austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Bring every single person

One of Pinburgh's attractions is modified pinball machines. They're modified by doing something which makes them challenging to play. Frosted glass, for example, covering the playfield so that you get only intermittent views of where the ball is or how it's moving. There was a Simpsons Pinball Party rigged up so that the tilt bob was not in the machine but was rather on a helmet the player wore. So you'd tilt if you just moved your head too much, too fast --- and not at all if you can throw the table around while holding your head steady. Novelty acts, of course, but we wanted to play them.

We missed most of our chances, including some kind of side for-fun tournament for these modified games. I got on one of the frosted-glass tables, a showpiece from a previous year's games. And we were able to play on this year's showcase, Attack From Mars From Behind. This was an Attack From Mars table, with the legs taken off so the machine sat on the ground. The player climbed a small podium and played from behind the backglass, on the wrong side of the table and from well above where things were. That's surprisingly fun. It's always fun to play a familiar table in a novel way. And if playing from behind makes you be much farther away from the table and completely unable to usefully nudge the machine --- not that the instinct wasn't there still --- it's still a great challenge. Attack From Mars has a familiar, easily knowable strategy. You can always catch the ball and know what to do with it. If you don't lose your nerve you can play quite well. bunny_hugger put up a game better than her typical pinball-league night performance. I ... didn't quite do that, but still broke a billion points, the threshold for ``has a game that's not bad''. Of the many side amusements and delights of Pinburgh, modified pinball games are a particular highlight. We've got to play this with a group sometime.

And we got into some more delightful games. Like, did you know the arcade game Journey had actual black-and-white renditions of the members of the band Journey in it? I didn't. I assumed it was a modded game. Apparently not. It was just like that in 1983. Apparently the machine has a cassette player which'll play a loop of Journey songs, including Don't Stop Believing Of Course, during the bonus round.

Did they have merchandise for sale? Hoo boy yes. Lots of merchandise. A lot of it nostalgic and tempting for that but not quite so tempting that we'd buy it. I mean, the Parker Brothers Garfield game might be a bit fun to see, but how much fun would that be after you've taken it out and played a game? At our age? An Atari 7800 game cartridge is a neat artifact, if you have any particular reason to care about One-On-One Basketball, or the 7800, but who has that? The Nintendo cartridge version of Pin-Bot was more tempting but I can play that in person just by going over to East Lansing, or on a computer by opening up Pinball Arcade. All beautiful, none so beautiful as to be worth buying.

The last hours of the convention were coming. The convention floor would close at 5:00. We went looking for the last stuff to play. MWS drew our attention to Class of 1812, an early 90s Gottlieb game I'd played on Pinball Arcade without quite getting the point. That's happened before; weird tables are hard to understand purely from simulation. In person I got it. It's a quirky, funny game, from the same era as Welcome to Cactus Jack's, a silly game I played for a year and a half when at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Class of 1812 is loosely themed to your classic horror movie stars, in that goofy lighthearted silly way they are anymore. Multiball's a particular delight as the 1812 Overture starts to play and, given enough time, gets weird. It's worth playing.

In the last moments of the center being opened I found Poker Plus, an electromechanical from Interflip. That's the Spanish company with the fantastic Dragon that makes its devotees say ``bao'' in a mysterious voice. It's a card-themed game of course and I went up to it and put up a rather solid core, nearly halfway to rolling the table, the first time I played it. A few minutes left. Do I try to find another table to spend the last minutes on? Or do I stick with this table? Complicating this is if I do really well on a table I like to walk away, keeping my outstanding game on that as my closing experience. Why walk away disappointed? But, you know, the table was fun and when would I see it again? I played it and put up an even better score as the closing hour arrived.

And then it was 5:00 and Pinburgh was officially over and ... nobody was saying anything. No signs that we should stop doing anything. I rang in another game and hoped I'd have fun on this little bit of overtime. I did, and I managed on the bonus to put up an even higher score yet. It was several minutes past 5:00 and Pinburgh was still apparently not yet shut. I took my chances and started one last game --- making this weird little oddity I noticed on my own the last quarter-hour of the last day the game I played the most times --- and during the course of that the main lights dimmed and I think something got announced somewhere. Pinburgh was over and getting serious about it. And I put up another personal high score, a string of four ever-better games on a table I knew nothing about.

It was one of those little personal wins, the kind that feel so very good.

Trivia: Telephone poles in lower Manhattan rose as high as 90 feet, with as many as 30 double crossarms and three hundred separate telephone wires before the Blizzard of 1888. Source: The Epic of New York City: A Narrative History, Edward Robb Ellis.

Currently Reading: The Art Of The Map: An Illustrated History, Dennis Reinhartz.

PS: The End 2016 Mathematics A To Z: Distribution (statistics), one of those little things that leads to a lot of big things.

Tags: pinball, pinburgh

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