MANUEL’S TAVERN

Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta

“One of the best bars in the U.S.” – Esquire Magazine

Manuel’s reminds me of how neighborhood bars used to be in the heartland of America; a visitor can find, at any given time, a broad cross-section of American culture rubbing elbows, discussing the news item of the day, arguing the merits of a particular sports team, or supporting the idea of the century.

The exterior of Manuel's Tavern
The exterior of Manuel’s Tavern

I found the waitstaff to be friendly and attentive as needed, but not overly so. The selection of beers and other refreshments should satisfy anyone’s needs and I felt that the menu is outstanding.

Inside Manuel's Tavern
Inside Manuel’s Tavern

Manuel’s has been in the same location in Atlanta Midtown since 1956 – the owner modeled it on the taverns he had visited while stationed in England during the second World War. He filled the Tavern with salvaged furnishings – mismatched chairs and tables, booths, lighting fixtures, wall paneling – from grand old homes and stores scheduled for demolition.

Manuel’s recently completed a complete renovation and interior re-construction that kept the most recognizable parts of the classic decor while cleaning up and modernizing the rest.

Just before the six-month renovation, a project was completed to digitize all of the photos, paintings, pennants, etc. on the walls of Manuel’s Tavern. The project brought together Georgia State University, Emory University, Savannah College of Art and Design and the Atlanta Studies Network who worked to preserve the ‘organic archive’ that these items represent.

The bar
The bar

Many items were discovered including an unmarked container above the bar housing the ashes of original owner Manuel Maloof, dusty beer cans, moldering sports pennants, law enforcement uniform patches, snapshots of well-known politicians (including former President Jimmy Carter) and anonymous tipplers, risqué oil paintings traded as payment for ancient tabs and a stuffed rodent, the subject of an inside joke (“Darrel Caudill Memorial Door,” a plaque beneath it reads) that the owners will not spoil.

The bar
Historical paraphernalia behind the bar

I visited Manuel’s during a weekday lunch hour and ordered their ‘Stadium Dog’ with a side order of fried onion rings. I was asked what I wanted on my hot dog and I said, “everything”, without fully understanding what that meant. ‘Everything’ at Manuel’s means ‘Loaded’ and includes chili, sauerkraut, cheese sauce, coleslaw, chopped onion, pickle spear, relish, and other things that I couldn’t identify. There were so many toppings on the Loaded ‘dog that it couldn’t easily be eaten like a sandwich – it had to be eaten with a knife and fork.

The fully-loaded Stadium Dog
The fully-loaded Stadium Dog, with onion rings

Although I did not have the courage to order it, Manuel’s most popular hot dog is called the Dogzilla. It is a ½lb grilled tube steak on a bakery style roll served with french fried potatoes.

The Dogzilla can be ordered ‘Loaded’ the same as the stadium dog mentioned above. I was told by the bartender that on the typical day Manuel’s serves two miles of hot dogs.

I felt that my lunch with two Pabst Blue Ribbon draft beers (don’t judge) was very reasonably-priced and left lots of change for a generous tip and quarters for the game room. The featured beer when I visited was Prairie Artisan Ales’ Prairie Bomb, which is a 13% ABV decadent descent into coffee, chocolate, and vanilla bean taste sensations. I had a small sample but felt since I was driving it was a bit too potent.

Although I didn’t have a chance to try breakfast at Manuel’s this trip, I was told that their eggs are provided by the free-range chickens that roost on the roof of the tavern.

Manuel’s game room is located to the left of the main entrance near the newly reconstructed washrooms. In the game room is the Golden Tee video game seemingly found in the majority of bars in America, Big Buck Hunter, darts, and two nearly-new and well-maintained pinball games:

Ghostbusters LE (Stern, 2016)

Batman 66 Premium (Stern, 2016)

The two pinballs in Manuel's Tavern game room
The two pinballs in Manuel’s Tavern game room

Both are priced at 50 cents per 3-ball game – quarters only. While I was at Manuel’s the Ghostbusters game was in constant use so I played Batman 66; my first time playing this game.

Ghostbusters Limited Edition
Ghostbusters Limited Edition

Batman 66 Premium
Batman 66 Premium

As someone mentioned on the Pinball Map website, the left flipper return spring for the Batman 66 at Manuel’s is either broken or dislodged so that was a bummer. The game is still very playable and I was able to win a game on points my first try. I found the game to be addictive and played quite a few games until the time for my visit had expired.

Playing the Batman 66
Playing the Batman 66

There is no change machine in the game room but the bartenders are happy to change dollars to quarters with a smile if needed.

On weekend nights, certain rooms of Manuel’s Tavern are reserved for board-gamers; including one of the largest Dungeons and Dragons gaming groups in the USA.

Manuel’s Tavern has been a family-run treasure of a working class bar and restaurant with friendly staff and a huge history in the Atlanta community if not the whole of Georgia. Even today Manuel’s is a gathering place for local politicians, blue-collar workers, the press, writers, actors, policemen, and just about anyone else you can imagine. In Manuel’s parking lot there is a prominent sign marking a prime parking space as ‘Clergy Parking Only (Seriously)’.

President Obama visited Manuel's on March 10th, 2015
President Obama visited Manuel’s on March 10th, 2015
(picture: Atlanta Journal Constitution)

I would encourage you if you are in the Atlanta area to give Manuel’s Tavern a visit- hopefully they will have the left flipper on Batman 66 fixed by then so you can take a shot at the high score.

MAIN STREET AMUSEMENTS

Main Street Amusements

Report by Rob Wintler-Cox

For a place that’s bordered on three sides by states with lots of locations, it used to be relatively hard to find a good game of pinball in Indiana. That all changed in January of 2012 when Dan St. John opened Main Street Amusements in the small city of Lafayette, about an hour’s drive north of Indianapolis and two hours south of pinball’s Mecca, Chicago.

Main Street Amusements is part of the recent trend in retro arcades that have been opening up in the last few years. Located in an old but nicely-maintained downtown store front, it is surrounded by funky stores and restaurants.

The pins are clearly visible through the large front windows, inviting the player inside.

The classically styled store front The classically styled store front

It is open from 7pm to 11pm Tuesday through Saturday, and closed most holidays. When I arrived at 9:30pm on a Saturday night, the streets were almost empty but the neighborhood appeared relatively safe.

Inside, the arcade is clean and bright, with ample room and a high ceiling. There is a vintage pop machine that dispenses decidedly non-vintage 20oz sodas, and a tiny two-person dining area where you can relax with your drink. Most of the decor is inspired by the owner’s affection for White Castle and Bob’s Big Boy restaurants.

Games at Main Street Amusements Games at Main Street Amusements

A full-size fiberglass Big Boy statue -- just looking at it makes me hungry for a signature double-decker cheeseburger A full-size fiberglass Big Boy statue – just looking at it makes me hungry for a signature double-decker cheeseburger

There are a total of twenty-seven pins and two video games. Overall, it’s a good, solid collection of games: A few A-listers, some player-favorites, new Sterns, some classics, and just enough rarely-seen titles to keep things interesting.

The Medieval Madness has been outfitted with a ColorDMD and looks great.

Medieval Madness with ColorDMD Medieval Madness with ColorDMD

The four newest Stern games are all LEs, though I would argue that Avatar’s and The Rolling Stones’ LE versions don’t add much over the standard Pro versions; Transformers LE at least has the two mini-playfields and TRON LE has lots of eye candy. There are even two 1940s games from the early years of the flipper.

Rocket and Morocco, for when you feel like some post-war gaming
Rocket and Morocco, for when you feel like some post-war gaming

Pricing is pretty reasonable. Games run on 25 cent tokens. All the newer games are three tokens per credit, older DMD games and solid-state classics at two tokens, and the E-M games are one token. All the games I saw gave a price break for multiple credits.

The two ’40s games are cash-only and cost a nickel per play, just like the old days. Tokens are dispensed from a change machine in the back which takes credit cards as well as bills — a nice convenience in our increasingly cash-free society. I was briefly confused by the $2 minimum on the change machine until Dan explained what was going on.

More games at Main Street Amusements

More games at Main Street Amusements

Generally, the games were well maintained and very playable. When I was there, only Viper Night Drivin’ was out of order. A few games had minor issues — Medieval Madness had a flipper that was out of adjustment, which made the lock and catapult shots easy but everything else tough — but otherwise these games are clean and in great shape.

Toys that are chronically broken at most locations (Stewie Pinball on Family Guy, the motor on Corvette) were in good working condition. I did not play Demolition Man to see if the claw was functional, but based on the condition of the other games I’ll bet it is. Even the ’40s E-M games had good strong flippers and bumper action.

More games at Main Street Amusements

The back of the arcade was devoted to a clean and well-organized repair shop (I was extremely jealous), guarded by fierce attack dog and Rin Tin Tin look alike Wham-o.

You’re OK as long as you stay on this side of the barrierYou’re OK as long as you stay on this side of the barrier

Dan does pinball repair, and in the back were a Tri-Zone, a Space Shuttle, and a third game being refurbed while I was there (I thought the third game was a Flash, but looking at the pictures now I don’t know). I’m not sure if these were games for the arcade or for customers. Dan is very personable and I chatted with him a few times about the history of pinball and fast food.

I think this is everyone’s dream repair shop... plus, Stealth Big Boy!
I think this is everyone’s dream repair shop… plus, stealth Big Boy!

Game list:

  • Avatar LE
  • Bally Rocket
  • Big Shot
  • Black Knight
  • Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy
  • Chicago Cubs Triple Play
  • Corvette
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Demolition Man
  • Eight Ball Deluxe
  • Family Guy
  • Gorgar
  • Harley Davidson (Stern, 3rd Edition)
  • Mario Andretti
  • Medieval Madness
  • Monopoly
  • Morocco
  • Bobby Orr Power Play
  • Revenge From Mars
  • South Park
  • Spanish Eyes
  • Star Wars Episode One
  • The Rolling Stones LE
  • Transformers LE
  • Tron:Legacy LE
  • Twilight Zone
  • Viper Night Drivin’

More games

Main Street Amusements is a great place to play pinball and I highly recommend it… the world needs more locations like this. If you are trapped in Indiana and want to get your game on, this is the place to do it.


UPDATE – May 2017

Report by M.G. Brown

Main Street Amusements, located in the college-y town of Lafayette Indiana, boldly claims that they are “Indiana’s Largest Pinball Arcade‘. I can’t confirm that claim but they certainly have a great line-up of pinball games.

Main Street Amusements' postcard
Main Street Amusements’ postcard

At the time of my visit the following thirty-four pinballs were available for play:

  • Avatar LE (Stern, 2010)
  • Batman 66 Premium (Stern, 2017)
  • Big Indian (Gottlieb, 1974)
  • Big Lebowski, The (Dutch Pinball, 2016)
  • Black Knight (Williams,1980)
  • Bobby Orr’s Power Play (1977)
  • Capt. Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (Bally,1976)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (Midway, 1992)
  • Cybernaut (Bally, 1985)
  • Fire! (Williams,1987)
  • Firepower (Williams, 1980)
  • Funhouse (Williams,1990)
  • Game of Thrones Premium (Stern, 2016)
  • Ghostbusters Premium (Stern, 2016)
  • Harlem Globetrotters On Tour (Bally, 1979)
  • Hollywood (Chicago Coin 1976)
  • King of Diamonds (5-ball, Gottlieb, 1967)
  • Laser Cue (Williams, 1984)
  • Little Chief (Williams, 1975)
  • Medieval Madness (Williams,1997)
  • Metallica Premium (Stern, 2013)
  • Monopoly (Stern, 2001)
  • Olympic Hockey (Williams, 1972)
  • Rapid Fire (Bally, 1982)
  • South Park (Sega, 1999)
  • Spanish Eyes (Williams,1972)
  • Spider-Man (Stern, 2007)
  • Star Trek Premium (Stern, 2013)
  • Strikes and Spares (Bally, 1978)
  • Theatre of Magic (Midway,1995)
  • Tri Zone (Williams,1979)
  • Tron:Legacy LE (Stern, 2011)
  • Twilight Zone (Midway,1993)
  • Walking Dead Premium, The (Stern 2014)

Chicago Gaming Company’s Attack From Mars Re-make and Spooky Pinball’s Total Nuclear Annihilation are on order but are not yet in-house.

I had been told prior to the visit that Main Street Amusements had a few post-war Gottlieb wood- rail games to play for a nickel/credit, but I wasn’t able to find them.

As if this wasn’t enough, add to this already impressive list a number of classic video and novelty games (such as Skycurser, Funland, Stargate, Burgertime, Bull’s Eye Drop Ball, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and the new 8 foot screen World’s Largest Pac-Man) that I didn’t have the time to write down (sorry!).

World's Largest Pac-Man
World’s Largest Pac-Man

Taking all of this into consideration, I feel that they are making a very legitimate claim to the largest arcade in Indiana, if not one of the largest in North America.

All of the games at Main Street Amusements (MSA) accept only their custom brass-colored tokens, while the token dispenser takes credit cards as well as cash. Buying tokens in ‘quantity’ gets you bonus tokens. You can also pay for game credits from your phone – download the app, load the money from your bank account, and play.

If you’ve spent all your money on playing games, you can at least request the 1950s-vintage Ask Swami machine to read your fortune for a penny. When Ask Swami isn’t foretelling the future, it doubles as a napkin holder.

MSA publishes their ‘Top 20’ most played games weekly on their Facebook page. OK, they OCCASIONALY publish the Top 20 games… The May 30th Top 20 list was:

  1. World’s Largest Pac-Man
  2. Bulls-Eye Drop Ball
  3. Galaga
  4. Ms. Pac-Man
  5. The Big Lebowski
  6. Capt. Fantastic
  7. Space Invaders
  8. BurgerTime
  9. Firepower
  10. Rapid Fire
  11. Skycurser
  12. Little Chief
  13. Bobby Orr’s Power Play
  14. Batman 66
  15. Fun Land
  16. Harlem Globetrotters On Tour
  17. Donkey Kong Junior
  18. Game of Thrones
  19. Theatre of Magic
  20. Ghostbusters.

It is worth noting that many of MSA’s older games are one credit per play (25 cents or less) – an insane entertainment value!

Next door to MSA is DT Kirby’s bar and grill which is a converted movie theatre complete with marquee.

DT Kirby's
DT Kirby’s

This somewhat upscale dive bar is popular with the University-esque folks and claims to serve the best burgers in the area.

The sign at DT Kirby's
The sign at DT Kirby’s

One of DT Kirby’s best selling burgers is the Stacked Slaw Burger which is a Kaiser bun toasted with two 1/4-pound patties with bacon in middle topped with slaw and fresh onions. They have a mind-boggling half menu page of specialty hot dogs called “Indiana Dogs”.

One of the burger optionat at DT Kirby's
One of the burger optionat at DT Kirby’s

The Mac-n-Nap burger
The Mac-n-Nap burger

DT Kirby's Last Call Dog
DT Kirby’s Last Call Dog

DT Kirby’s also has small-batch beverages from Sun King Brewery which is located in nearby Fishers, Indiana. Lack of time didn’t allow me to visit DT Kirby’s beyond a walk in-walk out. Next trip I will check DT Kirby’s out in-depth and let you know what they are all about.

Main Street Amusements’ web site has a pinball-cam (web-cam) – you can see two views of what’s going on there during the hours they are open. It doesn’t say so explicitly, but it’s implied on MSA’s website that MSA is available for private parties by appointment. Check with them if you are interested.

MSA hosts the Lafayette Pinball League as well as tournament pinball play on Tuesday nights. The 3rd Tuesday of every month is tournament night, most other Tuesdays are league nights. Play starts at 7:30pm. Contact them for more details.

MSA will be hosting ‘Main Street Mayhem II: More Mayhem’ which is a two-day match-play format tournament held on September 16th & 17th, 2017. The entry fee is $75 per person and that includes a custom designed T-shirt and sticker available only to tournament players. Check the event page on Facebook for more information and to register. The tournament is limited to 48 players, with 16 spots on the waitlist, so don’t delay.

Main Street Amusements does repair and servicing of nearly all coin-operated games from their surgically clean and well-equipped on-site repair shop. MSA is well lit, clean, and attracts a primarily adult clientele. The prices on the games are very reasonable (you can play for hours on $20 worth of tokens), the majority of the games are working 100%, and are well maintained. I saw that MSA has a checklist where they go around daily and assure that each game is fully functional.

Although Lafayette, Indiana is quite a road trip from where I live, it is one that I plan to make again soon when I have more time to relax and enjoy playing all of their games (probably more than once).

MSA is a fantastic place to put on your personal pinball site bucket list.

MIHIDERKA PINBALL & FOOD FESTIVAL 2

Printimus Pinball in Bytom, Poland

After last year’s inaugural Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival – the world’s only combined pinball and vegan food event – we are back at Printimus Pinball in the southern Polish town of Bytom to enjoy the burgers and the flippers for a second time.

The home of Printimus Pinball in Bytom, Poland
The home of Printimus Pinball in Bytom, Poland

Printimus is a full-service printing company based on a light industrial park on the outskirts of Bytom in the Silesia region of the country. While printing is the main business, the building also houses a nice collection of pinballs ranging from 1977 Gottlieb four-players such as Bronco and Jungle Queen, through to Jersey Jack Pinball’s The Hobbit Smaug Edition.

The Printimus Pinball collection
The Printimus Pinball collection

Printimus is owned by Marcin Krysiński while the Printimus Pinball section is run by joint Polish IFPA Director, Łukasz Dziatkiewicz who is also president of Polish Pinball Association (PSF). Together they would host a main pinball tournament, a classic tournament, a JJP tournament, a magic-themed tournament and a Dig-Dug video game tournament.

Łukasz shows off his pinball socks
Łukasz shows off his pinball socks

Mihiderka is a Marcin’s family-run vegan restaurant which began as a single operation in Gliwice near Bytom but has since expanded to three locations with a fourth opening soon and further expansion on the cards.

The Mihiderka logo

So, the three-day event gives a unique opportunity to combine competitive pinball with the best in plant-based cuisine.

But before we get to any of that, we left the Printimus building for a ride to another unique business based in the nearby city of Katowice. On the way there we drove through the city of Chorzów. The city was a sponsor of the Mihiderka Pinball and Food Festival, providing prizes to the winners, and even included pinball in its promotional video (something which is very unusual in Poland) to businesses looking to invest in the region.

The pinball-themed promotional video for Chorzów

So it was that our car dropped us off down a narrow alleyway.

What's down this unexceptional-looking alleyway?
What’s down this unexceptional-looking passage?

Our destination was a pinball-themed hotel offering an immersive pinball experience for those staying in one of the dedicated pinball rooms.

Welcome to the Pinball Rooms
Welcome to the Pinball Rooms

As soon as you enter the building you come face-to-face with a familiar character at reception.

Welcome to the Funhouse
Welcome to the Funhouse

Rudy greets guests and offers them brochures
Rudy’s all grown up and now greets guests and offers them brochures

Every corridor and room in the hotel features pinball games, pinball artwork, pinball photographs.

Rudy is also inside the coffee table in the lobby area
Rudy is also inside the coffee table in the lobby area

Funhouse cabinet artwork adorns the walls
Funhouse cabinet artwork adorns the walls

Leaving reception to visit the bedrooms we pass a Mustang machine and various backglasses.

This way to the rooms
This way to the rooms

The rooms are split up by theme. Some are music-themed, others circus-themed.

Guns 'N Roses join with AC/DC in one room, while Williams titles occupy another
Guns ‘N Roses join with AC/DC in one room, while Williams titles occupy another

What lies behind this door?
What lies behind this door?

Can you sleep in a Cyclone?
Can you sleep in a Cyclone?

Perhaps you'd prefer spending the night with Indiana Jones?
Perhaps you’d prefer spending the night with Indiana Jones?

No monkey brains for breakfast though
No monkey brains for breakfast though

The pinball hotel is the brainchild of Eugeniusz Wiecha who is a legendary figure in the Polish amusement business, establishing the Rabkoland amusement park, being one of the founders of Interplay magazine and also a prolific operator of amusement machines.

Eugeniusz Wiecha
Eugeniusz Wiecha

The Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival tour group with Eugeniusz
The Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival tour group with Eugeniusz

Then it was back to Printimus Pinball for practice, lunch, and the start of the tournaments.

Heading back to Bytom
Heading back to Bytom

Back to the pinballs
Back to the pinballs

Entrance to the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival cost €40 per person if paid before February 14th, increasing by €5 for entries up until March 7th and rising to €50 thereafter.

Apart from entry to the tournaments, players had use of the kitchen facilities, soft drinks, tea, coffee as well as breakfast and a late lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Beer could be purchased at 5PLN ($1.25/€1.18/£1.01) per 500ml bottle, although in contrast to previous tournaments there was no fully-stocked snacks machine.

The kitchen facilities
The kitchen facilities

The two most popular machines all weekend
The two most popular machines all weekend

Some of the vegan food available for breakfast
Some of the vegan food available for breakfast

One criticism of last year’s festival was that although the vegan food was tasty and plentiful, some players objected to the lack of any meaty dishes. This year there were several meat dishes (cold meats and sausages) available for breakfast both days.

Breakfast food items remained available throughout the morning while qualifying for all the tournaments continued.

The main tournament used an unusual qualifying format. There were 24 pinballs used in qualifying and players could play any of them as many times as they wanted before qualifying closed around 9pm on Saturday evening.

Whenever a player achieved a score they deemed good enough, they would get it recorded on their score sheet and that score would then be ‘locked-in’ for that machine and couldn’t be changed. They could then move on to their next machine and play until they decided to record a score on that one.

The machines used were:

Main Tournament Qualifying Machines
1 – Cirqus Voltaire
2 – Theatre of Magic
3 – Pinball Magic
4 – World Cup Soccer
5 – Star Trek: The Next Generation
6 – Twilight Zone
7 – No Good Gofers
8 – Attack from Mars
9 – The Addams Family
10 – The Machine: Bride of Pinbot
11 – The Shadow
12 – The Flintstones
13 – Revenge from Mars
14 – Spider-Man
15 – Whitewater
16 – Demolition Man
17 – Evel Knievel
18 – Cactus Canyon
19 – Monster Bash
20 – High Speed 2: The Getaway
21 – Monster Bash
22 – Tales of the Arabian Nights
23 – Funhouse
24 – Indiana Jones (Williams)

Players were free to move around between machines as they wished, so if they found they couldn’t get into a particular title they could come back to it later. However, with 24 machines on which to record scores, time could be tight if players were too picky about getting a great score to record.

All scores on the twenty-four machines were ranked and ranking points awarded. When qualification ended, the twelve players with the highest total ranking points would continue to A division play-offs the next day. The remainder would move into the B division for their own set of play-offs for places thirteenth and up.

In addition to the main tournament there was the classic tournament held on six electromechanical or solid state machines.

The six classics tournament machines
The six classic tournament machines

Main Tournament Qualifying Machines
1 – Haunted House
2 – Sinbad
3 – Mata Hari
4 – Jungle Queen
5 – Bronco
6 – Spirit of 76

Qualifying in this tournament was more like classic PAPA style, in that a player could choose three of the six machines and play one game on each for their entry. The skill was in putting together a run of three good scores and not having a bad game which ruined your entry.

You could decide at any time to void your entry, or if you thought it was better than any previous attempts, submit it. One entry was included with MPFF registration, but more could be bought for 5PLN each.

The same pricing scheme applied to the remaining two tournaments.

One entry to the Magic of Pinball competition allowed one game on each of the three magic-themed games – Pinball Magic, Theatre of Magic and Cirqus Voltaire. OK, so Cirqus Voltaire is more a circus-themed game but what circus doesn’t have a magical feel to any youngster lucky enough to be in the audience?

David plays in the magic tournament
David plays in the Magic of Pinball tournament

As the classic tournament, the key to success lay in putting together a string of good games so that all three games in your entry held respectable scores.

The final tournament was played out on the two Jersey Jack Pinball title The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit: Smaug Edition.

The two JJP machines
The two JJP tournament machines

Around 3pm on Saturday lunch was served. Guests could choose from the two types of Mihiderka vegan burgers, or they could order from a delivery service menu if they preferred a meat or non-vegan meal.

Mihiderka's signature dish is their burgers, which were freshly prepared
Mihiderka’s signature dish is their burgers, which were freshly prepared

As tasty as they look
As tasty as they look

In addition to the made-to-order burgers, a rice stew with bread was served on Saturday.

A different hot dish was available each day too
A different hot dish was available each day too

Those who didn't want the vegan food could order from a delivery menu
Those who didn’t want the vegan food could order from a delivery menu

Once lunch was finished, the serious business of qualifying continued.

Players try to record a good score on every machine
Players try to record a good score on every machine

Rafał inputs the scores
Rafał inputs the scores

The standings were projected on the wall
The standings were projected on the wall

Medals would be awarded rather than trophies
Medals would be awarded rather than trophies

Later in the day, vegan mushroom pizza was served along with the remaining stew from lunch time.

Vegan pizza was both tasty and filling
Vegan pizza was both tasty and filling

When qualifying closed, all the players were ranked according to their total ranking points across all twenty-four machines, with the top half going into the A division and the remainder into the B division for the play-offs on Sunday.

Main Tournament Qualifying
Pos Name Score
A Division
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Greg Mott
Martin Ayub
Jonas Johansson
Daniel Maczurek
Mariusz Tkacz
Piotr Kochański
David Mainwaring
Cezary Głowala
Jakub Tkacz
Rafał Bytomski
Daniel Kaczmarek
Szymon Marciniszyn
1,387
1,322
1,297
1,227
1,087
1,080
1,034
1,019
972
888
831
831
B Division
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
Joel Woźniak
Jakub Józefczyk
Hubert Krysiński
Jerzy Węglarz
Ovidiu Cacina
Marek Kotkiewicz
Arkadiusz Marciniszyn
Tomasz Świerkot
Marcin Krysiński
Andrzej Olszewski
Ida Edwartz
Łukasz Dziatkiewicz
Marek Janusz
Cristina Staines
822
743
705
647
602
555
543
514
426
365
282
253
247
0

Qualifying in the classic, Magic of Pinball and JJP tournaments would continue on Sunday meaning everyone still had a chance of making to the play-offs of those tournaments.

