TMAP 2017

Classics machines at TMAP 2017

We haven’t visit Madrid for a pinball tournament since Spain held the European Pinball Championship there back in 2012. This time we were attending the Torneo Madrileño de Pinballs, better known as TMAP.

The venue for the two-day event was a nondescript building in an industrial area on the southern side of the city which is the permanent home to the private Millonaria pinball club.

For those not familiar with the Millonaria location there was no signage to indicate any pinball presence resides here, let alone the fact that it is the home of a major Spanish tournament.

The unexecptional building on Camino de Hormigueras
The unexceptional building on Camino de Hormigueras

However, if you enter the building through the unlocked third door, take the lift up five floors and follow the sounds of flippers flipping, you come across the tournament registration desk.

The tournament registration desk
The tournament registration desk

Playing in the two tournaments – modern and classics – cost €60 per person. Players could also opt to take an organised lunch held in another part of the building for an additional €20. Those who took the lunch received green wristbands, while those who made their own arrangements wore an orange wristband. As you can see, with no catering facilities nearby, the vast majority decided to have lunch at the venue.

The list of players with their lunch choices
The list of players with their lunch choices

Upon registration, players received an orange shoulder bag, two score sheets (one for the modern tournament and one for the classics), a pen and a wipe cloth.

The two score sheets and pen
The two score sheets and pen

Alongside the registration desk, the lobby also provided a seating area and there was a vendor with a selection of pinball LEDs and other generic parts.

Pinball parts for sale
Pinball parts for sale

From the lobby, a short corridor led past a group of upright video games into the games room, where the eighty-nine machines were arranged in four long rows of around twenty-two machines each.

Video games on the way to the pinballs
Video games on the way to the pinballs

More classic videos
More classic videos

The first two rows of machines
The first two rows of machines

The second two rows
The second two rows

The classics machines were arranged back-to-back down the centre of the room, while the modern pinballs backed against the walls. The rear of the room was open to a multi-storey car park which provided access for loading or unloading machines and gave a small seating area for relaxation between games.

The back of the room
The back of the room

To help with the relaxation, there was a bar selling soft and alcoholic drinks along with some snacks. Beers were only €1 and gin & tonics €3, both of which were very well received.

The bar menu
The bar menu

The classics machines were largely composed of Spanish games, making an unusual selection of rarely-seen titles for the non-Spanish players attending.

Black & Reed, Big Horse and Poker Plus
Black & Reed, Big Horse and Poker Plus

Mr Evil, Centaur and Full
Mr Evil, Centaur and Full

Here’s a full list of the machines.

300
30’s, The
Addams Family, The
Aerosmith Pro
Avengers Pro
Back to the Future
Big Horse
Black & Reed
Bumper
Cabaret
Canasta ’86
Canasta ’86
Centaur (Bally)
Centaur (Inder)
Chamonix
Champion Pub, The
Cherokis
Class of 1812
Corvette
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Criterium 75
Dardos
Demolition Man
Dracula, Bram Stoker’s
Dragon
Elvis
Fairy
Family Guy
Fans
Fantastic World
Fiery 30’s, The
Flintstones, The
Full
Funhouse
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Ghostbusters LE
Grand Prix
Guns N’ Roses
Incredible Hulk, The
Indiana Jones (WMS)
Indianapolis 500
Jacks Open
Jake Mate
Jalisco
Johnny Mnemonic
Judge Dredd
Jurassic Park
Kiss
Kiss Premium
Luck Smile
Master Stroke
Metallica Pro
Mississippi
Mr Evil
NBA Fastbreak
NBA Fastbreak
Nemesis
No Good Gofers,
Pirates of the Caribbean
Poker Plus
Popeye
Pro Football
Revenge from Mars
Roadshow
Rolling Stones, The
Running Horse
Scared Stiff
Sea Scare
Seven Winner
Shamrock
Skyjump
Spider-Man VE
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars Episode 1
Stargate
Striker Xtreme
Stripping Funny
Super Bowl
Tales from the Crypt
Terminator 3
Theatre of Magic
Twilight Zone
Underwater
Up Away
Whitewater
World Cup Soccer
World Cup Soccer
X-Men Magneto LE

At the front of the room was the tournament desk where results were entered into the computer system, while a large poster showed the player groups, machines to be played and the results.

