news & gossip

Skill Shot #9 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 9, June 2009

The 2009 Powder Puff Pinball Tournament happened May 17th at Shorty’s and it was so much fun! 28 ladies signed up in the double elimination head to head competition that was hosted by Larry Reid, who also hosts the Annual Shorty’s Tournament as well as the recent one in Georgetown. Many of the area’s top female players were there including Julie Gray (Powder Puff winner for 2007) and Nycole Hyatt, who was the top scoring female at the last two open tournaments. Skill Shot caused a bit of a stir by premiering our super-limited edition t-shirts, because we didn’t have any extras to sell. Elizabeth and Savannah were good sports and agreed to be our Powder Puff t-shirt models for the day- and Savannah actually did very well in the tournament, tying with Naomi for 6th place! The grand prize was a Night Rider pinball machine which was won by Bonnie Bedford of Vancouver BC, who narrowly beat Jamie Beth by just 160 points! Other prizes for the event included t-shirts, Jagermeister thongs, and a PBR tent! Check out for pictures of the tournament.

Speaking of PBR: Our last issue was rushed from the printers so that we could hand them out at PBR Customer Appreciation Night at Shorty’s on April 1st (which actually fooled some people). Shorty’s sells the most PBR in Seattle (#2 in the state) and besides having lots of the usual give-aways (t-shirts, stickers, etc), almost all of the pinball machines were set to free play for the night. The Shorty’s/PBR beer mugs were the most sought-after freebie and by the end of the night, if you weren’t holding on to yours tightly, you risked having it snatched from under your nose (right, Geoffro?).

Another tournament that happened recently was at Ground Kontrol in Portland Oregon on April 19th. They had 120 contestants for the event, which lasted a whopping 16 hours! Seattle didn’t have a lot of players there that weekend despite many of the plans we heard beforehand, but a few of those who did go represented Seattle well, with ELF and MAK tying for 9th place and Cayle George cementing his standing as one of the Pacific Northwest’s best players by winning the whole thing.

In other regional news, we recently took a trip to Tacoma to check out their pinball scene. Our first stop was Hell’s Kitchen, which has a nice pin area featuring a very nice The Shadow machine. We loved playing this game since there isn’t one available in Seattle, and the Doctor Who game was nice too. Over at Tower Lanes, the Super Mario Bros. pinball machine had the volume set at ear-piercing levels – which was quickly fixed when Stan the pinball repair dude showed up less than 20 minutes after being called! We were impressed. Although we only hit those two spots, the locals happily informed us of other good places to go, including a Whirl Wind game at a hotel (!). We’ll be back!

Meanwhile, back in Seattle: May 25th was the grand opening of Add-a-Ball Amusments in Fremont. Part scooter repair shop, part pinball hall, Add-a-Ball plans on having EM (electro-mechanical) pinball machines, including a few European ones that are rarely seen in the States. Dominique of Silver Age Silver Ball naturally has some of his games there since EM pins are what he distributes, and Add-a-Brad (Add-a-Ball’s owner) hopes to turn more people on to these classic games. Go there NOW!

Another new addition to the Seattle pinball community (besides Avout’s new baby) is Stern’s latest release, 24. We haven’t played enough to have a super confirmed opinion about it but the fact that there is not a skill shot doesn’t leave us feeling too positive for obvious reasons. Still there’s plenty of easy to get multi-balls so that’s cool. We were sad to see Wheel of Fortune removed to make room for it though since it was the only one around and it seemed as if people were finally warming up to the game (it was interesting to play, but suffered from a dorky theme). Bring Back WoF!!!

On June 12-14 the NW Pinball and Game Room Show returns to Seattle Center for what looks to be an exciting weekend! Over 200 different pinball and arcade games will be set at free play and we are hyped to play some of these rarely seen machines. A few of the pins we’re looking forward to include games that were featured on past covers of Skill Shot (Spectrum, Twin Win) and other machines that we haven’t seen since last year’s show (Banzai Run, Pharoah). There’s also tons of cool arcade games (Berzerk!), guest speakers, tournaments, and prizes, and it should be tons of fun. (For more details go to Look for us at the show and say “Hi!”. We’ll be handing out zines in our fancy Skill Shot t-shirts.

