austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Make this your house

So we made it through lunch, the one where bunny_hugger stared at Lyman F Sheats until he maybe noticed. Fourth of the day, ninth overall. I was in 95th place. An outstanding round might lift me into striking range of finals. bunny_hugger up in B division was at 131st place; she would need an even better round.

The modern machine. Stern's 2010 Iron Man, a movie license. One everybody knows. One everyone's familiar with. There's an easy multiball to get. Shoot the spinners on the left, center, or right of the playfield. That lifts up the Iron Monger. Shoot that a couple times. Keep the ball going. Not one of us manages this. We have a most dreadful round, nobody getting past three million points. Pinburgh must have set the machine up hard, naturally enough. And then Pinburgh must have snuck behind us and whacked us with a clown hammer while we weren't looking for every one of us to do this lousy.

Early solid-state game. Gottlieb's 1983 Super Orbit. Fun space-themed game. It reminded me a lot of other Gottleib and Stern space-themed games. Find a spinner. Find that little hidden lane. Shoot this Vari-Target, a kind of lever that the ball pushes back, the farther pushed back the higher the score. It's got a very basic layout, and it turns out the playfield is the same as Gottleib's 1971 game Orbit. I guess that makes the name make sense. I think I ended on first place on this one.

Electromechanical game. Williams's 1971 Doodle Bug. Every pinball manufacturer wants to produce novelties. It's really hard to think of something novel that makes sense on a pinball machine. Multiball is about the last gimmick that's had broad acceptance. Doodle Bug has a heck of a gimmick. It's one of the funniest out there.

There's a little captive ball, in a small channel, under the playfield. That is, it's visible through a transparent panel in the playfield. A couple of switches are labelled ``Start Doodle Bug''. This sets of a little kicking motor that makes the ball bounce up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down. Every time it bounces on something the player scores. How much depends on what you've been doing on the playfield. And there's all sorts of things that stop the Doodle Bug. But it is hilarious to get started. Whether it made any sense at all everyone shot to start the Doodle Bug, and to try avoiding the many ``Stop Doodle Bug'' targets. Oh, how delightful.

The game hasn't the flippers sitting in the middle of nowhere. There's no trapping and holding the ball, not unless the pop-up center post is up. This also throws off the normal play of the game. I'd still play more of it. So much fun.

Last game of the set. Late solid-state. Williams's 1989 Zootopia: The Pinball Adventure. Or to be ``correct'', it's Police Force. Story is this was supposed to be a Batman movie-themed game, but late in development Williams lost the license. So they changed all the art to anthro animals doing generally funny stuff. Keep looking at details. There's ever-more of them.

It's not a game often used in tournaments. There's this series of shots which, on the last ball, lets anyone score whatever the highest value any of the competitors have. Total game-breaker. But Pinburgh needed dozens of sets of tables and needed late solid-state games for all of them and something had to give. They nerfed the table, weakening the flipper that would make the catch-up-the-score-in-one-swoop move all but impossible.

But you could still take an imposing, commanding lead. If you could shoot the center ramp, and keep shooting it. Repeating this ramp eventually builds the value of the score up to a million points per shot, and someone who's found that shot and doesn't lose their nerve can get so far ahead nobody can catch up.

One of the competitors found it, and kept shooting that center, and built up something like a ten million point lead on everyone else.

My last ball. I'm in last place and have had, apart from Super Orbit, a lousy round. But if I could find the center shot? ... And oh but goodness there it was. I shoot again. Again. Again. Build the ramp up to a million-point shot. Shoot it again. And again. And again.

It's nerve-racking to keep doing this. The shot is close to the flipper, but the ball returns with slightly different speeds every time. I have to shoot a little faster or a little slower each time. I have to not lose my nerve. I have to aim for the center of the ramp as best I can. Every single time. A miss that hits the edges of the posts can rebound the ball down the center drain, out of play. Five more times to take the lead, to win the round, to ...

I miss the shot.

The ball is still on the playfield, though. I can recover this. If I shoot the center ramp fast enough it's still good for a million points.

I'm not fast enough.

But I do get the ball into the center ramp. I built it up to a million points before. I can do that again. Shoot the center. Shoot it again. I make it again. I'm one shot from the million point ramp again.

I miss the shot.

I don't get it back, and I end up in a strong second place. With a lot of talk about how I made it so very exciting. I appreciate that, at least.

The round finishes weak for me, 5 wins, 7 losses. I drop from 95th to 101st in the C Division. bunny_hugger has had an even worse round, going 2-10. She drops from 131st to 152nd in the B Division. Her set is listed as (modern game) No Fear, (electromechanical) Slick Chick, (early solid state) Evel Knievel, (late solid state) RoboCop. I think this is the round where RoboCop was unavailable and she was put as a substitute on Rollergames. She's played No Fear before and hated it every time. She's seen Slick Chick at the Silverball Museum but if she remembered it I'd be surprised. Rollergames is made less tedious than it might be by not having the endlessly repetitive ``Rock rock rock, rock-n-rollergames!'' going. But it's made harder by not having a magnetic ball lock that makes the critical side-ramp shot possible. She's not happy about that (whichever round it did happen on) and I couldn't console her for that.

Are we doomed? ... Boy, I hate to talk like that. But from 101st or 152nd in our divisions? Well, we'd have an hour or so to kick around, and then the final round of qualifying. There's no reason we couldn't have a perfect round on that. You never know.

Trivia: Over the summer of 1908 the Chicago Cubs had a performing mascot: a 17-year-old in a polar bear costume. He had a string to open and close a space in front of his mouth, to fan himself against summer heat. Source: Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, Cait Murphy.

Currently Reading: Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History, Charles H Kahn.

PS: Why Stuff Can Orbit, Part 7: ALL the Circles, in which I solve a generalized central-forces problem and, according to Hemmingway App, never exceed a third-grade reading level!

Tags: pinball, pinburgh
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