Friday, December 31, 2010

The machines I (RE)played on, during my Winter Vacation!

If you've read Drop Target #1, you know that Jon and I live in a tiny town in Vermont.  For Christmas I went home to Seattle, which means that I had to stop over in an in-between city, to catch my flight.  For various reasons, I chose to fly out of New York City.  And while there, you know what I did!

My first stop was at Reciprocal Skate Shop on the Lower East Side (402 E. 11th St. - by the corner of 1st Ave).  Jon discovered this place over Thanksgiving break and it was everything he said it would be.  The proprietor, John, is a super pinball fanatic, and he's got four machines crammed into his tiny storefront (when I was there it was The Getaway, Creature From the Black Lagoon, World Cup Soccer and Dr. Who).  He said he had another 15 or so machines in his apartment and in another space and he often swaps them out.  He was super friendly and loved talking pinball.  This shop is just a short walk from the 1st Ave stop on the L train, or from Union Square.  Swing by next time you are in New York!

That night, me and my buddy Gabe wandered around Brooklyn playing pinball.  Our first stop was Enid's, but alas, their Addam's Family was out of order!  Next we hit Muggs which had the new Iron Man pinball machine, which was actually pretty fun.  After a few games Gabe and I both got replays, which I soon found out would be a THEME for me on this trip...  That night we ended up at the Satellite Lounge, which is easily the best pinball bar in Brooklyn, with 6 or 7 machines.  I staggered in drunk and instantly had the best game of Monster Bash I've ever had, easily passing the replay score.  At that point, I decided to start taking photos of every machine I got a replay on:

As you can see here, I also got a replay on Stern's 2008 Indiana Jones machine.  I must say, I had more fun playing Indy and Iron Man than I have ever had playing other Stern machines.  I opened the Ark of the Covenant at one point, which dumped FOUR balls onto the playfield, which was intense!  I only regret that I left the bar without playing their Sega Starship Troopers.

The next morning I flew home to Seattle, where I had a very relaxing Christmas with my entire family.  The day AFTER Christmas, I headed to the pinball mecca, Portland, Oregon for a super quick trip (less than 24 hours!)  After a lengthy meeting, my pal Greg and I went to Ground Kontrol, which was in a new temporary location across the street while they were remodeling their main space.  They didn't have quite as many games, but still more than was possible to play in the two hours we spent in there!  Here are the ones I got replays on:

T2 was no big deal, as I live above a pizza place that has that machine, so I know all the shots.  It was my first replay on Addam's Family though.  I played a TON of new machines, but the two I spent the most time on were Cirqus Voltaire, which was SUUUUUPER crazy and fun, and Tales of the Arabian Nights which I became totally obsessed with.   Both of those games have some really innovative playfield parts and awesome ramp shots.  Every machine I played at Ground Kontrol was in perfect condition.  Their dedicated repair person was working on machines as I was playing and I thanked him for keeping the machines in such great order.  Hands down, this is the best place to play pinball in Portland, if not the entire West Coast.

That night I ended up at Slabtown with Gabe (back in Portland for Christmas with HIS family) and Grizzo.  Sadly, the change machine was broken, and at about midnight the bartender said he couldn't give us any more quarters.  It was Sunday night, the day after Christmas, so Grizzo had little luck getting a roll of quarters from a few other neighboring businesses.  Also, about half the machines were either broken or so filthy they were not really fun to play.  It was sort of a bummer ending to my Portland Pinball Playing, but I was not done yet for this trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Nope, on my last day in Seattle I swung by Shorty's for a few last hours of Pinball.  They had the newest pinball machine, Avatar, which I did NOT enjoy playing (too many toys, not enough ramps, weird elongated flippers).  I played a lot more Arabian Nights, some 1993 Indiana Jones, and then Monster Bash, where I had my best game of the entire trip.  I collected all six monsters and their instruments, thus starting the Monster Bash, where every shot was worth 2 Million.  I ended up with 122 Million, which was a #3 High Score.  Putting up a score in a real pinball bar like Shorty's felt like quite an accomplishment!

Sorry if this reads like me bragging about my scores, it's just really satisfying to see myself getting better and better at pinball.  Each time I go out and play "in the wild" I can see a marked difference from the last time I played.  At first I couldn't get a replay at all, and then a few months later I could get a replay on games I had played a lot.  And now, I feel like I can get a replay on almost any machine if I play it half a dozen times.  I know I still have so much more to learn, so all I can do is keep practicing!  

I've added some of these bars to our "Pinhalls" side menu, so check them out if you are in the areas I mentioned.  And like Jon said in his last post, Happy New Year!  Let's make 2011 a year filled with all kinds of pinball fun.


  1. Hey Alec!

    Thanks for visiting Ground Kontrol and playing some pinball! We're happy you appreciate the work our repair tech, Mark, does to keep our machines in great condition! I'm definitely sharing your post with the owners and the rest of the staff. It's great to receive praise from people that play a LOT of pinball.

    Hope you can visit us again soon after our remodel is complete - tentatively planned for early February!

    Take care,

    Art Santana, Manager
    Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
    511 NW Couch St., Portland, OR 97209
    *** Follow our remodel at ***

  2. Thank YOU Art! I'll be back again in April, and I can't wait to see the remodel.