My story: Tuggin’ at the Heart-Strings!

By spida1a

October 17, 2013

This story got frontpaged on October 26, 2013

10 years ago

I have been playing arcade games since I was tall enough to reach the joystick, even if that meant with the help of a step-ladder. I was born in 1977 and remember standing on a step-stool years later, moving a little yellow guy around a maze. The yellow cabinet seemed like a huge cavern compared to my tiny size as I tried to gobble each pellet from the board. This was around 1980-81 and I was about three years old. The game was Pac-Man.

From that moment on (until about 2001-ish) the arcade would be my second home. In fact, video games would be my hobby for almost 20 years. I visited the arcade a million times each month. I collected the latest home consoles (from 8-bit NES, to Genesis, to Playstation). I named my bedroom "Bucci's Arcade" with high score boards taped to the wall. Eventually, I even started a Bucci's Arcade Gazette (B.A.G.) newsletter that lasted for two years.

Yes...I did have friends surprisngly! Lol. :)

During my early arcade ventures, I noticed a different type of machine, often in the back corner. It was bigger than the videogame machines with a ball that rolled down a playfield. You used two paddles (or more) to keep the ball in play and get the highest score possible. My first exposure to pinball fascinated me.

However, I was so addicted to video games in the early 80s (especially with some of the Nintendo installments like Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong) that I gave pinball little attention. Most of the pin-games I had the opportunity to play were early solid-state machines from the late 70s / early 80s.  I would drop a quarter in, lose very fast, and head off to play another video game. The titles of most pins I played in the early 80s escape me although I definitely remember dropping a few quarters into Black Knight, Jungle Lord, Xenon and Comet.

This lack of enthusiasm was about to change.

Putt Putt Golf 'n Games was my second home during my childhood years. The arcade was rather small. However, it was close to home and they always seemed to have the latest arcade games. Keep in mind that at this point in history the Atari 2600 reigned supreme as a home console. While always fun to have at home, the Atari never could rival the graphics and playability of an arcade machine. Therefore, I could think of nowhere else I would rather be than at an arcade.

In the corner of this particular room there always stood at least one pinball machine. Just like my previous encounters with the silver-ball...I would plop at least one of my precious tokens into the slot. After a quick game, it was off to jump some barrels on Donkey Kong or try and snag the gold medal on Track 'n Field.

In 1986 my pinball playing was about to take a real positive turn. During one of their game rotations Putt Putt received a new pinball machine. It did not look like any I had ever seen before. It had a red siren light on the top. It had a jet black cabinet with a ton of flashing playfield lights. It had four orange displays illuminating both numbers and letters. It had a cool music track with an awesome drum beat and fantastic speech.

It was a Williams High Speed.

At first I thought it was just another pinball machine. Although intrigued by its design, I was ready to play a quick game and move on as usual. However, as I watched other people play while patiently waiting my turn, I realized this game was different in many ways. There was a "goal". The "goal" revolved around a story. The story was accompanied by specific music/speech. The music/speech was related to an eventual huge jackpot payoff. My opinion of pinball had changed forever and my game playing would never be the same!

This new concept of pinball produced by Williams with games like High Speed (which included stackable jackpots, themes, and stories) was fantastic. Even though I was terrible at pinball, I began to realize what to shoot for and complete. I became determined to play HS over and over until I finally got the jackpot. I don't think I ever did get a jackpot.....but it was a lot of fun trying.

The High Speed story is VERY important in relation to my pinball history because it got me to really "play" the game.

I love pinball in all of its many incarnations. I like electro-mechanical and pre-1986 solid-state games. I play them all of the time at arcades, historical museums, and at other collector's houses. I have great respect for everything that came before I was a player and enjoy trying to "figure them all out."

However, everything that came post-High Speed has really become my major area of interest. Subsequent Williams releases like Pinbot, Millionaire, F14 Tomcat and Cyclone appeared at Putt Putt over the years. Like High Speed, I played them a lot as well. I learned many of my skills from this early era of pins.

Then....the addiction began! Taxi showed up in late 1988 and became what cemented my addiction to pinball. After Taxi there was no turning back and I was now a definite pinball nut. I was now playing pinball equal or even MORE than I was the arcade games sitting around it. This was....huge!

And...I still had friends....somehow! :)

The first game I bought was in 1993 and I was 16. At this point I lived in an apartment building with my mom (where I had been since I was 2). However, that did not stop me from cramming the machine in my bedroom. That game? A Williams Taxi. The game that got me started as a pinball nut was the game that got me started collecting. 

The second game I bought was three years later in 1996. We had just moved into a new home with a basement room that I furnished into my personal College/game/movie room. I knew I could fit at least one other pinball machine into it. Little did I know that this extra room for only "one" other game would later turn into an obsession.

As for the rest of the story, I would say it is history. If you read everything that I write about for every game I own or previously owned (on my website ... which isn't updated much anymore unfortunately), most of my pinball history will be uncovered.

When you come right down to it ... it is all about the stories! Isn't it?

Story photos

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10 years ago

Great story you have! i enjoy your youtube videos. I tried to shoot you an email a while back, but I don't know if you got it. Did you ever finish pination? I would love to have that because i have heads that eyes don't work. I haven't had the time to work on them yet, I rather read about it then do it.

10 years ago

Awesome pinball history, man! I've seen you on YouTube, and I gotta say, I'm quite jealous of your collection (at least as of those videos about them). You have two games I really want to own someday!(Shadow and NGG)

10 years ago

Always enjoy your youtube vids. Great story!

10 years ago

Excellent story! Taxi got me going as well.

10 years ago

Thanks guys! I appreciate it. :)

10 years ago

Hey Chris, you are one of the reasons I bought my first pinball! Your insight, knowledge, background stories and all round passion for collecting you share on your videos put a spark under me. Thanks!

10 years ago

Hey, that's great to hear pinnyheadhead! Ha ha. I'm glad you are enjoying the hobby. :)

10 years ago

Chris, your story is great. I'm 17 now and I was also already playing pinball when 10. My first machine was a Williams Comet though, since I simply didn't have the money for a system 11. I was 13 when I bought it and it was a lotta fun. Since then my collection began to grow, and I'm still a system 11 fan.

Your videos are great too, love to have some of your machine in my room some day ( diner... earthshaker, funhouse (or was that a WPC?))

Myself, I got a police force, rollergames and a whirlwind, which is my favorite.

Hope to see some new videos soon :) sorry not that much of a stern fan xD (since you uploaded the transformers vid. today)

10 years ago

Great story! Thanks for sharing ...

10 years ago

Great story, thanks for sharing, your you tube vids are great, I really appreciate you taking the time to put them together and share them with the world, hope you make many more in the future, if you ever get the chance please make one on lord of the rings, I would love to see your thoughts on that game one day ..cheers..

4 years ago

Chris, I discovered your YouTube videos about 6 years ago. Great Job! It only fueled my pinball addiction and I started to collect what you showed in your collection. Very cool stuff!

1 year ago

Thanks everyone. :)

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