And if you act quickly, you too can get a fancy Skill Shot t-shirt! We’re printing up a limited edition shirt with the cover of issue #5 on the front, plus (while supplies last) you’ll get 3 iron-on letters so you can put your pinball initials on the back. Gnarly! Ask about them when you see us, or shoot us an email at

Another thing you’ll want to ask us about is the first ever Skill Shot Half and Half Tournament. Half and Half is a team game with one person on each flipper (introduced in Skill Shot #7), so pick your partner now and be ready to sign up for fun and fabulous prizes! Email us for more details.

news & gossip tips & tricks

“Make It So”

by Geoffro

After eight (and a half) successful issues of  Skill Shot, we thought it was about time to print an article concerning our namesake. And since the cover of our latest issue features the lovely Lt. Worf from the backglass of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we figured, why not talk about the skill shot from this classic game? Most machines’ skill shots are fairly straightforward affairs, and often simply hitting a lit target will do the trick. Star Trek’s opening shot, however, is a bit more complex.

After you’ve popped in your quarters and have been welcomed aboard the Starship Enterprise by Captain Picard, you’re faced with five different skill shot options cycling across the display. Just pull the plunger (in this case the trigger) when the option you want is on the screen (pressing the flipper buttons will cycle through them faster). Make sure not to dawdle or they’ll flash by too quickly to make an accurate selection.

Start Mission immediately activates one the game’s seven modes:  Battle Simulation, Time Rift, Q’s Challenge, Worm Hole, Asteroid Threat, Rescue, or Search the Galaxy.  These are all fun to play and of course have the potential to yield a significant amount of points.

Flipper Skill Shot gives you a limited amount of time to shoot for the Beta Quadrant (the right ramp).  A successful shot will award a random bonus – sometimes even an extra ball or special!

Launch Probe allows you to immediately utilize Star Trek’s most intriguing feature, the two plastic guns sitting on top of the slingshots. Launch Probe lights a flashing shot and sends the ball to one of the guns, which will then begin to rotate back and forth allowing you to pull the trigger and shoot the ball out onto the playfield. Hit the lit shot in time and collect a random award!

Light Lock is as straightforward as it sounds – although Light Lock lights AND locks the ball, advancing you towards multiball. This option can only be selected twice per game – the third time around Light Holodeck will appear instead, which is by no means a bad thing. Shooting the Holodeck (the Right Orbit) will allow you to access the game’s video mode Shuttle Simulation.

Warp Factor 4:  This requires a brief explanation of Warp Factors. Warp Factors are increased by hitting the Spinner (the Left Orbit) and the Delta Quadrant (the Left Ramp). Each advance in Warp Factor (from 1 to 9) yields a unique bonus of some sort (WF 8 is an Extra Ball and WF 9 starts Factor 9 Mode). So… selecting Warp Factor 4 as your skill shot gets you almost halfway there! Not bad…

As you can see, Star Trek’s skill shot possibilities are nearly as endless as the universe itself! Choose your skill shot and “Make it So.”

news & gossip reviews

Right Here Right Now

By Bernard Blvd.

Introducing another great new way to play pinball:  Skill Shot’s NOW!  The point of NOW! is to switch players mid-turn with whoever happens to be playing and standing closest to you.  When you reach a point during play where the ball is suspended for a period of time, loudly say “NOW!” and the player you choose to go next hops onto the flippers.  In choosing that player, you must believe in their ability to keep the ball in play, and to not get caught off guard and drain the ball immediately.  The surprise of the switch can sometimes throw people off, so everyone playing has to be prepared to jump in when they hear “NOW!”.

A good time to shout “NOW!” would be before a multiball (when the ball is locked and the dot-matrix display is going multiball crazy), when the ball lands in a scoop, or when the game starts up a mode.  More advanced players of NOW! can do it when the ball goes around a ramp or even when it is going up the playfield after hitting the flipper.  This last option leaves little time for the next player to react, so remember to only do that move if they are an expert of the game.

NOW! is great for playing with people in a bar or social setting, because you can stop playing in the middle of your turn without wasting the ball or giving up the game.  This might free you up when a friend shows up that you want to talk to, or if it is your turn to buy the next pitcher and your friends are getting thirsty.  NOW! is a Round and Round type of game, as the nature of it doesn’t allow for score keeping or typical three ball games.  NOW! is a fun way to interact socially while practicing America’s favorite pastime, Pinball!

Coming up next:  Dollars!

news & gossip

Skill Shot #8 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 8, April 2009

Tragedy struck the Seattle pinball community on February 25th when a fire devastated the Hooverville bar and its collection of pinball and arcade games. According to the Seattle Fire Department the fire was caused when a ceiling fan on the second floor mezzanine overheated. While the fire was contained to the second floor, the smoke and water damage to the bar and its contents was extensive, causing an estimated $400,000 in damages.