The matches in the main and classics tournaments
The matches in the modern and classics tournaments

Both tournaments worked in the same way; only the machines used and how they were played changed between the two.

Trophies for the classics tournament
Trophies for the classics tournament

Modern tournament trophies
Modern tournament trophies

Players were divided into three groups – A, B & C. In each group, everyone played three- or four-player games across nine rounds, so everyone got to play everyone else in their group. Machines were allocated in a semi-random way – keeping each group to a fixed selection of machines – which meant players would often get to play the same machine twice (or more).

In each match, points were awarded depending on finishing position, with 3 points for first, 2 points for second, 1 point for third and 0 points for last place. That meant a maximum of 27 points were available if all games were won.

The classics tournament was played first.

The classic tournament begins
The classics tournament begins

Because many of these machines were single player only, each player in a match played their game in isolation, recording their score on paper and working out the points after the last player in the match finished their game.

Play in the classics tournament
Play in the classics tournament

The points were then recorded on the poster.

Recording points in the classics tournament
Recording points in the classics tournament

When all the matches in a round were over, a call went out on the PA to start the next round while the previous round’s results were entered into the computer. The current standings were shown on a monitor.

Current standings
Current standings

The eight players with the most points in each group qualified for the play-offs on Sunday morning. The first four received a bye through the first round (12 players), while the next four would have to battle it out in four three-player games with only the winner moving on (4 players).

Players check their position
Players check their position

The classics tournament qualification ended around 12:30pm, with the first rounds of the modern tournament starting immediately.

Lunch was scheduled for 2pm, so there was just time for a couple of rounds of qualifying before the break.

Unlike the classics, all modern tournament matches were played as regular four-player games.

Lunch is a big deal in Spanish pinball tournaments and two hours are usually allocated to enjoy it. Those who had signed up for the organised meal went down to the entrance and across to the unit next door for the catered meal, complete with drinks.

We opted to enjoy the hot sunny weather and headed to the nearby town of Vallecas for a leaisurely lunch at a cafe with street-side tables. A nice iced Estrella beer rounded off the meal of bocadillos filled with anchovies and tortilla, alongside other assorted nibbles.

Play didn’t resume until 4:45, when the remaining seven rounds of the modern tournament qualifying took place. Each round took approximately 30 minutes, so everything wrapped up around 8pm.

Players relaxing after completing their games
Players relaxing after completing their games

We were staying at a nearby Ibis Budget hotel which while cheap (€37 a night), modern and a few minutes’ walk to the venue, was basic and not in a great area. So, we made a quick trip back to freshen up before setting off for the centre of Madrid courtesy of Alejandro Yepes Piedra, who had invited us to take part in the tournament and took care of us all weekend.

Central Madrid on a Saturday night is amazingly packed with people. The bars and restaurants are crowded. The streets are crowded. The subway is crowded. It’s like rush hour, every hour.

But it’s also vibrant, exciting and enjoyable. We grabbed a big dish of paella, a couple of jugs of sangria, and headed for Plaza Mayor to explore the city.

Sunday’s action began at 9am for those who finished in positions 5th-8th in their group. The top four skipped this round and so could turn up later, making sure they didn’t arrive too late.

The Pinball News crew were back bright and early on Sunday morning
The Pinball News crew were back bright and early on Sunday morning

The modern tournament
The modern tournament

Both classics and modern tournaments again followed the same format. Four groups were made, and three three-player games played with points awarded. Only the player with the most points joined the next stage, so it was a tough round to survive.

As well as the modern and classics tournament, there were several side competitions set up on machines at the back of the room.

Play in the side competitions
Play in the side competitions

The pairs competition held on Guns N’ Roses had each player play one ball and then play the third ball in split-flipper mode.

Players in the pairs competition
Players in the pairs competition

The blind pinball competition has a paper shield over the flippers of an Indiana Jones machine. The player with the highest score won. Meanwhile there was a one-ball competition run on Avengers.

