May 13th, 2015

krazy koati

Come to this house, be one of us

With the championship contest out of the way, at least for us, we had the time to wander around the show. Since we were there earlier than last year there were more machines around, and they weren't being taken away early. We got to see a couple of the oddities we'd encountered last year, such as Orbitor 1, the weird game with a non-level playfield and bumpers that everyone thinks are magnetic. They actually just spin very, very rapidly, so that a ball touching them doesn't react in the way anyone expects. I also had a scarily good game on it; I don't know what was going right but my strategy of ``keep shooting the drop targets'' worked.

They also had the 1979 Star Trek pinball, which I'd never seen in person before. It's got Motion Picture-styled artwork on it, but has a sound chip barely up to making any Star Trek-reminiscent sounds. It also didn't have any credits when we first approached. Games at the expo are set to free play, but many older machines lack the concept and the owner just opens them up and rings in 25 (or whatever) credits. So we went off and played some other things until we saw people playing Star Trek and then took our innings.

Among the novelties was the 1988 Data East Secret Service, which is not a game held in high regard but is special to me since it was one of the 25-cent games at the student union when I got into college and into pinball. It was one of the first machines I played obsessively and I haven't played one since about 1991. I wouldn't play it that day either: by the time we got there some problem had appeared in the flippers and the owner didn't want people playing it in lousy shape. He did turn it on so I could take pictures of it lit, at least.

Someone was also vending virtual pinball tables, large-screen TVs set into wooden frames. They had a stunning variety of simulated games, including Roller Coaster Tycoon. I've never seen this actual game in the wild, and only ever seen a playfield from it for sale as art; this let me experience both the game, sort of, and the virtual-table game. It's ... not so bad, I guess, although the combination of the huge size and the flattened rendering of 3-D objects is weird. I could see a place for it, especially with tables that let you play a hundred tables in the space for one, but I'm not sure it's actually better than the Pinball Arcade app.

I ought to mention in case we forget for next year: the concession stand in the Kalamazoo center offers food and their spinach salad is better than we expected. Fresh spinach, feta cheese, pretty good dressing. We'd expected it to be a tolerable lunch-equivalent unit and it was actually pretty good.

In some spare time we got to play someone else's Tri-Zone, and then hang out with MWS as he showed off his newly-purchased (and turned-off) Tri-Zone. Also him disassembling it with the help of GRV to take it off, ultimately to get back to his home.

We also got to play a bit more of Raven and to play a couple rounds of Barb Wire with MWS and with the guy who looks strikingly like skylerbunny. Also it turns out they made a Barb Wire pinball game, which, who knew?

Trivia: When the House of Representatives passed the 1937 appropriation for the Works Progress Administration the bill specifically lowered the salary of WPA head Harry Hopkins from $12,000 to $10,000. Source: American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, Nick Taylor.

Currently Reading: Beggar Thy Neighbor: a History of Usury and Debt, Charles R Geisst.

PS: Reversible and irreversible change, on my mathematics blog, reblogging from CarnotCycle for everyone trying to learn very slowly about thermodynamics.