austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

My hands are shaking from playing way too much

You maybe know of Pinball Arcade. It's a wildly popular app for the iPad and other mobile devices that simulates a staggering array of pinball tables from the 60s through the 90s. I love it. It gets its physics really really right, to the point that I make the same mistakes on that that I make on the real tables, and if the game makes it easier to hit some targets and thus complete modes, well, it also makes it really easy to test out and develop strategies.

bunny_hugger hasn't enjoyed the benefits of this, though, as her iPod, though it plays the game, has too small a screen for her to know what's going on. But the Pinball Arcade people did release a pair of Pinball Hall of Fame games for the Wii, a couple years ago, and I have the discs for that. I finally dug them out and she tried them, and between the size of the TV screen and the dynamic of using one button in the Wii controller and one on the nunchuk for the flippers made the experience just perfect for her.

Before long she had mastered the Hall of Fame games, including the squirrel-themed Goin' Nuts, an early 80s machine that never made it out of prototype and which is pretty much all about playing multiball. I've never been good at the game; it's just too weird. She took to it like a natural. It must be the squirrel connection.

On the Williams game disc she finally got to seriously play FunHouse, the 1990 game and many people's contender for best pinball game of all time. It's based around a funhouse, and has peppy music and a cheery theme and the attraction of Rudy, the Amazing Mechanical Man, whose ventriloquist-style head sits on the table, watches you, and taunts you during the game. There is probably no more satisfying thing in pinball than hitting Rudy's head with the ball. And bunny_hugger quickly saw the table's charms and has come to love it possibly more than she loves anything else, roller coasters and me not necessarily excepted. Well, I trust she'll remember who introduced her to it.

Being able to play virtual pinball has also given her the ability to test out advanced skills such as trapping the ball on a flipper and passing the ball from one flipper to the other. These transfer not perfectly to real-world machines --- every table is a bit different, and every machine a bit different on the same table --- but they do move very well, and so she's enjoyed some major levelling up of her pinball skills.

bunny_hugger's interest in pinball has really bloomed incredibly this year, from it being something she tried out because she knew I liked it to being something she really looks forward to. It's much the way she gave to me roller coaster fandom and I'm so happy she's got a new thing to so love.

The subject line for today by the way comes from a song, ``Rudy's In The Funhouse'', by Bullwinkel Gandhi, which is indeed about the game. So now you know there exists a pinball song from somewhere other than The Who's Tommy.

Trivia: NASA's shuttle workforce shrank from about 700 to 230 between 1994 and 2000. The number of shuttle contractor workers declined between 1991 and 2000 from about 7800 to just under four thousand. Source: A History of the Kennedy Space Center, Kenneth Lipartito, Orville R Butler.

Currently Reading: Revolutionary Russia 1891 - 1991: A History, Orlando Figes.


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