Before the main tournament play-offs could begin, the format had to be decided based on the number of players and the time available. It was agreed that everyone in each division would play a single game against each of the other players in their division with the number of wins deciding the rankings. The top four in each division would then go into their respective finals.

Marcin explains the play-off format
Marcin explains the play-off format

As a slight twist, the number of wins for the four finalists would be carried forward and be added to the 4-2-1-0 points earned in each game of the final.

The four A division finalists were Cezary Głowala, Daniel Maczurek, David Mainwaring and Martin Ayub. Martin achieved three more wins in the play-offs than either Cezary or Daniel in the play-offs, so he took those three points into the final. Similarly, David had one more win so took one point into the final.

The final four in the main tournament
The final four in the main tournament:
Cezary Głowala, Daniel Maczurek, David Mainwaring & Martin Ayub

The format of the final allowed each player to choose a machine upon which a four-player game would be played. Points would be awarded for positions on each game, with four points going to the winner, two points to the second-placed player, one point for third place and no points for coming last. When the fourth game was over, the total of the game points and the points carried over would decide the places.

The first game was chosen by Daniel and was Twilight Zone. As with all four games, the player picking the game went first with the remaining players rotating play order from game to game.

Daniel starts the final on his choice of Twilight Zone
Daniel starts the final on his choice of Twilight Zone

Despite picking the game, Twilight Zone was not kind to Daniel and he ultimately ended up coming last on the machine.

Cezary is player two
Cezary is player two

Cezary in the player two position fared a little better but still never really got into the game, finishing third.

David plays third
David plays third

After another poor start, David pulled his game back with a strong finish on his third ball.

Martin plays last
Martin plays last

However, Martin had made a strong start on his first ball, racking up over 600M. His second ball pushed that to 1.1BN which was easily enough to win the game without needing his third ball.

Play then moved on to Cezary’s choice of Cactus Canyon, and after taking second in the previous game, David Mainwaring went one better and won this game. Martin was second, Daniel third, and the curse of playing your chosen game continued with Cezary coming fourth.

Cactus Canyon is chosen by Cezary as the second game of the final
Cactus Canyon is chosen by Cezary as the second game of the final

The curse was broken on game three though as, after a shaky start, David won on his pick of The Flintstones with a total score just shy of 1BN.

David chose The Flintstones for his game
David chose The Flintstones for his game

Martin was second again, with Cezary third and Daniel fourth.

David won on The Flintstones
David won on The Flintstones

Going into the last game off the final, David and Martin were tied on 11 points each (including the carried forward points), while Cezary had 2 points and Daniel 1. Whoever between David and Martin finished highest in the last game would be the overall winner.

The game was Martin’s choice of Funhouse, and he started as player one.

Martin chose Funhouse as the last game of the final
Martin chose Funhouse as the last game of the final

He had a good start too, getting multiball and a jackpot on his first ball and setting himself up for a reasonable 10M overall total

Daniel had a solid if unexceptional first ball, but soon got his game together and overtook Martin’s total.

Daniel played second
Daniel played second

Cezary wasn’t finding too much fun in the house, but still put up a reasonable score to sit in third place with just David left to play.

Cezary played third
Cezary played third

David needed a big last ball to overtake Martin’s score and win the final, and although it looked as though he could possibly do it, an outlane drain ended the final and left David in fourth on Funhouse.

David played last
David played last

So, the results of the A division final were:

Main Tournament A Division Results
Pos Name Score
1
2
3
4
Martin Ayub
David Mainwaring
Daniel Maczurek
Cezary Głowala
13
11
5
3

 

Winner of the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival main tournament, Martin Ayub
Winner of the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival main tournament, Martin Ayub

Second place, David Mainwaring
Second place, David Mainwaring

Third place in the main tournament, Daniel Maczurek
Third place in the main tournament, Daniel Maczurek

In addition to the medals, cash prizes were also awarded with €150 for first place in the main tournament, €75 for second, €50 for third and €25 for fourth.

The winners of each tournament also took home a goodie bag from the city of Chorzów which included a mug and a quality sketchbook.

Goodie bags for the winners from Chorzów
Goodie bags for the winners from Chorzów

The final of the B division was running alongside the A division and it was a battle between Joël Wozniak, Jakub Jozefczyk, Hubert Krysinski and Jerzy Weglarz.

In that division, it was Jakub who triumphed, with Joël second, Hubert third and Jerzy fourth. They ended up in thirteenth to sixteen places respectively.

Main Tournament Results
Pos Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
Martin Ayub
David Mainwaring
Daniel Maczurek
Cezary Głowala
Jonas Johansson
Jakub Tkacz
Szymon Marciniszyn
Piotr Kochanski
Mariusz Tkacz
Greg Mott
Daniel Kaczmarek
Rafal Bytomski
Jakub Jozefczyk
Joël Wozniak
Hubert Krysinski
Jerzy Weglarz
Marcin Krysinski
Lukasz Dziatkiewicz
Andrzej Olszewski
Ovidiu Cacina
Tomasz Swierkot
Marek Janusz
Marek Kotkiewicz
Arkadiusz Marciniszyn
Ida Edwartz

Attention then turned to the remaining four tournaments. After the main tournament’s play-offs here was another period of qualifying for these, but as soon as the main final was over, the play-offs for the classic tournament began.

The Classic tournament along with the side tournaments allowed unlimited entries during the qualifying period. One entry was included with MPFF registration, but others could be bought for 5PLN each.

In the Classics, the top eight were split into two groups of four with each group playing a single four-player game on Sinbad, Bronco and Jungle Queen. It was original intended to play all six machines, but the lateness of the hour and the time it would take to play all six meant it was cut-down to the three fastest-playing games.

The first semi-final grouping in the classics tournament
The first semi-final grouping in the classic tournament

The second classics semi-final
The second classic semi-final

After the play-offs there was a tie for second place in one group. Initially it was decided to give the place in the final to the highest qualifier, but after much discussion that decision was reversed and a single game on Mata Hari was used to decide who should go into the final.

The play-off for the last place in the final
The play-off for the last place in the final

The four classic tournament finalist were David Mainwaring, Martin Ayub, Joël Wozniak and Greg Mott.

With the clock ticking, it was decided against playing all the same games again but to play the as-yet-unused Evel Knievel. A single game was deemed too random, so the final would consist of two games on the machine with the scores from each game added together to give an overall score.

Greg started the final of the classics tournament
Greg started the final of the classic tournament

Greg began and got off to a very nice start

Martin plays second
Martin plays second

Martin played second but had a fairly tortuous first ball.

David in the classics final
David in the classic final

David had a similarly disappointing start, while Joël did a little better.

Joel is player four in the first game of the classics tournament
Joël is player four in the first game of the classic tournament

On the third ball, Martin drained after only adding 8K to his total, but the player two light then lit. It turned out he had played an extra ball earned by Greg. This happened because the player one light didn’t work and nobody noticed the ‘same player shoots again’ light briefly illuminate during the game, so there was no indication it was still player one’s turn.

Marcin points out what he thinks happened
Marcin points out what he thinks happened

There was much discussion about what had happened and the best way to resolve it.

A discussion takes place on the best way forward
A discussion takes place on the best way forward

In the end, Greg received an extra ball at the end of the game, the score from which would be added to his five-ball game total. Martin ‘s ball would be drained and the 8,000 points he scored with Greg’s extra ball transferred to Martin’s total.

Greg plays his extra ball
Greg plays his extra ball

After all the excitement had died down, Greg won the first game with his 222K total, Joël was second on 102K, Martin third on 91K and David fourth on 47K.

Ovidiu and Łukasz look back on a long weekend
Ovidiu and Łukasz look back on a long weekend

In the second game David began, needing a good game to catch up with Greg’s first game total. His first ball of 55K was a good start and the 80K which followed looked promising, but these turned out to be his best balls of the game and he ended on 150K.

Greg was looking to cement his lead with a reasonable second game, but his 103K total left the door partially open.

Joel had a nice final ball, nearly doubling his 79K score to end on 150K.

Martin needed around 220K to win, but could only manage 178K before a drain ended his game and the final.

The final scores were:

Classic Tournament A Division Results
Pos Name Score
1
2
3
4
Greg Mott
Martin Ayub
Joël Wozniak
David Mainwaring
222K + 103K = 325K
92K + 178K = 270K
102K + 149K = 251K
47K + 150K = 197K

and the full results were:

Classic Tournament Results
Pos Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
Greg Mott
Martin Ayub
Joël Wozniak
David Mainwaring
Andrzej Olszewski
Jakub Tkacz
Mariusz Tkacz
Rafal Bytomski
Cezary Glowala
Daniel Maczurek
Szymon Marciniszyn
Piotr Kochanski
Marek Kotkiewicz
Jonas Johansson
Tomasz Swierkot
Hubert Krysinski
Daniel Kaczmarek
Marek Janusz
Ovidiu Cacina

Winner of the classic tournament, Greg Mott
Winner of the classic tournament, Greg Mott

Second place, Martin Ayub
Second place, Martin Ayub

Fourth place in the classic tournament, David Mainwaring
Fourth place in the classic tournament, David Mainwaring

Cash prizes of €50/€25/€15/€5 were also awarded for first to fourth places.

All cash prizes had to be signed for
All cash prizes had to be signed for

The next tournament was Magic of Pinball and again, the late hour meant the final was played on a single game of Cirqus Voltaire rather than across all three tournament machines. The four finalists were Piotr Kochanski, Greg Mott, Jakub Tkacz and Rafal Bytomski competing for the champion title.

The final of the magic tournament
The final of the Magic of Pinball tournament

This time it was Rafel who triumphed over the others, with Piotr in second place, Jakub third and Greg fourth.

Magic of Pinball Results
Pos Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Rafał Bytomski
Piotr Kochanski
Jakub Tkacz
Greg Mott
Daniel Maczurek
Mariusz Tkacz
Jerzy Weglarz
Jakub Jozefczyk
Martin Ayub
Joël Wozniak
Daniel Kaczmarek
Cezary Glowala
Andrzej Olszewski
Jonas Johansson
Tomasz Swierkot
Marek Kotkiewicz
Arkadiusz Marciniszyn
Szymon Marciniszyn
Hubert Krysinski
Marcin Krysinski
Ovidiu Cacina
Marek Janusz
David Mainwaring

 

Winner of the magic tournament, Rafał Bytomski
Winner of the Magic of Pinball tournament, Rafał Bytomski

Second place, Piotr Kochański
Second place, Piotr Kochański

Third in the magic tournament, Jakub Tkacz
Third in the Magic of Pinball tournament, Jakub Tkacz

Fourth in the magic tournament, Greg Mott
Fourth in the Magic of Pinball tournament, Greg Mott

The penultimate final was the JJP tournament. This was played on The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit, with the familiar 4-2-1-0 points system used in each game. The four finalists were Mariusz Tkacz, Greg Mott, Piotr Kochanski and Rafał Bytomski.

Greg began well, taking first place and four points from The Wizard of Oz. Mariusz earned two points from his second place, Rafal got one point for third place, while Piotr failed to score with his fourth-place finish.

Rafel playing the first game of the JJP tournament
Rafel playing the first game of the JJP tournament

There had been a failure of the main processor fan on The Hobbit, so The Wizard of Oz was played first and then the fan was swapped to The Hobbit so that game could be played.

Mariusz plays in the final
Mariusz plays in the final

Mariusz began on game two but was unable to improve on his previous second place and actually ended up third with one more point for a total of three.

Rafal played second and had a much better game on The Hobbit than The Wizard of Oz, winning the game and ending up on five points.

The final wasn’t going well for Piotr. After failing to score any points in the first game, he had a similarly tough time in the second.

After winning game one, Greg needed second place or higher to avoid either a tie-break or coming second.

Greg plays the second game of the JJP tournament final
Greg plays the second game of the JJP tournament final

As it was, he took second place and the two points for a winning total of six.

So, the final totals were:

JJP Tournament Final Results
Pos Name Score
1
2
3
4
Greg Mott
Rafał Bytomski
Mariusz Tkacz
Piotr Kochanski
4 + 2 = 6
1 + 4 = 5
2 + 1 = 3
0 + 0 = 0

and the final standings were:

JJP Tournament Results
Pos Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Greg Mott
Rafal Bytomski
Mariusz Tkacz
Piotr Kochanski
Jonas Johansson
Andrzej Olszewski
Hubert Krysinski
Ovidiu Cacina
Martin Ayub
Daniel Kaczmarek
Daniel Maczurek
Jakub Jozefczyk
Joël Wozniak
Jerzy Weglarz
Jakub Tkacz
Marek Janusz
Christina Staines
Tomasz Swierkot
Marcin Krysinski
Cezary Glowala
Marek Kotkiewicz

 

Winner of the JJP tournament, Greg Mott
Winner of the JJP tournament, Greg Mott

Second place, Rafał Bytomski
Second place, Rafał Bytomski

Third place, Mariusz Tkacz, collected by his son Jakub
Third place, Mariusz Tkacz, collected by his son Jakub

Fourth place in the JJP tournament, Piotr Kochanski
Fourth place in the JJP tournament, Piotr Kochanski

The very last tournament to conclude was the Dig Dug video game competition which took place last thing on Sunday evening.

The Dig Dug tournament is last to end
The Dig Dug tournament is last to end

We rushed out before the Dig Dug final was completed to try to get some dinner before everywhere in Bytom closed for the night (we failed), but the tournament was won by Łukasz Dziatkiewicz who not only won a medal but a suitable prize for his first place.

Łukasz Dziatkiewicz is the winner of the Dig Dug medal and a special prize
Łukasz Dziatkiewicz is the winner of the Dig Dug medal and a special prize

There was one further award for the Most Stylish Player which was awarded by the organisers to Christina Staines, with Łukasz making the presentation.

Winner of the most stylish player award, Christina Staines
Winner of the most stylish player award, Christina Staines

By the end of the competitions, only a few players remained as the Mihiderka Pinball & Food Festival 2017 drew to a close.

The last players standing
The last players standing

The pinball and food festival is over for the weekend
The pinball and food festival is over for the weekend

Marcin and Łukasz were kind enough to collect those guests who flew in to nearby Katowice Airport and bring them to the event, as well as take them back on Monday morning for their flights home. There was also the opportunity for a final few games on the Printimus Pinball machines as well as a farewell chance to savour the tasty Mihiderka vegan pizza for lunch.

In addition, a prize package arrived on Monday from Jersey Jack Pinball containing flyers, T-shirts and hats. Greg Mott, as winner of the JJP tournament, was able to choose some prizes from the gifts, with the remainder used for future tournaments.

The Mihiderka Pinball and Food Festival is certainly a unique event in the pinball world and one which in our opinion is well worth supporting.

The first MPFF in 2016 proved rather restrictive in the way almost the entire weekend was spent in the Printimus building, with only vegan food served and little opportunity to venture outside for alternatives. Thankfully the organisers listened to the suggestions and made the MPFF more relaxed in 2017, with more time to play games, earlier finishes and non-vegan meals available.

Thanks to Marcin, Łukasz and the Mihiderka team for organising another MPFF, and to resident technician Mirek for making sure the ball kept rolling smoothly all weekend.

DUTCH PINBALL MASTERS

Trophies for the Dutch Pinball Masters

The Dutch Pinball Masters is one of the major European tournaments and can generally expect a healthy turnout from many of the continent’s top players.

This year there was a slight diminution due to a clash of dates with the German Pinball Association’s convention in Potsdam, but competition was still fierce at the Dutch Pinball Association’s (NFV’s) clubhouse in Veenendaal in the centre of the Netherlands.

The NFV's clubhouse in Veenendaal
The NFV’s clubhouse in Veenendaal

The location was the same as it had been for the past few years, a light-industrial unit on a commercial park on the outskirts of the town. There’s are no catering or hotel facilities close-by, so a car or taxi was a must to get here. Vacant spaces outside the unit, on the street and in front of adjacent buildings meant there was no problem parking.

Once inside the door, there was an arrangement of plants, flowers and copies of the NFV’s Spinner magazine, as well as a wall showing supporters’ logos.

The table in the lobby
The table in the lobby

Supporters of the NFV
Supporters of the NFV

Once fully inside the building, the first section is the cafe and seating area.

The cafe area
The cafe area

The cafe had a full kitchen and prepared a range of hot food items, including fries, burgers, chicken sate, sausages, mini-snack selections and salads. The prices for all these were very reasonable, with a burger costing €2 ($2.17/£1.68) and a chicken meal with fries and salad at €6.50 ($7.07 /£5.56).

Part of the menu
Part of the menu

Part of a meal
Part of a meal

Soup was also available, while soft drinks, beer and wine could also be purchased.

Soup in front, beers and sodas behind
Soup in front, beers and sodas behind

Although there was a demand for quality craft or abbey ales, only Heineken or Bavaria beers were available for €2 a bottle. Those looking for something a little better had to either go elsewhere or bring their own.

Seating was available for those enjoying their meals or drinks, as well as those resting from the pinball. Alternatively, the weather outside was good enough to enjoy your purchases alfresco.

Indoor seating
Indoor seating

At the very front of the building were several small rooms either containing games to play or used for game repair.

A selection of EMs
A selection of EMs

When it's too much pinball, enjoy darts, video games or table football/foosball/babyfoot
When it’s too much pinball, enjoy darts, video games
or table football/foosball/babyfoot

The main selection of pinballs was located in the back two-thirds of the hall. The two rows on the left were the main tournament machines, bolstered by a group on the back wall which were used as back-up machines in case of failure by any of those in the main tournament.

Machines and players in the main tournament
Machines and players in the main tournament

Those tournament machines were:

Main Dutch Pinball Masters Machines
1 Tommy
2 Junkyard
3 Fish Tales
4 Avatar
5 Spider-Man
6 Scared Stiff
7 Dirty Harry
8 Indianapolis 500
9 Roadshow
10 Star Trek: The Next Generation
11 Jackbot
12 Pirates of the Caribbean
13 World Cup Soccer
14 Demolition Man
15 Funhouse
16 Goldeneye
17 Doctor Who
18 Attack from Mars
19 Monopoly
20 Medieval Madness
21 The Lord of the Rings
22 Whirlwind
23 Congo
24 Creature from the Black Lagoon
25 Whitewater
26 Hoops

The back-up machines were: The Sopranos, High Speed 2: The Getaway, Terminator 2 and Corvette.

On the right side of the hall were the free-play machines, while on the back wall was a row of eight machines used for the classics tournament.

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

There were nicely-decorated table on which to put your drinks
There were nicely-decorated table on which to put your drinks

Free-play machines
Free-play machines

Ad Jonker's Captain Nemo machine was also here to play
Ad Jonker’s Captain Nemo machine was also here to play

The eight classics tournament machines were:

Main Dutch Pinball Masters Machines
1 Capt. Fantastic
2 Bobby Orr Power Play
3 Gorgar
4 Charlie’s Angels
5 Dealer’s Choice
6 Paragon
7 Harlem Globetrotters
8 Viking

The back-up machine was Mata Hari.

The classics tournament
The classics tournament

In addition to these tournaments, there was also a team competition held on Friday night.

Trophies for the tournaments
Trophies for the tournaments

The team tournament saw eight teams of four split into two groups. The teams and groups were:

Team Tournament Groups
Group A
Dutch Pinball Team
Team Slovenia
Oslo Tiltboys
Team Delta
Group B
Pinball DNA
Archiball Team
Team Ro-Me
Oslo Pinball Casuals

Each team played a match against each of the other three teams in their group. A match consisted of each player playing a member of the opposing team on a machine to win 1 point per game, and a pair of split-flipper games for two points each.

The two teams with the most points in each group went into the semi-finals. Here the winner of Group A played second place in Group B and vice-versa in the same style of match as in the first round.

The winners from the first round were Dutch Pinball Team and Pinball DNA, while second place qualifiers were Team Delta and Team Ro-Me.

Dutch Pinball Team and Pinball DNA won the semi-final matches, setting them up for a final match held in the same format.

In the final, the Dutch Pinball Team won three of the four individual matches to lead 3-1, meaning Pinball DNA needed to win both split-flipper games. They won one of them, but that was not enough, meaning the Dutch Pinball Team of Albert Nomden, Paul Jongma, Mark van der Gugten and Joska Keunekamp won 5-3.

The victorious Dutch Pinball Team:
The victorious Dutch Pinball Team:
Paul Jongma, Albert Nomden and Mark van der Gugten
(absent: Joska Keunekamp)

In the play-off, Team Ro-Me beat Team Delta for third place.

Third place, Team Ro-Me
Third place, Team Ro-Me

The main Dutch Pinball Masters tournament began on Saturday with a qualifying round for all 141 players. Tournament entry cost €15 in addition to the daily €7.50 fee for entry to the clubhouse, meaning a €30 total price for entry if you played on both days. As a bonus, all competitors received a 10% discount off products from playfield-protectors.com.

There were three qualifying periods starting at 09:30, 13:15 and 17:00, each one lasting around three-and-a-half hours.

In each period, players were split into four groups (A-D, E-H and J-M) with around twelve players in each group. Every competitor played a single three-ball game against each other player in their group, in a predetermined order and on preselected machines. A win in a game earned one point, a loss scored a zero.

Players in the qualifying round
Players in the qualifying round

When a game was over, the winner would come to a terminal and register their win.

Tournament systems head Ad Jonker at the results terminal
Tournament systems head Ad Jonker at the results terminal

The current matches on the results terminal
The current matches on the results terminal

As each result was recorded, the overall picture emerged on a large screen.

The overall group standings
The overall group standings

The group scores
The group scores

For all groups, a score of eight wins or more would guarantee you a place in Sunday’s second round. If you got seven wins it was a toss-up whether that would be enough, or if you would end up in a tie-breaker. With six wins you would be lucky to progress. It wasn’t impossible, but unlikely, and a tie-breaker was an almost certainty.

It wasn't how you won, but how many you won
It wasn’t how you won, but how many you won

Head-to-head games were the order of the day
Head-to-head games were the order of the day

Every win was a step closer to qualification
Every win was a step closer to qualification

Those who did progress needed to be back at the venue at 9:40 on Sunday morning for the start of the second round. For everyone else, their Dutch Pinball Masters was over, and just the classic tournament remained.

Just a few points could be the difference between progressing and going home
Just a few points could be the difference between progressing and going home

The classic tournament cost an additional €10 to enter and was held on the eight machines we listed above, with competitors given ten games spread across the eight machines in order to qualify. No machine could be played more than twice and all ten scores were ranked, with the top 24 players progressing to the play-offs and the top players receiving a bye through the first round.

Classic tournament score cards
Classic tournament score cards

Players were issued with a score card for the classic tournament, but in truth all scores were recorded electronically on tablets or phones. with the current standings shown on a terminal.

Checking the current classic tournament standings
Checking the current classic tournament standings

Current standings and games in progress
Current standings and games in progress

Qualifying continued until 8:30pm on Saturday, with the play-offs beginning at 9pm once the main DPM rounds had finished and all players were free to take part.

Matches in the play-offs were head-to-head best-of-five games on machines drawn at random.

The play-offs schedule
The play-offs schedule

The classic tournament play-offs
The classic tournament play-offs

The classic tournament play-offs
The classic tournament play-offs

The classic tournament play-offs
The classic tournament play-offs

DPM tournament directors Albert Nomden and Paul Jongma
DPM tournament directors Albert Nomden and Paul Jongma

The final came down to a battle between Gabriele Tedeschi from Italy and Rich Mallett from the UK.

Gabriel on Mata Hari in the final
Gabriel on Mata Hari in the final

After some exciting games, Mata Hari was the decider, and with Gabriel going first but failing to score much Rich just had to hold his nerve, which he did very successfully to win the game and the final.

Rich prepares to plunge his winning final ball
Rich prepares to plunge his winning final ball

So, Rich was the winner, Gabriel second, while in the play-off it was Jochen Krieger Germany who took third place ahead of Frenchman Sebastien Puertas in fourth.

