Monday, March 28, 2011

Texas Pinball Festival 2011

The Texas Pinball Festival 2011 was held in Grapevine (a suburb of Dallas) this past weekend. It was a 3 day event starting Friday the 25th. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend until the latter part of the 2nd day. We pretty much missed everything cool except the Exhibition Hall which had tons of games set to Free Play. I considered skipping the whole thing, but figured what the hell, maybe I'd get to see some rare tables or something. Plus, 4-6 hours of Free Play pinball might be worth the 7 hours on the road. Overall, I'm glad I went.

Walk-through of the Exhibition Hall on Sunday (the last day.)

Here are a few things I learned this weekend at the Texas Pinball Festival:

- Tournament Pinball without monitoring play makes it irrelevant to most attendees. The tournament area was closed off to the public and there was no way to watch any of the games. That made me not give two shits about the tournaments. Maybe one shit. Naw. Nevermind. No shits.

- There is a pretty good amount of variance between the same tables. I've now played on 3 different Taxi tables, 3 different Funhouse tables, and 3 different Twilight Zone tables and each one played differently enough that even a novice like me could notice. I find this both disappointing and inevitable.

- Pinball tables seem even more complicated to maintain than I first thought, and I thought they were pretty complicated already. I saw so many broken tables and 1,000's upon 1,000's of tiny parts for sale and strewn about that it makes me very wary about ever owning one.

- Pinball games are way more fun in a dimly lit room with 70's and 80's music blaring. Black light also helps. The caveat is that the pinball playfield must be sufficiently lit. There were some games that were unplayable because I couldn't see the ball. No bueno.

- If you stand near a machine set to freeplay, and you aren't playing it. Expect to hear "Excuse me." in less than 30 seconds as you are asked to step aside.

- The two tables that impressed me the most were Black Knight 2000 and Xenon. BK2000 is a sequel to Black Knight. I wasn't a big fan of the original BK's gameplay, but the sequel was very fun and had a awesome soundtrack . Xenon only impressed me in that the one table I saw was modified with nixie tube scoring and bright blue LEDs that made it look wicked awesome... futuristic '70s style.

Black Knight 2000 Gameplay

Black Knight 2000 Pics:
Black Knight 2000 (Angle)

Black Knight 2000 (playfield)

Xenon Pics:
Xenon (backglass)

Xenon (playfield)