Just Another Typical Pinball Story

By Boots

December 11, 2022

3 months ago

     I'm Boots, and i was born in September of '83, which was somewhat of an awkward year for arcades. They were still around when i was a child, but they were fast on their way out as thee place to be and the place to go if you wanted to play video games since the NES system was becomming more and more common in the household - even for a mid-lower class family renting an apartment in Kentucky, one of the poorest states in the US.
     We still fed quarters into machines like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but my generation quickly got accustomed to staying inside and playing our NES systems. Games like Metroid, Zelda II and Mega Man III, Punch Out, Battletoads, Double Dragon, Paperboy, Spy Hunter, Super Mario Bros 3, and the arcade port of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had the potential to keep us safely tucked away into our bedrooms with a good friend or two for several hours on end. Sure, our parents paid a small fortune to own these NES systems and some cartridges to accompany them, but they no longer needed to keep rolls of quarters on deck in order for us to stay thoroughly entertained at the arcade where they had to worry about kidnappings or their children falling under the influence of the type of kids who smoked cigarettes (and other stuff)..
     My father's parents had a Gottlieb Super Soccer machine tucked away in their garage. Everything about it attracted me like a moth to flame. The fact that it was barely clinging to life dusty and neglected, relegated to the corner to be out of the way and forgotten... it all seemed to reasonate with me as something i closely identified with. "Don't worry machine. I'll dust the cobwebbs off and play with you." 
     And so i did. I really liked how there was a section in the backglass that looked like a clear tube that held little soccer balls or pinballs. Something about that really captured my imagination as a little toddler. "How did those balls even get in there?! Are they bouncy balls? Maybe they are gumballs!!" 
     I wasn't good at the game, and my grandparents didn't show me anything about it; but that pinball machine had the power to hold my full imagination, and that would stick with me for several years until my friend asked me one day if i'd like to go with him to the Wildcat Arcade in downtown Lexington, KY around 2003. There i would have the opportunity to choose from roughly a dozen pinball machines. Of those, i remember: Who Dunnit, Playboy, No Good Gofers, Taxi, Lord of the Rings, South Park, Terminator 3, Monopoly, Addams Family, Twilight Zone, and the machine that spoke to me the most and the one which i found to be the most approchable: Monster Bash.
     It was while playing Monster Bash that i begin to better understand the game of pinball. For me, i found Monster Bash to be a very intuitive game that i just somehow organically understood: Each shot corrosponded to a different monster, and i needed to "collect" each monster in order to get them to mosh and "bash" out. From there, now that i started to have a better understanding of the general premise of pinball and how it works on a very rudimentary, fundamental level, i began going to the Wildcat Arcade and playing as often as i could.
     That is, until the indoor smoking ban became a state law, began being enforced, people stopped showing up, and then that arcade shut down and there was nowhere local for me to play pinball anymore. 
     In 2011, a bowling alley in Lexington got a Rolling Stones machine that i would go and play every now and then, but aside from that, pinball wouldn't be in my life consistently for 11 years until Tilty Bob's opened in Lexington, KY and i suddenly had access to all of the releases that i had missed out on for those nearly dozen years. From there i discovered some very new Stern releases that i found i enjoyed tremendously: The Mandalorian, Aerosmith, Jurrasic Park, Deadpool, Star Wars, Elvira's House of Horrors, Iron Maiden... Some of these games i had newly discovered were actually competeing with the old 90s Williams and Bally games that i had held such a high regard for: Avengers Infinity Quest, Rush, and the game that i thought completely dominated any other pinball game that i'd ever played: Godzilla. When it came to Godzilla, it wasn't even close. I found that not even Monster Bash - which i love with every fiber of my being - had a foot to stand on when standing toe-to-toe with Godzilla.
     GZ is my very favorite machine and the game that i'm naturally best at and enjoy the most. Typically, im the type of person who tends to not enjoy the things that the general public finds great, i've just never been a "normie" when it comes to popular things. But the general consensus is that it's the best pinball machine ever designed/produced, and i can not disagree with that whatsover, and i've found that only hipster contrarians even try to make an argument against it. MidOhioPinball on Twitch, for example, pitched the point that AC/DC has sold more units than GZ, so GZ can't possibly be the greatest ever made. For one, AC/DC has been on the market for nearly a decade longer than GZ, of course it has sold more units. But sales ≠ greatness. People buy Billie Eilish tickets to the point she sales out arenas. Does that make her the GOAT? Of course not, because that rebutal is moot and ridiculous. Until something can even compete with Godzilla, then i'm willing to die on this hill claiming that it's the Greatet Of All Time. 
     So that's where i stand today. Love the early 90s games, but also really love the newer games like James Bond, Weird Al from P3, Toy Story 4, Alien, Total Nuclear Annhialation and Ultraman Kaiju, and i am extremely proud of what the games have evolved into and how Stern's Insider Connected and Scorbit have put these games onto the online grid. Now, i really look forward to seeing what's next to come, especially from Keith Elwin! 

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