Cole's Corner - Pinball Hall of Fame

Cole's Corner - Pinball Hall of Fame

There's a video game called Pinball Hall of Fame, and, let's face it, virtual pinball is not even better than nothing. It's a novelty you tire of in ten minutes. To truly appreciate, you've got to grab one of those old timey machines and drive it like a racing bike. It's the tactile sensation—the assimilation of your body with the mechanics of the machine—that is gloriously stimulating. And there's nothing like the classic games to give you that good-time feeling. I say this not nostalgically, but because the simplicity of these games allowed for physical manipulation beyond the activation of a flipper. But that was dependant on setting off the tilt mechanism. More on that later.

Being successful at pinball requires more than just keeping the ball on the playfield and away from the outhole. First and foremost, you must study the playfield to determine the correct method of play. All those drop targets, spinners, ramps, and lanes must be activated in specific sequences to receive the bonuses. Invariably, a replay is the objective. Getting the high score is the ultimate accomplishment. Older machines didn't have a way to save high scores and intials, so that data was typically inscribed on the side of the backbox, either in pen or permanently etched with a knife. You can still see such markings on vintage machines.

There's more to pinball than flipping the flippers. The first thing you want to do is learn how to flip each flipper independently. Nothing screams rookie louder than someone that hasn't developed that synchronous independence and is activating both flippers at the same time. You will eventually learn how to control the ball, stopping it on the flipper and aiming it at a specific target.

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Tilt suspends ball in play, and sometimes the entire game. If you manhandle the machine too much, you are in danger of tilting it. The tilt is a pendulous mechanism that measures sway. Pinball machines with a low tilt threshold are much more fun to play, since you can influence the direction of the ball by applying some body English. It was even possible to hit the machine with the butt of your hand to push a ball back onto the playfield after it had gone down the outlane. And next time you examine a pinball machine, you'll notice incremental measuring marks on the ball launcher. This is a feature for advanced players that use the indicators to help position a ball in a specific lane or hole.

There is a real place called the Pinball Hall of Fame, located in Las Vegas. It's heaven. It's not a museum. It houses more than 150 pinball machines, from some of the earliest to the latest high-tech creations. And they are all playable.

The Pinball Hall of Fame also features classic arcade and video games. A team of repairmen are on-site to service the fragile machines immediately. I was informed a typical pinball machine was designed to last ten years. Some of these machines are sixty years old. And they are in incredible shape. Most, if not all, the parts are original. I can't overstate the historical importance of being in the presence of these, the first electronic games. They started it all. And this is your chance to see, hear, feel, and smell these wondrous cabinets of mystery and amusement, while still in their original condition.

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Pinball Hall of Fame is run by lovers of all things pinball. These guys do it out of love, not for profit. All proceeds are donated to charity. If you had a vintage mint-condition 1947 Bally Heavy Hitter baseball machine, would you want strangers to play it? These guys do.

Playing pinball is an art. Pinball machines are works of art. The Pinball Hall of Fame houses one of the coolest collections of art in the world. This is art you can play with. Try that with the Mona Lisa.

Cole Smith
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: April 27, 2012

*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*

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