The remaining play-offs all consisted of four-player groups playing three games per round, with 9-6-3-1 scoring – a system which seemed inherently likely to produce ties. The top two players in each group progressed to the next round, reducing the initial sixteen players to eight and then to a final four who would compete for the top four places.

The classics final took place first and it was a sudden-death single five-ball game played on Master Stroke. The four finalists were Rafitas, Alexxx, Inderman and Cisco120 (everyone uses nicknames in Spain).

The four classics tournament finalists
The four classics tournament finalists:
Inderman, Rafitas, Cisco120 & Alexxx

Alexxx played first on this single-player game.

Alexxx starts the final in the classics tournament
Alexxx starts the final in the classics tournament

Hi score of 600.600 set the target for the rest to attack.

Rafitas played next but fell short with 518,100. Inderman was third to play and his total just beat Alexxx, scoring 633,300 to lead the field.

Cisco120 was the last to play.

Cisco120 plays the last game in the four-player final
Cisco120 plays the last game in the four-player final

He sailed past Inderman’s score on his third ball, ending his game when his score reached 657,900.

So, Cisco120 won, Inderman was second, ALexxx third and Rafitas fourth.

Winner of the classics tournament, Cisco120
Winner of the classics tournament, Cisco120

Second place, Inderman
Second place, Inderman

Third place, Alexxx with his fiancee
Third place, Alexxx with his fiancee

Fourth place, Rafitas
Fourth place, Rafitas

The top four in the classics tournament
The top four in the classics tournament

The full results of the classics tournament are:

Classics Tournament Results
Pos Name
1 Cisco120
2 Inderman
3 Álexxx
4 rafitas
5 BonelessChicken
5 Santy
7 Ángel
7 DINO
9 Quercus
9 PinballBCN
9 Cga pozuelo
9 Mainwaring
13 Baptur
13 ROMEO
13 Rayo
13 Julio
17 Pochoguerrero
17 Rafa
17 shaolins
17 DAN
21 IKE1
21 Mirloblan
21 NBSJOSE
21 KURSH
25 Fhk
25 Fede
25 LUCIUS
28 Richart
28 Druida
28 Pipo
31 BURN RUBBER
31 Carro
31 KROM
34 Luigivampa
34 Roskalion
36 Javi
36 Capitán
36 Alucinoff
36 Multiball
36 Pulgarin
41 Lieven
41 Juaney
43 Lucky Luke
43 hassanchop
43 Federo
46 Glen
46 Troshinsky
48 ajal
48 Danidrummer
48 Pimiento
48 Drator
48 Jmfl1977
53 Leberry
53 KRISMA
55 Sarten
55 Ayub
55 Tropoglar
58 Shh-ware
58 APE
58 Jetlager
61 Gabrielo
61 Neo-Jesus
61 IronBall
64 metroider
64 Fari
64 dMode
67 DarkZeroIce
67 VIC
67 Rubensaos
70 marchales
70 Igmabor
70 DJ HULK
73 Ronko
73 Gregorio
73 iliciman
76 Steiner
76 tinkui

Then came the final of the modern tournament. This was also a single game, played on the club’s newest acquisition, an Aerosmith Pro. The four finalists were Rafitas (again), Martin Ayub, Julio and Leberry

The four modern tournament finalists:
The four modern tournament finalists:
Rafitas, Martin Ayub, Julio and Leberry

Leberry began the final.

The final of the modern tournament begins
The final of the modern tournament begins

Leberry made a solid if unexceptional start, scoring around 2M. Martin then played next.

Martin is player two in the final
Martin is player two in the final

A quick bounce down the left outlane didn’t give Martin much of a start, although he did light a couple of locks.

Julio did a little better, scoring just over a million, while Rafitas had the quickest first ball of the four, not putting up much of a score yet.

Julio picks his song as player three
Julio picks his song as player three

Leberry started a three-ball multiball to take a solid lead, but Martin and Julio both held out to lock all six balls and maximise their scoring potential. Although it was a risk, it paid off for them both. Leberry ended on 55M, but Martin overtook that with his 61M total. Julio had the much better multiball, however, ending his game on 121M. Despite putting up a valiant fight, Rafitas’s game never really got going and he ended up in fourth.

