Posted: Feb 6, 2011 10:53 am
I have loved pinball machines since I was a child. I got very good at playing the machines to get free credits, and I was so good that arcade owners actually hated me, because I could play for an hour or more a mere 25 cents. For someone with low self esteem as I was, being a top player and beating my friends and leaving enough credits behind for others to play made me popular, but infamous to arcade owners.
Pinball machines are something that I see like someone sees in a classic car or a famous painting. Sometimes I can spy an old machine in a movie and wish I could play it.
I used to go to Fun and Games on Highland and Poplar back in the 1980's because they maintained their machines well, and had the best pinball. They rented the machines instead of buying them, so there was someone who serviced the machines. The ones who bought the machines outright usually did a poor job in keeping the machines in good working order. It was annoying to deal with those Jew pricks who ran the place, and their cheapness from buying a coin machine for dollars instead of having to bang their door for change. But they were worth it because the games were well ran and they did not care what we did in there. Good times.
Favorite pinball spots 25 years ago were Fun and Games, Imperial Bowling Lanes on Summer, Raleigh Springs Mall (ran by that kindly but scary if you did not know him old dude) and some other places. We kids used to go all the way out to a Putt Putt center way out near the Penal Farm near the old Hungry Fisherman. It was never hard to find a game back in the day, but now, not. Pinball machines are too expensive to maintain, and the rate of return is too low. Video games hurt the pinball business, and when home video gaming became as good or better than in the arcades, the pinball industry about died.
The best manufacturer of games was Williams. This is the company that made the "Adams Family" game. Well crafted games which could be played to death. The crappiest came from a company called DataEast. DataEast made some fun machines like "The Simpsons" but the games were of shit quality and would frequently break down.
My favorite game of all time is "Harlem Globetrotters" a game made in about 1980. I used to play that game at a skating center on 51 in Southhaven (the one on the right literally right over the Miss/Tn state border) that I beat so bad and they made so little money that they changed the configuration of the game to make it harder/impossible to beat. Some cheapskates designed their games to only give a free ball after acheiving a score, I never played those.
I still remember those old bingo pinball games with no flippers and holes that dropped the balls. People used to play those illegally in small shops and other places. As a kid, I lived in Whitehaven and there was one in a Cardosi's convenient store on Airways and Shelby Drive. I played Pac Man there when the game first came out, but was not allowed to play the bingo machine.
Someone mentioned Garibaldis by Memphis State. I thought their bbq pork pizza was wonderful, but that was again, in the late 1980's. Then they had an Elton John machine that was in working condition but in poor repair with the playing surface well worn. An example of some private owner buying a game and then working it to death until it's crap and trash.
The only active manufacturer of pinball games now is Stern Pinball.http://www.sternpinball.com/
Microsoft has a game called Microsoft Pinball which one could possibly download. These are Gottlieb games from every decade from 1940's to the 1990's. It's not bad with a few good games.
In Las Vegas, there is an arcade with nothing but pinball machines, with are quite numerous. If I was wealthy, I would have a whole room of pinball games. I love em.