The four pinball machines located at Hooverville at the time of the fire were Spider-man, The Getaway: High Speed 2, Twilight Zone, and Centaur. Although the fire was on the second floor, the mezzanine was directly above the pinball area which resulted in a lot of water pouring down on the games as the Fire Department extinguished the blaze. Besides the water, the smoke damage to the machines was considerable. According to Avout of Shorty’s who owns the games, it looked as if someone had spray painted the machines black, both inside and out!

The extent of the smoke damage to the games is still unknown at this point, because while the soot can be wiped away on the metal and glass parts, the plastic pieces of the games have a tendency to suck it up. Besides making everything stink, smoke also has a corrosive effect on the parts and Avout is unsure whether he will be able to coax any of the games back to life.

Although the destruction of any pinball machine is sad, it is the loss of Centaur that has hit Seattle the hardest. Not only is Centaur a rare machine, Hooverville’s was the only one available to the general public and helped make that bar a destination for many of the area’s pinball players. Manufactured in 1981, Centaur is a great game to play with its “orb” multi-ball feature that is both challenging and fun (if you can get it), but it is the artwork on the machine that is its most striking feature. Like the name implies, a centaur is the main focus of the backglass art, except instead of half man and half horse like a mythological centaur would be, the pinball Centaur is half (monster) man and half motorcycle, with the predictable “babe” along for the ride. The playfield art is also memorable and details of it were featured on the two different covers to Skill Shot #6. (Amazingly, un-burnt copies of Skill Shot #6.5 were discovered in the ruins of the bar later in the week. Thank you Jesus!)

Although unconfirmed at this time, according to posts on The Stranger’s SLOG, owners Todd and Billy plan on rebuilding and hope to have Hooverville reopened in the near future.

Pinball machines to be announced…

The 1st Annual Georgetown Pinball Tournament happened on Sunday February 22 and was a success with 56 contestants and almost as many onlookers attending. This tournament was set up much like the Annual Shorty’s Tournament (with the exact same rule sheet) but went quite a bit smoother due to the fewer number of contestants and the fact that it was spread out among three bars (Jules Maes, Calamity Jane’s and The 9LB Hammer).

9LB Hammer had recently enlarged the game room section and added two more pins for the event (The Getaway: High Speed 2 and Monster Bash). The expanded room is sweet and we enjoyed the time we spent hanging out there talking to members of Dead Baby Bikes and Kelsey from Tacoma who was competing to be the most drunken contestant.

At Calamity Jane’s we lusted over the Jack-Bot pin we couldn’t play (since we weren’t contestants), and marveled that Avout switched the Hurricane pin for Junk Yard which was the second one in the tourney. We’re happy that this Junk Yard has found a new home after being bumped from Shorty’s, but since there was already one nearby our excitement was a bit restrained.

Most of the Skill Shot staff made an appearance and we spent much of our time handing out copies of our zines Skill Shot, Chicken With Penis and stickers/lighters. A side trip took us to Stellar Pizza where we were determined to actually play some pinball, but were deterred due to a broken Indiana Jones (which ate our money) and the lack of quarters from the staff (a waitress changed a dollar for us after we begged)! Didn’t they realize that there was a big pinball thingy happening just a block away?? Ouch! Maybe we should have walked to the Georgetown Liquor Company instead.

Jules Maes was ground zero for the tournament and was where the scores and announcements were done. The open performance room gave extra elbow room for everyone, including customers who weren’t there for the pinball. Many pinball regulars attended, along with those we don’t see very often, including Zak who once co-owned the Hi-Score arcade on Cap Hill and the incomparable Tim Smith who was working to retain the most drunken contestant title. (He won!)

While we didn’t stay till the end we were there long enough to see Nycole Hyatt once again become the highest scoring female player. Some time after 10 PM Jeff Groper and Jason Hatch had a legendary battle on Elvira’s Scared Stiff, in which Jeff rose to the challenge and made it to the Scared Stiff mode on his second ball, winning the Tournament and the grand prize: a keg of beer!

Later in March, Jeff and his keg of beer were the guests of honor at a house party in South Seattle which had a lot of cool pins including Xenon, Laser War and many others. We practically forced people to compete in an impromptu Half and Half tournament (a game described last issue). Rod the host was super cool and didn’t seem to mind very much when our party stayed long after everyone else had left. Thanks for the ride, Maka!

In other tournament news: The First Annual Ground Kontrol Pinball Tournament is in Portland OR on Sunday April 19th. Ground Kontrol has the most pinball machines in the region (26!) and this event is sure to attract many excellent players, especially since this is the home turf of the Crazy Flipper Fingers pinball gang. On Sunday May 17th the semi-annual Seattle Powderpuff Tournament happens at Shorty’s which is sure to attract all the best female players in the area. See our back page ad for more details!

