It all started because my mother loves coffee, or to be precise, espresso coffee. In the 70's the only way to drink decent espresso coffee was to go to a bar ("café" in French). So my mother was a regular customer... and I followed.
These places were boring for a 6 years old. The only interesting things were these fascinating and noisy machines that we call "flippers" in France. So I quickly tried to play. Had to get a stool to see the playfield. Sadly, I can't remember on which EM machine I started to play. The first one I remember is Jubilee but dates do not match: that was at least two years later. And Jubilee seemed fast to me at that time !! (well, perspective may change).
Later on, I discovered Arcades. Paradise... I never caught the virus of arcade games, just focussed on Pins. I lost enough money that way. In the meantime, I had to adjust from the EM to SS transition. Flash was nice, but Black Hole was the Holy Grail. A true black hole for my coins...The 80's were great for pins. A few years later Banzai Run showed up in the same arcade. What a blast!
That arcade closed and I moved to another city, but still could play in bars. We use to drink beer after Volley Ball practice (to cancel the beneficial effects of sport) or work (to relax) and our favourite bars always had one pin. Some I remember... sadly turnover was low, so if you hated the pin, you really could develop an allergy. Hence my rating for Amazon Hunt II.
I more or less stopped playing in 2002 - these bars closed, or changed hands. There were renovated and were looking for a different crowd ("Bobos" - who like to talk and hate noise. They see Pinball players as Neanderthals). Pins became a nuisance. So sad. I could occasionally find a Pin during Holidays or travel, and would never miss the opportunity to play it.
The Hunger grew. I craved for it. I then actively started to look for ressources in the Internet and joined several forums late 2011. I discovered that owning a machine was not an impossibility. So I started looking for one before Xmas, and that's probably the worst period to buy. Especially if you are looking for specific pins (my High School / college sweethearts: Black hole and Banzai Run). As I could not find them, I settled for a lesser evil, and my first Pin was Bally Spectrum. A very atypical machine I chose because of its beautiful backglass and learnt to love. I knew from the beginning it would not be the only one - I bought it to transiently fix the addiction, and avoid paying a fortune for a BH or BR. But I was not expecting to buy three others (Stargate, Zaccaria Black Belt and an EM, Space mission). I found a Banzai Run this summer... all I need now is a Black Hole... and more space!