I lost my place on the San Francisco Peninsula last year, and moved in with family in the East Bay. The upside to that is that it's now convenient to visit the Pacific Pinball Museum (between home and work on I-880). When the museum in Alameda, Calif., reopened in June, I bought in for one year, and declared this The Summer of Sing Along.
Pinball machines grow more sophisticated and spectacular by the hour, but I can't imagine playing any but the 1967 Gottlieb wedgehead. The gameplay is minimal: Four pop bumpers, five standup targets, two slingshots, one rollunder, and the feature that makes Sing Along special, the kickhole relay. Four kickholes correspond to four colors of targets numbered 1-4. The crux of Sing Along is notching unmade targets with each ball, growing the kickhole value (and intermittently lighting for Special after 1-4 are completed). At PPM, the first replay score is 3200, but it isn't accomplished 640-640-640-640-640; by accumulating targets (four skill shots, four outlanes, four standing, four rollovers), it's likelier 120-220-420-820-1620. Since four outlanes correspond to four '4' targets, the grail is lighting all 16, to derive maximum scoring and Special potential from the kickhole relay.
I accomplished that for the first time! but merely defied gravity long enough to make one lit Special, not even the first replay score. Pinball can be cruel (tonight, for instance, I would've sworn the outlanes had magically widened).
No toys or animations, no ramps or spinners, no end-of-ball bonuses or franchise theming, and clunky electro-mechanics. Sing Along is most basic and glorious. May this be an endless summer, continued yesterday on my 58th birthday by playing Sing Along while constrained by neither business hours (got there early) nor number of quarters in pocket (one-year membership was cheap!).