So, Julio was the winner, Martin was second, Leberry third and Rafitas fourth. Trophies were awarded by the event organisers.

Winner of the TMAP 2017 modern tournament, Julio
Winner of the TMAP 2017 modern tournament, Julio

Second place, Martin
Second place, Martin

Third place, Leberry
Third place, Leberry

Fourth place, Rafitas
Fourth place, Rafitas

The top four in the modern tournament
The top four in the modern tournament

Here are the full results:

Modern Tournament Results
Pos Name
1 Julio
2 Ayub
3 Leberry
4 rafitas
5 Rayo
5 Ángel
7 Mainwaring
7 Quercus
9 Gabrielo
9 Lieven
9 Troshinsky
9 PinballBCN
13 Cisco120
13 Richart
13 VIC
13 Juaney
17 dMode
17 APE
17 Tropoglar
20 ROMEO
20 Lucky Luke
20 Pipo
20 ajal
20 BonelessChicken
25 Shh-ware
25 shaolins
25 IronBall
28 Ronko
28 Mirloblan
28 NBSJOSE
31 Fhk
31 Fari
31 tinkui
34 Rafa
34 Igmabor
34 KURSH
37 Carro
37 KROM
39 Baptur
39 marchales
39 metroider
39 Fede
39 DJ HULK
44 Druida
44 Álexxx
46 Pimiento
46 Santy
46 Alucinoff
49 Inderman
49 Cga pozuelo
49 Multiball
52 BURN RUBBER
52 Neo-Jesus
52 DINO
55 Luigivampa
55 hassanchop
55 Rubensaos
58 Pochoguerrero
58 Roskalion
58 LUCIUS
61 DAN
61 Glen
61 Jmfl1977
64 Sarten
64 Drator
64 Pulgarin
67 DarkZeroIce
67 Gregorio
67 Jetlager
70 Javi
70 IKE1
70 Federo
73 Steiner
73 Capitán
73 KRISMA
76 Danidrummer
76 iliciman

Awards were also given to the winners of the side competitons.

Winners of the pairs competition, Druida and Ronko
Winners of the pairs competition, Druida and Ronko

High score competition winner, Pipo
High score competition winner, Pipo

Blind pinball competition winner, Ironball
Blind pinball competition winner, Ironball

There was also an award for the Interstellar Championship of Monza, although we’re not quite sure how this was decided.

Winner of the Interstellar Championship of Monza, Jetlaguer
Winner of the Interstellar Championship of Monza, Jetlaguer

With all the awards presented, the event closed at the very civilised time of 4pm. That meant we still had the rest of the day free to return to central Madrid for plates of tapas and some nice cold drinks.

Like most Spanish tournaments, TMAP 2017 was run in a relaxed though professional way. With the vast majority being local players, everyone seemed to know how it ran and what was expected of them. Those unfamiliar with the venue might have had trouble finding it – we knew the address but still couldn’t work it out until someone showed us – but once inside the format and rules were immediately understandable.

The relaxed timescale also worked well for us. Having a two-hour lunch break split up the day nicely, and the sensible finish times on both days allowed us to enjoy the city – something not always possible with other tournaments.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to TMAP 2017. Thanks to all the organisers.

While the area around the venue is not the most attractive (and we would probably choose to stay closer to the centre of the city next time), we welcomed the format, the collection of machines, the weather and the hospitality, and would love to spend some additional time exploring Madrid on our next trip.

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.

TORNEO DE PINBALL DE BIAR 2016

Torneo de Pinball de Biar

Pinball News hadn’t visited a pinball tournament in Spain since the country hosted the European Pinball Championship in Madrid in 2012. So a return visit was long overdue and we were very happy to rectify this with a trip to the town of Biar, around 50km north of the south-eastern coastal city of Alicante.

Biar is a charming town located amongst a range of hills with plenty of classical Spanish architecture, culture and, thankfully, weather. We arrived on Friday afternoon and explored the back streets before enjoying some tapas and a local beer or two, and visiting the venue for the weekend’s competitive events.

