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written by Agent 86
Being a member of "Generation-X" myself - I'm 20 - its
rather heart wrenching to be a member of a group that is considered partly
responsible for "killing" something I enjoy - pinball. All over the news
you hear things rumblings of how pinball is dying off, how kids have lost
interest, how its a game for the older generation but after this past
Friday I can't help but start to question all of that.
Allow me to bring you up to speed. On Friday I was out on a date and mentioned
to her that I was excited that my first pinball machine was coming in
sometime this week (its a CFTBL, my favorite pin, for those curious minds
out there) and she came back with "what's pinball?". It was then that
I asked her if she would like to see what it is. She agreed, and I whisked
her off to the only place I know of that has any pins in my area - a pool
hall / arcade. Being a Friday night, I wasn't surprised to see a whole
bunch of kids my age there, but what shocked me was what they were doing.
My travels there after work on weekdays have made me grow accustomed to
a rather barren playscape. Among various vids, he has three pins there,
a SW:EP1, No Good Gofers, and a South Park. Generally when I am there
they are open and free. I play a game or two of SW:EP1 (its 75 cents,
so I tend to shy away from it because I always end up with a lone quarter
in the end), a game or two of South Park (which annoys me because "Match"
isn't on even though I never win anyway, and it just seems to drain all
to easy), and a whole lot of No Good Gofers (I'm developing an addiction
to that machine even though he has it set a little steep). But regardless,
its usually a "free for all" for me - but not so this night - kids were
South Park was by far the biggest earner for the period of time I was
there. SW:EP1 drew in a decent number of people. Sadly, No Good Gofers
had no one visit it but me and my lady (I attribute that to being across
the room from the other two). Don't get me wrong, people were still playing
vids (basically the sit down driving games), but the pins were sure holding
their own. The air hockey machine cleaned house over all of them, but
that's beyond the scope of this story :).
This warms my heart because it shows that, at least in this particular
place, pinball is still alive and well with kids my age. I don't think
they would miss it if all of a sudden it disappeared - like I would -
but they enjoy it being there. It shows that pinball can indeed survive
with my generation given the proper setting and machine type.
But being as curious as I am, I decided to ask various friends of mine
what they thought of the various machines at that location. Sarah liked
No Good Gofers the best. Not only did it give her a free game, but she
found it more enjoyable overall - and she's a first timer! She thought
SW:EP1 was ok, and didn't care for South Park much (the flashing lights
which were almost constant bothered her). My other friend, Tom, loved
the SW:EP1 machine. He's a Star Wars nut, and loved the whole video on
the playfield trick. He then rated South Park above No Good Gofers for
no reason other then he just "liked it more" - so basically he just likes
South Park more then golf.
Personally, I like No Good Gofers the best. It didn't grab me at first,
but the more I play the more I "understand" it. I just get better and
better with every game. I can't do anything besides getting and restarting
multiball consistently with that machine, but I learn a little more each
time I play. Beyond that, I like the South Park machine over SW:EP1. South
Park is an "ok" machine in my book - nothing special by any means - but
the problem with SW:EP1 is that I find it rather "bland" (for lack of
a better word). When I play the SW:EP1 machine it seems like I am trying
to do three things. Start the video mode, hit the small targets next to
the vid screen, or run the ramps. Granted I am not the greatest pinball
player in the world, I wouldn't call myself good by any stretch of the
word, and I attribute that to part of why I find the game so "simple".
Although its a cool toy, I don't think the vid screen can carry a pin
like it seems to attempt in SW:EP1. I don't know if this is something
with PB2k in general - as I have not been able to locate a Revenge from
Mars to try - but it struck me as I was playing none the less. I think
in the hands of a master, as Lawlor was rumored to have the third PB2k
game in development, it would have been highly beneficial.
I guess what this boils down to is that pinball *can* exist and thrive
in my generation, but it needs to be the right machine in the right place.
You can't just stick a clunker in the middle of some store and expect
it to gather money. Given that some of the best machines of all time are
"licenses" (TZ, IJ, AF to name a few) it doesn't surprise me that SW:EP1
and especially South Park attract more kids my age. So exploiting a good
license with a decent machine, and putting in a good place, is probably
the best bet in getting kids my age. The judge is still out in regards
to PB2k, and without more of them coming I don't know if we'll ever know
for sure how that would have effected the pinball world.
Anyway, I'm sorry for the long post - it just kept growing and growing.
It kind of resembles my pinball addiction, and I'm only 20 :).
-- Adam D. Ligas [Agent 86]
- We now return you to your regularly scheduled RGP discussion...
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