austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I must have played them all

The lunch/dinner break at Pinburgh qualifying matches happens between rounds 3 and 4, sometime in the gap between a match that starts at 2:30 and a match that starts at 6:15. The games take something like an hour to play, so, eight hundred pinball players stagger out of the David L Lawrence Convention Center somewhere around 3:30 to find things in downtown Pittsburgh they can consume. In 2016 we had joined Michigan Pinball folks in swarms to a Qdoba and to this hipster meatball place. In 2017, Thursday, we followed a different path. This took us on a long hike to this hipster Argentinian restaurant. It was nice and all, just, they listed potatoes on their menu as ``pot''. You have to roll with this. Not joining us: DAD and his son, who started to follow us, looked up just how many blocks away and uphill the place would be, and then ducked into a comic book shop with a promise they'd join us later. I have no evidence that they ever got to the restaurant, though to be fair, don't know that they didn't, either.

Round four. I'm on set 13, Tatooine. bunny_hugger had played it the second round of the day. Its modern game: Cirqus Voltaire, a grand late-90s game. There's special warnings on it, that the Ringmaster shot is good for only 10,000 points per hit. The game has a basic sure-fire strategy: hit the Ringmaster, then keep hitting it. Each time you hit a Ringmaster enough you defeat him, and that gives you a big prize and, after the second and third and fourth Ringmasters, a multiball. But nobody in my group hits the Ringmaster hard enough to defeat him and I take this to mean, you need to score a certain number of points to beat the Ringmaster and at 10,000 points per hit that's just not going to happen. I switch to an alternate strategy: shooting the ramp until it starts multiball. (Anything you hit often enough on Cirqus Voltaire eventually starts multiball. Ringmaster just the safest.) And I do very well, starting the Arc Light Multiball and going on to win the table. This despite tilting two balls, something that reveals to me how frightfully touchy the tilt bob is.

This would give me two critical pieces of information. The first is that yes, the tilt bob is that incredibly sensitive on it. The second is that I was wrong: you can defeat the Ringmaster. Just hit it enough. I guess none of us hit the Ringmaster enough, despite our skills. Both would be essential.

The electromechanical game is Bally's 1966 Safari, with a backglass that's just oh, just go look at that tiger. It should be fun; just hit drop targets. I don't do well on it, though, and eh, it's just one game. The late-solid-state game is Williams's 1990 Rollergames, a roller-skating-themed game that endlessly repeats a musical sting to go rock, rock, rock and rollergames. It's the one that got replaced out from under bunny_hugger. That goes far better than the game ever did when it was in the Brunswick Square Mall in the early 90s, or when it was at the Brighton Arcade a couple years back, and I think I get second on the table. The early-solid-state game is Bally's 1985 Eight Ball Champ, one of an estimated kajillion pool-themed pinball games. I learn a good point from PinTips, shoot up the left orbit and build bonus multipliers. I get one good ball, two mediocre balls, and end up second again.

The round gives me seven wins and five losses. Not an outstanding round, but anything above .500 is good. It moves my record up to 21-27, and into the tie for 551st. Low C Division. Respectable enough. bunny_hugger, on set 69, Andromeda, has a great round, going 9-3 and winning her bunch. She jumps up to 515th, middle C Division were this the end of the day.

I have one more round. It's on set 66, Pavo. It's against the far wall, a place that the previous year held no pinball machines. There's one game I know, the electromechanical, an ancient one that I've played at the Silverball museum and that promises to be a struggle. It's not listed on PinTips. Neither are any of the other three tables. I face a mystery round.

Trivia: Henry Martyn Robert, author of Robert's Rules of Order, also chaired the board of engineers that oversaw building the seawall protecting Galveston, Texas, after the Hurricane of 1900. Source: Remaking The World: Adventures In Engineering, Henry Petroski.

Currently Reading: Luna: Pittsburgh's Original Lost Kennywood, Brian Butko.

Tags: pinball, pinburgh

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