Got Old, Recently Rediscovered Pinball

By sonjay

July 12, 2023

This story got frontpaged on August 10, 2023

74 days ago

I grew up in the 1960s and '70s playing lots of pinball. There were pinball games everywhere. The 7-11 near my house had a couple of pinball games, and we would ride our bicycles there and play pinball whenever we had some quarters to spare. At the time, you could buy a candy bar for 10¢ and a Coke for 15¢, so two quarters would get you a candy bar, a Coke, and a pinball game. $1 got you the candy bar and Coke and 3 pinball games!

Every mall had an arcade filled with pinball machines. We used to do camping trips every summer, and every campground we stayed at had a gameroom with pinball machines. I'm sure my parents thought it was a waste of time, like how today's parents feel about kids' video games.

Once when my family camped for a few days at Disney World's Fort Wilderness, my sister and I (early teens at the time, I think?) went to the Contemporary Hotel and played pinball in their game room until the wee hours. We left just in time to catch the very last bus from the Contemporary to the campground.

Then I finished high school, went to college, got married, had a kid, had a career, and games sort of fell by the wayside. Arcade video games were taking over and pushing aside the pinball machines. I played a few video games now and then, but pinball was largely forgotten.

Fast forward a few decades. Now I'm old and semi-retired and looking for something fun to do that's not outside in the south Florida heat. Knitting? No, not for me. Crossword puzzles? Too sedate. I discovered that a local restaurant has a game room in back with a pinball machine. I dragged my grandkids there, and while they stayed busy with video games and the claw machine, I mashed away at the flippers on the Ghostbusters pin. I had such a blast! I had totally forgotten how much fun pinball is! When hubby and I took our grandson to the keys for a fishing trip, I dragged them to a nearby restaurant that had a couple of pins. Then I dragged the grandkids to an arcade in the next town, and then a week later to a pinball-heavy arcade an hour away.

I'm blown away by the advances in these machines over the decades since I last played. No longer is it just flailing away at the flippers to keep the ball in play as long as possible. There's an actual story with a plot, and a variety of tactics and strategies and modes. And the playfields, with the ramps and the toys and the multiballs and the extra flippers are the bomb! Sure, I get nostalgic about the pin machines of the 60s & 70s, but wow! Today's machines are like the Millennum Falcon compared to a WWII bomber.

I live in an area that doesn't have many places to play pinball, so by this point I knew I had to buy my own pinball machine. Hubby rolls his eyes at it, much like my parents did way back when. My shiny new Jurassic Park Premium was delivered by the Pinball Dudes a few days ago, and I'm like a kid at Christmas!

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27 days ago

Nice article. Thx for sharing!

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