My pinball background

By gerwout

November 15, 2023

This story got featured & frontpaged on November 17, 2023

16 days ago

I was actually much more into computer games than pinball. This is not surprising, considering that I was always interested in everything digital. At the age of 8, I was already writing some computer code for the Commodore 64. Today, I am an ethical hacker, so I am still very interested in everything digital.

When I was 14 years old (in 1992), I skipped a few classes at school to hang out at an arcade called "Magical City" in Sneek, a city in the north of the Netherlands. As teenagers, we had fake IDs because the arcade was only open to people 16 and older (this was later changed to 18).

At first, we played a lot of arcade games like "Mortal Kombat". One guilder was enough for us to beat the game. We would also see these pinball machines, but I was never really interested in them. What could be fun about playing a game where you know you will lose no matter what you do with the ball? I was so wrong.

A friend of mine convinced me to give pinball a try. One of the major advantages of pinball is that you can actually win a free game! When you are a teenager, you don't have a lot of money, so 2 (or even more!) games for the price of one is a no-brainer. After playing a few games, I actually started to like it and I became better as well. It did not take long before I was able to have multiple games with a single guilder. It is -to a certain extend- something that I miss today. When you have your own pinball machines a bad game has no real impact. You just start a new one. I can recall the stress when the first 2 balls would drain quickly on my last guilder. Only 1 ball left to get to the 200 million that is needed. Taking your time, thinking about every shot. Slowly building your score, oh no! last ball drain! YES YES YES. bonus is just enough to get that free game.

Some notable games in a random order that I played when I was a teenager:

  • Lethal Weapon, just a great simple game -> what Leo wants, Leo gets!
  • Streetfighter 2 -> hated by many people, loved by me. It is relatively easy to get a special on this machine, so we could really play for a long time :-)
  • Whirlwind -> I really like the fan on top of the machine when playing in summer
  • White Water -> Getting multiball while having 5 times the playfield was one of the goals
  • Taxi -> Jo taxi! Do I need to say more?
  • Dr. Who -> I just love the sounds, I still don't get all these advantages that you can get from selecting a certain doctor when starting the ball...
  • DE Jurassic Park -> sure, we now have a lot of Jurassic Park games, this was the first one that started it all and who does not like the smart missile button?
  • Dracula -> I only found out a couple of years ago that the space in between the flippers is actually wider than usual.
  • Apollo 13 -> yeah, I know 13 balls is way too much and not possible to keep in the game, don't care -> just love it

Obviously I played way more titles, but these definitely pop up when thinking about that era. When I grew older all the arcades started to close down and it became hard to even find a pinball machine. And if you would find one, you would be really lucky if it was properly maintained. The pinball hobby slowly disappeared to the background. I would still play any time I would see a machine, but it had less focus.

Forward some years and I got the opportunity to own a Roller Games. 1+1 still equals 2, so no need to tell the outcome. I obviously loved the game, so you could find me very often behind my first pinball. When I decided to live in New Zealand for a while (planned 1 year, turned out to be 8 years in total...) I also wanted to experience some pinball pleasure in NZ, so I obtained a DE Jurassic Park that had some nasty sound problem. That machine is still in my collection, needless to say -> the sound works now. I did not have my own mancave at that point in time, so when I went back to The Netherlands, I got rid of my Rollergames and I played on my Jurassic Park.

When I moved houses I finally was able to confiscate a room for my man cave. Finally I got some space (i.e. the wife does not seem to want pinball machines all over the place in our house for some unknown reason...), so I started extending my collection. I currently own 7 pinball machines in total, which seems to be a lot if you are a non pinball person. For the typical Pinside forum user, I guess that I am still a beginner. I got some very rare machines, some of them you potentially never heard about before. I've got a Sleic IO Moon (a Spanish DMD title that not a lot of people have ever played on), a Gottlieb Super Mario Mushroom World (this is the small yellow machine, not the more common blue one) and an Alvin G. Mystery Castle (highly underrated machine with a haunted castle theme) to name some of my machines. People consider me to be the "rare games" collector. This was not my original plan, but I do tend to have a weak spot for machines that are very hard to find. My main reasoning is that you can play the more common titles at any pinball event, while the rare machines are kind of impossible to find.