Dutch Pinball Masters Classic Tournament winner, Rich Mallett
Dutch Pinball Masters Classic Tournament winner, Rich Mallett

Second place, Gabriele Tedeschi
Second place, Gabriele Tedeschi

Third place, Jochen Krieger
Third place, Jochen Krieger

Here are all the placings in the DPM classic tournament:

DPM Classic Tournamenti 2017
Pos Name
1 Rich Mallett
2 Gabriele Tedeschi
3 Jochen Krieger
4 Sebastien Puertas
6 Marco Suvanto
6 Jan Anders Nilsson
6 David Deturck
6 Lieven Engelbeen
12 Joël Wozniak
12 Arjan Neet
12 Philippe Bocquet
12 David Mainwaring
12 Mathias Leurs
12 Fredrik Mellberg
12 Perttu Pesä
12 Eko Elens
20 Evert Brochez
20 Andreas Hedström
20 Ad Jonker
20 Kirsten Adam
20 Ivan Geentjens
20 Jonas Valström
20 Ollivier Francq
20 Anders Carlsson
25 Cayle George
26 Martijn Van Amsterdam
27 Martin Ayub
28 Heinz Berges
29 Helen de Haan-Verbeek
29 Albert Nomden
31 Robert Lau
32 Juha Viitanen
32 Fabrizio Amiconi
34 Alysa Parks
35 Florian Thomas
36 Rob Fransen
37 Rob Overdijk
38 John van der Wulp
39 Željko Vasic
40 Paul Jongma
41 Artur Natorski
42 Vin Jauhal
43 Peter Franck
44 Bart Volman
45 Vincent Chardome
46 Kevin Roelants
47 Mattias Jeppsson
48 Frank Wolthers
49 Wolfgang Haid
49 Benjamin Gräbeldinger
51 Pittchen Müller
52 Erno Lahdenperä
53 Thomas Van Clapdorp
54 Andrej Rižner
54 Carlo Vijn
56 Matt Vince
56 Tormod Pettersen
58 Mario Schröder
59 Didier Dujardin
59 Ramon Richard
61 Laurence Boulieu
62 Simo Rimmi
63 Jani Saari
63 Ales Rebec
65 Michel Lanters
66 Jules Reivers
67 Daniel Bertilsson
67 Tom-Andre Andersen
69 Stan Simpson
70 Dominique De Cock
70 Archibald Lefevre
72 Norman Heikamp
73 Pontus Qvarfordh
73 Evelyne Desot
75 Glenn Verhoosele
76 Mark van der Gugten
77 Alain Boulieu
78 Laurent Mahe
79 Thomas Reichenstein
79 Norbert Broman
81 Sven Kirmes
81 Michel Rorive
83 Adam Lundquist
84 Stéphane Swaenepoel
85 Jürgen Schmitz
86 Olav Hjelmstadstuen
87 Erol Saydam
88 Vid Kuklec
89 Gerard Vos
90 Emma Berlin
91 Fredrik Lekander
92 Tom Geneyn
92 Thomas Doepelheuer
94 Mirko Bogic
95 Andreas Thorsén
95 Kelly Lembrechts
97 Olivier Renders
98 Oyvind Winther
99 Svein Tjeldflåt
100 Neil Fellender
100 Nils de Kleine
102 Fred Van Den Bosch
103 Eric Andries
104 Bjørn Erlend Hellem
105 Daniela Oymann
106 Gerard Poelwijk
107 Daniel Bradford
108 Ralf Wittwer
109 Morten Søbyskogen
110 Rob Breyne
111 Kevin Sultana
112 Manuela Krieger
113 Bjorn Brand
114 Andrej Demsar
115 Johan Bernhardtson
116 Elin Wilhelmsen
117 Torstein Bjørnstad
118 Babs Negelen
119 Jasmijn de Jong
120 Stanislas Chabior
121 Joeri Stroobants
122 Kyoo Barbaix
123 Karin Eisenstecken
124 ralf de kleine
125 Sandra Søbyskogen

Sunday morning rolled around with the main DPM tournament left to decide.

Only the DPM trophies remain
Only the DPM trophies remain

The top four from each of the four groups in each of the three qualifying sessions meant (4 x 4) x 3 = 48 players progressed to the second round which began at 10am on Sunday.

Sunday's second round
Sunday’s second round

The format was the same as Saturday – four groups of twelve players, with everyone playing one head-to-head game against everyone else in their group (11 games). The four players with the most wins in each group would move on to the quarter finals.

The second round of the Dutch Pinball Masters
The second round of the Dutch Pinball Masters

The sixteen who made it into the quarter-finals were:

Tormod Pettersen Roger Wijnands
Kirsten Adam Taco Wouters
David Deturck Jules Reivers
Philippe Bocquet Sébastien Puertas
Benjamin Gräbeldinger Cayle George
Ivan Geentjens Bart Volman
Fredrik Lekander John van der Wulp
Jan Anders Nilsson Bjorn Brand

The quarter-finals paired up players in a best-of-five match on randomly-drawn machines. The first to win three games moved on to the semi-finals.

Kirsten Adam had three straight wins to progress, as did Ivan Geentjens, Sébastien Puertas and Cayle George. David Deturck took four games to win, the same as Jan Anders Nilsson and John van der Wulp, while Roger Wijnands took all five games to win and move on to the semis.

The semi-final was the same as the quarters – best-of-five on random machines.

This time David Deturck beat Kirsten Adam 3-2, Jan Anders Nilsson did the same against Ivan Geentjens, as did Roger Wijnands against Sébastien Puertas. Only Cayle George had an easier 3-0 win against John van der Wulp.

In the four-player four-game final, each competitor got to choose a machine to play with 9-5-2-0 scoring used for first to fourth places.

Jan Anders Nilsson began by choosing Congo, but the game didn’t co-operate with him this time. His first ball scored 100M to put him in third place, while balls two and three only lifted that to 380M which was last place.

Cayle George had the best first ball with 215M, boosted to 800M on his second and 1.067B on his third to win. David Deturck recovered from a bad 79M start to end on 932M for second, while Roger Wijnands’s 744M total was only good enough for third.

David chose Star Trek: The Next Generation for game two but once again the curse of machine choice struck as his 1.2B was the lowest of the four scores. Jan had a great last ball, scoring 2.3B to end up on 3.1B, taking first place. Cayle’s 2.6B might normally be enough to win but only gave him second here, with Roger’s 1.8B good for third.

Cayle’s choice of Scared Stiff broke the chooser’s curse with his ball one score of 16M being enough to win the game. In the end, he totalled 79M – way ahead of David in second on 9.8M, Jan on 2.7M and Roger who never got started and ended on just 0.8M.

With game four still to play, Cayle’s 23 points was already enough to win the final, with Jan closest behind on 11 points, David in third on 10, and Roger on 4. But Roger could still get into a tie-breaker for second place if the other places worked out for him, while Jan and David were battling it out.

Roger chose Whirlwind, but was blown away by three quick drains to end up on just 309K. The battle for second was thus between Jan and David, and it was David who stormed his way to the win with 9.5M, ahead of Cayle’s 7M and Jan’s 4.5M.

So the result was, Cayle in first place, David second, Jan third and Roger fourth.

Dutch Pinball Masters 2017 winner, Cayle George
Dutch Pinball Masters 2017 winner, Cayle George
(picture: Ad Jonker)

Second place, David Deturck
Second place, David Deturck
(picture: Ad Jonker)

Third place, Jan Anders Nilsson
Third place, Jan Anders Nilsson
(picture: Ad Jonker)

Fourth place, Roger Wijnands
Fourth place, Roger Wijnands
(picture: Ad Jonker)

Here are the full results:

Dutch Pinball Masters 2017
Pos Name
1 Cayle George
2 David Deturck
3 Jan Anders Nilsson
4 Roger Wijnands
6 Kirsten Adam
6 Ivan Geentjens
6 Sebastien Puertas
6 John van der Wulp
12 Tormod Pettersen
12 Philippe Bocquet
12 Benjamin Gräbeldinger
12 Fredrik Lekander
12 Taco Wouters
12 Jules Reivers
12 Bart Volman
12 Bjorn Brand
17 Jonas Johansson
17 Albert Nomden
21 Evert Brochez
21 Sylvain Grevin
21 Michel Rorive
21 Martin Ayub
21 Olivier Renders
28 Thomas van Clapdorp
28 Anthony Rorive
28 Jani Saari
28 Evelyne Desot
28 Stéphane Swaenepoel
28 Ramon Richard
28 Marco Suvanto
28 Johan Bernhardtson
28 Jonas Valström
37 Archibald Lefevre
37 Juha Viitanen
37 Mattias Jeppsson
37 Andreas Thorsén
37 Florian Thomas
37 Martijn van Amsterdam
37 Andrej Demsar
37 Laurence Boulieu
37 Norbert Broman
43 Sébastien Muller
43 Paul Jongma
43 Erno Lahdenperä
43 Andrej Rižner
46 Didier Dujardin
46 Eko Elens
48 Joël Wozniak
49 Mark van der Gugten
49 Anders Carlsson
61 Dominique de Cock
61 Ralf Wittwer
61 Thomas Reichenstein
61 Stanislas Chabior
61 Rich Mallett
61 Matt Vince
61 Martijn van Aken
61 Sven Kirmes
61 Mathias Leurs
61 Peter Franck
61 Norman Heikamp
61 Pontus Qvarfordh
61 Bjørn Erlend Hellem
61 Helen de Haan-Verbeek
61 Neil Fellender
61 Lieven Engelbeen
61 Heinz Berges
61 Jeroen Wieringa
61 Fabrizio Amiconi
61 Vincent Chardome
61 Ralf de Kleine
61 Andreas Hedström
84 Eric Andries
84 Jochen Krieger
84 Olav Hjelmstadstuen
84 Gerard Poelwijk
84 Michel Lanters
84 Svein Tjeldflåt
84 Mirko Bogic
84 Daniel Bertilsson
84 Laurent Mahe
84 Morten Søbyskogen
84 Jasper van Embden
84 Vid Kuklec
84 Ollivier Francq
84 Robert Lau
84 Tom Geneyn
84 Gabriele Tedeschi
84 Arjan Neet
84 David Mainwaring
84 Joeri Stroobants
84 Kevin Roelants
84 Perttu Pesä
84 Rob Fransen
84 Alysa Parks
107 Adam Lundquist
107 Fred van den Bosch
107 Simo Rimmi
107 Frank Wolthers
107 Rob Overdijk
107 Oyvind Winther
107 Bas van Embden
107 Daniel Bradford
107 Nils de Kleine
107 Alain Boulieu
107 Jeremy Dorling
107 Erol Saydam
107 Babs Negelen
107 Fredrik Mellberg
107 Artur Natorski
107 Jürgen Schmitz
107 Jeroen Boiten
107 Elin Wilhelmsen
107 Tom Loomans
107 Ronald Klappe
107 Pittchen Müller
107 Gerard Vos
107 Ales Rebec
127 Steven van der Staaij
127 Karin Eisenstecken
127 Vin Jauhal
127 Rob Breyne
127 Jasmijn de Jong
127 Torstein Bjørnstad
127 Mario Schröder
127 Kyoo Barbaix
127 Ronald Oenema
127 Thomas Doepelheuer
127 Olivier Calimet
127 Kelly Lembrechts
127 Wolfgang Haid
127 Justin van Schooneveld
127 Carlo Vijn
127 Glenn Verhoosele
127 Tom-Andre Andersen
127 Alicia Juniet
140 Daniela Oymann
140 Manuela Krieger
140 Machteld Decloedt
140 Željko Vasic
140 Emma Berlin
140 Kevin Sultana
140 Arno Punt
140 Sandra Søbyskogen

And so we come to the end of this report from the Dutch Pinball Masters 2017.

The top four in the Dutch Pinball Masters 2017
The top four in the Dutch Pinball Masters 2017
(picture: Ad Jonker)

The DPM is a well-established and well-supported international tournament, one which guarantees all players at least eleven games even if they don’t progress beyond the qualification round.

There were clear improvements to the match result reporting system, allowing players to record their own results and providing instant standings which made life easier for competitors and organisers. The timings all went to plan and any technical issues were resolved quickly and amicably.

The only real negative was the quality of the free-play machines, although even there the addition of Ad Jonker’s The Matrix and Capt. Nemo games helped made up for any shortcomings or unavailabilties.

Hopefully next year the dates for the DPM won’t clash with another major European tournament and players can get to enjoy two top-flight Spring tournaments.

PINBALLZ LAKE CREEK

Pinballz in Austin, Texas

When the original Pinballz Arcade opened in Austin, Texas, in 2010, we were one of the first to tell the world about the amazing selection of pinballs and other arcade games bought and set-up in a bespoke gameroom by Darren and Mikki Spohn.

After a couple of years establishing the business and preparing for growth, they opened their second location – Pinballz Kingdom – situated around fifteen miles south of Austin.

Although there is some development work to complete at Pinballz Kingdom to finish the transformation from truck stop to pinball and arcade heaven, that hasn’t stopped the push to open a third location, and in May 2016 the Lake Creek branch became the third Pinballz operation.

Pinballz Lake Creek
Pinballz Lake Creek

While the first two Pinballz business are positioned to the north and south of Austin in rather isolated locations, this third Pinballz is a mere nine miles further north than the original location and can be found in the heart of the Lake Creek Festival shopping centre, nestled between a Burlington Coat Factory and a Hobby Lobby.

If you have been to either of the other two Pinballz businesses then the sight as you walk through the doors will be a familiar one. Rows of top pinballs stand waiting for you as you come in, with large single piece arcade games off to the side.

The view as you enter Pinballz Lake Creek
The view as you enter Pinballz Lake Creek

Two rows of around eighteen pinballs lead from the entry desk to the back of the building.

The left bank of pinballs
The left bank of pinballs

The right bank
The right bank

While these games might be considered a excellent collection by themselves, there are several rows more to explore.

More pinballs
More pinballs…

...and more, including the two High Speed games and both Pinball 2000s
…and more, including the two High Speed games and both Pinball 2000s

Pinballz uses a nice dual coinage system where either quarters or tokens can be used. Prices are typically either 75c or $1 per three-ball game. Replays can be won, as can extra balls, and the settings on the games we played seemed to be moderate to easy.

Beyond these rows of pinballs lies the newest Mikki’s Tavern and Wine Bar – the Pinballz bar and diner.

Behind the pinballs is Mikki's Tavern
Behind the pinballs is Mikki’s Tavern

Mikki's Tavern
Mikki’s Tavern

Any modern bar has to offer a wide range of local and guest craft beers, and Mikki’s Tavern is no different, offering thirty draft beers alongside a comprehensive selection of bottled beers, spirits and soft drinks.

The thirty beer taps
The thirty beer taps

They also serve a full menu of classic bar snacks and meals, including pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, wings and BBQ dishes. You can check out the full menu here. Because our time here was fairly brief we didn’t get the opportunity to try any of the food or beverages, although the both looked highly tempting.

Move right from the Tavern and we find… yet more pinballs.

The second group of pinballs begins
The second group of pinballs begins

Some older machines
Some older machines

Some more unusual titles including Lights! Camera! Action! and Time Machine
Some more unusual titles including Lights! Camera! Action! and Time Machine

Here’s the list of the 77 pinballs we recorded on this visit:

Addams Family, The
America’s Most Haunted
Barb Wire
Baywatch
Big Hurt, Frank Thomas’s
Black Knight
Black Knight 2000
Black Rose
Bow and Arrow
Breakshot
Bride of Pinbot, The Machine
Capt. Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy
Champion Pub, The
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Cue Ball Wizard
Cyclone
Defender
Doctor Who
Dr. Dude
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dungeons and Dragons
Earthshaker!
Elvis
Fire!
Firepower
Fish Tales
Flash
Flintstones, The
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s
Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Funhouse
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Gilligan’s Island
Grand Lizard
Guns ‘N Roses
Haunted House
Hercules
High Speed
Hook
Independence Day
Indianapolis 500
Johnny Mnemonic
Jokerz!
Judge Dredd
Jurassic Park
Kiss (Bally)
Laser War
Lethal Weapon 3
Lights! Camera! Action!
Mata Hari
Maverick
Medieval Madness Remake
Meteor
Party Zone, The
Pinbot
Pistol Poker
Playboy (Stern)
Pool Sharks
Revenge from Mars
Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Roadshow
Rollercoaster Tycoon
Shrek
Simpsons Pinball Party, The
South Park
Spider-Man
Star Trek Premium
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars (DE)
Star Wars Episode 1
Starship Troopers
Street Fighter 2
Tales from the Crypt
Theatre of Magic
Time Machine
Twilight Zone
Who Dunnit?

Most of the remainder of the floor space is taken up by large arcade video games, from single-person drivers to collaborate shooters, taking in dance machines and giant LED display versions of classic titles.

Dance and driving games in the video section
Dance and driving games in the video section

Skee-balls alongside collaborative shooter games
Skee-balls alongside collaborative shooter games

Giant Space Invaders Frenzy
Giant Space Invaders Frenzy

But giant games weren’t the preserve of the video and redemption realms. Pinball had a game to offer in that category too.

Hercules by Atari
Hercules by Atari

Large redemption pieces
Large redemption pieces

Redemption means tickets, and tickets mean prizes
Redemption means tickets, and tickets mean prizes

More large skill-based games
More large skill-based games

We said earlier that most of the floor space is given over to pinballs and arcade games, but Pinballz Lake Creek also has a room dedicated to playing laser tag.

The Galaxy Warz laser tag room
The Galaxy Warz laser tag room

One thing you might have noticed in our pictures is the lack of customers. Our visit was just after lunch on a Wednesday afternoon in March, which is far from prime-time and outside any school holidays. So, we don’t know how busy Pinballz gets on Friday nights or at the weekend.

Pinballz Lake Creek opens from 10am until midnight during the week, and stays open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The location is the best of the three branches as far as local shops and amenities are concerned – there are numerous shops, restaurants and even a movie theatre in the same complex – so it certainly should be an attractive destination.

Pinballz itself has good lighting, great games and looks attractive, from the clean surfaces, well-maintained pinballs and the custom carpet design.

The carpet design at Pinballz
The carpet design at Pinballz

The Pinballz operation seems to be going from strength to strength. The Austin area is very well served, so we understand thoughts of a fourth location are centred on the Dallas area, around a three-hour drive north.

With such a great mix of games, food and drinks, we look forward to visiting that branch as soon as it opens.

MEGA PLAY

In the ancient days, back when dinosaur poop was still warm (the 1980s), nearly every shopping center in the part of the country that I grew up in had a Family Fun Center or game arcade. I was even night manager of a Bally’s Aladdin’s Castle in West Main mall for a brief while.

The Aladdin’s Castle chains at that time were mostly stocked with pinball games and only had a few of those new-fangled video game things. During this time it was not at all unusual for young people to spend their pocket change playing games while their parents shopped.

In other words, arcades were a thing.

Unfortunately, at least in the greater Chicagoland area, the few arcade chains that remain have few or no pinball games; video games and other games of skill such as mini-golf, skeeball and claw machines have taken over.

There is a large arcade in a mall near my home called Tilt Studio that does not have ONE pinball game. I feel that’s an irony if there ever was one.

But I digress.

When on a road trip recently, I made a small side excursion to visit an arcade that is a genuine throwback to the days of disco and shopping centers with family entertainment centers.

Mega Play in Mishawaka, Indiana
Mega Play in Mishawaka, Indiana

Mega Play in the Town & Country Shopping Centre (not far from the campus of the University of Notre Dame) combines elements of the past and the present. They have an indoor mini-golf course, American Gladiator jousting area, air hockey, billiards, laser tag, ball pit, skeeball, whack-a-mole, virtual batting cages, kiddie playland, bumper cars, old school video as well as driving games….. and PINBALL!

American Gladiator jousting at Mega Play
American Gladiator jousting at Mega Play

It would have taken me a very long time to go around and write down the names of all of the video games at Mega Play; hopefully a list of their video games exists somewhere on-line? The majority of the games were 1980s and 1990s vintage, but in very good condition.

Mega Play had 11 pinball games in their own area apart from the video games.

The pinball line-up at Mega Play
The pinball line-up at Mega Play

One game was switched out while I was there so I was able to play 12 different games; it was a bonus for me, but probably not the typical experience.

The newly-added Corvette
The newly-added Corvette

Like many game centers in the 21st century such as Dave and Busters, at Mega Play you purchase credits on a plastic card and swipe to add credits on whatever game you want to play. If you don’t have a Mega Play card, the credit dispenser machines will sell you one for $1.

Card readers on the front of each machine
Card readers on the front of each machine

I have never seen ‘card swipe-enabled’ pinballs, but they have them here at Mega Play. In spite of being charged a dollar for a play card, I wanted to mention that the more credits you buy at one time, the more bonus credits that you get over and above the usual 4 credits for a dollar. For example- if you put $20 on your card, you get 110 credits. Mega Play also has party packages at what appear to be reasonable prices.

Card credit prices
Card credit prices

All of the pinball games were in very good condition and the only one showing any wear that I could see was South Park which had some wear around the edges of the ball exit holes under Kenny and Cartman.

South Park
South Park

FYI, this particular South Park game is uncensored with the early ‘profanity’ ROM that generates rude (but funny) character comments, the ‘carpet munching‘ game on the DMD and of course Mr. Hanky in the toilet tank and on the playfield graphic in full view.

The pinball games at Mega Play when I visited were:

Corvette, Bally-Midway

Star Wars, Data East

Attack from Mars, Midway

Batman Forever, Sega Pinball

The Simpsons Pinball Party, Stern Pinball

South Park, Sega Pinball

Black Knight 2000, Williams

Dirty Harry, Williams

Fish Tales, Williams

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Williams

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Williams

Attack from Mars
Attack from Mars

The credits per game are not listed on the pinballs but they were a mix of 75 cents and $1 per three-ball game.

I wasn’t able to confirm this but it would appear that occasionally Mega Play has contests – most recently they had a Dance Dance Revolution contest.

There is a huge parking lot outside of Mega Play while inside they have sandwiches, snacks, pizza, desserts as well as soft drinks available to purchase at reasonable prices.

PS: I was told that there are two ‘kids pinballs’ at Mega Play. I was only able to find one:

Super Mario Brothers Mushroom World, Premier Technology

It has short legs fitted and is set up as a ticket redemption game for prizes.

I enjoyed my visit to Mega Play and wished that I hadn’t been quite as pressed for time and that I was able to stay a little longer. I felt the combination of the well maintained games and the achievable free credit thresholds made playing their games very fun and engaging. For sure I will visit Mega Play again soon.

It delights me to visit old school arcades that seem to be frozen in time; some other people seem to prefer having more current games to play. If you are like me and enjoy playing the late 1990s and early 2000s games as much as the current ones, then Mega Play is probably your kind of place too.

8BITFLIP 2017

8BitFlip at Arcade Club

As a change from our usual reporting style, this look at the annual 8BitFlip tournament weekend will be done as a personal blog by the Editor of Pinball News, Martin Ayub.

I signed up for 8BitFlip the moment the dates were announced, back in October last year. Knowing the nearest hotel quickly sells out, I made a booking for the Friday and Saturday nights for myself and a friend. We both went last year but had to stay at a more remote hotel, so I wanted to make sure we would be able to walk both to the show’s venue and the city centre for post-show entertainment.

Sadly, my friend had to cancel just before the 8BitFlip weekend, so I made the Good Friday journey to Bury, near Manchester, alone. The drive took four-and-a-half-hours, much of which was spent sitting in traffic jams in the many roadworks along the M6 motorway.

Good Friday traffic
Good Friday traffic

Fortunately though, there was no great rush to get to the venue as the show itself didn’t start until the next day. And after all, what else are public holidays for other than sitting in the car on a motorway going nowhere, discovering that the large white Americano coffee you bought at the service station ten miles back doesn’t have any milk in it?

But eventually the road signs start to point to Manchester, and then to Bury as we draw near.

8BitFlip is the competitive event run by the Northern Lights Pinball (NLP) group, who also organise the pinball part of the huge Play Expo show in Manchester in October as well as a number of other pinball events in the north of England.

Their main aims are to spread pinball’s reach to the general public and to raise money for charity. Their usual beneficiary is the Teenage Cancer Trust but this year the 8BitFlip’s chosen recipient was closer to home – the sister of one of the NLP organisers, Darren Ball, who needs money for a life-saving operation in America.

So it was that fifty pinballs were set up on the second floor of a large brick former mill in Bury, the home of Arcade Club.

Ela Mill - the home of Arcade Club
Ela Mill – the home of Arcade Club

Ela Mill is a strange building. It is now converted and partially refurbished so that numerous business start-ups can operate out of offices on the ground floor, while further up Arcade Club has taken over floors two and three from where it opens to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Arcade Club is discretely located upstairs
Arcade Club is discretely located upstairs

Before we get to the main pinball part, let’s have a look at Arcade Club which is a video game heaven for serious gamers in England’s northwest.

The third floor is where the bulk of the collection resides, and is also where the main reception area lives. Once inside, a large number of classic and modern video games await, including home consoles, sit-down driving games and assorted shooters. It’s kept pretty dark inside, so my phone’s camera struggled a little to get any good shots.

Classic video games at Arcade Club
Classic video games at Arcade Club

Classic video games at Arcade Club
Classic video games at Arcade Club

Assorted sit-down drivers
Assorted sit-down drivers

Classic games alongside Japanese imports
Classic games alongside Japanese imports

Stand-up drivers and shooters
Stand-up drivers and shooters

The home console area
The home console area

The lobby and cafe area
The lobby and cafe area

Hot and cold snacks and drinks are available at the cafe
Hot and cold snacks and drinks are available at the cafe

It's nearly all video games but there are three pinballs too
It’s nearly all video games but there are three pinballs too

Recently Arcade Club expanded onto the floor below, and it was here that the 8BitFlip event was hosted, combining NLP’s pinballs with Arcade Club’s games in one show.

We arrived as the set-up for the pinballs was underway.

Setting up the pinballs
Setting up the pinballs

Setting up the pinballs
Setting up the pinballs

The bulk of the pinballs were arranged in two rows running the length of the room, but there were eleven more owned by Arcade Club in a side room.

Entry to play the pinballs and all the video games cost £16 ($20/€19) per day for an adult (£6 for kids under 16) or a weekend ticket was available for £27 (£10 for kids). These tickets allowed you to play all the pinballs and videos on the second floor as well as access to Arcade Club’s main third floor.

Visitors enjoying the pinballs
Visitors enjoying the pinballs

The pinballs available to play were:

Addams Family, The
Attack from Mars
Batman, The Dark Knight
Big House
Bone Busters
Breakshot
Bride of Pinbot 2.0
Champion Pub, The
Cirqus Voltaire
Class of 1812
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Earthshaker!
Elvira & The Party Monsters
Excalibur
F-14 Tomcat
Flash Gordon
Flintstones, The
Funhouse
Galaxy
Genesis
Indiana Jones (WMS)
Jack in the Box
Jackbot
Johnny Mnemonic
Judge Dredd
Medusa
Metallica LE
NBA Fastbreak
Operation Thunder
Party Zone
Pinball Magic
Rescue 911
Rollergames
Scared Stiff
Shadow, The
Sharpshooter
Sopranos, The
Spider-Man
Spider-Man
Spring Break
Star Trek Pro (Stern)
Tag Team Pinball
Terminator 2
Twilight Zone
Victory
Whitewater
X-Files

Guests enjoying the machines
Guests enjoying the machines

Guests enjoying the machines
Guests enjoying the machines

Along with the free play machines there were three additional machines set up on the stage at the back of the room.