The view over the rooftops to the castle
The view over the rooftops to the castle
Steps up the hill
Steps up the hill
The church in the town square
The church in the town square

The venue for the tournament was a large white-painted building on the south-eastern edge of town.

The venue for the tournament
The venue for the tournament
The entrance to the venue
The entrance to the venue
The view opposite
The view opposite

We were given a guided tour of the building, looking at the tournament areas and delving into the storage space at the back. In both we found some interesting original and Spanish-tailored pinball machines.

The weekend consisted of a modern tournament, a classics tournament and three side tournaments. Both the modern and classics tournaments were played on twelve machines, all of which needed to be played.

The first batch of main tournament machines
The first batch of modern tournament machines
The remaining main tournament machines
The remaining modern tournament machines
Classic tournament machines
Classic tournament machines
More classic tournament machines
More classic tournament machines

The machines used in both tournaments were as follows:

Modern Tournament   Classic Tournament
Spider-Man VE
Game of Thrones LE
The Walking Dead LE
Star Trek LE
The Simpsons Pinball Party
Monster Bash
Cirqus Voltaire
Pinball Magic
Metallica Premium
Stargate
Party Zone
Theatre of Magic
– 1 –
– 2 –
– 3 –
– 4 –
– 5 –
– 6 –
– 7 –
– 8 –
– 9 –
– 10 –
– 11 –
– 12 –
Top Racer
Genie
Dragon
El Dorado
The 30s
Running Horse
Luck Smile
Shamrock
Tasty Samba
300
Surfer
Big Brave

 

In the repair area we saw an unusual pinball from Jumaci of Madrid which had no backbox, used lamps to indicate the score, and featured outward-facing flippers.

An unusual game from Jumaci
An unusual game from Jumaci
You might recognise this backglass as Capt. Card
You might recognise this King Game as Gottlieb’s Capt. Card

Along with the tournament machines, there was also a bank of free-play practice games. These also featured some Spanish games not often seen outside of the country.

The bank of free-play machines
The bank of free-play machines
This guy looks well and truly check-mated
This guy looks well and truly check-mated
Bongor is a Spanish version of Gottlieb's Jungle King
Bongor is a Spanish version of Gottlieb’s Jungle King
Screech is an original Inder design
Screech is an original Inder design featuring an electronic score display but a score reel for the credits display
You have to wonder about the story behind this backglass
You have to wonder about the story behind this backglass

In addition to the machines there was also a parts table where common pinball spares could be purchased, and a high-quality table football (foosball) game which was priced at €1 per game.

The pinball parts table
The pinball parts table
Just in case anyone needed a break from pinball
Just in case anyone needed a break from pinball

Registration for the Torneo de Pinball de Biar cost €60 ($63.77 or £51.34) which included an individualised red tournament T-shirt complete with embroidered initials and country flag, a personal player card and a tournament poster.

Individual tournament packs for the competitors
Individual tournament packs for the competitors
Tournament posters
Tournament posters
The ceramic trophies for the various tournaments
The ceramic trophies for the various tournaments

Registration also got you a hearty breakfast of various types of breads topped with meats and sausages which was called cocas, all of which was accompanied by beer, soft drinks and water. Although we’d already eaten breakfast at the hotel the breakfast here looked too good not to sample.

Putting out the breakfast dishes
Putting out the breakfast dishes
The breakfast spread
The breakfast spread
The selection was delicious and enjoyed by everyone
The selection was delicious and enjoyed by everyone

In the unlikely possibility anyone was still hungry or thirsty, additional snacks and drinks were available at very reasonable prices at a bar next to the free-play machines.

The bar
The bar
The drinks and snacks on offer
The drinks and snacks on offer

Once breakfast was over it was time to start the serious business of the tournaments. Both the modern and classics ran in parallel, with players able to play their games in either as they wished as long as they completed them all by the close of qualifying at 8pm.

