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May 12

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Last Great Arcade


One of the greatest local gaming sites that has been mentioned over and over throughout this site’s existence and is the current gaming Mecca for the rest of the local Las Vegas gaming scene, the Pinball Hall of Fame is the single greatest reason to part ways with your quarters and send hours in retro heaven. Located in the Northwest corner of Tropicana and Pecos in Las Vegas.  You can always get the directions off of the Pinball Hall of Fame’s website.

Rising from the ashes of the great American arcade, Tim Arnold, the founder of Pinball Hall of Fame has brought one of the greatest and coolest additions to the Las Vegas gaming scene and I don’t mean poker, slots and other variations of the term “gaming.” What the PHoF delivers is 100% pure nostalgia and the real felling of being in a great pinball hall of the 50′s, 60′s,  70′s & 80′s (depending on the aisle) from days long past. From pinball machines from the 50′s all the way to today, the PHoF is a great place to visit the past in gaming and they also have a pretty neat small 80′s retro arcade in the back. ;) One of the greatest assets of the PHoF is that every bit of the profit goes to the local chapter of the Salvation Army so by gaming you are helping out the local Las Vegas community.

[From pinballmuseum.org]

The Pinball Hall of Fame is a registered 501c3 non-profit. It relies on visitors stopping by to play these games, restored pinball machine sales, and ‘This Old Pinball’ repair dvd videos (available for sale at the museum). The PHoF has also helped out with fundraising for the local Salvation Army, accepting donations to benefit them. There is a candy vending stand, where the entire 25 cents of each quarter goes directly to the Salvation Army. And after the PHoF covers its monthly expenses for rent, electricity, insurance, endowment savings, the remainder of the money goes to the Salvation Army.

My interest in pinball has been piqued with my recent purchase of Williams Pinball Collection for the Wii and last Saturday I just had the urge to play the real thing. Video pinball just wasn’t cutting it anymore because I needed my pinball fix. It’s been a long while since I’ve been back at the PHoF but recently after talking pinball with Sean over at Game Repair, he suggested several great tables to play since I’m still a pinball noob. The table that Sean was really hyping was Medieval Madness. So being very bored on a Saturday evening and now having a great excuse to test the panoramic feature to my camera and testing how well the photos will look in low lighting, Tenno and I went on over and play a few tables and killed an hour or two.

My obvious first search was to find Medieval Madness. I wanted to see what the big hubbub was all about. I finally found the machine tucked away the third aisle and was wondering what’s so amazing about this table. Yeah the art looked cool but what makes this table so freaking awesome? I placed in my $0.75 and immediately lost all of my balls. WTF! Placed in another $0.75 and began to actually play well this time.

It took me about 5 minutes to finally realize that this game is pretty cool. My all time favorite pinball machine is still Star Trek: The Next Generation but this comes a close second as far as amount of sheer game modes, animated items on the playfield ramps and all around crazy shit that just pops out of the playfield. This game has it all, wacky destructible castle, castle with a drawbridge, annoying trolls that pops out of the main play field. I really dig the outright wackiness that Medieval Madness has to offer. I was starting to get the hang of the machine and like all good things; my game came to an end. I wanted to play some more but I needed to moved on since there was a big crowd huddled behind me around the Theater of Magic table, too bad too because I never had a chance to play that game. It must be great judging by the long queue of people waiting to play it. Oh well, that’s the beauty of being a local, I can play that cab the next time I come back.

I used this opportunity to try out some of the cabs that I never really gave much play before. This was the first time that I didn’t play the Star Trek: The Next Generation machine. I would have if I could but the crowd of people around it made it impossible to play it comfortably, so because of my slight claustrophobic fears, I was able to experience some great classic tables, mainly because they were the only machines that didn’t have a mob around them. I’m learning that the older electronic magnetic machines from the 50′s and 60′s are damn cheap. I played through a variety of them and sadly I couldn’t tell you what tables I played since they all look alike to me BUT I was able to get a couple of really neat panoramic photos of the long line of tables with my camera. A bit artsy-fartsy but I like how they turned out.

