austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I took Potpourri for one hundred and then my head started to spin

One of the games MWS pointed out to us was Cactus Canyon. This was a 1998 game, one of the last ones Bally/Williams made, and it's available on the Pinball Arcade app. It's not tied to any particular license, and is a comic Western-themed machine. Legend has it that in the rush to get the game out the door and shift over to the Pinball 2000 technology the game was released unfinished, with the gameplay not fully debugged. Well, people have computers and abundant time now and apparently there's at least one ``completed'' version of the game out. And the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Museum had a version of this. I knew the game was rare, but wouldn't have known about it as a rarity-among-rarities without guidance. He, bunny_hugger, and I only had time for one game on it. bunny_hugger won handily, particularly but not exclusively on a second ball that kept finding more multiball modes.

Another rarity, and one that MWS spotted, was the upgrade-kit Machine: Bride of Pinbot 2.0. The original game was released in 1991, and it's got a neat playfield tied to an LED display and just-about-to-be-obsolete control system. So there's limits to how deep the rules can be, and expert gameplay amounts to ``shoot the left ramp. Now, shoot it again. AGAIN!'' The conversion fixes that, putting in a dot-matrix display and all sorts of additional modes, including three-ball multiballs.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't think it's just that all my reflexes for the table were now wrong wrong wrong wrongitty wrong piles of wrongness. I think I'm thrown by a matter of taste. The game display shows loading the balls for multiball as loading giant pinballs into a space shuttle cargo bay, which, fine, that fits the theme well. And starting multiball as launching space shuttles. Again, fine. And then when you drain a ball, lessening or ending multiball? The shuttle explodes. Yeah, yeah, it was twelve years on but still. It threw me way off.

I'm glad for the chance to play it. I just think there's another revision or two away from having the 2.0 version right. Occasionally there's rumors of making a 2.0 converter kit for other games of the era, such as FunHouse, that similarly have great playing fields and themes limited by the rules. I'd be interested in them too.

(And you can play the original rule set, with dot matrix-simulated LEDs, by holding the start button down when you begin the game, which is good to know. Conversions are fine but being able to keep the original also is great.)

Also they had one of those little virtual pinball tables, in which you can pick one of dozens of games to play on a monitor set up as if it were a playfield. I managed to crash it trying to pick a different table. I spent several minutes looking around helplessly before one of the people working repairs for the weekend noticed and asked what happened. He was able to fix it, although not from the table as I remember. Virtual pinball looks and feels pretty good, although the table is just big enough that its smallness attracts attention, and it imposes a viewing angle that's just wrong for me, so everything looks off.

Trivia: Soup bowls and spoons were introduced in France in the second half of the 17th century. Before then one took soup from rimless bowls from which one drank. Source: The Essence Of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated The Modern World, Gregory Woods.

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