Players gather to hear the format and the rules
Players gather to hear the format and the rules

A magnetic board at the side of the entrance contained name plates for each of the twelve modern and twelve classic pinballs. Players could choose to play any of the machines. If the machine’s name plate was on the board it was available to play right away, otherwise they had to wait until the current game was over and the name plate was returned to the board.

The name plates of the twenty-four machines
The name plates of the twenty-four machines

To ensure each machine was only played once by each player, as the name plate was taken their score card was punched to show the machine had been chosen.

Each score card was punched as a machine was selected
Each score card was punched as a machine was selected
Qualifying in the classic and modern tournaments
Qualifying in the classic and modern tournaments
Individual machine scores were shown on monitors at the entrance to the tournament area
Individual machine scores were shown on monitors at the entrance to the tournament area

Officials started the games to make sure none were restarted by the players, and they also recorded scores on paper sheets – one sheet per machine – which were handed to the scoring desk when filled so the results could be entered into the computer system.

The crush at the entrance to the tournament area
The crush at the entrance to the tournament area

At times – and especially as competitors had played many of their games and were waiting for one of their final few to become available – the entrance to the tournament area became quite crowded, making it difficult to enter or leave or to access the magnetic name plates.

The tournament takes a break for lunch
The tournament takes a break for lunch

One thing you will quickly appreciate about Spanish tournaments – and Spain in general – is that food and drink play an important part in the overall enjoyment of life. This weekend was no different, and so it was that at 2pm everything stopped so all the players and organisers could decamp to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

filled crepes and a kind of savoury bread pudding followed the opening salad course
Filled crepes and a kind of savoury bread pudding followed the opening salad course

The lunch was an optional €20 extra but it seemed everyone signed-up for it. And why not? It consisted of five courses with all the beer or wine you wanted. A very civilised way to run a tournament.

Next came the squid
Next came the squid
A choice of entree was followed by a selection of deserts, all washed down with jugs of beer and bottles of local red wine
A choice of entree was followed by a selection of deserts, all washed down with jugs of beer and bottles of local red wine
Everyone back to the pinballs
Everyone back to the pinballs

Lunch took two-and-a-half hours, after which it was back to the pinball hall to resume the tournaments.

Qualifying on the classics machines
Qualifying on the classics machines

Because lunch took a little longer than expected, qualifying was extended by another thirty minutes to give everyone a chance to play all their games.

Likewise with the modern pinballs
Likewise with the modern pinballs
Standings in the modern tournament
Standings in the modern tournament

Overall standings were show on a projector screen in the dining area for the modern tournament and on a monitor on the bar for the classics.

The classics tournament positions
The classics tournament positions

In both tournaments the top twenty players qualified for Sunday’s play-offs, with the top four getting a bye through the first round.

The last qualifying games are played
The last modern qualifying games are played

Once the qualifying period for players was over, the organisers played their qualification games, meaning the final standings in the modern tournament weren’t known until later into the night.

The last few results are added
The last few results are added

That meant an anxious time for those players on the border of modern qualification as the final few results shuffled their standings up and down.

Time for dinner
Time for dinner

The tension was only partially relieved by the arrival of pizzas.

The final qualification results in the modern tournament are declared
The final qualification results in the modern tournament are declared

When all the results were in the computer the twenty who would continue on Sunday were revealed. Nineteen of the qualifiers were Spanish players and there was one UK player.

Of the twenty players who qualified for the classics tournament., eighteen were from Spain, one from Sweden and one from the UK.

With all the qualifiers decided, it was back to the hotel for us (although we did subsequently pop out for a little nightcap in the town square before retiring for the night).

Sunday saw the play-offs in both tournaments as well as a number of side tournaments.

Classics tournament play-offs
Classics tournament play-offs

In both tournaments, players in qualifying positions 5th-20th were put into four groups of four and played a single pre-selected machine. As long as they didn’t get the lowest score of the group they progressed to the second round. The lowest scorers in each of the four groups were out of the tournament.

Those remaining sixteen were joined by the top four qualifiers for the quarter-finals and split into another four groups of four. This time they played on two machines where points were awarded for position in the order 7-5-3-1. After both games had been played, the top two players in the group moved on to the next round – the semi-finals.