Alien Pinball was here set on £1 per play and fitted with a streaming rig by Pinball Live.

Heighway Pinball's Alien pinball
Heighway Pinball’s Alien pinball

On the other side of the stage were two competition machines. The first was a Buckaroo where £1 bought two games with completing various objectives earning a cash prize. The second game was a The Flintstones which hosted a simple £1 high score competition each day, with the winner taking 50% of the cash box takings.

The two competition machines - Buckaroo and The Flintstones
The two competition machines – Buckaroo and The Flintstones

Along with the pinballs, the second floor was also home to some larger dedicated arcade machines such as dancing and music playing games, and a large PC gaming set-up with numerous high-end gaming PCs.

The gaming PCs
The gaming PCs

Virtual Reality kit could also be tried
Virtual Reality kit could also be tried

More arcade games and consoles
More arcade games and consoles

Candy cabs
Candy cabs

Some larger arcade games
Some larger arcade games

More dance and music machines
More dance and music machines

Nick and Kirk show off their dancing skills
Nick and Kirk show off their dancing skills

The second floor had its own cafe with a well-stocked fridge providing a nice selection of soft and alcoholic drinks at reasonable prices as well as a constant flow of tea and coffee.

The cafe area on the second floor
The cafe area on the second floor

Sandwiches, yoghurts and other chilled snacks
Sandwiches, cakes, yoghurts and other chilled snacks

The drinks available
The drinks available

The price list
The price list

In addition to the cafe, a small kiosk sold confectionary and gaming merchandise.

More nibbles and gaming mementos
More nibbles and gaming mementos

There's also a library of gaming publications
There’s also a library of gaming publications

There were two tournaments held over the weekend. On Saturday, there was the main The Big Flip event which was run by David Dutton (shown above on The Flintstones), while on Sunday we had The Old Flip which was organised by Carl Spiby.

The Big Flip began soon after the venue opened at 11am. It cost £10 to enter in addition to paid entry to 8BitFlip.

Players signed in and were paired up to play a set of three head-to-head games on randomly-chosen machines out of all those in the hall. If a game was being played by a non-tournament player, you just had to wait until they had finished before playing your tournament game.

This was a ‘seeding round’ where the winner of the best-of-three went to the A division and the loser into the B division. It’s not as bad as it might sound as the A and B divisions eventually merge.

So losing your first round match is not terminal for any hopes of winning, which was just as well as I was soundly beaten on my allocated games of The Addams Family and Whitewater. Those would normally be great choices for me, but not today.

On to the second round, and players in each division were put into groups of four to play a five-game match where the winner of each game earned themselves nine points. Second place got five points, third place two points with no points for coming last.

The top two players in each group progressed to round three, but in the A division the group winner got a bye through to round four. In both divisions, the third and fourth placed players were eliminated from the tournament, but they had the consolation of getting their £10 tournament fee refunded so they could drown their sorrows.

My luck improved after such a bad start and I won my B division group to keep going. However, because I was in the B division I didn’t get a bye for winning and so went into round three.

Round three was like round two with four-player groups, except only three games were played and, crucially, only the winner progressed. The other tree dropped out at that point.

It would be tough to win, but somehow I managed to scrape through and made it into round four where I joined the winners from the A division’s round two and those who also survived the ’round of death’ – round three.

That made fourteen players in all who were paired up for seven best-of-three matches. The seven winners progressed along with the ‘best performing’ loser. All scores were recorded and the losing player with the best percentage of their scores compared to their opponent went through too.

Contrary to expectations, things seemed to be getting a bit easier for me and I won the first two games, meaning the third only counted towards calculating whether my opponent also progressed.

With eight players remaining, tournament organiser David Dutton called everyone together to explain how the semi-final and final would work.

David explains the format for the rest of The Big Flip
David explains the format for the rest of The Big Flip

Round five was much the same as the previous round – three game head-to-head matches with the winner progressing and the loser dropping out. This time there was no ‘best loser’ so only the four winners would go through to the final.

I had a couple of reasonable games and so won the round 2-0 to make it to the final. We needed to play the third to decide seeding in the final, and I was able to win that game too.

The four finalists were Matt Vince, me, Craig Pullen and Aid Cooper. Matt and I won 3-0 in the fifth round, but he had a better percentage win in round four so took the top seed position. Craig and Aid won 2-1 in the semi-final and were seeded third and fourth for the final.

In the final, each player could choose a machine to play, starting with Aid and followed by Craig, me and Matt. That was also the play order for the first game which then rotated one place each time, meaning the player choosing the machine always played first. The familiar 9/5/2/0 points system was employed to score each game.

Aid’s choice was Breakshot by Capcom, a game on which he had set the grand champion score earlier in the day and so felt pretty confident picking.

Aid starts on Breakshot
Aid starts on Breakshot

However, as often seems to be the case, after a great game the following one just doesn’t compare, and that was the case here as Aid ended up last on his own choice of machine.

Craig and Matt seemed to know what they were doing, but Breakshot isn’t a game with which I’m overly familiar so I just followed what seemed to be working for them. And it worked for me too. After ball two I had a reasonable lead with 30M racked up, while the third ball consolidated that to end up just shy of 60M, setting the new grand champion score in the process.

Not a bad start for me. Craig was second, Matt close behind in third and Aid fourth.

Then we moved on to Craig’s choice of Bride of Pinbot 2.0. The curse of playing the machine you picked continued as his first two balls drained quickly. I put up a reasonable score as did Matt with Aid not having much luck again. After Craig’s third ball only performed a little better, it was between Matt and I to take the top two positions. Matt ended up winning, with me second, Aid third and Craig fourth.

Then it was my choice of machine, and I decided to mix things up a bit and play a title I didn’t think anyone would know well. So, I picked Premier’s Excalibur.

Would the curse continue?

Well, no, it didn’t. I put up a decent 1.8M total score which looked to be in danger from Craig during our third and last balls, but it held on to give me a second win. Craig was second, Matt third and Aid fourth.

I managed to get a ball stuck on the ramp during my game, so I amused the crowd by getting my phone out and taking a ‘selfie’.

Stuck ball? Time for a selfie
Stuck ball? Time for a selfie

By this stage, with two wins and a second place for a total of 23 points I had already won, so I took the opportunity to buy everyone a drink before we played the fourth and last game of the final.

This was to be Matt’s choice of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and like my choice it worked well for the player picking it. Craig had already put up a great score on his second ball, so it was up to Matt to beat it for the win. He got close, but in the end Craig won, Matt was second, I was third and Aid was fourth.

That meant the result of the final was:

Main Tournament A Division Results
Pos Name Score
1
2
3
4
Martin Ayub
Craig Pullen
Matt Vince
Aid Cooper
25
19
18
2

A new feature which was utilised this year was the ability to print images on mugs, so prior to the final I took pictures of all four finalists and e-mailed them to Mark Robinson who printed the mugs overnight ready for the trophy presentation the next day.

My 'mug shot'
My ‘mug shot’

The trophy presentation was held back until after Sunday’s tournaments had finished, but here are the pictures anyway, with presentations made by tournament director David Dutton.

Winner of The Big Flip, Martin Ayub
Winner of The Big Flip, Martin Ayub

Second place, Craig Pullen
Second place, Craig Pullen
(Craig wasn’t returning on Sunday, so this picture was taken on Saturday)

Third place, Matt Vince
Third place, Matt Vince

Fourth place, Aid Cooper
Fourth place, Aid Cooper

Here are the full results:

The Big Flip 2017 Results
Pos Name
1 Martin Ayub
2 Craig Pullen
3 Matt Vince
4 Aid Cooper
5 Wayne Johns
6 John Parkins
7 Frederico Dominguez
8 Garry Speight
9 Tom Fletcher
10 Darren Ball
11 Ian Walmsley
12 Krzysztof Gwiazda
13 Helmut Langenbruch
14 Andrew Foster
15 Paul Garner UK
16 Tim Porter
16 David Dodds
19 Paul Brookfield
19 Colin Clunie
19 Harry Bolt
19 Kirk Sadler
22 Chris Edis
23 Richard Garbutt
24 Nick Hamill
25 Dan Lewell
27 Vicki Oxlade
27 Greg Mott
27 Stewart Judson
27 Steven Smith
31 David Dutton
31 John Gray
31 Matthew Sutcliffe
34 Dan Hardy
34 Dave Willcox
34 Peter Blakemore
36 Mike Kindler
39 Steven Kielty
39 Paul Pattinson
39 Simon Oxlade
39 Mark O’Rourke
39 Alan Syson
39 Malc Lashley
43 Christopher Wilson
45 Chris Miller
45 Paul Owen
45 Ailsa Clunie
47 Daniel Bradford
47 Julie Chambers
49 Stephen Sutcliffe
50 Kristian Rossi
51 Graeme Haynes
52 Emil ED Dreiborg

The final of The Big Flip brought Saturday’s activities to a close. Arcade Club would re-open on Sunday morning at 11am for day two of 8BitFlip.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a few more drinks at the bar before heading off for a Chinese meal and more beers at a nice craft beer bar called The Trackside, which is a repurposed railway station which serves a nice selection of craft beers at very sensible prices of around £2.80 ($3.60/€3.35) for a proper 20oz pint.

The beer selection at The Trackside
The beer selection at The Trackside

With no trace of a hangover whatsoever, Sunday at 8BitFlip began at 11am with the qualifying round of The Old Flip, 8BitFlip’s classic tournament.

This tournament had a slightly unusual format.

Eight older machines were set up and entrants could choose to play any four of them in an attempt to get the highest score of the day on any one of them. If desired they could then replay any one of them using their ‘soft’ joker, where a better score replaced an earlier attempt, but a worse score was discarded.

The Old Flip machines
The Old Flip machines:
Jack in the Box, Bonebusters, Big House, Excalibur, Medusa, Flash Gordon, Tag Team Pinball and Spring Break

An entry cost £5, but If one entry was not enough, a second entry could also be purchased for another $5. Only the top scorer on each machine moved on to the semi-finals, athough if someone had the top score on more than one machine, the machine on which they had the greatest margin of victory would be the one which counted and the second-placed player on the other machine would progress instead.

The top players mid-way through The Old Flip
The top players mid-way through The Old Flip

I started off well, getting the top scores on both Flash Gordon and Jack in the Box. However, I misunderstood the qualifying format and thought all the game scores would be ranked (and with four good scores I thought I would be in a strong position).

Play in The Old Flip
Play in The Old Flip

However, as the qualifying period progressed my score on Flash Gordon was narrowly beaten, and then right at the end my Jack in the Box score was beaten too, putting me in second place on both games but without a top score qualifying position.

The eight who did make it through were Wayne Johns, Greg Mott, Matt Vince, David Dutton, Andrew Foster, Paul Garner, Dan Lewell and Tom Fletcher.

They played a pair of three-game matches with four players per group. Scores were 7-5-2-1 on each game, and the two players with the most points progressed to the final.

Paul plays in the semi-finals
Paul plays in the semi-finals

They were Matt Vince, Greg Mott, Andrew Foster and David Dutton.

The chosen games for the final were picked by the top three qualifiers and were Bonebusters, Medusa and Excalibur.

Bonebuster was chosen by David and it worked well for him, giving him the win and the full seven points. Andrew Foster was second, Greg Mott third and Matt Vince fourth.

Play then moved on to Greg’s choice of Medusa.

Andrew Foster plays Medusa in the final of The Old Flip
Andrew Foster plays Medusa in the final of The Old Flip

Despite putting up the top score in qualifying, Greg didn’t do so well on the same game in the final, only managing third place. Matt won the game, with David second and Andrew fourth.

David is exasperated as he fails to win with his last ball
David is exasperated as he fails to win with his last ball

David led with 12 points going into the third and final game, but Matt was close behind on 8 points. Andrew had 6 points and so was unlikely to win while Greg’s 4 points put him out of contention for the win but able to take second or lower if the result of the final game went his way.

That final game was on Excalibur and the outcome produced an interesting three-way tie. Andrew won, Matt was second, Greg third and David fourth. That meant David, Andrew and Matt all had 13 points and so had to play a deciding game on Jack in the Box.

The deciding game on Jack in the Box
The deciding game on Jack in the Box

David had a great last ball to take the win. Andrew looked like he was all set to win but had ot settle for second, while Matt ended in third. The prizes were presented by tournament director Carl.

Winner of The Old Flip 2017, David Dutton
Winner of The Old Flip 2017, David Dutton

Second place, Andrew Foster
Second place, Andrew Foster

Third place, Matt Vince
Third place, Matt Vince

Fourth place, Greg Mott
Fourth place, Greg Mott

Here are the full results:

The Old Flip 2017 Results
1 David Dutton
2 Andrew Foster
3 Matt Vince
4 Greg Mott
5 Tom Fletcher
6 Dan Lewell
7 Paul Garner UK
8 Wayne Johns
10 Martin Ayub
10 Nick Hamill
10 Ian Walmsley
10 Emil ED Dreiborg
13 Dave Willcox
13 Daniel Bradford
16 Mike Kindler
16 John Parkins
16 Phoebe Lewell
16 Ronnie P.
19 Stewart Judson
19 Kristian Rossi
22 Peter Blakemore
22 Tim Porter
22 Steven Kielty
24 Julie Chambers
24 Steve Akroyd
26 Chris Jones
27 Stephen Sutcliffe
28 Colin Clunie
29 Ailsa Clunie
30 Matthew Sutcliffe

With the tournament over, machines began to be broken down and visitors drifted away as another 8BitFlip event came to a close.

The venue of Arcade Club was much improved since last year’s inaugural 8BitFlip at the Bury location. The renovations made the second floor of Ela Mill a much more inviting location with better facilities and a wider range of games to play.

This, combined with the two tournaments made it a very worthwhile (if lengthy) trip for me. The social aspect of any event outweighs the games to play and we certainly had a couple of enjoyable evenings out on the town, catching up with old friends, enjoying the food, drinks and sights, and talking a lot of rubbish.

So, it was another thoroughly enjoyable pinball weekend thanks to the Northern Lights Pinball team and Arcade Club. I’ll certainly hope to be back next year for more of the same.

TEXAS PINBALL FESTIVAL 2017

Visitors to the Texas Pinball Festival 2017

Welcome to the start of our coverage of the Texas Pinball Festival 2017. We have been regular attendees to the TPF for many years, and we are back in the familiar surroundings of the Embassy Suites hotel in Frisco, Texas.

The weather here is usually pretty nice in March, but this year the weather on Friday turned to dark clouds and scattered showers amidst the sunny intervals.

The Embassy Suites in Frisco
The Embassy Suites in Frisco

Any doubts we were at the right hotel were soon dispelled
Any possible doubts we were at the right hotel were soon dispelled

Fortunately, the rain had cleared before a false fire alarm forced hotel guests outside while the fire marshall checked it was safe to return.

Two fire trucks showed up
Two fire trucks showed up

Apparently it wasn't a promotion for Ghostbusters pinball
Apparently it wasn’t a promotion for Ghostbusters pinball

The show opened at 5pm, but before that we got a behind-the-scenes look at the games and the people setting up.

Immediately we are through the door we meet Jaap, Tommy, Suzanne and Andrew
Immediately we are through the door we meet Jaap, Tommy, Suzanne and Andrew

Charlie from Spooky Pinball sets up the two The Jetsons pinballs along with a Rob Zombie and Domino's
Charlie from Spooky Pinball sets up the two The Jetsons pinballs
along with a Rob Zombie and Domino’s

Ultra-Violet light is often seen as detrimental to pinball artwork, but two games at the TPF are using UV to highlight playfield artwork and models.

UV lighting for Attack from Mars and Ghostbusters
UV lighting for Attack from Mars and Ghostbusters

And Attack from Mars is well represented on Chicago Gaming Company’s stand where three remake models are on display – one LE, one SE and one standard. They sit alongside a Medieval Madness remake.

The Chicago Gaming booth
The Chicago Gaming booth

Attack from Mars remake LE
Attack from Mars remake LE

Attack from Mars remake LE
Attack from Mars remake LE

Attack from Mars remake LE topper
Attack from Mars remake LE topper

Elsewhere in the hall, machines were being set up for the start of the show.

A display of home machines from Bally and Brunswick
A display of home machines from Bally and Brunswick

In other areas of the show hall, machines were being put together.

Assembling games for the show
Assembling games for the show

More games arriving
More games arriving

Just moving a game often creates problems
Just moving a game often creates problems

CoinTaker had three Alien games awaiting set-up
CoinTaker had three Alien games awaiting set-up

Marco had two Batman 66s and three Aerosmiths
Marco had two Batman 66s and three Aerosmiths

Wizard Enterprises were building their display of lighted pinball items
Wizard Enterprises were building their display of illuminated pinball items

Lots of pinball bling at Pinball Plating
Lots of pinball bling at Pinball Plating

Brett Butler of Clear Gem had generously brought his Batman 66 Super LE along for everyone to enjoy
Brett Butler of Clear Gem had generously brought his Batman 66 Super LE
along for everyone to enjoy

Multimorphic had a large display of eight P3 machines
Multimorphic had a large display of eight P3 machines

These were in addition to several P-ROC-based games
These were in addition to several P-ROC-based games

The tournaments were the first part of the show to open on Friday. Qualifying began at 11am in the tournament area at the front of the hall.

Tournament qualifying is under way
Tournament qualifying is under way

Tournament play on Friday afternoon
Tournament play on Friday afternoon

Tournament trophies up for grabs
Tournament trophies up for grabs

Top trophies
Top trophies

Trophies for the various divisions of play
Trophies for the various divisions of play

As usual, there was a raffle to win a new game
As usual, there was a raffle to win a new game

Lots of pinball swag available to buy
Lots of pinball swag available to buy

Registration for the show could be done online or in person at the ticket counter located just outside the hall.

The ticket counter
The ticket counter

Just along from the ticket counter was Rob Anthony’s room where he had his usual assortment of pinball parts and a board repair service.

Rob Anthony's Pinball Classics room
Rob Anthony’s Pinball Classics room

The TPF had a healthy schedule of seminars and screenings. They were mostly held in the seminar room at the far end of the building from where they would be streamed and recorded.

The seminar room
The seminar room

However, the very first seminar was held in the bar area at 6pm on Friday to coincide with the manager’s reception which provided free drinks and snacks to hotel guests.

6pm – So You Think You Know Pinball? – Jonathan Joosten and Martin Ayub

Jonathan and Martin ask the questions
Jonathan and Martin ask the questions

This pinball quiz was run by the Editor of Pinball News, Martin Ayub and the Editor of Pinball Magazine, Jonathan Joosten. They asked guests to choose between two possible answers to pinball-related questions. Those who picked the right answer moved on to the next round, and as soon as there were around five players left, they all drew tickets for one of the many prizes donated by sponsors.

Martin splits the players according to their answer choices
Martin splits the players according to their answer choices

At 7pm, the seminars moved to the main seminar room with Dennis Nordman revealing just what he had been working on for the past couple of years.

The seminar room audience
The seminar room audience

All the presentations in the seminar room were captured on a web stream. On Friday there was a problem with the internet connection which made live streaming impossible, but the stream was recorded and should appear on YouTube in due course.

7pm: Another Homerun From… – Dennis Nordman

Dennis Nordman
Dennis Nordman

Dennis revealed the pitch and bat game he and Paul Reno developed a couple of years ago. It uses an established gameplay style, but adds some new features and retains some pinball-like elements to the design. He also introduced the team who had worked on the game and a second ‘zombiefied’ version with different artwork and sound calls.

Dennis, Paul and the team
Dennis, Paul and the team

The team then unveiled the game, and the second variant with the zombie theme.

The baseball game is revealled
The baseball game is revealed

The zombie-fied version
The zombiefied version

Dennis with the game
Dennis with the game

Then came the seminar with the team from American Pinball.

8pm: American Pinball Update – American Pinball

The American Pinball team (L-R)
The American Pinball team (L-R)
Jeff Busch, Jim Thornton, Jolly Backer, Dhaval Vasani, Josh Kugler,
Joe Balcer & Scott Goldberg

The team was here to unveil their new Houdini game which is a total redesign from the John Popaduik version of the game showed at Pinball Expo in October. Since then, Joe Balcer has created his own game design and the title has also changed slightly from Houdini: Master Mystery to Houdini: Master of Mystery.

Before the reveal, Scott spoke about the company’s aims and the work they have been doing so far. Joe then talked about his concept for the game, some of the features and how they are linked to the theme, and introduced Jeff who created the artwork and Josh who programmed it.

Joe Balcer
Joe Balcer

The game is still very much a work-in-progress with many hardware, software and artwork changes expected before it goes into production. However, we do know that the game runs on a P-ROC board and this will remain in the production version, with the team saying it makes sense for a rapid start-up company like American Pinball to get off the ground with an established and capable system rather than trying to develop their own from scratch.

The game was then revealed.

Joe removes the covers from the game
Joe removes the covers from the game

American Pinball's Houdini: Master of Mystery
American Pinball’s Houdini: Master of Mystery

The game's backglass with the LCD monitor
The game’s backglass with the LCD monitor

There was one final seminar on Friday, and this was with the actor who played Flash Gordon in the movie of the same name.

9pm: Q&A with Flash Gordon actor Sam J. Jones

Sam spoke about his acting career including how he got the role in the Flash Gordon movie.

Sam J. Jones
Sam J. Jones

As it had been a long day and the session wasn’t strictly pinball-related we didn’t stay for the whole seminar. We also needed to prepare for Saturday’s full day of events which began bright and early at 8am.

8am: Swap Meet – DFW Pinball & Arcade Club

This regular part of the TPF takes place in the car park at the back of the hotel, and is the opportunity for casual sellers to offer games, parts, paperwork and other gaming-related items.

The Swap Meet at the rear of the hotel
The Swap Meet at the rear of the hotel

Manuals, parts bins and playfields
Manuals, parts bins and playfields

Whole games and assorted parts at the swap meet
Whole games and assorted parts for sale

Each new seller's wares are closely inspected
Each new seller’s wares are closely inspected

Previous years had seen rain and snow on the Saturday morning
Previous years had seen rain and snow on the Saturday morning,
but there was no such problems this year

Free pinball cabinets and backboxes
Free pinball cabinets and backboxes

The first of the day’s seminars began at 11am with Jim Schelberg’s latest Pinball in the Media presentation.

11am: Politically Provocative Pinball – Jim Schelberg

Jim Schelberg
Jim Schelberg

Jim showed a mix of classic and new media clips featuring pinball in one way or another, including several music videos and commercials.

12pm: Multimorphic and the P3: Game On! – Gerry Stellenberg

Before the seminar got under way, Gerry invited everyone to enjoy some Texan BBQ food for lunch which he generously provided for all audience members.

The queue for lunch
The queue for lunch

Potato, corn, sausage, beef, turkey, onions, chilies, pickles and bread, all with BBQ sauce
Potato, corn, sausage, beef, turkey, onions, chilies, pickles and bread,
all served with BBQ sauce

All washed down with ice tea (natural or sweetened)
All washed down with ice tea (natural or sweetened)

After many years detailing the development and benefits of the P3 pinball platform, this year Gerry was able to announce that the first production run of P3 machines.

Gerry announces details of the first production run
Gerry announces details of the first production run

He detailed how Multimorphic is working with a contract manufacturer in the Austin area so that the first run of machines and assemblies can be built, leading to the second run, orders for which were being taken now with expected delivery in Q3 2017. The first eight production machines were at the show set-up in various configurations to demonstrate the capabilities of the different playfield modules and games.

Gerry Stellenberg
Gerry Stellenberg

Gerry was joined on stage by Michael Ocean who uses the P-ROC and P3 to teach students to program a pinball game as well as working on some of the other P-ROC game projects out there, and BJ Wilson who talked about some of the P3 software features he has developed for Multimorphic.

Michael Ocean and BJ Wilson
Michael Ocean and BJ Wilson

Next onto the stage were two brothers with a long history in the pinball design business.

1pm: Growing up Ritchie – Mark and Steve Ritchie

Mark Ritchie and Steve Ritchie
Mark Ritchie and Steve Ritchie

Mark and Steve spoke about their upbringings, about how their father and mother behaved and instilled in them both certain values. They continued by describing how they each were introduced to arcade games and pinball in particular, and then how they both became involved in the pinball business, starting at Atari in California before moving to Chicago to join Williams.

Mark and Steve
Mark and Steve

They then took questions from the audience about events from their youth as well as the background to some of their more recent game projects.

Earlier in the day Cassandra Peterson, who is perhaps better known as her alter ego Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, was at the show to meet fans and sign autographs for $20 each.

A sizeable queue built up to meet Cassandra long before she arrived in the hall.

The line to meet Cassandra
The line to meet Cassandra

Cassandra signs Elvira-related items
Cassandra signs Elvira-related items

After her appearance in the show hall, Cassandra then joined Greg Freres and Dennis Nordman – the design and art team behind the two Elvira-themed games – to talk about the design processes in a panel discussion hosted by Charlie Emery.

2pm: Getting Up with Elvira – Cassandra Peterson, Dennis Nordman, Greg Freres & Charlie Emery

Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra and Greg
Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra and Greg

Greg and Dennis described how the idea for the first Elvira game – Elvira & The Party Monsters – came up, and how they developed the characters in the game to appear alongside Elvira.

Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra, Greg and a bunch of leapers
Charlie, Dennis, Cassandra, Greg are joined by a bunch of leapers

A packed seminar room
A packed seminar room

The big announcement was that Greg and Dennis’s second game following Whoa Nellie! would be their as-yet-unnamed third Elvira-themed game, following on from Elvira & the Party Monsters and Scared Stiff.

Dennis & Greg announced joining up with Elvira again at the seminar hosted by Charlie Emery
Dennis & Greg announced joining up with Elvira again
at the seminar hosted by Charlie Emery

No date for the game was announced, but it is expected to be built by Stern Pinball as one of their ‘studio’ titles.

Next onto the stage at Frisco was Jaap Nauta from Dutch Pinball.

3pm: Dutch Pinball Update – Jaap Nauta

There was a lot of news, rumour and speculation surrounding Dutch Pinball’s The Big Lebowski game, and Jaap was here to tell the story of what has happened to the both the game and the company.

Jaap Nauta of Dutch Pinball
Jaap Nauta of Dutch Pinball

Jaap related the history of the game, the agreements Dutch Pinball has with ARA to build the game, and how those agreements were broken when the price was increased by €1,000 and the agreement to build the remaining games as well as a number of Dutch Pinball’s second game was not kept.

He said eventually Dutch Pinball had enough and couldn’t give in to ARA’s demands, which put them in a stalemate situation where ARA had around 40 completed games in their factory but wouldn’t release them until the new, higher price per game was paid.

Jaap explained the Dutch legal process and said their intended way forward was to build their second title with a new contract manufacturer in the Netherlands called VDL, sell it, and raise enough operating capital to continue production of The Big Lebowski at VDL. Or maybe ARA would see reason and come to a deal.

That second title hadn’t been announced until the TPF, but now it was revealed as Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary.

The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary logo
The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary logo

This takes the Bride of Pinbot 2.0 ruleset and builds upon it to produce a complete game with a new cabinet and remade playfield incorporating the 2.0 modifications.

The playfield design is the same as the original Bride of Pinbot, but with updated inserts, display, lighting and sound. They plan to make up to 150 Super Limited Editions by the end of 2017, followed by a run of standard games and – hopefully – the remaining The Big Lebowski games.

The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary translite
The Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary translite Click to expand

The Super LE’s would have 100 machines sent to North America and split between DP distributors CoinTaker and Nitro Pinball. The remaining 50 would go to the rest of the world. The first batch of 25 is scheduled for June 1017.

Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary
Bride of Pinbot 25th Anniversary

The next speaker was Andrew Heighway of Heighway Pinball.

4pm: Heighway Pinball Update – Andrew Heighway

Andrew Heighway
Andrew Heighway

Andrew was back at the TPF to bring the latest news from the Heighway Pinball factory in south Wales and update us on progress on the company’s Alien Pinball title. Three Alien Pinball machines were in the show hall for guests to play.

The three Alien Pinball machines in the show hall
The three Alien Pinball machines in the show hall

Andrew talked about the new facilities at the company’s factory in Ebbw Vale and their production schedule for both Alien and Full Throttle. You can see Andrew show us around the Heighway Pinball factory in our exclusive Pinball News video shot right before the Texas show.

The next speaker at this year’s TPF was Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball.

5pm: Jersey Jack Pinball Update – Jack Guarnieri

Jack Guarnieri
Jack Guarnieri

Jack updated the seminar audience on the latest happenings at the Jersey Jack Pinball factory, including production details of The Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, and shorty, Dialed In!. Regarding Dialed In!, Jack told how he and game designer Pat Lawlor met and agreed to collaborate on creating the company’s third title.

Jack was joined on stage by Eric Meunier and Butch Peel from JJP who spoke about the technical aspects of the game, including the lighting system and the upcoming manual for The Hobbit.

Eric Meunier and Butch Peel
Eric Meunier and Butch Peel

After Jack’s seminar there was an autograph session on a table outside the seminar hall. People queued with items to be signed – such as translites, backglasses, playfields and flyers – or simply to meet the pinball celebrities and talk about their work.

The queue for the autograph table
The queue for the autograph table

John Trudeau signs a Ghostbusters plastic
John Trudeau signs a Ghostbusters plastic

Batman 66 artist Christopher Franchi signs a flyer for the game
Batman 66 artist Christopher Franchi signs a flyer for the game

Steve Ritchie, Mark Ritchie and George Gomez greet guests to the autograph session
Steve Ritchie, Mark Ritchie and George Gomez greet guests to the autograph table

Once the signing session was over, George Gomez took to the stage in the seminar room for his talk about the happenings at Stern Pinball.

7pm: Stern Pinball Update – George Gomez

George Gomez
George Gomez

George told the audience about the games Stern Pinball currently has in production, and the different types of games the company produces which he separated into ‘Cornerstone’ titles – regular in-house designs – Studio Games brought to the company by external designers, Vault Titles remade from previous title when demand is seen, The Pin home models, Contract Games made for, and marketed by other companies, Virtual Games such as the Stern Pinball Arcade with Farsight, and their accessories business selling mods, clothing, collectibles and the like.

George describes the different strands of the business
George describes the different strands of the business

After George there was a break from the seminar format with the world premier of a new pinball documentary.

8pm: Official World Premier of ‘Things That Go Bump In the Night: The Spooky Pinball Story’

The full-length documentary details the creation and business expansion of Spooky Pinball in Benton, Wisconsin, USA through interviews with the team involved in starting and running the business, as well as those creating the games.

Charlie Emery talks about founding the company
Charlie Emery talks about founding the company

The film was made by Joel and Dana Reeves and they were here to talk about its creation, from concept to shooting and editing.

Joel and Dana Reeves
Joel and Dana Reeves

The audience for the documentary screening
The audience for the documentary screening

After the documentary screening, there was a panel discussion with members of the Spooky team where the company’s next title was revealed as Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. A teaser video has also been produced.

For those otherwise engaged on Saturday evening, the documentary was repeated in the seminar hall at 10am on Sunday morning.

Let’s return to the main show hall and see how the TPF looked on Saturday evening.

Into the main show hall
Into the main show hall

Nicolas and Timothie Manaud from Pinsound
Nicolas and Timothie Manaud from Pinsound

They had several games fitted with PinSound boards
They had several games fitted with PinSound boards

Including these Last Actionn Hero and Tommy games
Including these Last Action Hero and Tommy games

Game Over Videogames had classic consoles, handhelds and games
Game Over Videogames had classic consoles, handhelds and games

Flip N Out Pinball had their Escalera stair-climbing handtrucks
Flip N Out Pinball had their Escalera stair-climbing handtrucks

This stall was selling pinball items to raise money for the family of Jimmy Hefne, owner of Metro Pinball and Video who passed away in October 2016
This stall was selling pinball items to raise money for the family of Jimmy Hefner, owner of Metro Pinball and Video who passed away in October 2016

Spooky Pinball brought a Rob Zombie's Spookshow International, two The Jetsons and a Domino's Pizza pinball
Spooky Pinball brought a Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International,
two The Jetsons and a Domino’s Pizza pinball

The Jetsons
The Jetsons

The Spooky Pinball stand
The Spooky Pinball stand

KAHR.US Circuits were selling power supply boards amd volume controls for Williams games
KAHR.US Circuits were selling power supply boards and volume controls for Williams games

Starship Fantasy had their usual large selection of pinball ramps, playfields and backglasses
Starship Fantasy had their usual large selection of pinball ramps, playfields and backglasses

Tim at Mezel Mods had numerous ways to enhance your game
Tim at Mezel Mods had numerous ways to enhance your game

Lermods also wanted to make your game extra-special
Lermods also wanted to make your game extra-special

Some of Lermods illuminated add-ons
Some of Lermods illuminated add-ons

Kimball's Pinballs was showing two super-blinged games
Kimball’s Pinballs was showing two super-blinged games

Their Ghostbusters had numerous lighting enhancements
Their Ghostbusters had numerous lighting enhancements

Playing games can be thirsty work, so there was a bar to provide refreshments
Playing games can be thirsty work, so there was a bar to provide refreshments

For more solid refreshment there was also a snack bar
For more solid refreshment there was also a snack bar

Prices at the snack bar
Prices at the snack bar

Marco Specialties had three Aerosmith and two Batman 66 games
Marco Specialties had three Aerosmith and two Batman 66 games

Enjoying the new Aerosmith game on the Marco stand
Enjoying the new Aerosmith game on the Marco stand

Marco Specialties also had a small selection of parts available
Marco also had a small selection of parts available

Along with the games and parts Marco Specialties had Stern clothing
Along with the games and parts Marco had Stern clothing

The Gulf Coast Pinball Club had a nice selection of quality games to play
The Gulf Coast Pinball Club had a nice selection of quality games to play

Pinballz were promoting their three Austin arcade locations
Pinballz were promoting their three Austin arcade locations

Pinball Plating has lots of shiny and vivid pinball trim parts
Pinball Plating has lots of shiny and vivid pinball trim parts

Chrome and gold finishes
Chrome and gold finishes

Legs of many colours
Legs of many colours

Double Danger had a big range of pinball T-shirts
Double Danger had a big range of pinball T-shirts

Devin Lawson of Spicy Donut was showing her artwork prints and posters
Devin Lawson of Spicy Donut was showing her artwork prints and posters

Total Pinball Restorations brought their Frontier and Flash Gordon projects
Total Pinball Restorations brought their Frontier and Flash Gordon projects

The DFW Pinball Arcade Club has a great display of pinballs and videos
The DFW Pinball Arcade Club has a great display of pinballs and videos

KingPin Games had the newest JJP titles
KingPin Games had the newest JJP titles

KingPin Games had two Dialed In! games which were in constant demand
KingPin Games had two Dialed In! games which were in constant demand

Fun! had a line-up of new and classic games
Fun! had a line-up of new and classic games

Fun! featured new Stern and JJP titles
Fun! featured new Stern and JJP titles

Fun! were also showing the new Stern Pinball HD anti-glare glass
Fun! were also showing the new Stern Pinball HD anti-glare glass

Here's a side-by-side comparison (HD glass on the left)
Here’s a side-by-side comparison (HD glass on the left) Click to expand

Fun! were also selling the new Attack from Mars remakes at $7,999 for the LE and $7,299 for the special edition
Fun! were also selling the new Attack from Mars remakes at $7,999 for the LE and $7,299 for the special edition

Both had the high-resolution colour graphics
Both had the large high-resolution colour graphics, although the standard edition at $6,499 has the original smaller monochrome display

Although there were some glitches, they generally looked very attractive
Although there were some glitches, they generally looked very attractive

A look under the playfield
A look under the playfield

American Pinball were debuting their Houdini game at the TPF
American Pinball were debuting their Houdini game at the TPF

Game designer Joe Balcer and programmer Josh Kugler were on hand to talk about the game
Game designer Joe Balcer and programmer Josh Kugler were on hand to talk about the game

There were long lines to play the two Houdini games
There were long lines to play the two Houdini games

It's not all new games at the show
It’s not all new games at the show

You never know who you'll meet at the TPF
You never know who you’ll meet at the TPF

Pinball Side Mirrors had some demonstrator games to showcase their products
Pinball Side Mirrors had some demonstrator games to showcase their products

Comic Wreck had books, posters and other prints of sci-fi or horror themes
Comic Wreck had books, posters and other prints of sci-fi and horror themes

The Vector crew had an nice mix of electromechanical pinball and arcade games
The Vector crew had an nice mix of electromechanical pinball and modern arcade games

This Polynesia game looked interesting but sadly seemed to be out of order throughout the show
This Polynesia game on the Vector stand looked interesting but sadly seemed to be out-of-order throughout the show

Bob Herbison had some more of his wonderful EM restorations
Bob Herbison had some more of his wonderful EM restorations

This stand at the back of the hall is a regular fixture selling assorted marquees as well as manuals, plastics and all kinds of gaming paraphernalia
This stand at the back of the hall is a regular TPF fixture selling assorted marquees as well as manuals, plastics and all kinds of gaming paraphernalia

Coin Taker had their regular LEDs but also games from Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball
Coin Taker had their regular LEDs but also games from both Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball

There were three Alien pinballsto play
There were three Alien pinballs to play

The long line to play them remained throughout the show
The long line to play them remained throughout the show

CoinTaker also has the Dutch Pinball Brideo fo Pinbot 2.0 on which the new 25th Anniversary edition will be based
CoinTaker also has the Dutch Pinball Bride of Pinbot 2.0 upon which the new 25th Anniversary edition will be based

Pinball Refinery had some nicely upgraded games on their stand
Pinball Refinery had some nicely upgraded games on their stand

Chrome plating, powder coating, additional lighting and more
Chrome plating, powder coating, additional lighting and more

Mirco Steffen was at the TPF selling reproduction playfields
Mirco Steffen was at the TPF selling reproduction playfields

Pinball Wheezer were selling pinball appareil and cup holders
Pinball Wheezer were selling pinball apparel and cup holders

Tilt Graphics were promoting their big range of cabinet interior decals
Tilt Graphics were promoting their big range of cabinet interior decals

William 'Bubba' Flint was presenting a selection of his artworks
William ‘Bubba’ Flint was presenting a selection of his artworks

Dennis Nordman's Gizmo Game Design presented the two pitch and bat games
Dennis Nordman, Paul Reno and Tom Taylor’s Gizmo Game Design company presented their two pitch and bat games

Titan Pinball were selling their silicone pinball 'rubbers'
Titan Pinball were selling their silicone pinball ‘rubbers’

The History of Pinball exhibit featured an array of pre-flipper mechanical games
The History of Pinball exhibit featured an array of pre-flipper mechanical games

No power needed to play these games
No power needed to play these games

Goofy and Fleet
Goofy and Fleet

Two table-top games
Two table-top games

Sam J. Jones was often to be found on his stand signing autographs and talking to guests
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) was often to be found on his stand signing autographs and talking to guests

The Multimorphic stand was showing multiple P3 machines in various configurations to show off its capabilities
The Multimorphic stand was showing multiple P3 machines in various configurations to show off its capabilities

Next to the Multimorphic stand was a row of P-ROC-powered custom games including this work-in-progress Total Annhiliation machine...
Next to the Multimorphic stand was a row of P-ROC-powered custom games including this original work-in-progress Total Annihilation machine…

...and two Buffy the Vampire Slayer machines
…and two Buffy the Vampire Slayer conversion games

Doom was another P-ROC custom game on display
Doom was another P-ROC custom game on display

The unreleased third Pinball 2000 title Wizard Blocks is being made using a P-ROC
The un-released and un-finished third Pinball 2000 title, Wizard Blocks, is being made using a P-ROC

Passionately Rivalicious had a big selection of sports clothing
Passionately Rivalicious had a big selection of sports clothing

This perspex Super Straight was a popular attraction
This Perspex Super Straight was a popular attraction

The games were pretty busy throughout the show
The games were pretty busy throughout the show

Although it was mostly about the pinball, there were plenty of video games too
Although it was mostly about the pinball, there were plenty of video games too

Wizard Enterprises were showing their pop bumper nightlights and illuminated backglasses
Wizard Enterprises were showing their pop bumper night lights and framed illuminated backglasses

Rockin' Robin were selling pop art posters
Rockin’ Robin were selling pop art posters

More shiny bling for your game at Pinball Plating and More
More shiny bling for your game at Pinball Plating and More

If you wanted an oscilliscope, multimeter, wave generator, logic probe or othertest equipment, Arcade Components had you covered
If you wanted an oscilloscope, multimeter, wave generator, logic probe or other test equipment, Arcade Components had you covered

It's almost a tradition to pair these two at any pinball show
It’s almost a tradition to pair these two at any pinball show

VP Cabs had a gazebo display of assorted virtual pinball cabinets
VP Cabs had a gazebo display of assorted virtual pinball cabinets

Here’s our exclusive Thirty Minute Tour video of the show hall which was shot on Sunday morning.

The Pinball News Thirty Minute Tour of the Texas Pinball Festival 2017

At the end of the show on Sunday afternoon, there were numerous presentations for the Best-in-Show awards in various categories at a ceremony hosted by Ed Vanderveen and Bill Morrison.

Plaques and rosettes for the winners
Plaques and rosettes for the winners

Bill announces the winners
Bill announces the winners

The awards were chosen by the TPF team of Bill Morrison, Keith Holbrook, Scott Martin and Rich Wiski and went to:

Best Video Game
Star Wars – Kevin Moore

 

Best Antique
World’s Fair Jigsaw – Chris Schnick

 

Best 1960s
Cow Poke – Howard Isaacson

 

Best 1970s EM
Grand Prix – Lonnie & Robin McDonald

 

Best 1970s Solid State
Night Rider – Jeff Bolich

 

Best 1980s
Fathom – Wesley Goodin

 

Best 1990s
Congo – Lonny Payne

 

Best Modern
Iron Man – Gary Stuart

 

Best Original
Farfalla – Josh & Jennifer Tidmore

 

Best Restoration
Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
– West Texas Ballers

 

Best Custom
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
– David Nelson

 

Grand Champion
The Machine: Bride of Pinbot
– Kevin Moore

 

Kevin Moore receives his Grand Champion award
Kevin Moore receives his Grand Champion award

The winning game
The winning game with hand-painted artwork

The show finished with draws for cash prizes for those who brought machines, and the grand Pinball for Patriots prize draw for a virtual pinball from VP Cabs.

VP Cabs' virtual pinball machine
VP Cabs’ virtual pinball machine

Ed looks for a volunteer to draw the prize
Ed looks for a volunteer to draw the prize

The tickets are given a spin
The tickets are given a spin

The winning ticket is picked
The winning ticket is picked

The lucky winner takes home the VP Cabs game
The lucky winner takes home the VP Cabs game

The show then wrapped up and the breakdown of machines and stands could begin.

Show's over folks!
Show’s over folks!

Load 'em up!
Load ’em up!

We’ll be back with to complete this report with the results of the tournaments and our closing thoughts, but until then we’ll just thank the Texas Pinball Festival organisers Ed, Kim, Paul and Ken for their help and hospitality.

Ed & Kim Vanderveen, Paul McKinney and Ken Kemp
Ed & Kim Vanderveen, Paul McKinney and Ken Kemp

ITALIAN PINBALL OPEN 2017

Players in the IPO 2017

A new event in a new location, and both dedicated to sports pinball.

It is the Italian Pinball Open (IPO) – the Italian national pinball championship – organised by IFPA Italia at the showroom of Double Pinball, the new Italian company exclusively dedicated to pinball which became exclusive supplier of Jersey Jack pinballs for Italy and of spare parts for all kinds of games.

The Double Pinball premises
The Double Pinball premises

A selection of the games at Double Pinball
A selection of the games at Double Pinball

The tournament took place on the weekend of 25th & 26th March in the Assago office of the company, close to Milan, and as well as declaring the new Italian champion of sports pinball, the tournament also represented the only Italian stage of the European Championship Series or ECS.

The trophy for the Italian Champion
The trophy for the Italian Champion

Play in the IPO 2017
Play in the IPO 2017

The Swiss player Levente Tregova won the competition, prevailing out of the 64 players in the competition who came from all over the country as well as several other nations, including Switzerland, Poland and Hungary.

Players from several countries competed
Players from several countries competed

The path to winning the IPO
The path to winning the IPO

Winner of the IPO 2017, Levente Tregova
Winner of the IPO 2017, Levente Tregova

Second place went to the Italian Roberto Pedroni, who thus becomes the 2017 Champion of Italy, by virtue of his position as the highest finishing Italian player in the final IPO ranking. The player from Milan ending an impressive March, having triumphed just few days earlier at the Spring Pinball Tournament at ENADA, in Rimini.

Second place and Champion of Italy, Roberto Pedroni
Second place and Champion of Italy, Roberto Pedroni

Third place went to Davide Della Ianna and fourth place for Gabriele Tedeschi from Rome.

IPO players
Some of the players in the IPO

A second side tournament also took place during the two days of sports pinball in Milan, won by Manuel Cereda from Milan. Second place went to the Venetian Paolo Luise and Roberto Pedroni placing again, ending here in third place.

REPLAY BEER AND BOURBON

Games at Replay Beer & Bourbon

In the early 1930s, my grandparents lived in one of Chicago’s southern suburbs. My grandmother has always been fascinated with Asian clothing, art and culture. When they lived in Chicago they were afraid to go to Chicago’s Chinatown because of the crime and violence shown in movies of the day, such as the ‘Charlie Chan’ movies.

It was a shame that they had these fears, because Chicago’s Chinatown is a charming place in its own way, especially during the Chinese New Year celebrations. My grandparents missed out on all the entertainment, dining and drinking establishments Chicago’s Chinatown had to offer because of fear.

Today, it seems as if some people in our society have similar fears – they often fear people who they have been told by the media live different lifestyles than what the so-called ‘majority’ of people are accustomed to. Unfortunately, these sort of fears keep a certain number of people away from parts of Chicago that in fact are more welcoming than threatening.

One of the Chicago neighborhoods that I feel has an undeserved negative reputation is Lake View / Wrigleyville, also known as Boystown. I can say with certainty that there is a good number of interesting entertainment, dining and drinking establishments in Boystown that welcome any and all people that are willing to put aside their fears for just a little while.

But what, you may well ask, does this have to do with pinball? That is a fair question for certain, but if you’ll indulge me by reading on, you’ll find out.

Terri and I were recently invited by friends to join them for an early Sunday brunch in the Lake View neighborhood, with a few drinks afterwards to catch up with each other’s lives.

After a great brunch of omelettes and bottomless mimosas at SIP near the intersection of Southport and Irving Park, our intrepid crew went south on Clark Street, past Wrigley Field to a local place called Replay Beer and Bourbon.

Replay Beer and Bourbon in Lake View
Replay Beer and Bourbon in Lake View

Replay is located on the famous Halsted Street gay bar ‘strip’. During our visit the neighborhood was still recovering from the Saturday St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival of debauchery.

Somehow Replay hadn’t popped up on my radar as a place to visit, but it is a very interesting and in many ways unique retro barcade.

Replay doesn’t have a particularly impressive or inviting exterior but that all changes once you show the doorman your ID (21+ only because they do not have a kitchen) and your eyes adjust to the relatively dim lighting of the interior.

Inside Replay Beer and Bourbon
Inside Replay Beer and Bourbon

The first thing that I noticed inside Replay is that it has quite an impressive collection of vintage video games along the walls of the bar, including Galaga, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Asteroids, Mortal Kombat, Burgertime, Super Mario Bros., Cruisin’ World (twin), and Centipede. Closer inspection showed that these games are all set to ‘free play’.

Brunchtime is not Burgertime
Brunchtime is not Burgertime

Having wrapped my head around that, I also found over 25 beers on tap; the majority being craft beers, with some favorite mainstream beers thrown in. The bar tender told me that they also have seasonal beers on occasion.

The draft beer list
The draft beer list

Add to THAT a countless array of bottled beers, over 40 bourbons, 18 whiskies, 13 scotches and 9 brands of rye. Wow!

Lots of bourbons, whiskies, scotches and ryes
Lots of bourbons, whiskies, scotches and ryes

Replay’s mixed drink menu also features Pokemon specialty drinks such as the Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Bulbasaur, Golem and Charmander. cleverly presented with the tagline “Gotta Drink Them All”.

Perfect after a hard day's fighting at the gym
Perfect after a hard day’s fighting at the gym

But wait, that’s not all!

Free popcorn actually worth eating! Outdoor patio/beer garden (in the summer months) with its own bar. A networked jukebox with an impressive selection of tunes. And ’90s television reruns on the video screens (e.g. American Gladiator) unless there is sports on (usually soccer).

Classic TV or sports too
Classic TV or sports too

Whew! I’d say that’s a lot to offer; but still no pinball mentioned yet. What’s up with that?

I’ll be totally honest and confess that I didn’t think there was pinball at Replay, until by chance I happened to the furthest corner away from the entrance where there were three shiny and well maintained pinball tables just waiting to empty my wallet of dollar bills.

The pinballs at Replay are:

  • The Sopranos (Stern, 2005)
  • Metallica Pro (Stern, 2015)
  • Junkyard (Williams, 1996)

The three pinballs at Replay
The three pinballs at Replay

All three games appeared to be in excellent condition, but I am told that the one machine that we weren’t able to play (The Sopranos) had a couple of things broken on the playfield, although it was still playable.

The Sopranos
The Sopranos

All games were $1 for a 3-ball game except for Junkyard which is also 6 games for $5. It’s a shame that they aren’t set to free play like the video games but I guess you can’t have everything.

Junkyard
Junkyard

Metallica Pro
Metallica Pro

The easiest way to find the pinball games is to look for the Ms. Pac-Man game and then do a 180-degree about-face.

So in summary, Replay Beer and Bourbon is a place that is fun and welcoming, that has pinball and I had no idea existed.

I hope that if you are in that area for a sporting event or concert at Wrigley Field that you will take a short walk or hail a cab to Halsted, north of Newport, and check out what Replay has to offer.

ARCADE EXPO 2017

The Museum of Pinball

Last year we paid our first visit to the Museum of Pinball in Banning, California, for the second ever Arcade Expo show. This year we are back for Arcade Expo 3.0 which has moved from the usual January slot to the busier show season of March.

Once again, the Arcade Expo venue was the Museum of Pinball, at 700 South Hathaway in the semi-desert landscape at the base of snow-capped hills south of Banning.

The setting for the Arcade Expo show
The setting for the Arcade Expo show

The Museum of Pinball is sited in its own compound, consisting of the main museum building and numerous satellite storage units.

The Museum of Pinball building
The Museum of Pinball compound

The Museum of Pinball building
The main Museum of Pinball building

There was plenty of parking on site, both at the front of the building and elsewhere on the compound, while street parking was also an option.

Parking at the front of the building
Parking at the front of the building

Meanwhile for the adventurous, RV parking and camping was available a short distance from the main Museum building.

