Arcades, Pinball

Pinball Wizard

As classic arcade fans it isn’t only video games that get us going. Classic pinball machines are one of our favourites too so here are some top machines that we have been playing.

Challenger (Gottlieb, 1971): This is two-player, head-to-head, battle pinball! Both players control their own flippers at either end of a long playfield, trying to score a “goal” against the other. The entire playfield tilts when a goal is scored, so that the attacking side must fight uphill to score. Both players also have a set of mini flippers mid-field, though we never scored an uphill goal. This is such a cool concept, I’d like to see Stern tackle a modern version of 2-player battle pinball!

Shaq Attaq (Gottlieb, 1995): After having a laugh at some of the Shaq-aggrandizing artwork on this relic of the 90’s, we actually had a lot of fun playing it. The centrepiece is a moving basketball hoop that you can jump the ball into. I was afraid this would be a gimmicky, one-in-a-million shot, but we hit the jump shot a few times while playing. Lucky for Shaq they didn’t include a free throw challenge. Best voice sample: “Break the backboard!”

Varkon (Williams, 1982): Probably the most unique pinball game in existence, Varkon is in a class of it’s own. A pinball table inside of an upright arcade cabinet is reflected in a mirror, creating the illusion that the pinball action is taking place on a vertical plane. The ball seems to defy gravity as it floats lazily “up” and around the screen. Shooting the left ramp will activate an inner playfield that lights up in dramatic fashion (see video above). Only 90 Varkon machines were ever produced!

Cirqus Voltaire (Bally, 1997): An exciting table full of tricks and colourful eye candy. The Ringmaster is the most iconic feature, capturing your ball with a magnet, and then popping his head up from inside the table to mock you. Even the backbox has moving parts in it, and the dot matrix scoreboard is located in the playfield, which is very unusual, but looks like it was meant to be there. May be the perfect game to hook a noob on pinball for life.

Smash TV (Williams, 1990): In addition to pinball, PAPA has a modest collection of video games, and Smash TV is too much fun to pass up. Set in the distant “future” (1999), players compete for cash and prizes in a violent game show inspired by the movie The Running Man. Competing means shooting the crap out of waves of suicidal enemies using a twin-joystick shooting mechanic ala Robotron 2084, and choosing your own path through each level. To quote Smash TV’s cheesy/creepy host, “I LOVE IT!”

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