These eight again played in four-player groups, on this time they played on three machines with the same 7-5-3-1 points structure. The top two from both groups then moved on to the final.

The first Semi-final in the classics on Tasty Samba
The first semi-final in the classics on Tasty Samba
The second semi-final in the classics on El Dorado
The second semi-final in the classics on El Dorado

Rounds of the classic and modern play-offs alternated, although the classic reached the final four first.

The classics final came down to a three-game series between Raúl Abad, César Dubón, Rafael Masedo and Marc Vallés. As in the first play-off round, all four played the first game with the lowest scorer dropping out into fourth place overall.

The first game was played on Fantastic World which was added for the play-offs together with Fantastic World and Master Stroke. Marc was the lowest scorer here with 331,400.

The remaining three moved on to Dragon where Rafael’s third place score of 180,400 got him eliminated and gave him third place.

The last game of the final
The last game of the final

The final two of Raúl and César then played on Fireball to determine the winner and the runner-up.

First place in the classic tournament, César Dubón
First place in the classic tournament, César Dubón

Raúl set a target of 43,030 but César beat that and ended his game with a score of 45,830 to take first place.

Second place, Raúl Abad
Second place, Raúl Abad
Fourth place, Marc Vallés
Fourth place, Marc Vallés

Third placed Rafael Masedo had to leave before the awards were presented.

Classic Tournament Results
1  César Dubón
2  Raúl Abad
3  Rafael Masedo
4  Marc Vallés
5  Félix Yéboles
6  Carlos Javier Parra
7  Álvaro Vidal
8  Juan Carlos Durán
9  José Luis Martínez
10  Juan Antonio Martín
11  Magnus Lindström
12  Martin Ayub
13  Pablo Crespo Contreras
14  Gabriel Ortiz
15  Antonio Cerdanya
16  Carlos Toledano
17  Miguel Manzaneque
17  Julio Vicario
19  José Miguel Fuentes
20  José Casanova
21  Rubén de la Rosa
21  Antonio Hernández
23  David López
24  Jorge Villoria
25  Mariano Manzano
26  Antonio Sempere
26  Enrique Benavent
28  Luis Molina
29  Jorge López
30  Francisco Núñez
31  Elu Tortosa
32  Carlos Vicente
33  Pablo Crespo García
34  David Martínez
35  Jesús Garbín
36  Orlando González
37  Javier Núñez
38  Nicolai Troshinsky
39  Alejandro Yepes
40  Cristina Alonso
41  Alberto Lucerón
42  Begoña Motilla
43  José María Tortosa
44  José Manuel Richart
45  Miguel Barreal
46  Santiago Elices
47  Juan Luis Santos
48  David Mainwaring
49  Jesús Merino
50  Javier Torres
51  Valentín Camarena
52  Carlos Martos
53  Cristobal Hernández
54  David Pedreño
55  Ismael Reolid
56  José Joaquín Pérez
57  Daniel Rodríguez

 

In an unusual twist, any player who didn’t make the final four in either the classic or modern tournament was placed according to their qualifying position, regardless of how well they did in Sunday’s play-offs.

In the modern tournament the play-off rounds used the 7-5-3-1 points-based system until the final round which was played in the same format as the classic with one player being eliminated per game. There was a tie in one of the semi-finals for the last place in the final four which was decided by a one-ball game on Party Zone.

Party Zone was the first game of the final
Party Zone was the first game of the final

So the finalists in the modern tournament were Valentín Camarena, Gabriel Ortiz, Carlos Javier Parra and Julio Vicario. They began playing on Party Zone, but this proved the end of the final for Carlos Javier Parra who came fourth in that game and so fourth overall.

The second game was Metallica.

Game two of the modern final - Metallica
Game two of the modern final – Metallica

This time it was Gabriel Ortiz who came a cropper and took third place both in the game and overall.

Valentin playing in the last game of the final
Valentín playing in the last game of the final

That left Valentín Camarena and Julio Vicario to contest the final on the last game which was an Avengers LE which was added along with Getaway and Bride of Pinbot for the play-offs.

