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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Five Reasons You Should Play Pinball

By Alexander Bevier
From http://www.joystickdivision.com/
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While I wrote last Friday that we're all going to E3, I actually made a brief detour to the Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show in Seattle. It was a weekend long expo filled with freeplay arcade games, pinball games, and more pinball-related panels than one could reasonably comprehend. There was also an early exhibition of the new Tron: Legacy machine, which is due out next week.

I'm not a major pinball player. Arcade culture was long-dead before I picked up an NES controller, and the only pinball around me was at the local Red Robin restaurant. However, after spending a day playing everything I could, I learned a few things about this fantastic hobby. And, as a kind journalist, I've decided to share them all with you.
 
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Game Mechanics and Real Mechanics
There are two major components to pinball machines. The first is game design; the pinball table has to be fun. The second: the game has to work. Making a game work requires vast mechanical knowledge. Pinball are like cars. The gears degrade over time, and you have to keep working on them to ensure the best machine possible. It's like Zen and the art of Pinball Maintenance

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It's like Tetris, but with Variety
At their core all pinball tables are the same: keep the ball in play. After that, everything else is determined by the machine. This leads to a game with a real tangible flow, but each machine varies. You may be good at Dracula, but horrible at The Simpsons. Still, you're keeping the ball going. The entire thing makes a vast field for an assortment of things to master. 

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It's an Awesome Restaurant Skill
As a child, I remember watching cool old people play pinball at my local Red Robin Restaurants. My folks never gave me quarters to play, but I loved watching other people play this game as we waited to be seated. This is one of the many factors that's made me boundlessly curious about games, and playing pinball preserves this curiosity for others.

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Everyone's Doing It
The Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show's arcade and pinball machines were all donated by the machine's owners (fancy that!). Doing so gets you a free weekend to the show. In other words, people are letting other people play their games in order to play more games. The pinball community are a select few, like those who still collect vinyl or classic cars, and they love their hobby. 

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Really, it's just pretty cool
Games are fun. Pinball is fun. Fun is good. That's all there is to it. Pinball is one giant skill-based puzzle game, but it's also a mark of pride. Having a pinball machine in your loft simply sounds fun, and we like fun.

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