Breaking News: There is now circus music in the bathrooms at Shorty’s! The Evel Knievel pinball machine featured on the cover and list page of this issue can also be found there. Timmy recently broke his foot kicking the game while trying to save his ball. Haw haw. Speaking of classic games, Add-a-ball Amusements in Fremont is due to open soon and will focus on EM pinball machines. Dominique from Silver Age Silver Ball is locating some of his games there which so far include Jumping Jack, Space Mission and Surf Champ.

Another upcoming event is the 2nd Annual NW Pinball and Game Room Show at the Seattle Center June 12th – 14th. Last year’s show was awesome and had over 100 pinball and arcade games all set to free play (with the price of admission). We had a great time last year and have taken the whole weekend off from work for this year’s show in order to attend. If you like pinball you won’t want to miss it!

Stern Pinball released their latest game 24 recently to mostly good reviews. Seattle should see one at Shorty’s in the next month or so, which then raises the question of which game is getting bumped? (Our vote goes to Indiana Jones.) Big Buck Hunter and NBA are rumored to be the next two Stern releases, and speculation is that the company is trying to break into the Asian market, particularly China where anything NBA is extremely popular. Bola Salvada!

news & gossip reviews

Room For Cream?

By Bernard Boulevard

It’s time for another new fun way to play pinball:  Skill Shot’s newest creation, HALF AND HALF!!

Known to some players as Flippers, Half and Half is a great way to find out which flipper works best for you in a pinball game.  If you suck playing only the left flipper, you might see that right flipper in a different light.

Each player takes a flipper, and an (optional) third player pulls the plunger.  The object of the game is the same as with any ball in any pinball game:  Keep the ball in play! Novices will find it strange to have no control over the opposite flipper, while experienced players will learn how to control the ball in a way that involves trusting the other player’s ability.  Being able to guess your partner’s next move is a key factor.  If you know that they can hit the trapped balls for Stewie Pinball with ease, you can bounce the ball from your flipper to your partner’s to the best effect.  But you must be sure!  If your partner isn’t paying attention or doesn’t know what he’s doing (hello Jerry!), the ball will just roll down the drain.

Playing Half and Half is the best in bars, because you have a free hand for your beer.  No more getting poisoned!  And you can include friends that normally wouldn’t play (like with Round and Round) because there is very little commitment or chance for embarrassment.  Half and Half is basically a Round and Round style game:  Each ball speaks for itself.  You can play a full game with Half and Half, but each player has to commit to a flipper.  There’s just no way to regulate the game play and scores when everyone switches flippers all the time.  The fun is in the interactivity of the game.  You are face to face with your partner, and can share ideas on the game.  Teamwork makes the dream work!

Other reasons why Half and Half rocks:

  1. To get rid of the last ball of a player who’s name just got called for pool.
  2. You can take your friend’s turn while they’re making out.
  3. If your partner drains the ball, you can blame it all on him/her.
  4. If you drain the ball, you can blame all it on Half and Half.

Coming up next:  Skill Shot’s NOW!

news & gossip

Skill Shot #7 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 7, Spring 2009

The 1st annual Georgetown Pinball Tournament takes place Sunday Feb. 22. Hosted by Larry Reid, who also hosts the Annual Shorty’s Tournament, it will have less contestants (32) and be held at three different bars: Jules Maes, Calamity Jane’s and the 9LB Hammer. The 9LB will have more pins for the event including Taxi, Monster Bash and maybe more. The weekly Sunday Tournament at Shorty’s will probably be canceled for that day but we’re not sure. What we are sure of is a bike thief tried to cut the lock off a bike chained out front a few of weeks ago. That asshole has balls!

Speaking of tournaments, another first is going to be at Ground Kontrol down in Portland OR on Sunday, April 19. Ground Kontrol sounds great (over 20 pins!). It’s hoped that Seattle players will make it down to compete, much like the Crazy Flipper Fingers crew occasionally come to Seattle. Some of the CFF guys were annoyed at us for the gossip in our Skill Shot #6.5 Special, but we think that’s all behind us now. If you missed #6.5 that’s because it was our first color issue and the added expense meant a lower print run. Copies are still available as part of the Skill Shot Collection mentioned elsewhere in this issue.

