of machines":
Portland - 711
Bay Area - 602
Pittsburgh - 522
Chicago - 504
Wisconsin - 491

Portland is the 28th largest city in the U.S., but it is beating every city that is bigger than it is, in both locations and number of machines, and is beating entire states with big numbers (Wisconsin, Colorado) in number of machines.

So I started looking at where these machines were located to help me focus on where I would like to visit to do future writeups. Some locations are on the coast, some are in Salem, some are across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, and a few are in the Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood areas, meaning they are a good 30-60 minutes or more from downtown Portland. Even with those 100+ machines subtracted, there are still about 600 machines in the metropolitan area, which is incredible. If that's not enough, there are also 3 other regions listed for Oregon - Eugene/Springfield, Southern Oregon, and Bend - so Portland is not the only location for the state.

Oh, and one more thing about about PinballMap: it was developed by a couple of guys named Scott Wainstock and Ryan Gratzer, who live in - you guessed it - Portland.


PINBALL LOCATIONS


Unsure of where these machines in Portland were located, I decided to take a closer look at individual locations. On PinballMap, once I had selected Portland from the main screen, I clicked on the "city" button, then used the pulldown to select Portland, and for kicks I used the other pulldown to select only the locations with 5 or more machines (which was the maximum I could sort by). It returned a good sized list, so I decided to sort that into a top 5 by number of machines:


Quarterworld Arcade: 31 machines
Ground Kontrol: 26 machines
C-bar: 15 machines
Blackbird Pizza: 12 machines
Pinball Outreach Project (POP): 12 machines

I eliminated POP as an immediate potential destination because it mostly features electro-mechanical and early solid state machines and primarily focuses on children. I replaced it with Scoreboard Sports Bar, which has 11 machines. I then wanted to see what the closest and largest destination near me would be, as I'm about 45 minutes from most of these locations and Vancouver (Washington) is much closer. Unfortunately the pinball scene in Vancouver is not quite as robust. Only two locations had 3 machines, none of which I wanted to play. The rest of the locations had only 1 or 2 machines.

So instead I asked myself, which machines would I like to play that I have never played before? On PinballMaps, instead of clicking on the City button, I clicked on the Game button. From the dropdown menu I could then choose specific games. In alphabetical order, I looked up the following:

America's Most Haunted (The Lovecraft Bar)
Congo (Quarterworld)
Demolition Man (Quarterworld)
Game of Thrones (Apex, Blackbird, Quarterworld, Scoreboard)
Ghostbusters (Apex, Quarterworld)
The Hobbit (Apex)
Independence Day (Lion's Eye Tavern)
Pinball Magic (Trillium Cafe in Hood River)
The Walking Dead (C-bar, Ground Kontrol)

The Trillium Cafe is too far and Lion's Eye isn't worth the trip just for Independence Day. So I decided that my next destinations to explore will be Quarterworld, C-bar, The Lovecraft Bar, and Apex. Although Apex doesn't have a lot of machines, the ones that they do have are on the list above - and I'm eliminating Ground Kontrol since I have been there twice already and want to check out something new. In addition, Apex, Blackbird, C-bar, and Quarterworld are within minutes of each other.

Another great thing about using PinballMap: if I wanted to open a pinball destination, it shows me what areas are starved for pinball, and what games are missing from the local area. Hmm...


PORTLAND PINBALL ORGANIZATIONS

Portland is home to multiple pinball organizations:

Crazy Flipper Fingers are an intense, passionate pinball gang (not a club!), most of which are great pinball players. Joining the gang means sacrificing your initials - when members get high scores they are required to enter "CFF" on a machine - which explains why machines all over town feature the initials "CFF" on their high scores. However, in return they get cool nicknames, like "Spinner", "Orbit", and my personal favorite, "Deathsave".

Rose City Pinball is a group that promotes pinball in Portland. They organize local tournaments which primarily take place at C-bar, which are IFPA sanctioned events, and have a bounty hunter program, where they name the machine and you try to claim the prize by earning Grand Champion on the machine.

Portland Pinball League is a pinball league promoting social and competitive pinball play in Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas. They play pinball every Wednesday at various locations that have 4 or more tables.

Flip City hosts weekly pinball tournaments in a casual, friendly atmosphere where all skill levels are welcome.

PDX Pinball is a Facebook pinball group.

Belles & Chimes PDX is a women’s pinball league based in Portland that was inspired by the original Oakland, CA league.

Pinball Outreach Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children by sharing the history and excitement of the game of pinball. They bring pinball directly to children in hospitals, schools and community centers, make pinball accessible to children by offering a family friendly venue to play free pinball, and provide a free space for non-profits to host events that benefit children in need.

Portland Retro Gaming Expo: a non-profit cooperative organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for classic video and arcade games through the presentation of events and conventions that celebrate the historic contribution video games have made and continue to make in popular culture. They have organized a yearly convention every year since 2006.