The campgrounds
The campgrounds

We arrived on Friday afternoon when the Arcade Expo show opened to the public. Although it was reasonably busy then, Saturday was when the most visitors arrived.

The queue for admission on Saturday
The queue for admission on Saturday

Entry cost $45 per day for the shorter Friday (2:30pm-midnight) and Sunday (11am – 7pm) sessions, or $55 for Saturday’s full day (11am – 2am). Children’s passes were priced at $20 a day, while a 3-day pass costs $120 for adults or $55 for kids aged three to twelve.

Even before visitors got into the Museum building there was plenty to see in the forecourt, from food trucks to beer and ice cream tents and vendor stalls.

Mexican food from this food truck
Mexican food from this food truck

Ice cream, drinks, burgers, hot dogs and more from these food vendors
Ice cream, drinks, burgers, hot dogs and more from these food vendors

Crepes and grilled cheese sandwiches available here
Crepes and grilled cheese sandwiches available here

Outdoor seating proved very popular with the great weather
Outdoor seating proved very popular thanks to the great weather

Local brewer, Brew Rebellion, had a stand here too
Local brewer, Brew Rebellion, had a stand here too

Mexican ice creams and sorbets were also available on Saturday
Mexican ice creams and sorbets were also available on Saturday

A little further along we have more stalls and some shooting games.

Rifle games in a side building
Rifle games in a side building

Gun games
Gun games

Into the vendor area
Into the vendor area

The biggest vendor by far was Marco Specialties who were showcasing the latest Stern Pinball games and also had a special guest.

Three Batman 66 premium models
Three Batman 66 premium models

A Pabst Can Crusher, three Ghostbusters, a Kiss and a Metallica
A Pabst Can Crusher, three Ghostbusters, a Kiss and a Metallica

Two Aerosmiths, another Pabst Can Crusher and another Metallica
Two Aerosmiths, another Pabst Can Crusher and another Metallica

Many of the Stern Pinball games featured artwork by ‘Dirty’ Donny Gillies, and the man himself was here at the show to meet guests and autograph various pinball items.

'Dirty' Donny Gillies with some of his artwork
‘Dirty’ Donny Gillies with some of his artwork

In addition to Donny and the latest games, Marco also had a selection of pinball spares on sale with their usual offer of free continental US shipping on orders made at the show.

The Marco Specialties parts stand
The Marco Specialties parts stand

Sharing the tent with Marco were Captain’s Auctions who had a stand of their own.

The Captain's Auctions stand
The Captain’s Auctions stand

Outside the tent, the David Trotter was stoking interest in his Launch the Ball movie venture and looking to raise the necessary funds from investors.

David Trotter on the Launch the Ball stand
David Trotter on the Launch the Ball stand

In the tent next door, more arcade vendors had their stands set up to sell assorted video game systems and trinkets.

Video game items for sale
Video game items for sale

Video game items for sale
Video game items for sale

Video game items for sale
Video game items for sale

Also set up outside was a small music stage where bands and lone performers entertained guests to the show. Some acts were more annoying than enjoyable, but some talented musicians also played here with the music resonating around the compound.

Earlier in the day we had live singing to a pre-recorded backing track
Earlier in the day we had live singing to a pre-recorded backing track

The audience was small but enthusiastic
The audience was small but enthusiastic

In addition to the food and drinks vendors we saw earlier, there was also a side window where visitors could purchase items from the cafeteria inside the main building without having to leave the glorious sunshine.

More drinks and snacks
More drinks and snacks

Inside the cafeteria
Inside the cafeteria

Inside the cafeteria
Inside the cafeteria

Just outside the cafeteria, at the entrance to the main building – was a large canvas where visitors were encouraged to leave their mark.

Sign you name or leave your message
Sign you name or leave your message

And so we come to the main part of the Arcade Expo show – the games halls. We say ‘halls’ because the building is split in two, with pinball machines on the left as we enter and video games on the right.

The main Museum sign
The main Museum sign

To the pinballs on the left
To the pinballs on the left

To the videos on the right
To the videos on the right

Before we get to either of those though, there’s the Museum’s gift shop.

Get your Museum of Pinball souvenirs here
Get your Museum of Pinball souvenirs here

Arcade Expo T-shirts
Arcade Expo T-shirts

Assorted gamer swag
Assorted gamer swag

Assorted gamer swag
Assorted Pac-Man swag

Entering the main pinball hall, we have a jaw-dropping array of machines ranging from the early electromechanical to the newest LCD screen models, arranged in rows which disappear into the distance.

The central rows in the pinball hall
The central rows in the pinball hall Click to expand

The hall is divided into sections dedicated to the various manufacturers. The Data East/Sega line is the first visitors get to see.

The Data East row
The Data East row

The Data East row
The Data East row

Part of the Williams row
Part of the Williams row

More Williams games
More Williams games

Part of the Bally section
Part of the Bally section

More Bally and Williams games
More Bally and Williams games

Some of the modern Stern games
Some of the modern Stern games

There is also a comprehensive selection of Stern Electronics games
There is also a comprehensive selection of Stern Electronics games

Some of the electronic Gottlieb games
Some of the electronic Gottlieb games

More Gottliebs in the foreground and Sterns in the background
More Gottliebs in the foreground and Sterns in the background

More Gottlieb games
More Gottlieb games

There is also a dedicated area for Bally electromechanical games, with one row of wedgeheads and another of Gottlieb EMs.

Looking from the Williams solid state games to the Bally EM area
Looking from the Williams solid state games to the Bally EM area

Part of the Bally electromechanical games section
Part of the Bally electromechanical games section

Bally games, with part of the row of wedgeheads behind
Bally games, with part of the row of wedgeheads behind

More Bally EM games
More Bally EM games

More Bally EM games
More Bally EM games

Two Bally Freedoms - one early production or prototype and one regular game
Two Bally Freedoms – one early production or prototype and one regular game

The original bottom of the playfield
The original bottom of the playfield

The main production version
The main production version

Keeping all these games up and running takes a veritable army of hard-working tech volunteers. They were easily identified by their distinctive red T-shirts.

Another game gets urgent attention
Another game gets urgent attention

Sometimes you need a second opinion, or a third, or a fourth...
Sometimes you need a second opinion, or a third, or a fourth…

More Ballys and wedgeheads
More Ballys and wedgeheads

Gottlieb EM games
Gottlieb EM games

Even the seats are pinball-themed
Even the seats are pinball-themed

Elsewhere around the pinball hall, various clusters of games are grouped together by manufacturer or according to another common theme.

Three Capcom games with an Alvin G added to the mix
Three Capcom games with an Alvin G added to the mix

This room uses black lights to showcase UV-reactive properties
This room uses black lights to showcase UV-reactive properties

More UV effects
More UV effects

In the very back corner of the pinball hall is an area dedicated to tournament play. This weekend there were various pinball tournaments – both IFPA-accredited and not – contested in the area.

The tournament area on Friday
The tournament area on Friday

The tournament area on Friday
The tournament area on Friday

During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday
During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday

During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday
During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday

During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday
During the Three-Strikes tournament on Saturday

Trophies for the Split-Flipper and One -Handed tournaments
Trophies for the Split-Flipper and One -Handed tournaments

There were also two side rooms – one with games just for the younger visitors, and another lounge with table-top games and a ball bowler.

The kids games room
The kids games room

The table-top lounge area
The table-top lounge area

Here’s our exclusive Thirty Minute Tour video of the show. This skips the video games hall – we have a separate video of that – but covers everything else, including the stands outside and in the vendor area.

The video game hall there were hundreds of arcade games including all the classics and many rarer titles.

You can see them all in this Fifteen Minute Tour of the video game hall.

There were also a few physical pinballs to be found in the video hall, including three on the Pinball Arcade stand and another at the American Outreach Foundation.

The Pinball Arcade stand
The Pinball Arcade stand

The American Outrach stand
The American Outreach stand

Starship Fantasy also had a large stand filled with their regular assortment of pinball plastics, ramps, backglasses and playfields. You can see all they had in our video above.

On Saturday there were two more events of note.

In the Trading Card Hall of Fame, Walter Day and Billy Mitchell were hosting several talks and Q&A sessions, as well as unveiling the latest trading card subjects.

Billy Mitchell answers questions from the audience
Billy Mitchell answers questions from the audience

Walter and Billy introduce the latest people to be commemorated on a trading card
Walter and Billy introduce the latest people to be commemorated on a trading card

Then, on Saturday evening there was a special VIP meal to unveil Tim Moyers latest restoration. After last year’s Getaway, Tim returned to Arcade Expo with a Frontier. It was revealed at a party in the Beer Revolution taproom in Banning.

Beer Revolution in Banning
Beer Revolution in Banning

The unveiling party
The unveiling party

Entry to the VIP party cost $40 per head and included free drinks and food.

Inside, five pinballs were set up; Frontier, Ghostbusters, NASCAR, Big Buck Hunter and Iron Man. Frontier was on free play, but the others were coin-operated.

Frontier headed the line-up of five machines
Frontier headed the line-up of five machines

The star of the show
The star of the show

Tim with his Frontier
Tim with his Frontier

Once everyone had had the chance to try the game, food was served on the patio.

Chicken supreme, lasagne and rigatoni was served outside
Chicken supreme, lasagne and rigatoni was served outside

The evening ended with live music
The evening ended with live music

And that brings us to the end of our coverage of this year’s Arcade Expo show.

The Museum of Pinball has an amazing and unrivalled collection of pinball and video games, and gives the perfect basis for a large show such as Arcade Expo. The space available both inside and out means plenty of machine, parts, collectibles, food and drink vendors can be accommodated. This year’s hot sunny weather was especially helpful in getting guests to explore all corners of the compound.

The Museum’s remote location can’t be ignored though, and the distance from the Los Angeles metropolitan area (combined with the lane closures on the main freeway) must act to deter the more casual attendees, as did the price of entry.

$55 per person for Saturday appears high but is actually pretty good value when you consider the number and range of both pinball and video games available to play from 11am until 2am. It is, though, probably high enough to deter any families with only a casual interest in arcade games. Not that that seemed to affect numbers too much, especially on Saturday – the busiest of the thee days.

We would like to see more seminars from local pinheads. Last year’s Archer talk was a unique feature of this show, and there are surely plenty of local collectors and developers who would be willing to share details of their work.

MAGIC GIRL: FIRST LOOK

Magic Girl backglass

It was just under two years ago that we brought you our exclusive report on the prototype Magic Girl game from Zidware when it was brought to the NW Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma, Washington.

An awful lot has happened in the time since then. A rescue plan to get the game made came and went, legal action was started in an attempt to recover the funds for buyers of Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombieland Adventure and Alice in Wonderland, and Zidware seemed destined for bankruptcy, either voluntary or involuntary.

That legal action is still ongoing, but in the third quarter of 2016, a new company – American Pinball – announced that they would be building Magic Girl as contract manufacturers for Zidware.

Incredulity turned to mere scepticism as pictures of cabinets appeared. Pinball News toured the American Pinball facility and saw how the playfields were indeed being put together on a small production line.

The 25 Magic Girl games were promised for pre-Christmas 2016 delivery, but that deadline was missed. However, John Popadiuk from Zidware contacted buyers to say delivery of their games would begin in March 2017.

Although the release of machines has been patchy, a few have been either delivered or collected.

Pinball News got our hands on one of them to pull it apart and see how much of a game has been delivered.

Our customary In-Depth Review of Magic Girl is coming, but these reviews take a long time to write and process all the pictures – we have more than a thousand pictures to work through! We also have a number of pinball shows over the next few weekends, and each of those need detailed reports.

But we understand that interest in these games is high, so we are bringing you a First Look review, where we give you a sneak-peek at the game, from the cabinet artwork to the playfield.

Naturally all our pictures are also available in high-resolution if you want to explore the details further and we have added a ten minute video of Magic Girl gameplay.

The granular detail will come in our full In-Depth Review, but in the meantime, we present our first look at Magic Girl from Zidware.

Zidware's Magic Girl
Zidware’s Magic Girl Click to expand

Magic Girl is a standard-width game, but not much else is standard. For a start, the playfield is longer than normal, and the playfield glass is also around 10cm (4 inches) longer than regular pinball glass – something which makes getting non-glare glass something of a problem.

The cabinet and backbox designs are also custom. The backbox has angled bottom edges and bespoke hinges, while the cabinet is an unusual shape – much less tall at the front and much deeper at the back.

The Magic Girl translite
The Magic Girl translite Click to expand

The score display is at the back of the playfield like Cirqus Voltaire, allowing the translite artwork to cover the whole backbox front with the minor exception of the backbox speaker mountings.

The reverse of the Magic Girl translite
The reverse of the Magic Girl translite Click to expand

The translite art is fantastically-detailed, with intense colours and rich purple hues dominating. This design really sets the scene for what we will find on the playfield a little later.

The cabinet art is somewhat different – equally interesting but using a different colour-set and exploring different aspects of the theme.

Right cabinet side art
Right cabinet side art Click to expand

Left cabinet side art
Left cabinet side art Click to expand

The cabinet front
The cabinet front Click to expand

The backbox side art
The backbox side art Click to expand

As we said, the backbox hinges are bespoke designs, featuring the trademark Zidware lightning bolt.

The backbox hinge
The backbox hinge Click to expand

While the custom design adds another layer to the look of the game, in this instance it was certainly a case of form over function, as this bracket on our review machine was bent in transit – the hinge’s rigidity no doubt being weakened by the large central cut-out.

Round the back, the design also varies from the usual.

The back of the machine
The back of the machine Click to expand

Although it looks pretty conventional, the power switch is incorporated into the mains power inlet, making it trickier to depower. Several ventilation grilles are included but there are no details of the machine on the game sticker. The only identification comes in the form of a machine-specific plaque bearing the MGxxx game number.

That’s our first look at the outside of Magic Girl. Under the (custom-size) glass we have the game’s playfield which we will examine in detail in our In-Depth Review.

The playfield
The playfield Click to expand

As you can see, it’s a packed playfield – packed with mechanisms, artwork and colours. There are shots, targets, LEDs and plastic pieces all over, with barely any part of the playfield periphery not turned into a scoring or feature opportunity. Several targets appear to be deliberately impossible to make and can only be hit by sheer chance.

The instruction card
The instruction card Click to expand

The replay levels card
The replay levels card Click to expand

The game’s display is mounted on the inside back wall of the cabinet. This results in part of it being obscured by the taller playfield features, but there’s no reason the information on the display cannot be crafted around the obstructions.

The game's display panel
The game’s display panel Click to expand

A display designed around the playfield components
A display designed around the playfield components Click to expand

Despite being jammed with shots and targets, the game only has two regular flippers.

The game's two flippers
The game’s two flippers Click to expand

We say ‘regular’ flippers because there are also two Twilight Zone-style magnetic flippers on a mini-playfield mounted above and at the back of the main playfield.

We will examine that along with all the other playfield mechanisms, lights and artwork in our full In-Depth Review.

Until then we will leave you with two more sneak-peaks.

The first is a look at the underside of the playfield.

The underside of the playfield
The underside of the playfield Click to expand

The main driver board is mounted under the playfield which keeps the interconnects with the solenoids, switches and LED boards short.

LEDs are a mixture of custom boards for RGB lighting and sockets for single-colour devices. There is an Arduino board mounted at the bottom-right of the picture above to control the RGB LEDs.

Although the bottom of the playfield appears to cram in as much as possible, there are actually many missing mechanisms and devices.

Some of the many unused connectors
Some of the many unused connectors Click to expand

In truth, Magic Girl is a long way from complete. Whole sections of the playfield are inoperable because the mechanism which feeds them is missing or the code to control them isn’t written yet.

The game’s control system appears quite mature and functional though. Apart from the boards mounted under the playfield, everything else lives in the base of the cabinet.

Inside the cabinet
Inside the cabinet Click to expand

The large metal box at the back contains the control system, and we will – quite literally – lift the lid on that in our In-Depth Review.

Until then, here’s a ten minute video of gameplay on Magic Girl.

It was shot to demonstrate a number of things. First, how well the lighting effects and artwork work together. Second, how the display animations look. Third, how the music and effects sound, and finally how the various shots work or don’t work.

Together, these elements should give you a good idea how complete Magic Girl is as a game.

We’ll be back soon with the In-Depth Review, right here at Pinball News.

DIALED IN! LAUNCH PARTY

As the European Jersey Jack Pinball Master Distributor, Alfred Pika, aka Freddy, hosted the European launch of JJP’s latest Dialed In! pinball machine designed by the legendary Pat Lawlor. The venue was Freddy’s Pinball Paradise In Echzell.

Freddy looks on as attendees try out Dialed In!
Freddy (left) looks on as attendees try out Dialed In!

Attendance at the launch party was by pre-registration. The modest entry fee of €3 ($3,17/£2.60), as well as any donations for the available food and drinks, benefited a local kindergarten.

There was one prototype LE machine for the couple of dozen attendees to try out. Software was only about 30% completed, but, surprisingly, the game felt very polished with many modes to try.

All eyes on the game
All eyes on the game

Pat Lawlor is one of the greatest pinball designers of all time, having designed many beloved tables, including the record selling 1992 The Addams Family, and his last Stern game CSI in 2008.

Lawlor began designing pinball machines in 1987 and produced eighteen games throughout his career, including many of the best-selling games in the history of the industry.

Jack Guarnieri recently recounted in the JJP newsletter how Pat’s return to pinball came about. Back in 2011, Jack rented a building in Harvard, IL from Pat and invited him to see the work JJP was doing on the The Wizard of Oz. As Pat witnessed first-hand JJP’s vision embodied in the making of their first game, he started toying with the idea of coming back to the industry.

In January 2014, to much excitement in the pinball community, JJP made the official announcement that Pat was coming out of nearly ten years of retirement to design an unlicenced game for JJP.

Pat and Jack
Pat and Jack (picture: Jersey Jack Pinball)

During the design of the game, Pat took the opportunity to revisit the actual cabinet design. In an interview with Pinball Magazine, Pat outlined his initial design goals:

  • Move the electronics back in the backbox for ease of access and added reliability.

  • Redesign the cabinet for better acoustics

  • And Improve serviceability access of cabinet head.

One of the most impressive serviceability design we saw was the new LCD mount.

After you remove the translite, the LCD screen is mounted on a impressively smooth swinging arm which extends and pivots to either side to provide full access to the cabinet head electronics.

Andy Hengstebeek, Freddy's right hand pinball man, shows the underside of the playfield
Andy Hengstebeek, Freddy’s right hand pinball man, shows the underside of the playfield

It is also the first game to feature bluetooth connectivity, and the innovative ‘selfie mode’ showcased the game camera. It employs face recognition technology to capture portraits of the player and close bystanders. This mode and the cascading ’emoji mode’ were big hits with the attendees.

The innovative selfie and emoji modes
The innovative selfie and emoji modes
The innovative selfie and emoji modes
The innovative selfie and emoji modes

The crossing hashlines inserts in the playfield are a familiar sight from the Wizard Blocks prototype game that Lawlor sadly never got to complete due to WMS Industries shutting down their pinball division in 1999.

The Quantum Reality Theater toy in the middle was very impressive with a bright and crisp interactive floating image similar to Pinball 2000 for which Pat Lawlor was also a major creative force.

Dialed-In! overhead view
Dialed-In! overhead view

The event was also the last day to order the game from Freddy at specially-discounted advance ordering prices. With a constant line to play the game during the whole event, and judging from the very positive reception of the game, one may guess there were quite a few games ordered that day.

In addition to the monthly openings of Freddy’s Pinball Paradise, the game will also be travelling around Europe to these upcoming events:

  • March 15th – 17th, Milan, Italy, Double Pinball showroom.

  • April 1st & 2nd, Le Treport, France, Flip Expo.

  • April 8th & 9th, Oberösterreich, Austria, Comic Con.

  • April 13th &14th, Badendorf in der Steiermark, Austria, ‘Auf Die Kugeln Fertig Los 3.0’ tournament.

 

Freddy’s Pinball Paradise

On the outskirts of the small village of Echzell, a 45- minute drive north of Frankfurt, it’s hard to miss these two pinball machines, beacons to all aficionados of the silver ball.

A welcoming sight
A welcoming sight

A closer inspection reveals no coin doors, leg mounts or bracket backbox hinges. We can all breathe easy as it seems no game was sacrificed for the making of these ingenious props.

Screen capture of a drone video from Freddy’s facebook page
Screen capture of a drone video from Freddy’s Facebook page

The store is on the left side, while the pinball hall is on the right. The hall is impressively spacious at 600 square meters (~6,500 sq. feet), a hint of its previous incarnation as a supermarket. The walls are adorned in a country and western decorative theme, with horse saddles, wagon wheels and horseshoes.

It houses about 170 pinball machines on free play, from 1960s electromechanical games to the latest Stern and JJP machines. The shop was founded in the summer of 2012 and the Pinball Paradise hosted the 2013 IFPA World Championships.

Alfred Pika, a.k.a. Freddy
Alfred Pika, aka Freddy

Freddy started buying and fixing games in his basement when he was just 14-years-old. Along the way he also started a successful business, Pika Autoteile GmbH, which sells parts and accessories for US made cars.

His right hand man for all things pinball related is Andy Hengstebeek. Andy is the main caretaker of the collection and he also looks after the shop.

Dark Rider conversion game for 1979 Bally Star Trek
Dark Rider conversion game for 1979 Bally Star Trek

Andy told me about the rare Dark Rider conversion game in the collection from German company Geiger-Automatenbau. Only 150 of these conversion kits were made. Andy found this game in an old gym. The playfield was completly white from rubbers having disingrated, but the playfield was pristine underneath.

He explained that these Geiger conversion kits came out a few years after the originals, and by then usually people had moved on to the latest pinball playfield layout and feature gimmicks.

In addition to all the popular WMS and Stern DMD games, the many solid-sate and Electromechanical machines there are many notable games at the Paradise, such as Cactus Canyon Extended, Atari’s Hercules, Akkon Automaten’s Sexy Girl, and the following games:

Rare 1982 Williams Defender in beautiful condition - only 369 made
Rare 1982 Williams Defender in beautiful condition – only 369 made
1985 Bally Cybernaut
1985 Bally Cybernaut
1979 Bally Paragon, European version with only 3 flippers
1979 Bally Paragon, European version with only 3 flippers
1984 Bell Games Tiger Rag conversion
1984 Bell Games Tiger Rag conversion
1984 Bell Games Super Bowl conversion
1984 Bell Games Super Bowl conversion
Geiger La Retata LA Police conversion kit for 1986 Williams High Speed
Geiger La Retata LA Police conversion kit for 1986 Williams High Speed
Geiger Lady Death conversion for 1978 Bally Mata Hari
Geiger Lady Death conversion for 1978 Bally Mata Hari

Freddy also sells the convolux plastic protectors which Pinball News had the opportunity to review in 2014.

Convolux plastic protectors
Convolux plastic protectors

Many of the games at the Paradise were outfitted to showcase these protectors. Here, on two 2013 Stern Star Treks, you can see how much Convolux protectors can change the mood of a playfield.

Star Treks with the Convolux plastic protectors
Star Trek with red Convolux plastic protectors
Star Treks with the Convolux plastic protectors
Star Trek with yellow Convolux plastic protectors

Here are some pictures of the inside of the Paradise.

Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise
Inside Freddy’s Pinball Paradise

Freddy’s Pinball Paradise is open once a month, usually the last saturday of the month. Current admission prices are €18 for adults and €10 for children aged 12-16 years.

More details are available at:

A nice last look at the end of a fun day of pinball
A nice last look at the end of a fun day of pinball

CAPTAIN NEMO: IN-DEPTH REVIEW

Captain Nemo Dives Again

Welcome to the latest in our continuing series of In-Depth Reviews, and today we are delving deep into Quetzal Pinball’s Captain Nemo Dives Again.

We have been following the development of Captain Nemo Dives Again – which we’ll simply refer to as Nemo from here on – since Antonio Ortuño first announced his plans to build thirty machines back in March 2012.

It’s now five years later and the games are finally being delivered to buyers. Five years does seem to be a common timescale for small-scale boutique game manufacturers to actually deliver their first game.

So, we assume you know the structure in these In-Depth Reviews. We’re basically going to rip the game to pieces, investigate every aspect and show you every angle, inside and out, starting with the outside and the cabinet artwork.

The left cabinet side
The left cabinet side Click to expand

The right cabinet side
The right cabinet side Click to expand

The backbox sides
The backbox sides Click to expand

The front of the cabinet is dominated by the standard single-slot coin door but there is still space for a nice frame design surrounding it.

The cabinet front
The cabinet front Click to expand

If we had one criticism of the decals, it would be how the exposed edges are white and can sometime show up on the corners. Otherwise though, they look great.

The backbox decal edges
The backbox decal edges Click to expand

Now would be a good moment to mention how our review machine was specified with gold trim which was available at extra cost at the time of order.

The polished gold finish
The polished gold finish Click to expand

Standard Nemo machines don’t have this gold finish, but it does look excellent and is very nicely done as we shall see throughout this review.

The game's translite
The game’s translite Click to expand

The translite brings us to something unusual about the game when compared to other production machines.

You might notice how there are four white dots om the translite picture above. These are actually the plastic rivets which appear to hold the translite to the clear acrylic sheet which covers and protects it.

The plastic rivet attaching the translite to the clear plastic sheet
The plastic rivet attaching the translite to the clear plastic sheet Click to expand

These are used in preference to the more common edging strips which clamp the translite to the glass on all four sides. The lower two of these rivets have plastic ‘nipples’ which can be used to lift the clear panel/translite sandwich to gain access to the backbox.

