Pinball is still a classic game


Super Mario Bros. was the first pinball machine, produced by Gottlieb, to feature the Dox Matrx display.

Graham C Wheat, Features Editor

In the old and dying East Hills Mall, a humble arcade hosts something that might be old but refuses to die. High Voltage Arcade or “the nickel arcade,” now located in The East Hills Mall, has exhibited a number of pinball machines over the years. 

Currently, they have some  choice pinball machines including one that made pinball history. Out of the seven pinball machines that High Voltage has, three are clearly standout machines. That isn’t to say that all seven aren’t fun; Family Guy pinball wasn’t bad.

However, three seem to draw a player more than the others. Third on the list is Theatre Of Magic, a relatively new machine made in the mid ’90s by Williams. This one is fun because it has a clever playfield.

You are supposed to advance a Magician’s various illusions by hitting certain ramps and bumpers. It uses a magnetized “trunk” that one must hit repeatedly to complete the tricks.

The sound effects are reminiscent of a David Copperfield special, with the machine yelping out “AMAZING” in its best cheesy magician voice when a stage is completed.

The graphics on the back glass too are a complement to a magic show, such as a buxom assistant revealing the magic box. The dot matrix display also animates things like sawing a tiger in half or a vanishing act. Not bad for the mid ’90s.

The second machine that really grabbed me was a much newer pinball machine made by Stern Pinball, TRON made in 2011. Stern Pinball is the product of these machines refusing to die off. Their designers are all former Williams and Sega pinball visionaries.

TRON was fun because it had lots of cool movie license. Like the new TRON, it spanned the history of the movies. Cool Jeff Bridges quotes abounded while playing, and although the playfield was relatively simple, it was hard to master its angles and ramps.

The piece de resistance as it were at “the nickel arcade” is a Gottlieb pinball machine based after the Super Mario Bros. video game.

The pinball machine was the first to implement a Dot Matrix Display on the back glass to inform players of their current status, like number of balls left and score. When you go to put in your credits to play you hear the familiar plumber belt out “more money please!” in that derogatory Italian accent we all know and love.

Although it is an older pinball machine, it had me hooked form there. The object is to travel through seven castles and save Princess Peach, and while it might not have all the bells and whistles of Theatre of Magic, its simplicity and degree of difficulty help it stand out among the others. Not to mention the stellar Mario Bros. soundtrack and sound effects. A classic is always a classic after all.

If you’re tired of blasting zombies or fighting for a virtual paramilitary company, get back the roots of what games used to be. If you can sacrifice a few bucks you will surely find yourself pining for the days when these kings of the arcade ruled.