TOURNAMENTS, EVENTS, AND ROSE CITY PINBALL (RCP)

Portland has a number of tournaments and events occurring throughout the year. They are as follows:

Flip City (weekly): casual, friendly tournaments for all skill levels
C-bar Brewers Series (monthly): tournaments sponsored by craft breweries and Rose City Pinball
Portland Pinball League (weekly): very casual tournaments open to everyone
Super Selfie League (monthly): $6/month, submit selfies with high scores to qualify
Portland Pinbrawl (yearly): top players in high level competition at Ground Kontrol
Portland Retro Gaming Expo (yearly): a tournament held at the annual PRGE convention


WRAP UP

Well, there you have it. Portland has a thriving pinball scene and culture that seems to be growing stronger every week. Although I'd love to play competitively, even as an average player, I just don't have the time, especially for the distance I'd have to travel. What I did learn during my research for this post is that there are some great places to explore when I have time, and I also acquired some other information to file away for future posts...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Zombie Raid Joins The Barcade

I always thought that I'd add a video game cabinet to the Barcade at some point to go along with the pinball machines. I had a small interest in a MAME cabinet, but actually preferred an original game, so my choices were looking like one of my favorite arcade games of my youth, such as Galaga, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, or Battlezone. Or possibly building my own Dragon's Lair/Dragon's Lair 2/Space Ace cabinet.


Sometimes, however, you have to jump at an opportunity when it presents itself, especially a local one that doesn't involve the hassles (and damage potential) of shipping. In this case it was a Zombie Raid cabinet that Kelly found on Craigslist. Here's a little bit of information regarding Zombie Raid from The International Arcade Museum:


Name: Zombie Raid
Manufacturer: American Sammy
Year: 1995
Type: Videogame
Class: Wide Release
Genre: Shooter
Orientation: Horizontal
Type: Raster: Standard Resolution
CRT: Color
Conversion Class: JAMMA
Number of Simultaneous Players: 2
Maximum number of Players: 2
Gameplay: Joint
Control Panel Layout: Multiple Player
Sound: Amplified Stereo (two channel)


There's a really good summary of the game (along with lots of screen shots) over at hardcoregaming101.net, which concludes their summary with "Zombie Raid is an overall amusing and high-energy game which any horror lover can enjoy."


We drove to Portland to check the game out. It powered right up, had keys to the coin door, and the game went into its standard demo mode. I started a game and took a few shots with one of the guns to make sure the game was functioning properly. The cabinet has some dings and scratches but is still great-looking for a game that's from 1995. And that cabinet art - wow! It will look great next to the Scared Stiff and Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machines. Loading was relatively painless thanks to the seller's pallet jack and ramp, but unloading was a pain - anything using particle board always feels like it weighs a ton, and though it has wheels on the back, that doesn't exactly help get it 3 to 4 feet down from a truck bed.

The game features two awesome light guns shaped like shotguns, complete with pump action reloading. One of them is not working but a replacement was provided, along with some other spare parts. A look inside the cabinet reveals it is relatively clean, although the power board looks a bit nasty and will need to be cleaned up. The marquee at the top did not light up but appears to be just a burned out fluorescent bulb. The tube TV and mirror are in good shape, too. I found a manual online; I also found another manual that allows the Midway Terminator 2 game to be converted to Zombie Raid. I'm not sure if the reverse is possible - it would be fun to play T2 as well as Zombie Raid - so I'll be looking into that in the future.

Gun games are always popular during parties and the graphics are pretty good for the time period, so this game should get a lot of attention once it is set up. I'll follow up with some posts about cleaning, maintenance, and gameplay in the future. The price was fantastic compared to what the last few on eBay have sold for, so it looks like a great addition to the Barcade!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Barcade Takes Shape

My roommate Kelly has been my best friend for about 25 years. We are like brothers, and he helped get me my current job. In a previous post I mentioned he found the White Water on eBay that I ended up buying while he was living in my house. He got sucked into pinball through my addiction and we pooled our funds several years ago to buy Scared Stiff and Creature From the Black Lagoon. He bought his own machine, Popeye, outright. He's just a casual flipper, but appreciates the beauty of the machines and is attracted to theme instead of difficulty, depth of rulesets or manufacturer.

Later he bought a house and our roles reversed as I roomed with him and rented out my house. Kelly has a lot of property, and for years we have dreamed of building a bar and game room to house our beer collectibles, jukebox, and pinball machines.

That dream is now becoming a reality!

Work has begun on building a two-story, 2400 square foot detached bar and game room on the property that we have started calling "The Barcade". What I really find exciting is the entire upstairs will be devoted to pinball machines and video games, with space to work on them and also on my Steampunk Time Machine Virtual Pinball system. After drawing up the plans and acquiring the necessary permits, we broke ground a few weeks ago. Once the excavation was complete, gravel was delivered and a concrete slab was poured. The bottom floor walls went up fast, and now the upstairs floor and walls have been started. After that will be installation of the trusses and roof, shingles, windows, and siding. Of course the interior will need insulation and drywall.

Here's a photo montage of the progress so far:

Excavation Begins


The Concrete Slab Is In!


Boy Those Walls Go Up Fast!


The Floor Joists Are Hangin'

More to follow...