Another plastic rivet, this time with a 'nipple' to aid lifting the panel
Another plastic rivet, this time with a ‘nipple’ to aid lifting the panel Click to expand

However, there are a couple of problems here. Firstly, the translite isn’t firmly attached to the clear plastic cover. The rivets don’t actually hold the clear sheet to the translite very successfully. It seems a static bond was expected to attach the two parts, only this didn’t really work. So, the translite needs to be taped to the clear protective sheet using Scotch Tape or similar.

The translite is attached using Scotch Tape
The translite is attached using Scotch Tape Click to expand

The clear acrylic sheet is also too thin and can flex too easily, allowing it and the translite to fall out.

Then we come to the other problem; the translite doesn’t actually transmit much light. The white layer is so thick it blocks almost any light from passing through. It’s an easy problem to remedy – make the white layer thinner – but as it stands the translite is too dark. We’ll look at this a little more when we examine what’s in the backbox.

The translite thickness
The translite thickness Click to expand

Moving away from the visible part of the game and poking our camera around the back we find some interesting features.

The back of the machine
The back of the machine Click to expand

First of all, there’s a fan mounted on the back of the main cabinet. It’s an unfortunate consequence of using PC components for a game design that cooling is an important factor, and Nemo is no different in this regard. In fact, there’s an additional vent on the top of the backbox too.

The air vent on the top of the backbox
The air vent on the top of the backbox Click to expand

It may be unobtrusive and nearly silent, but this cabinet fan, when combined with others we shall see shortly, does provide some ambient noise when the game is otherwise silent. It really is minimal but it exists and, as with all games using the same type of cooling, in a home environment it could irritate.

Power is supplied by an IEC connector, and there are two lifting recesses at the very bottom of the cabinet which are very welcome nods to those who regularly move machines around.

The bottom of the back of the cabinet
The bottom of the back of the cabinet Click to expand

We’ll examine what’s actually inside the backbox and cabinet towards the end of this review, but now let’s move on to the part of the machine were the real action takes place. To do that we need to dive under the glass.

The Nemo playfield
The Nemo playfield Click to expand

The final artwork pieces are found on the metal bottom apron.

The bottom arch and gold trim
The bottom arch and gold trim Click to expand

The two side decals on the apron show the same rococo design, with the central decal featuring the game logo and the machine number out of the thirty machines produced.

The bottom apron decals
The bottom apron decals Click to expand

Nemo is a two-flippered six ball game, with the flippers in the usual place, front and centre, and it’s there that we start our tour of the playfield.

Nemo is a six-ball game
Nemo is a six-ball game Click to expand

The game is supplied with white flipper bats and red flipper rubbers – real rubber, not one of the polyurethane alternatives. The flipper bats do not carry any logo or branding at the pivot point.

The flipper area
The flipper area Click to expand

A large red Dive Again (shoot again) insert sits between the flippers, and the playfield is drilled with flipper alignment holes which should help with setting the flipper bats to the correct angle if you ever need to do that.

The flipper alignment guide holesThe flipper alignment guide holes Click to expand

Any balls which pass between the flippers soon find themselves falling into the trough, the entrance to which is covered by the bottom apron.

The view between the flippers into the troughThe view between the flippers into the trough Click to expand

As is customary in these In-Depth Reviews, we will continue our tour of the playfield features by moving clockwise, pausing only to admire the reflective quality of the gold-plated apron.

The mirrored apronThe mirrored apron Click to expand

Just above the apron in the left outlane is a panel listing credits for the game design, artwork, toy design, display animations, mechanical design, software and music/sounds.

Credits in the left outlane
Credits in the left outlane Click to expand

Incidentally, there is a corresponding copyright notice in the right outlane for Gustavo Díaz, a.k.a. Lord Hiryu who created the artwork, giving the year as 2012- when the original announcement of the game took place.

Credit text in the right outlane
Credit text in the right outlane Click to expand

As you can see, the inlane ball guides are lit with pure green LEDs. Lighting throughout the game uses LEDs and most are coloured. The coloured ones are single colours, and 44-style bayonet lamp holders are generally used to mount them. There is one incandescent lamp fitted to the game, but we will come back to that one later.

The left inlane ball guide
The left inlane ball guide Click to expand

In inlane ball guides are made from clear transparent plastic, topped with a printed butyrate featuring the phrase ‘Mobilis in Mobili’ which is the motto of the Nautilus and roughly translate from Latin as ‘Movement amidst movement’ to describe the vessel’s underwater adventures.

The left inlane and outlane
The left inlane and outlane Click to expand

There is one inlane and one outlane on the left side. Both feature traditional mechanical rollover switches to detect the ball and contain a large round insert – ‘F’ for the outlane and ‘I’ for the inlane. These combine with two corresponding inserts on the right to spell out F-I-R-E, and they have the lane change ability to rotate the lit and unlit inserts with the flipper buttons.

The F and I inserts in the left inlane and outlane
The F and I inserts in the left inlane and outlane Click to expand

The left inlane is also where the left ramp finishes. It deposits the ball just below the rollover switch, meaning you can’t repeatedly shoot the ramp to light the F-I-R-E letters.

The lower left playfield area
The lower left playfield area Click to expand

The left slingshot is a pretty basic assembly, with two leaf switches, a kicker arm and two single-colour green LEDs, surrounded by a white rubber ring stretched around three clear star posts, with the whole lot covered by a single printed slingshot plastic.

The left slingshot
The left slingshot Click to expand

Above the left outlane is an adjustable post with three positions to vary the width of the outlane entrance and thus the game’s difficulty.

Above that is a cluster of clear star posts which form a rebound area designed to add some randomness to the ball’s movement and make it harder to control.

The left adjustable post and rebound area
The left adjustable post and rebound area Click to expand

The next feature on Nemo’s playfield is the bank of drop targets

The game's drop targets
The game’s drop targets Click to expand

These four drop targets spell out N-E-M-O and sport an image of the Nautilus stretched across the four targets. Each target has a matching blue circular insert in front, and completing them resets the bank and adds a ball to the next multiball.

The individual drop targets are not resettable like they are in, say, The Hobbit. So only the whole bank can be reset to the up position, which it is between balls and between players.

The N-E-M-O drop target bank
The N-E-M-O drop target bank Click to expand

It is possible for the ball to get stuck on top of the drop targets – something which is only cleared when the game resets the targets as part of the ball search routine.

A ball hang-up on the drop targets
A ball hang-up on the drop targets Click to expand

Up the playfield from the drop targets is the entrance to the left lane.

The entrance to the left lane
The entrance to the left lane Click to expand

This lane travels up the left side of the playfield in what is often the position for an orbit lane. However, on Nemo this instead leads to a trap hole which in turn drops down to a subway tunnel.

The left lane
The left lane Click to expand

There is a large rectangular insert which lights when the lane is shot.

The insert in the left orbit
The insert in the left lane Click to expand

When the ball makes it all the way to the top of the lane, it passes over a rollover switch and into a trap hole. This leads to a subway which send the ball to the left side of the playfield and into an upkicker.

The top of the left lane
The top of the left lane Click to expand

The upkicker includes a nicely polished piece of curved metal which directs the ball onto a short metal ramp. This ramp joins the left ramp return to deposit the ball in the left inlane, as we saw earlier.

The left upkicker
The left upkicker Click to expand

Just to the right of the left lane is the game’s Extinct Volcano captive ball shot.

The captive ball
The captive ball Click to expand

This is another fairly simple mechanism, with just a single ball trapped behind a couple of posts. When shot, the ball travels up a short lane and hits a red circular standup target to register the hit.

The extinct volcano captive ball shot
The extinct volcano captive ball shot Click to expand

Although it looks quite a tight shot, in practice it’s pretty easy to shoot the captive ball. However, if you are not playing the appropriate mode and the Extinct Volcano insert isn’t lit, it does nothing; not even evoking a sound effect.

Our next feature is the first of the game’s two ramps – the left ramp.

The left ramp
The left ramp Click to expand

The ramp is made up from a metal U-turn which leads to an extended open metal rail. All these pieces are shiny metal (gold in this particular machine) and work very effectively despite their unusual design.

The entrance to the left ramp
The entrance to the left ramp Click to expand

The left ramp is where the skill shot award is collected if it is made directly after the ball is launched. It is also one of the jackpot shots and is one of the two shots during Protect the Sea mode.

The left ramp inserts
The left ramp inserts Click to expand

The left ramp U-turn
The left ramp U-turn Click to expand

The left ramp’s U-turn mechanism transfers the ball onto the metal ramp return which joins up with the return from the left lane’s upkicker. An attractively laser-cut metal panel prevents the ball falling off the ramp as it joins.

The left ramp return
The left ramp return Click to expand

The ramp return then sends the ball down the left side of the playfield, dropping it into the left inlane. It does this after the inlane switch, so there is no sound or lighting effect as the ball returns to the flipper.

The end of the left ramp
The end of the left ramp Click to expand

While one of the captive ball posts site on the left side of the ramp entrance, on the right side we find the first of two white rectangular standup targets.

The Hera standup target
The Hera standup target Click to expand

The Hera target is paired up with the Cles target on the right side to light lock for multiball at the left lane and the right saucer when both are shot.

Our next shot is the centre lane which is a fairly wide shot and easier to make than, say, the equivalent lane on Iron Man.

The centre lane shot
The centre lane shot Click to expand

The centre lane features a white rubber band on the left side of the entrance which makes the shot a little more demanding by rebounding any wayward shots while also providing some lateral movement for balls exiting the pop bumpers on that side.

The rebound ring in the centre lane
The rebound ring in the centre lane Click to expand

The centre lane leads up to the top of the playfield and to the three S-E-A rollover lanes which are bathed in a pool of blue light.

The top rollover lanes
The top rollover lanes Click to expand

There are one-way gates on either side of the S-E-A rollover lanes, which means any ball shot up here is guaranteed to enter the lanes. They feature the usual lane change ability, while lighting all three S-E-A inserts extinguishes them all and increases the end-of-ball bonus multiplier.

Pop bumper area artwork
Pop bumper area artwork Click to expand

The top rollover lanes lead to the pop bumper area, which contains the familiar arrangement of three pop bumpers and a central flasher insert.

The pop bumper area
The pop bumper area Click to expand

Although the pop bumpers provide reasonable ball movement action, they rarely send the ball back into the S-E-A lanes.

There are two exits from the pop bumpers – to the left into the centre lane, or to the right into the right lane – with the rubber ring in the centre lane helping to prevent the ball heading straight down the middle from that exit.

There is a potential ball trap on the lower bumper.

A ball trap on the bottom pop bumper
A ball trap on the bottom pop bumper Click to expand

This seemed to happen quite often on our review machine and required a ball search to free it, since it wasn’t easily cleared with a gentle tap of the cabinet side.

Above the left exit from the pop bumpers is a green circular standup target representing the Underwater Forest.

The Underwater Forest standup target
The Underwater Forest standup target Click to expand

This is used to advance the Underwater Treasures mode and can be surprisingly difficult to hit when needed. The blue rubber pad on the left and white rubber ring on the right mean it has to be an accurate shot to register.

A slightly easier target is the Bay of Vigo standup below and to the right which features in the same mode.

The Bay of Vigo standup target
The Bay of Vigo standup target Click to expand

This target is a little more open and accessible than the Underwater Forest one, and like its counterpart it requires multiple hits to complete the feature.

Below the Bay of Vigo is the Cles standup we mentioned earlier.

The Cles standup target
The Cles standup target Click to expand

This pairs up with the Hera standup to light lock for the start of multiball. Its insert flashes rapidly until the target is hit, at which point it lights solidly.

The Cles standup is positioned on the left side of the entrance to our next feature – the right ramp.

The right ramp
The right ramp Click to expand

This is another all-metal ramp with even the ramp flap having a shiny finish. Like the left ramp, it can score jackpots in multiball and advances the Protect the Sea feature.

The right ramp inserts
The right ramp inserts Click to expand

Despite having a pretty tight turn at the top, the right ramp is not a tricky or temperamental shot. The metal construction makes it nice and smooth, and there’s some satisfaction to be had comboing the two ramps to advance through the mode rapidly.

The turn at the top of the right ramp
The turn at the top of the right ramp Click to expand

The right ramp turns and heads down the right side of the playfield
The right ramp turns and heads down the right side of the playfield Click to expand

Successful shots to the ramp are recorded by a microswitch mounted on the ramp return which shares the attractive, open design of its left-side companion.

The switch on the right ramp
The switch on the right ramp Click to expand

The right ramp return also drops the ball into its respective inlane, however this time it falls above the inlane switch, allowing advancement of the F-I-R-E inserts.

The end of the right ramp
The end of the right ramp Click to expand

Moving right, we come to our next major shot which is the right lane.

Inserts in the right lane
Inserts in the right lane Click to expand

Were it not for the one-way gates at the top, the position of this shot could be thought of as an orbit lane. However, the gates mean it always leads to the S-E-A rollover lanes and the pop bumpers.

The one-way gate at the top of the right lane
The one-way gate at the top of the right lane Click to expand

The right lane is one of the shots during Build the Nautilus mode, and also starts Super Bumpers for increased scoring.

The right lane
The right lane Click to expand

The final major shot is on the far right and is an eject hole.

The eject hole lane
The eject hole lane Click to expand

This is a reasonably tricky shot and the ball can bounce out if the shot is too hard. However, even if that happens it will often register and award the lit feature.

The eject hole on the right of the playfield
The eject hole on the right of the playfield Click to expand

Those features include the start of multiball which happens instantly, without any delay while a display effect completes.

Inserts in the right lane
Inserts in the right lane Click to expand

The ball guide into the right eject hole
The ball guide into the right eject hole Click to expand

Below the eject hole lane is another rebound area which sits above the right outlane.

The rebound area above the right outlane
The rebound area above the right outlane Click to expand

As with the left outlane, the right side includes an adjustable post with three positions to vary the width of the lane entrance. The game is shopped with the post in the middle position.

The right outlane post has three possible positions
The right outlane post has three possible positions Click to expand

There’s just a single inlane and one outlane on the right. These contain the R and E inserts from F-I-R-E

The right ramp terminates at the right inlane
The right ramp terminates at the right inlane Click to expand

The R insert is mostly covered by the end of the right ramp, and its metal construction also partly obscures the ball as it bounces around, deciding whether to head for the inlane or the outlane.

The R and E inserts in the right inlane and outlane
The R and E inserts in the right inlane and outlane Click to expand

While the left ramp drops the ball in the left inlane below the rollover switch, that’s not possible on the right side due to another ramp occupying that position.

The right inlane and outlane
The right inlane and outlane Click to expand

In this case it is the ball launch ramp which claims that area of the playfield, so let’s take a look at that feature next.

A ball waiting in the shooter lane
A ball waiting in the shooter lane Click to expand

The ball shooter lane begins in a fairly conventional manner, with a wooden shooter lane and an auto-launch mechanism to propel the ball into play.

Rather than shooting the ball up to the rollover lanes as might b expected, the auto-launch instead sends it into another U-turn ramp which feeds the right inlane, much as it does on Indianapolis 500.

The ball shooter lane
The ball shooter lane Click to expand

The ball launch ramp
The ball launch ramp Click to expand

This is another attractively-mirrored metallic construction, although it is sometime unable to cope with the speed of the ball as it is launched, allowing it to fly off and drop into the outlane. This is more a function of an over-exuberant ball launch solenoid, and it could maybe do with a slightly weaker coil.

The end of the ball launch ramp
The end of the ball launch ramp Click to expand

If it is launched successfully, the ball quickly drops into the right inlane and rolls down to the right flipper for a skill shot on the left ramp. The ball moves pretty quickly, so you need to be paying attention or the ball will drain before you’ve had a chance to flip it.

The right inlane and outlane area
The right inlane and outlane area Click to expand

That brings us back to the flippers and means we’ve looked at all the main shots in the game, but we still have the single largest playfield feature to examine – the LCD panel.

The in-playfield display
The in-playfield display Click to expand

This 9.7-inch LCD panel is the only display in the game and so conveys all the usual information about score, ball number, credits available, mode status and diagnostics menus. The background image for most of the game is a continuation of the surrounding artwork. This helps blend it in, although the display is significantly brighter than the playfield.

The in-playfield LCD monitor
The in-playfield LCD monitor Click to expand

The high score entry screen
The high score entry screen Click to expand

The panel has the usual clear plastic window covering it and making it flush with the playfield, but it also has a larger Mylar sheet protecting it. In fact, it looked like there were two Mylar sheets, one larger than the other, with the top one bubbling a little around the edges of the lower one.

The Mylar covering the display
The Mylar covering the display Click to expand

When the game is powered up, the display shows the loading progress.

The playfield display during game start-up
The playfield display during game start-up Click to expand

At the start of a game, the player needs to choose which of the three main modes they wish to play. Each one requires different shots to advance through it.

The three mode choices
The three mode choices Click to expand

The completed modes and progress towards the Kraken wizard mode are shown on the playfield’s inserts.

The three modes and the wizard mode inserts
The three modes and the wizard mode inserts Click to expand

Other inserts on the playfield show awards available or collected.

Three playfield award inserts
Three playfield award inserts Click to expand

We said just now that the display is the biggest playfield feature, but there’s another game feature which is just as large, although it lives on the game’s back panel rather than on the playfield.

That feature is the Nautilus.

The Nautilus model
The Nautilus model Click to expand

The Nautilus is made from flat plastic sheets which interlock and slide over each other. There is a solenoid behind the model which moves it left and right during certain game events. It’s not that exciting, but it adds a little more movement to the game.

There’s another back panel feature, and this one takes the form of a power meter timer.

The timer on the back panel
The power meter timer on the back panel Click to expand

There are eight red LEDs arranged in a circle, and at the start of Protect the Sea mode they all light up. Gradually, one-by-one they begin flashing and then extinguishing as your power diminishes. The same information could be shown on the LCD panel, but it’s nice to see those bright red LEDs uring you to complete the mode.

The bottom part of the playfield
The bottom part of the playfield Click to expand

To help explain how the game plays, here our ten-minute video of the gameplay, from the initial game start right through to Kraken mode.

That completes our look at the playfield. Now it’s time to get the keys out and delve inside the game to see how it’s put together. A nice touch is the laser-cut Nemo key fob which comes with the game

The laser-cut key fob
The laser-cut key fob Click to expand

Let’s start with the easy part, and see what’s in the backbox.

The translite panel is secured with a barrel lock at the top.

The translite backbox lock
The translite backbox lock Click to expand

Inside the backbox
Inside the backbox Click to expand

Nemo has two backbox speakers mounted at the top.

One of the backbox speakers
One of the backbox speakers Click to expand

The sound from these speakers is projected through cut-outs in the translite panel.

The top of the translite
The top of the translite Click to expand

One of the speaker cut-outs
One of the speaker cut-outs Click to expand

The speakers are each fed with their own audio channel from an amplifier in the base of the cabinet, where there is also a third speaker.

Meanwhile, remaining in the backbox we find a switching power supply which drives the backbox’s three white LED strips.

The power supply in the backbox
The power supply in the backbox Click to expand

Connections to the backbox LEDs
Connections to the backbox LEDs Click to expand

Some of the power supply’s outputs also go into the cabinet, while mains power for the supply comes in from the cabinet.

Cabling from the cabinet to the backbox
Cabling from the cabinet to the backbox Click to expand

The backbox hinges and folds down as normal. With no backbox latch, it is held upright by two wing bolts. These look flimsier than their Williams equivalents but are actually the same diameter bolts.

The ground braid is clamped by the backbox bolts
The ground braid is clamped by the backbox bolts Click to expand

So there’s not much in the backbox – just a power supply, two speakers and some LED strips. To find the really interesting stuff we need to open up the cabinet, starting with the coin door.

Surprisingly there’s a coin mech fitted.

The coin mech supplied with the game
The coin mech supplied with the game Click to expand

It’s a single coin device and we’re not sure which coin it takes – quarters, Euros, or something else. In any case, there were no controls to set the game pricing scheme in the menus in this version, so it’s a moot point.

Inside the coin door we have more interesting items to examine.

Looking through the coin door
Looking through the coin door Click to expand

At the top, we have the yellow-sleeved lock bar lever and a coin door switch. We originally thought this switch would disable the solenoid power, but it didn’t. In fact, we couldn’t see that it made any discernible difference to anything.

In the bottom, we find a cash box which can be bolted into the cabinet using a lock mechanism while at the bottom left corner of the coin door we have two diagnostic buttons and the game’s volume control.

The menu buttons and volume control
The menu buttons and volume control Click to expand

The volume control is a little basic and could really do with housing in a discrete box with a knob added to finish it off more neatly.

The volume control board
The volume control board Click to expand

The two buttons on the left are used to diagnose problems, adjust the game settings or depower the game.

Nemo runs on PC hardware using a Linux operating system. Pressing the red button shuts down the current session and allows a change of user just like pressing the power button on a PC.

Pressing the power button
Pressing the power button Click to expand

Using any of these options requires a mouse and/or keyboard so this isn’t a button you would generally want to press. You can, however, press and hold the button to depower the PC. This doesn’t shut down the whole game as LEDs remain lit and the display continues to operate, however once the PC is shut down you can press the button again to start it up again.

The black button is the more useful one as that takes us into the diagnostic and configuration menus.

We are presented with five menus: Game Settings, Language, Diagnostics, System and Return. For all menu options, the left and right flipper buttons move through the menu options, the ball launch button is the ‘enter’ key and the game start button is the ‘back’ key.

The menu system
The menu system Click to expand

Game settings opens more options to enable or disable the sound, change the number of balls per game, adjust how many (if any) extra balls are allowed, the number of permitted tilt warnings and the duration of the ball saver.

Standard game settings
Standard game settings Click to expand

In this version of the software (0.911) quite a few of these didn’t work properly, but they have been corrected in the latest release (0.912) which came out around nine days after our review session.

The game supports four different languages – English, Spanish, French and German.

The four supported languages
The four supported languages Click to expand

The diagnostic tools are limited. The Show Playfield selection adds an overlay to the monitor showing which switches are closed and which are open. As a switch changes state, it is shown on the playfield map, although the map is overlaid over a busy background and the text all overlaps, making it hard to work out what’s going on.

Diagnostic menu options
Diagnostic menu options Click to expand

Fire coils allows you to energise individual solenoids; again, using the flipper buttons to choose the coil and the ball launch to activate it. The name of the coil is shown, but it is underneath the playfield map and so mostly illegible.

Other menu options are to log actions or to end the ball in play.

The System menu is where you update the game code, or shut down/reboot either the whole game or just the PC.

System menu options
System menu options Click to expand

Return takes you out of the menus and back to the game.

Time to lift up the playfield and take a proper look at Nemo’s hardware.

The lock bar is a standard Williams-type mechanism, with the familiar latch bolted to the front top of the cabinet above the coin door.

The lock bar latch
The lock bar latch Click to expand

Lifting the playfield, we find that it rotates about a pivot point towards the back, but doesn’t slide forward. The playfield can only be lifted so far due to objects in the base of the cabinet getting in the way.

Inside the cabinet
Inside the cabinet Click to expand

Because the playfield doesn’t slide forward, to work on the game you need to use the playfield prop arm. This is attached to the underside of the playfield and can slot into either of two prop brackets for different heights.

The playfield prop arm
The playfield prop arm Click to expand

The playfield lifts and can be propped up
The playfield lifts and can be propped up Click to expand

The two playfield prop brackets
The two playfield prop brackets Click to expand

With the playfield raised we can see the underside of the playfield.

The bottom of the playfield
The bottom of the playfield Click to expand

The wiring is relatively straightforward with microswitches used throughout and all the LEDs mounted in lamp-style bayonet sockets.

The trough and ball eject solenoid
The trough and ball eject solenoid Click to expand

The ball trough and ball shooter solenoid
The ball trough and ball shooter solenoid Click to expand

The coils are a mix of Williams-branded ones and others from APB Enterprises.

The flipper assemblies
The flipper assemblies Click to expand

Socketed LEDs under the playfield
Socketed LEDs under the playfield Click to expand

The drop target assembly
The drop target assembly Click to expand

The playfield plywood
The playfield plywood Click to expand

The in-playfield display panel
The in-playfield display panel Click to expand

The only PCB mounted to the playfield is a bespoke interface board which brings together all the solenoid, LED and switch cables so they can be bundled into one playfield wiring loom.

The playfield cables connect to the interface board
The playfield cables connect to the interface board Click to expand

The switch, solenoid and LED cables come to the interface board
The switch, solenoid and LED cables come to the interface board Click to expand

The interface board
The interface board Click to expand

The playfield isn’t the only place we find switches. The cabinet has a few for the flipper buttons, the start and launch buttons, the power and menu buttons, and the tilt bob.

The front left corner of the cabinet
The front left corner of the cabinet Click to expand

These switches are connected to another interface board which sends them back to the control system on a ribbon cable.

The left flipper switch, start button, menu controls and plumb bob
The left flipper switch, start button, menu controls and plumb bob Click to expand

The right flipper switch and launch button
The right flipper switch and launch button Click to expand

The only incandescent lamp in the game, even though it's disconnected
The only incandescent lamp in the game, even though it’s disconnected Click to expand

On the right side of the cabinet base is a metal power switch box. This contains the main game fuse and covers the rocker power switch which is accessed from under the cabinet in the traditional place at the front right corner.

The power switch box
The power switch box Click to expand

Towards the back of the cabinet base we have three more parts of the pinball system. In the middle we find the cabinet base speaker.

The cabinet speaker
The cabinet speaker Click to expand

It’s not a huge speaker but it’s perfectly adequate for this application and more than capable of handline the power thrown at it.

To the left of the speaker is a traditional transformer for solenoid power and various other voltages.

The transformer in the base of the cabinet
The transformer in the base of the cabinet Click to expand

As we said before, Nemo is a PC-based game, so there is a switching power supply for the PC motherboard and this is found to the right of the cabinet speaker.

