Long time lurker, first time poster. Being a local guy from RI (I had the navy blue Talking Heads shirt on), this is the first pinball show I've been to, so here's a layman's perspective.
First of all, a standing ovation is in order for everybody who made this show possible. To Gabe, the staff and volunteers, those who brought a game, vendors, the speakers and everyone else involved; a heartfelt thank you. It's amazing to see everybody's hard work come together to make a spectacular show. The idea of people hauling these big games from across New England just for the sake of the hobby is incredible. From the moment I entered, it was clear that there was a strong, communal respect for pinball and it was quite an experience to observe.
The game selection was great and there were many more EM games than I expected. There's very few places to play EM pinball in New England, so it was a huge treat. There was a great buzz in the air and everybody was courteous and seemed to be having a great time; kids and adults alike. There was plenty of staff around to patrol the games and take care of any issues if necessary. Most of the issues involved games with no credits, so it was nice to see some games with credit buttons wired in. For most of the day (I was there open 'till close), the hall was pretty active but not so crowded where every game had a line. Most of the action was in the first row of games closest to the hall entrance, and the last row with mostly EMs didn't get as much love.
The exhibit hall was spacious and nicely laid out and it was a treat to play Full Throttle and Lexy Lightspeed. Full Throttle had good flow to it, made nice use of the LCD without being distracting to the gameplay and played very snappy and fast. Lots to do.
Lexy Lightspeed was better than I originally expected it to be, mostly because of the interactive LCD playfield. Each of the mode mini-games was very well themed and immersive,with unique goals and varied strategies. The man running the booth was very helpful in explaining the modes and told me it was possible to achieve an 8-Ball (!) multiball. Whoa Nellie was underwhelming for me. Didn't play any better than an old EM and wouldn't be worth the money to me. Hobbit played well and has come a long way since Expo '14. There was a line for this one and the general consensus was that it was pretty good. The playfield was pretty spacious but there was enough variety to keep it interesting for the 2 balls I got to play.
VPCabs is an interesting concept, but is limited by the quality of the simulation which varies from table to table. If Pinball Arcade fully supports a cabinet mode, a VPCab would be a great investment but some of the lackluster Visual Pinball tables I played just didn't cut it. On the other hand, some tables were very well done with realistic physics. At points, I was nudging the table around as if it were real.
I was a little disappointed that more vendors didn't take advantage of the outdoor fleamarket. From what I saw there were only two or three vendors. They were in the same area as the Monster Mobile Arcade and Kiddie Corner which were a nice touch but didn't seem to get much traffic from what I saw. Maybe with some better signage there would have been more activity. There were PA announcements which spelled out where they were which helped out a lot.
I was also confused by the Restoration Throwdown room. Inside the room there were only two machines, with no signage, descriptions or pictures of what the machines were like pre-restoration, who restored them, or any immediate way to vote for a winner. It would have been nice to see what was done to the games. Maybe there will be more entries tomorrow. Eric's PinBot was gorgeous and got action all day.
Seminars were great, and the live-streaming and asking Pinside posters questions was a great way to make those who couldn't attend take part in the discussion. The logistics to pull this off must have taken a lot of work. Kudos to you guys!
Overall, it was a fantastic show. Gabe and crew obviously did their homework for this one and it showed. If you're thinking about going tomorrow; do it. There's no way you can walk away from this event disappointed. Thanks again to everyone involved and here's to a Pintastic New England 2016!