I have 2 children, 1 girl from 10 years old and 1 boy who is going to be 6 years old very soon. They do like pinball as well, so you can find them playing a game quite often. Apart from playing pinball, I do like to hike, I like to hack into anything digital and I work in a foodtruck a couple of times a year on one of the larger music festivals in The Netherlands.

Story photos

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13 days ago

Really cool collection, man. Jolly Time looks like a re-do of the Comet/Cyclone theme, who is the mfr? Nice share!!

11 days ago

I guess that your subconscious saw the Bally Space Time (that is visible in one of my photos) while you looked at the Jolly Park as well :-). A new title has been born. Jolly Park is theme wise definitely in the same bucket as Comet/Cyclone/Hurricane. It has been made by the Spanish manufacturer Spinball in 1995. This manufacturer only existed for 3 years and made 3 machines in total. There are not a lot of these machines left. It does not have the deepest game rules out there, but it has some nice features. Having bumber cars as your pop bumbers is just a simple but great idea. This machine also has 2 additional buttons. With these buttons you can control the magnet in the "magnetic house". The player needs to use the magnet to get the 3 balls in the right holes so that you can start multiball. When I have visitors a lot of them automatically get attracted to this machine, it is very inviting to start a game.

10 days ago

Nice story! I know what you mean about something getting lost when you play games at home compared to the excitement and tension of wanting to get a free game in the arcade when money was scarce! When I started playing the idea of increasing replay score had not made it into pinballs so I could literally play all night and even sell accumulated credits (which I did at a 2 for the price of one deal). You'd get 3 credits for beating the high-score, so the trick was to try and beat the high score by the absolute minimum amount to make it easier to beat on the next game, which could involve tilting the game as the bonus was added... on Bally Star Trek this was easy because the bonus count was added very slowly!! . Not a tactic you'd use on a home game!!

Nice to also see some Spanish games in your collection! I became obsessed with these... in fact, seeing the IO Moon on your story photo is what prompted me to read you story! I have a few titles as doubles that you might be interested in by thevway

9 days ago

nice collection. IO moon is definitely rare as all hell. I also have one, and only know of 2 others in existence. Yours makes 4 total now. Super mario mushroom world is also a low run game with about 400 made. They are all yellow. The regular Super mario is the blue cabinet you are thinking of. Great diversity in the collection. nice work.

8 days ago

Pinballslave: you seem to have a pretty impressive collection. I like that it is non standard. Sure, when you own above 100 games you always have some common titles, but the largest chunk are titles that you rarely see. I am also wondering how many floors your "man cave" has ;-). Reselling your credits is actually a funny story. I can't recall if I ever have done that, but the game play was definitely focussed on obtaining credits. We would also prefer to start 4 games at once. Our thinking was that that would increase our chance to win a free game using match. I am actually still not certain if match is truly chance based, but it felt as something that would help. I can also recall that if we would have a bad game we would really try to avoid the tricky shots while having your last ball. That could become pretty boring and pretty slow to get that free game, but at the same point in time -> you had a constant high stress level, especially if it was based on your last guilder and the rest of the afternoon was in serious danger :-). Also wondering which titles you have double.

CaptainNeo: You'll probably know, but according to pinballowners there are 7 known owners for IO Moon. This is also the count on Pinside. Could be someone forgetting to remove it from their collection, but at the same point in time -> some people will have this title, but they just never registered it online. Regardless, this is definitely a title that is extremely hard to find and even harder to obtain. I do have the original built sheet (or whatever the name is of this document) that is actually rather interesting. It mentions that it is actually manufactured by Inder (I guess that Sleic had close ties with Inder) and it mentions that I've got number 36 out of 92. This suggests that 92 machines have been made in total.

8 days ago

Fascinating pinball journey! Your transition from arcade adventures to curating a unique collection, especially with rare finds, is impressive. It's heartening to hear that your passion is shared with your kids. Here's to more flips and family fun on the pinball journey!

8 days ago

Hey Gerwout,

Thanks for your comments. My mancave only has one floor actually, it's just a pretty big one! Most of the games are stored though, only a few are set up to play... I need the drastically thin the herd to get the keepers set up!! Been saying that for years!!!

Interesting theory that 4 players would increase the chance of a match, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way :-) The default match chance of actually achieving a match, at least on the Bally Williams games, is 7%, so you're being a bit swindled in that... it's an adjustable setting though, but I doubt many operators would turn it up to 10, where by rights it should be... bastards! :-D

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