Julio plays his ball in the final
Julio plays his second ball in the final
Spectators behind the tournament desk
Spectators behind the tournament desk
Winner of the modern tournament, Julio Vicario
Winner of the modern tournament, Julio Vicario

Julio put up an impressive 67M score on his second ball to Valentín’s 11M, making quite a task for Valentín to catch him on the last ball. As it turned out he only got up to 17M before the ball drained and the final was over without Julio needing to play his third ball.

Second place, Valentín Camarena
Second place, Valentín Camarena
Fourth place, Carlos Javier Parra
Fourth place, Carlos Javier Parra

Third placed Gabriel Ortiz had to leave to catch his flight before the awards were presented.

Modern Tournament Results
1  Julio Vicario
2  Valentín Camarena
3  Gabriel Ortiz
4  Carlos Javier Parra
5  Santiago Elices
6  Rafael Masedo
7  Martin Ayub
8  Álvaro Vidal
9  César Dubón
10  Alberto Lucerón
11  Javier Núñez
12  Antonio Sempere
13  Raúl Abad
14  Pablo Crespo Contreras
15  Luis Molina
16  Juan Antonio Martín
17  Nicolai Troshinsky
18  Antonio Cerdanya
19  Carlos Vicente
20  José Manuel Richart
21  David Mainwaring
22  Félix Yéboles
23  Francisco Núñez
24  Magnus Lindström
25  Rubén de la Rosa
26  Jorge Villoria
26  Jorge López
28  Juan Carlos Durán
29  Pablo Crespo García
30  David López
31  Miguel Manzaneque
32  Elu Tortosa
33  Orlando González
34  Mariano Manzano
35  Jesús Merino
36  Marc Vallés
36  Antonio Hernández
38  Carlos Toledano
39  Juan Luis Santos
39  Enrique Benavent
41  Alejandro Yepes
42  José Luis Martínez
43  José María Tortosa
44  Miguel Barreal
45  Javier Torres
46  Begoña Motilla
47  David Martínez
48  Cristobal Hernández
49  Daniel Rodríguez
50  Ismael Reolid
51  José Casanova
52  Cristina Alonso
53  José Joaquín Pérez
54  Carlos Martos
55  Jesús Garbín
56  José Miguel Fuentes
57  David Pedreño

 

The split-flipper tournament
The split-flipper tournament

As we mentioned earlier, in addition to the two main tournaments there were three side tournaments. The first of these was a split-flipper competition on Dr Dude.

The three side-tournament machines
The three side-tournament machines

The second side-tournament was a crossed-hands competition on Whirlwind, while the final side-tournament used a Flintstones game with a cover over the playfield which only provided a small window above the flippers to see the ball.

Winner of the crossed-hands tournament, Raúl Abad
Winner of the crossed-hands tournament, Raúl Abad

The Flintstones competition was won by Pablo Crespo Contreras, the crossed-hands competition by Raúl Abad and the split-flipper by Álvaro Vidal and his son.

Winners of the split-flipper tournament, Alvaro Vidal and his son
Winners of the split-flipper tournament, Álvaro Vidal and his son

With all the awards presented, the Torneo de Pinball de Biar weekend came to an end.

Down by the waterline in Alicante
Down by the waterline in Alicante

We also had a flight home to catch, but not before a stop-off in Alicante to enjoy the last of the day’s sunshine and sample the local cuisine once more.

The sun was just starting to set
The sun was just starting to set

The relaxed atmosphere and schedule surrounding the Biar weekend was a refreshing change from the often frantic and hurried tournaments we have experienced elsewhere. Having most of the tournament machines as part of a fixed collection certainly makes things easier for the organisers.

The Biar modern tournament was also Spain’s nominated event for the IPFA European Championship Series, giving it added significance and bringing in a few non-Spanish players. Those who hadn’t played in the previous six Biar tournaments could have benefitted from more information regarding the tournament formats and the way the overall results were decided.

Nonetheless, the whole weekend had a uniquely Spanish feel of warmth – both social and temperate – which, despite the huge quantities of food consumed, left us hungry for more.