I don’t recall ever playing pinball before high school. NK secondary was where I went- it was about a block away from our local arcade. Fun Factor was the Friday / Saturday night meet up spot on any given weekend. In a day and age before cellphones it was the spot you went if you wanted to meet up with friends. School lunches were often spent there as well if you had some spare change rattling your pockets. It was a fun place to hang out even if you were broke too. Just watching other people dump their coins all lunch hour seemed to pass the time. I always remember the pinball machines, quietly placed in the corners. They always drew curiosity with there flashing light schemes and cool themes. But the price kept most away. I rarely saw people playing them. Star Trek: The Next Gen was in one corner, Tommy in the other. I’m sure there were a few other pins in the midst of the sea of video games, but it was Star Trek that called out to me. This was in the day of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Kids would crowd around the players to see if they could see a new finishing move or some blood spill on the floor. I was never any good at the fighter games. I’d learn basic moves but was never obsessed enough to learn all the finishing moves. The crowds would form and I would head over to Star Trek. A buck a game was a lot of money in 1994. My friends thought I was crazy to even try them out “why do you play these things…they’re such a ripoff?”. Once you realized 2 bucks got you three games and then add in replays and matches you could actually play for a while on a few bucks. I knew a kid that bragged that he had spent over $1000 on street fighter alone that year. I figured I was saving money and having more fun while I was at it- so I stuck with the pinball.
I didn’t play again for years after high school. Arcades replaced most of their stuff with redemption ticket games and they became more kid friendly than adult orientated. I dabbled a bit in my thirties until I couldn’t resist anymore. I went hunting for my first pinball machine. I made an attempt to pick one up across the border but was turned away by the border guard. I don’t think he believed I could fit a pinball machine in my car. I soon found one close to home. I bought it on my 40th birthday. Mars Trek by sonic, an EM game which in my opinion is way underrated due to it’s particle board cabinet. Super fun to play tho. Beautiful colours and it looks great in my living room. I have no plans on ever getting rid of it. I picked up another non working machine this year and managed to fix it again- a Stern first gen SS. I’m hoping to trade up for another machine that needs repair. I personally can’t justify paying the ridiculous prices people are asking for machines these days, but I don’t mind fixing and trading ’em. I’m hoping to eventually have my Mars trek, a 90’s DMD, and a newer machine. Three should keep me happy….right. Just three? Seems like a good number.