The PC power supply
The PC power supply Click to expand

The PC power supply
The PC power supply Click to expand

With the backbox power supply that’s three different power supplies so far, but there’s one more to go and that’s a small switching supply on the left side of the cabinet base which is for the playfield display.

The power supply for the display panel
The power supply for the display panel Click to expand

That just leaves the large metal box to examine.

This arrangement is quite similar to the Jersey Jack Pinball system which uses a similar metal box to house its control system. As we shall see, the similarities don’t end there.

The large metal box in the base of the cabinet
The large metal box in the base of the cabinet Click to expand

We saw in the menu system how you can update the system software. This is done by plugging a USB stick containing the new code into one of the two USB ports on the front of the box.

Two USB ports on the front of the metal box
Two USB ports on the front of the metal box Click to expand

To find out what they connect to we need to remove the cover from the metal box.

Inside the metal box
Inside the metal box Click to expand

Inside we find four main components. The first is a Micro-ATX PC motherboard made by MSI, model H81M-P33. This contains on-board graphics for the playfield display and supports any of the 4th generation Intel Core processors, although we didn’t pull it to pieces to see which processor was installed.

The PC motherboard
The PC motherboard Click to expand

If the metal box and the elements within have more than a passing resemblance to the way Jersey Jack Pinball games are built, the sound board mounted next to the motherboard is the exact same Pinnovators board found in JJP games.

The Pinnovators audio board
The Pinnovators audio board Click to expand

Although the Nemo implementation doesn’t use the coin door digital volume control found on The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit, the connector is on the board if someone wished to add it.

The board contains four channels of amplification although only three are used in Nemo for the one cabinet and two backbox speakers.

The third item in the metal box is a custom power driver board called the Quetzal Pinball Controller or QPC.

The custom Quetzal Pinball Controller power driver board
The custom Quetzal Pinball Controller power driver board Click to expand

This is where the two interface boards connect and thus where the switch inputs are fed back to the PC, and the LED and solenoids are driven. There is also AC voltage rectification and smoothing to provide some DC voltages.

The Quetzal Pinball Controller board
The Quetzal Pinball Controller board Click to expand

This is a custom Quetzal board which also provides fuse protection against short circuits.

The power driver board
The power driver board Click to expand

The fourth and final main hardware component inside the metal box is a 120GB Kingston SSD containing the game code and assets such as music and display animations.

The 120GB SSD containing the code and assets
The 120GB SSD containing the code and assets Click to expand

The box also contains a small fan to assist with airflow and cooling in addition to the fan mounted on the processor.

All of which brings us to the end of our look inside the Nemo game.

The Captain Nemo playfield
The Captain Nemo playfield Click to expand

When the game is shipped it doesn’t come with a manual, but it does have two copied of the game flyer from 2012 and a pair of spare slingshot plastics.

The flyers and slingshot plastics included with the game
The flyers and slingshot plastics included with the game Click to expand

Quetzal’s Captain Nemo Dives Again game looks excellent and for the original asking price of between €4,000 and €4,500 provides good value for money.

The game is not perfect of course. The software is still quite incomplete and lacks the polish expected of modern games, while the playfield and backbox lighting are both pretty dark.

But all these can be fixed. The hardware problems are overwhelmingly of the variety which call for tweaks rather than wholesale redesigns.

When Antonio first announced Nemo it was stated it would be open source. Many things have changed with various aspects of the design and specification of Nemo in the intervening five years, but it could make an interesting project to either enhance the existing rules or even create an alternative ruleset which owners could download.

Antonio is not finished yet, though. He is both building the remaining games and continuing to develop the software based on customer feedback.

It’s great to see that at least one of the boutique pinball manufacturers is delivering their contracted games without all the drama and heartache experienced elsewhere.

Finally, huge thanks to John Gilbody for the use of his machine which made this review possible.

We’ll be back with another Pinball News In-Depth Review very soon.

KINGS & QUEENS: PINBALL, IMAGISTS & CHICAGO

Thunderball artwork

An exhibition that begs the question ‘Is Pinball a Legitimate Art Form?

In recent years, there have been several art exhibitions in the greater Chicago area that have attempted to tell the story of how pinball, art and Chicago are interwoven. I feel none have done as complete and easily-absorbed presentation as the current showing of Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

The exhibit’s Curator, New York’s Dan Nadel, has studied and written books and articles on the Hairy Who Chicago Imagist artist’s collective which have many works displayed in this exhibition.

Dan is also the co-editor of The Comics Journal and has published essays and critiques in such publications as The Washington Post, Frieze and Bookforum. Dan has curated past exhibitions presenting psychedelic and alternative art collections for museums in New York, Los Angeles and Lucerne, Switzerland.

Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago has three elements of interest for the Pinball News reader.

Pinball

The exhibition has sixteen classic games loaned to the museum by Jim Schelberg, Logan Arcade, Scott Sheridan, Mark Weyna, Sharon Paschke, Vince Giovannone and Steven Malach. These games are intended to not only be viewed as works of ‘visual’ art, but also played as ‘interactive’ art that flashes, makes sounds and captures the visitor’s imagination.

Five of the sixteen games at the exhibition
Five of the sixteen games at the exhibition

Games from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are represented;

  • Gottlieb’s Kings and Queens, Atlantis, Sheriff, Duotron and Expressway
Gottlieb's Sheriff heads this block of machines
Gottlieb’s Sheriff heads this block of machines
  • Bally’s Fireball, Old Chicago and Nip-It
Bally's Nip-It
Bally’s Nip-It
Bally's Nip-It
Bally’s Nip-It
  • Williams’ Apollo, Black Knight, Black Knight 2000, Blackout, Time Warp, Firepower, Gorgar and Spanish Eyes
Williams' Gorgar, Black Knight 2000 and Apollo
Williams’ Gorgar, Black Knight 2000 and Apollo
Atlantis, Fireball and Black Knight
Atlantis, Fireball and Black Knight
The exhibition's title game
The exhibition’s title game

It is worth noting that Elmhurst was the spiritual ‘home’ of D. Gottlieb and Co. who in the 1960s-1970s produced pinball machines considered to be the ‘Cadillac’ of pinball games.

Imagists (Art)

In the main exhibition gallery alongside the Williams Blackout game is the original oil on canvas Blackout (1980) proposal for the game’s backglass, designed and painted by Ed Paschke who, of course, was well-known in the Chicago Imagist art scene and had his works featured in Playboy magazine and, for a number of years, in the first floor windows of the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company department store.

The Blackout game and proposed backglass artwork
The Blackout game and proposed backglass artwork

Ed’s proposal for Blackout was deemed to be too ‘far out’ by Williams executives and it was adjusted in collaboration with frequent collaborator Constantino Mitchell to bring it a little closer to a normal pinball style of artwork.

Ed Paschke Blackout artwork
Ed Paschke Blackout artwork
The backglass artwork used in the game
The backglass artwork used in the game

The exhibition shows a number of Paschke’s works such as Cobmaster, Chicaucus, Hairy Shoes, and Green Ava. Mitchell is also represented in the exhibition with his acrylics Deadly Weapon, Female Thunderball, Robo-War backglass and Thunderball backglass.

Constantino Mitchell's Thunderball
Constantino Mitchell’s Thunderball
Another Thunderball
Another Thunderball
Robo War is a featured artwork
Constantino Mitchell’s Robo-War is a featured artwork

The last pinball collaboration by Paschke and Mitchell would be the backglass for Gottlieb’s Bad Girls (1988).

Any exhibition of Chicago Imagist art would be incomplete without at least some of the works of Barbara Rossi, Christina Ramberg, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Roger Brown, Ray Yoshida and Suellen Rocca.

Karl Wirsum's Zing Zing Zip Zip
Karl Wirsum’s Zing Zing Zip Zip
More Chicago Imagists works
More Chicago Imagists works
More Chicago Imagists works
More Chicago Imagists works
Another Chicago Imagist piece
Another Chicago Imagist piece
Ed Flood's Silver Crown
Ed Flood’s Silver Crown

Elmhurst Art Museum comes through with high marks by showing some of the most iconic works from these artists including Wirsum’s Click (1971) and Nutt’s Officer Doodit (1968) which have become larger than life examples of the Chicago Imagist style.


Chicago

If pinball wasn’t invented in Chicago, the so called ‘second city’ has become pinball’s center of gravity and where it has achieved its pop culture status.

An impressive number of pinball’s classic manufacturers such as Bally, Williams, Gottlieb, Data East, and Chicago Coin as well as many of pinball’s best recognized personalities such as engineer Jim Shird, author-historian Roger C. Sharpe and artist Greg Freres have at one time called Chicago their home city. Stern Pinball, probably the largest pinball company in the world, designs and produces new games in Chicago to this day.

Many reasons exist for this, such as the large graphic arts community found in Chicago’s advertising agencies and the Chicago art collectives such as the Hairy Who and and other self-described artistic outsiders drawing (no pun intended!) inspiration from comic books, carnivals and arcades.

The presence of such incubators as the School of the Chicago Art Institute, Northwestern University, The Chicago Cultural Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art (to name but a few) each made significant contributions to the pinball-friendly climate in Chicago.

During the early 1930s when pinball was beginning to become popular in America, Chicago was becoming known as a capitol of ‘adult’ entertainment. This rubbed off on pinball possibly in error and possibly not. Many pinball games in Chicago were in fact owned and operated by ‘gangsters’; as many cash-based businesses were in those days.

Likely because of pinball’s ties to the mob, mayors of cities such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles came to the conclusion that pinball was a form of gambling rather than an entertaining game of skill. Former New York mayor LaGuardia even went so far as to label pinball as a ‘tool from the devil’.


Coda

Elmhurst Art Museum’s Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago blends and ferments these three elements into a brew worthy of the latest frothy yellow refreshment from Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, IL.

By coincidence or design, Two Brothers Brewing supplied samples of their new craft brewed American Pale Ale Pinball for the opening night of Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago on February 24th. I’m sure that you are thinking that Martin sent me to cover the exhibition because there was beer, and you’d be half right.

The launch party for the exhibition
The launch party for the exhibition

In addition to the exhibition itself, Elmhurst Art Museum has planned these events as an enhancement and extension of it:

18th March at 1:30pmKings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago and Elmhurst College collection highlights tour with Suellen Rocca.

31st March at 6pm – Documentary film screening of Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists at Elmhurst College

21st April at 6pm – Talk with Suellen Rocca, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at Elmhurst College

29th April at 12pmTilt Roger Brown eyeballs popular culture. Works from 1970-1997 presented and discussed

29th April at 1:30pmKings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago and Elmhurst College collection highlights tour with Suellen Rocca

Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago runs until 7th May, 2017 at the Elmhurst Art Museum, after which a modified version will run from 19th May to 21st August, 2017 at the Illinois State Museum.

IFPA EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FINAL 2016

The European Championship Series finals

Each year, a single tournament in each of fifteen different European countries is selected as that country’s qualifying tournament for the IFPA European Championship Series (ECS). The WPPR points earned by players from each tournament are totalled and a ranking table produced.

The IFPA ECS rankings for 2016
The IFPA ECS rankings for 2016

Once all the qualifying tournaments have been played, the top 32 players automatically qualify for the ECS finals which – wherever possible – are held in a different country each year. For the final of the 2016 season we were in Germany at Pinball Universe in the snowy town of Bünde, 90km west of Hanover.

The Pinball Universe building in Bünde
The Pinball Universe building in Bünde

Pinball Universe has several locations across Germany, but this custom-built building is their main base, and it’s an impressive operation. From the outset it is clear that brand recognition is an important part of the business.

One of many Pinball Universe branded vehicles
One of many Pinball Universe branded vehicles

Their main showroom is up a flight of stairs, and this was where the free play practice area was located.

Up to the showroom
Up to the showroom

Inside the showroom visitors get to see the latest Stern Pinball machines, which on this trip included Batman 66 Premium and Aerosmith Pro. Everything in the showroom is very clean, with a counter for drinks and a seating area.

Some of the Pinball Universe showroom games
Some of the Pinball Universe showroom games
More showroom games
More showroom games
More showroom games
More showroom games
Two Kiss games - a Pro and a Premium
Two Kiss games – a Pro and a Premium
Batman 66 Premium
Batman 66 Premium

The free play area extended into a side room where a selection of Pinball Universe’s restored games were set up along with a few more interesting new games such as Pabst Can Crusher, Spider-Man home edition, Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International and Scoregasm Master.

The second free play area
The second free play area
The left bank of machines
The left bank of machines
The right bank
The right bank
Pabst Can Crusher and Spider-Man Home Edition
Pabst Can Crusher and Spider-Man Home Edition
The Spider-Man playfield
The Spider-Man playfield
The opposite end of the room
The opposite end of the room

From the balcony overlooking the ground floor you get to see some of the boxes from the Stern games in the showroom.

Stern Pinball boxes
Stern Pinball boxes

But you need to head to the ground level for a much better idea of the sheer number of new games Pinball Universe must have in stock.

Stern pinball machine boxes
Stern pinball machine boxes – these rows are two boxes deep
...and more
…and more
Boxes on the ground floor too
Boxes on the ground floor too

Since we are now on the lower level, let’s take a look at some of the other rooms.

A dining area was set up which initially contained fruit, snacks and a stocked refrigerator with fruit juices, water, soft drinks and beer.

The dining area
The dining area

This room would be where the daily meal was served on both Saturday and Sunday.

Next door was the machine preparation area where Pinball Universe take new-in-box pinball machines and undertake their own pre-delivery checks, mods and protectors.

The machine preparation workshop
The machine preparation workshop

In the room was a Batman Limited Edition which needed some protectors added to stop the ball breaking some of them plastics.

A Batman 66 LE being prepared for delivery
A Batman 66 LE being prepared for delivery

Pinball Universe cut their own plastics in another part of the building, so it shouldn’t take long create a set of protectors for a new game.

Batman 66 LE
Batman 66 LE

Then we come to the two tournament areas.

The main ECS area contained 35 dot-matrix pinballs from 1991 to the present.

The main ECS tournament area
The main ECS tournament area
The left bank of machines
The left bank of machines
The right bank of machines
The right bank of machines

Out in the warehouse, another twelve recent Stern Pinball machines were set up. These would be used for the side tournament on Saturday and then for Sunday’s tournament.

The side tournament machines
The side tournament machines
The left bank of machines
The left bank of machines
The right bank of machines
The right bank of machines

The machines were:

Main ECS Tournament Area
Iron Man Vault Edition
X-Men Magneto LE
Metallica Premium
Indiana Jones (Stern)
CSI
Transformers Pro
Rollercoaster Tycoon
AC/DC Luci
Sporanos, The
Pirates of the Caribbean
Kiss Pro
Batman – The Dark Knight
Shrek
Spider-Man
WWE Wrestlemania LE
Tron
NBA
Terminator 3
Jackbot
World Cup Soccer
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Judge Dredd
Getaway, The – High Speed 2
Tommy
Fish Tales
Whitewater
Demolition Man
No Fear
NBA Fastbreak
Shadow, The
Terminator 2
Monster Bash
Attack from Mars
Indianapolis 500
Dirty Harry

 

Side Tournament Area
Iron Man Vault Edition
Kiss Pro
Metallica Premium
Walking Dead, The Pro
Star Trek Pro
Spider-Man Vault Edition
Game of Thrones Pro
Avatar LE
X-Men Premium
Ghostbusters Pro
AC/DE Premium
Mustang LE

 

And so to the tournaments themselves.

The main ECS took place on Saturday starting at 1pm. It was scheduled to finish between midnight and 1am, but everyone suspected it might take a few hours longer.

Entry to the whole weekend cost €120 ($128/£102) which included both main tournaments, the side-tournament (if available), access to the free play areas, unlimited drinks and a buffet meal each day. Everyone taking part had to register on the ground floor in order to get their player badge and to also receive a Pinball Universe goody bag.

This goodie bag included paper pads and a pen for running tournaments, packs of mints, hair tonic, a collapsible ruler, post cards, flyers, stickers and a Millennium Falcon model kit – all items made by firms local to Pinball Universe in Bünde.

The Pinball Universe goodie bag
The Pinball Universe goodie bag

IFPA Country Director for Germany, Tobias Wagemann explained the rules to players in the showroom before everyone trooped downstairs to begin.

ECS players assemble
ECS players assemble
Tobias explains how the ECS final works
Tobias explains how the ECS final works
Players learn the rules and the timings for the day's activities
Players learn the rules and the timings for the day’s activities

The format pitched pairs of players against each in a best-of-seven match. The highest-seeded player had choice of machine or position for the first game, with the loser having choice after that.

Match pairings were pre-selected and shown on a paper chart.

The main ECS winner's bracket
The main ECS winner’s bracket

Once a match had been decided, the winner continued to the next stage of the chart, while the loser entered the loser bracket for a second chance at making it to the final.

The loser bracket
The loser bracket
The ECS trophies
The ECS trophies
The first matches get underway
The first matches get underway
The first matches get underway
The first matches get underway

Once players were relegated to the loser bracket they played a best-of-five head-to-head match to continue. The loser from the pair was out of the ECS.

Players check their progress and next opponents
Players check their progress and next opponents

All was not over though, as there was a separate side tournament for those who were eliminated and for non-ECS players who wanted to take part.

This side tournament was held on the twelve machines on the warehouse floor.

Trophies for the side tournament
Trophies for the side tournament

The format for the side tournament gave each player sixteen entries which they could play over and of the twelve machines, although no single machine could be played more than twice.

Players in Saturday's side tournament
Players in Saturday’s side tournament

All the scores on each machine were ranked and ranking points awarded, with 100 for the top score, 99 for second and so on. The total points for a player’s sixteen entries gave them their overall points score, with the top eight players going into the semi-finals.

The latest scores were shown on a big monitor
The latest scores were shown on a big monitor

With the ECS finals also taking place at the same time, only ECS players who had been eliminated from the ECS were allowed to compete in the side tournament. Also, because of the time required to play sixteen games, only those eliminated early could hope to play all their games before the end of qualifying at 8pm.

Before that, around 5pm, food was served to all competitors. Because of the timing of our games, by the time we got to the dining area most of it had already ben consumed, but you get an idea of what was available in the pictures below.

Dinner time
Dinner time

This consisted of soups, salad, bread and a selection of cold meats. The previously seen fruit, chocolate bars and drinks were also available.

Salad and bread
Salad and bread
Two different soups were available - chicken goulash and leak & potato
Two different soups were available – chicken goulash and leak & potato

Play continued in both tournaments as soon as dinner was over, so now would be a good time to have a look around the amazing Pinball Universe facility in Bünde while Saturday’s ECS play-offs and the side tournament were under way.

Returning to the tournament areas, the main ECS tournament was gradually whittling down the number of players in the winner bracket, as more matches were completed.

Play in the main ECS finals
Play in the main ECS finals
Play in the main ECS finals
Play in the main ECS finals
The winner and loser brackets begin to fill up
The winner and loser brackets begin to fill up

Those out of the ECS or who never qualified were free to play in the side tournament.

Play in the side tournament
Play in the side tournament
Play in the side tournament
Play in the side tournament
The top eight would qualify for the play-offs
The top eight would progress to the semi-finals

The top eight were:

Saturday Side Tournament Qualifiers
Mario Kertels
Roland Schwarz
Dirk Elzholz
Marcin Kisiel
Gabriele Tedeschi
Didier Dujardin
Peter Blakemore
Ernö Rotter

The eight were split into two groups of four with each group playing a single game to decide which two would go through to the final.

One of the two semi-final matches
One of the two semi-final matches
Dirk plays on Mustang
Dirk plays on Mustang

The final four were:

Saturday Side Tournament Finalists
Dirk Elzholz
Gabriele Tedeschi
Peter Blakemore
Ernö Rotter
The final of Saturday's side tournament
The final of Saturday’s side tournament

The final was won by Ernö who finished ahead of Gabriele in second, with Peter third and Dirk fourth.

Winner of Saturday's side tournament, Ernö Rotter
Winner of Saturday’s side tournament, Ernö Rotter
Second place, Gabriele Tedeschi
Second place, Gabriele Tedeschi
Third place, Peter Blakemore
Third place, Peter Blakemore
Fourth place, Dirk Elzholz
Fourth place, Dirk Elzholz
The top four in Saturday's side tournament
The top four in Saturday’s side tournament

Meanwhile, the number of players left in the main ECS tournament began to dwindle as the night continued.

The main ECS tournament later on Saturday night
The main ECS tournament later on Saturday night

The main ECS tournament later on Saturday night

Franck and Daniele battle it out on Creature
Franck and Daniele battle it out on Creature

As we said earlier, the main ECS finals were unlikely to finish on time, and so it proved.

With a fresh tournament to play on Sunday, we stayed until around 1am at which point there was clearly still some way to go. As it turned out, the match above between Franck and Daniele was the semi-final in the winner bracket which Daniele won.

Franck then joined the loser bracket where he played Cayle George. Cayle had had a remarkable run having lost his first round match to Olivier Renders but continuing right through the loser bracket to the final match against Franck, which he also won. That made Franck third, and Taco Wouters – who he beat in the previous winner bracket round – was fourth.

So the final was between Daniele and Cayle. Cayle needed to beat Daniele in the best-of-seven match, and even if he did that, he then had to beat him again in the final best-of-five loser bracket match.

And that’s exactly what he did. A narrow 4-3 victory in the first match was followed by a 3-0 win in the second.

Both skill and stamina were needed, since the final didn’t actually end until 8am – the latest of any tournament Pinball News has ever reported from.

The final winner bracket
The final winner bracket

In order to allow some time to recover, the trophy presentation was deferred until 1pm on Sunday, but even then Daniele was sleeping and not able to attend. The trophies were presented by Tobias in the showroom upstairs.

Cayle receives his trophy
Cayle receives his trophy
IFPA ECS Winner, Cayle George
IFPA ECS Winner, Cayle George
Third place, Franck Bona
Third place, Franck Bona
Fourth place, Taco Wouters
Fourth place, Taco Wouters
Three of the top four, with Daniele's second place trophy
Three of the top four, with Daniele’s second place trophy

Sunday’s tournament was a ‘Swiss-style’ format of 16 rounds, where players are drawn against different opponents and play different machines in each round. When all rounds have been played, the eight players with the most wins went into the play-offs to decide the overall winner.

Trophies for the top eight in Sunday's tournament
Trophies for the top eight in Sunday’s tournament

The tournament began at 10am with the announcement of the first round draw.

Players discover their opponent and the machine they will be playing
Players discover their opponent and the machine they will be playing
The matches are under way
The matches are under way

When a match was over, the winner returned to the computer and selected the winner. Once all matches in a round were over, the next round was drawn.

The match pairings and standings were shown on a monitor
The match pairings and standings were shown on a monitor

At 1pm there was a break for lunch. Again, this was included in the cost of the event, but unlike yesterday most of the food was hot. It was generally agreed that players preferred Sunday’s hot food over Saturday’s cold buffet.

The queue for Sunday's lunch
The queue for Sunday’s lunch
The delicious hot food dishes
The delicious hot food dishes

With lunch over, play resumed in Sunday’s tournament’s qualifying round.

Waiting for the next round to begin
Waiting for the next round to begin

Unfortunately we had an 8pm flight to catch from Hanover which is an hour’s drive away from Bünde, so we had to leave at 5:30pm, just after round 14 of 16 had been completed.

By the end of qualifying, the standings looked like this:

Sunday Tournament Qualifying
1 Roland Schwarz
2= Robert Sutter
2= Cesare Datri
4 Paul Jongma
5= Levente Tregova
5= Ernö Rotter
7 Michael Trepp
8 Roberto Pedroni
9 Jim Lindsay
10 Albert Nomden
11= Taco Wouters
11= Reiner Pfeiffer
13 Kirsten Adam
14= Erwin Deutschländer
14= Peter Blakemore
16= Gabriele Tedeschi
16= Fabio Squadrani
16= Ivan Geentjens
19= Marc Steinmeier
19= Heinz Baumann
19= Marcin Kisiel
22= Ollivier Francq
22= Philipp Unger
24 Martin Ayub
25 David Mainwaring
26= Stefan Hänsch
26= Dirk Elzholz
26= Marco Suvanto
29= Jürg Berchtold
29= Didier Dujardin
31 Mathias Jäger
32= Sven Göttsche
32= Benjamin Gräbeldinger
34 Luhn Stephan
35 William Dutton
36 Andrej Demsar
37= David Dutton
37= Kim Danielmeier
39= Mario Kertels
39= Rich Mallett
41= Heinz Berges
41= Flavio Baddaria
41= Mirco de Marchi
41= Ergun Erdemir
45 Norman Heikamp
46= Lars Thiele
46= Carsten Menke
48= Karl Weber
48= Ari Sovijärvi
50 Dina Fukson
51= Louis Hänsch
51= Lutz Schroeder
51= Jendrik Thiele
54 Thomas Doepelheuer
55 Margit Danielmeier
56= Simon Niehausmeier
56= Tobias Wagemann
58 Archibald Lefevre
59 Jonathan Joosten
60 Olivier Renders
61 Franck Bona
62 Florian Thomas
63 Daniela Oymann

The final placings for both the ECS and Sunday’s tournament are still being drawn up, so we will update this report with those as soon as we get them..

Holding the ECS at Pinball Universe was undoubtedly a success. Their selection of new and expertly restored games has to be second to none, and they have the space to hold two tournaments simultaneously while still providing an extensive free play area. In fact, the whole facility is very impressive, with around as many new-in-box machines as you are likely to see at the Stern Pinball factory.

Talking to the company owners, they tell us these machines are selling because they are creating a new, untapped market for pinballs in Germany.

That’s hugely encouraging in itself, but they are also able to provide players with a world class tournament venue which will receive its next influx of guests at the forthcoming Pinball Universe Battle at the end of March.