June 25th, 2016

krazy koati

Well, I've given up, Don Pardo, just tell me now what I didn't win

I'd made the choice to focus my VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Museum gameplay on older machines. The guy has dozens of 1950s and 1960s machines, many of them ones you just never imagine seeing. All the machines he has are in great shape, and while it's tempting to play as nearly pristine a Star Trek: The Next Generation as you can find outside 1994, you can find perfectly good such tables in many arcades and the Pinball Arcade app. I wanted the rarer experiences.

And they were there to be had! The rows of woodrails, 1950s games, were most interesting to me and while I didn't play every one of them I did spend a lot of time there, not all of it gaping in awe at the racist ones. These are tables that have such non-standard features as gobble holes that give you points but end your ball, or for which a tilt ends a game, or which have weird novelties like advancing mechanical horses along a track. The neatest was Play Ball, an actual flipperless pinball game from 1951, a baseball-themed one in which you racked up strikes and balls, hits and outs. And all there was to control was the strength of your plunge and any nudging you might do as the ball rolled down pin nails to the designated target. I even had a couple good games at it.

Oh, and Tri Zone. They had one. It's the first ``foreign'' Tri Zone we've played since buying one. Traditionally, playing someone else's edition of a table you own is a recipe for humiliation. I was ... not humiliated. For a while on the first ball, after getting used to how much faster it played, I thought rolling it was a possibility. (GRV told us that ours will play that fast too, when we clean the playfield.) The possibility didn't last through the second ball, but I ended up with a score in the four hundred thousands, respectable by any standard and in shooting range of the game's default-reset high score of 550,000.

Also in the annex: a bunch of Zaccaria-made pinball machines. These were made in Italy in the 70s and 80s, and they just play weird. They're made to the same general ideas but just have a different chic to them. Different sounds, too, not just electronic noises but in how things like the bumpers sound and feel. There's a great app that simulates them all but it is very good to have some time on the real thing to understand how the virtual table plays, especially for a game with a complicated layout like fairyland-themed Farfalla or one with a large changing playfield like Time Machine, the center of which rises and falls. They're also the ones that gave us Pinball Champ '82, possibly the most '82-ish thing not to include Knight Rider.

Of course we closed the place out; how would we not? I got in a game on my ancient introduction to the wonders of pinball, Secret Service, which I still can't play very well. bunny_hugger ran out the clock on Bally's Game Show, a 1990 table themed to just what it says. The machine has a topper with an APPLAUSE sign, which kept flashing because she kept doing applause-worthy things, including earning jackpots. She supposed MWS and I were applauding solely because she was doing well. She was, but we were also respecting the APPLAUSE sign. She didn't realize it was there.

And that's it from the VFW Ann Arbor Pinball Museum for the year, unless something surprising should happen. Which, sometimes, it does.

Trivia: By 1824 the time for carrying mail between Boston and New York City had reduced to 36 hours. Source: The Old Post Road: The History of the Boston Post Road, Stewart H Holbrook.

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