A funny thing happened during a recent visit to a local electronics store…..
This is a bit of a long story. You may read it, you may skim it, you may skip to the end, you may pass on it entirely, or you may wish I was never born. But the story needs to be told because had you asked me 2 weeks ago if I would be taken prisoner by a new hobby and held for ransom, I would have said you are crazy.
We recently refinished our basement and have ping pong and darts (not quite set up yet), but it needed something else, so I wanted to surprise my son for Christmas by just feeling out what he may like in the game room area of a local “everything” store and then come back later to purchase it. I was thinking he would go for air hockey or foosball.
But wait….what’s that pinball machine in the corner? Jurassic Park? I’ve always loved pinball and had mentioned it in passing that it would be cool to have a machine in the basement, if we ever finished it. So, of course, I asked to play a few games, and of course, my son and I didn’t want to stop. At one point, the credits ran out and I was frantically hitting buttons trying to get it to start – I’m sure the salesperson was enjoying this because she was standing right next to us. I simply said “um….I wanted to check something out, can we get 1 more game.” I actually did want to check something – I noticed the right flipper was weaker than the left so was curious about it. Well, anyway, the game was quickly over (we both stink at pinball) and the smiles on our faces when we received a “match” was priceless, I’m sure. I asked about availability – we only have 1 of the Pros in stock she said, none of the Premiums. And we won’t be getting more of either in until Feb/March. Ugh. Last thing I needed to hear. My son was sold – he wanted that more than anything else. But 20 minutes later he changed his mind – Dad, I don’t think we need to get it. Huh? So, now I’m in a quandry.
I don’t know much about pinball machines, but I do know I’m not particularly handy and I’m sure these things eventually break, so the research began. I plopped down on a nearby couch while my wife and son wandered away. 20 minutes later, I decided I will need to think this one over. In the meantime, my son comes over and says “Mom wants this thing – you need to come see it”. So, we went to the upper level of the store and she’s sitting in a massager chair. Uh-oh. Well played.
So that evening the official research project began. Forum of pinball aficionados, check (thanks pinside.com). Jurassic Park, highly rated, check. Pinball machine repair stores in the Chicago area, check (ha ha – not kidding). Playfield issues with the Jurassic Park machines on earlier models – uh-oh, I’m assuming this one was built recently, right? Measurements in the basement – where would it go….would be great here, I think. Maybe over here? On and on it went. Wow, the Premium with the moving T-Rex looks awesome – should I get that one and just wait? Uh-oh, could have reliability issues – not good for me. So, after 2-3 hours, I decided that I was going to get the Jurassic Park Pro. To top it off, the next morning the first thing my son says to me is "Dad, I really do want that pinball machine". Of course, I'm terrible at keeping a secret so told him I'm going back to buy it as soon as they open. My wife and I believe he knew it was expensive and he didn't want to ask for something like that so he was torn, so he was stoked that I had already decided to get it. I was there when the store opened the next day and luckily it was still available – purchased it and it would be delivered in 2 days. Boom. And, yep, it was the last one – phew. Then I went and bought the massager chair – no way I can buy that pinball machine and not the massager chair for my wife. So, we walked into this store the previous day looking to buy an air hockey table or foosball, and, well…..I don’t even know how to comprehend what just happened. I guess retirement will need to be postponed a bit.
I’m totally blow away – having a blast. Wife and son are having a blast. The Jurassic Park Pro is amazing - no issues other than an occasional Autoplunger misfire up the ramp, but not a big deal. Learning pinball lingo, leveled the playfield using an App, looking at mods, adjusting settings, watching YouTube videos to try to get better, scouting the next machine (Iron Maiden!!...um, yeah, I need that), etc...
What do I like most:
I don’t need WiFi to play
I get to bang stuff with a metal ball
I’m not staring a screen constantly (TV, Phone, Tablet) – yes, there is a screen on the machine but it’s ancillary to the gameplay.
Jurassic Park has strategy and tactics (execution) combined and ruleset is crazy deep – my kind of thing
Hitting necessary shots is a rush
I’m a sucker for the T-Rex roar on multi-ball and get totally jazzed for balls flying around
Our family is playing together
Fast forward 10 days from the Jurassic Park Pro purchase. Avengers Infinity Quest Premium just showed up. Machine #2. A friend said I was crazy - probably, can't argue. My son is stoked...."Dad, you can level up characters!". Of course, the spinning disc malfunctioned after 10 plays – ugh. Here we go……..
Just what kind of rabbit hole have I found myself in?