Actually, I was really surprised how busy the PHoF was at 8pm on a Saturday night. Usually when I’m in there, there maybe be a handful of people but last Saturday night, the place was quite packed. I’m glad business is good but it was getting pretty difficult to find a row of machines to photograph that didn’t have someone playing on them; bad for me but great for the location. Kudos to everyone for getting the word out, I guess.

Tenno and I split up. I went straight toward the real real pinball tables that I’ve been spending so much time playing on my Wii. I wanted to try and see if I can beat my virtual score on Pinbot on the real machine. Man this table is so simple but still so much fun. Many of the shots are not super difficult and the machine doesn’t feel too easy. I can actually do okay on it. My score wasn’t great but I’m starting to get it. I’m learning not to wildly flail my paddle about and focus on the balls telemetry of the whole game. Settle down and take my shots. For the first time ever, I feel like I have some slight sense of control over the playfield. Woah…

I wondered over to the newer Stern tables and did a play through on the Family Guy machine. The funny and ironic thing about this table is that the newer Shrek pinball is the exact same tables with the exact same ramps with the exact same mini pinball table in the upper left. For all intent and purpose, they are identical. I couldn’t believe it when Sean mentioned that to me a couple of week ago but damn, there it was: identical playfields. I tried out the Family Guy and Tenno played on the Shrek. I’m no pinball expert but these tables sure seemed easy, which I’m grateful for since they cost so much to play. While it might not have the lasting power as some of the more legendary tables, I did enjoy the Family Guy and Tenno seemed to like the Shrek so hey whatever. We were having fun and isn’t that what’s it all about?

Finally after spending too much money test playing each and every table that interested me, I went to my last and final machine, the über rare Circus Pinball. There was only two ever made and one of them is actually in the PHoF! I always end my sessions at the PHoF with a play on Circus Pinball because it’s just freaking awesome to play on a rare machine.

[From the Internet Pinball Database]

Prototype machine for new pinball machine design. Steve Kordek stated at Expo 2005 that there were two units made: he owns one of them, and the other one is in Germany. It was reported that Steve loaned then sold his unit to Tim Arnold at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

Circus Pinball is a great table. It the world’s only vertical pinball with the main goal to work your way up to the top playing field by hitting the ramps to the next playing fields and eventually reaching the top level where you knock out the clown’s teeth and score big bonus points. Saturday was the farthest I’ve ever got with this table. I made it to the clown and know out 2 of his three teeth but eventually lost control and dropped the ball all the way back down to the lower play field. I always make sure I have at least a dollar left so I can make this table my last. One day I’ll knock out this damn clown’s teeth and make this jackpot, damn it.

The last and final photo that I took is actually my favorite. I like how the lighting from the space pilot machine is illuminating Tenno while the rest of the machines are eerily glowing in the dark arcade. The Pinball Hall of Fame is best to visited at night so you can see all the different machines flickering from the outside. I don’t know why I haven’t visited more often but I need to make a more concerted effort to support my local gaming arcade/museum. I’m using this opportunity to play through as many machines and focus on my favorites and eventually save up enough money one day buy one table for my personal collection. I haven’t decided which table I should focus on.  Sigh.  Why do they have to cost so much?

To all you pinheads out there, any suggestions on amazing tables that I need to play?  What’s your favorite table?

–Jangofatt

About the author

Jangofatt

Jango believes in the simple rule of gaming: games are meant to be played and enjoyed, not to be placed behind glass only to be to stared at. When he isn't playing old school games, Jango is also the host for the Pinekast in which you will hear his frustrations with his fellow site members. Believe you me, a bad day gaming and recording the Pinekast is always better than a good day at work.

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    [...] I would buy Medieval Madness and expand my house to make a bigger game room. Sadly after buying Medieval Madness, I would [...]

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