Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wizards' Wonderland

For a guy with an hour or two to kill, the better part of a roll of quarters left over from buying the Sunday papers, and a mild case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there may have been better places to stop off than the Pinball Hall of Fame at 1610 East Tropicana. But darn it, I was going to pry at least one free game out of that Captain Fantastic machine or I was going to go bust trying.

Behind the unprepossessing storefront is a veritable shrine to the silver ball, with machines dating back to the dawn of pinball (wooden rails! analog digit counters!) through the age of Playboy and Xenon and Son of Pin-Bot, to contemporaries like James Cameron's Avatar machine with obligatory 3-D back.

As with any museum, a lot of hard work and love goes into maintaining these classics in playable condition. It's the ultimate hands-on interactive museum; you can play these puppies. Not just pinball, either; there are classic arcade games too...not just video games from the 80's but real penny-arcade favorites like claw games and boxing robots. And what kid can resist playing with Peppy the Musical Clown? I know, me neither.

All this is the work of volunteers, and all the quarters are donated to the Salvation Army, which to date has received more than half a million dollars in donations. If most of the players are as rusty as I was, I can believe it. I did finally manage to claim my free game off of that annoying Elton John, but I might have been better off sticking with a classic like the 1960-vintage Flipper! game, the first steel-rail machine and the first to offer free balls. Designed for locales where awarding free games was illegal (!), it makes it insanely easy to win extra balls, although if you're me that quarter will eventually run out.

No comments:

Post a Comment