Also in this issue are photos taken at Cry Baby Studios where they have four vintage pinball machines (High Hand, Fire Queen, Pat Hand and Out of Sight). Both the cover and list pictures are from these machines (owned by Silver Age Silver Ball who also has pins at Sure Shot in the U-district). These pins are not open to the public so they’re not included on our List. A big Skill Shot thanks goes out to ELF at Cry Baby! In other Skill Shot happenings not open to the public, rumors are that one of us has a new girlfriend. Hold the presses: we thought we were all gay!

In other gay news: Madison Pub (aka Skill Shot Office East) has pinball you can play if you’re of drinking age. Roland the manager bought the back page ad of this issue, even though he was less than amused by our other zine, Chicken With Penis. Rumors are circulating that the Pub is going to switch out one of their games and we really hope that it’s Indy Jones and not Family Guy. The Twilight Exit is switching out everything as they finally move from their old location to their new digs at 26th and Cherry. No word on what their new pins are going to be, but there will be at least two of them. Maybe Fish Tales??

Other upcoming events: a Tuesday Night Pinball League at Full Tilt Ice Cream and The NW Pinball and Game Room Show 2009 (June 12-14) at Seattle Center (more details upcoming). Remember to check out our Myspace page for our most up to date Pinball List.

Support Local Pinball!

news & gossip

Skill Shot #6.5 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot 6.5 (Color Special), November 2008

The 11th Annual Pinball tournament at Shorty’s happened earlier this month and was a success. Not everyone was happy with the delays between games, but with 116 contestants and only 16 pins, well what do you expect? We had a great time hanging out with both old friends and new ones who we met that day.

Although the tournament drew in players from all over to compete, it was Seattle’s Cayle George who won the first place grand prize of a Gottlieb Sinbad pinball machine. There were other winners too! Nycole Hyatt won the women’s division ($$) and Tim Smith won the drunkest contestant award (a PBR snowboard). Woo hoo!

Someone who didn’t win this day was Slam Tilt from Portland’s Crazy Flipper Fingers (CFF) crew. He not only lost during the tournament, he also got a public hazing on Craig’s List Rants and Raves. According to the rant he wasn’t too happy about losing to “a girl” (for the second year in a row) and the mysterious author offered the opinion that it was similar to watching a painful sex act. While we didn’t observe any of the CFF guys competing that day, we have heard from a few of the local ladies that some of them were far from gracious towards them. Thus prompting the creation of a Seattle pinball crew: the Magic Flipper Friends (MFF). You go girls!

We recently made a new friend after being ejected from the Of Montreal concert at the Show Box Sodo for being too drunk: Dana the Bouncer. We can’t be angry at him for putting that big black X on our arm (which took four scrubbings to remove), because he was just doing his job. Once he cheerfully informed us that he is the proud owner of two pinball machines and that his father is a pinball collector also, all we can say is “when are we invited over?”

Speaking of be ejected: Stern Pinball recently laid off close to 50% of their staff. Seeing how Stern is the only pinball manufacturer making new pins these days, we are unsure what this means for the future of new games. CEO Gary Stern describes the lay offs as company “right sizing” and assures everyone that all is well with the company. The next two pins on the assembly line are C.S.I. and 24, and while it seems as if those are still coming out we’ll have to see what happens after that; hopefully tv fans are big pinball buyers!

In better news (we think): the sale of Piccolo’s Pizza didn’t go through, and at least three pins will be residing in their game room. Doctor Dude and Gold Ball (which was featured on the cover of Skill Shot#4) are there currently and we were left wondering what the third game is going to be, since the employee on the phone abruptly hung up on us. Ouch!

news & gossip

Skill Shot #6 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 6, October 2008

Have you ever seen an issue of Pingame Journal? The latest issue (#128) includes a few Seattle related pieces: one about Full Tilt Ice Cream and another about last summer’s Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show. As we mentioned last issue, the pinball show was a great success, and next year’s event is booked and will have more space, not only for more pins, but more video games and vendors too! Awesome!

We were amazed and fell in love with so many pinball machines at that show. So imagine our delight at being invited to a pinball party in Milton, that not only had the fabulous Spectrum pin, but also an Atari Superman machine! (Thanks James!) The first flipperless pinball game we had ever played was there too, and it was pretty darn cool, if a bit wobbly. Who comes up with this stuff?

Recently at Shorty’s, we were surprised to see every single pinball machine being played at the same time (even Surf Champ)! Could it be that people are practicing for Shorty’s 11th Annual Pinball Tournament? Players are coming from all over the country for a chance to win the mystery grand prize (which is a pinball machine and not a wide screen TV). Since this is an open tournament, contestants qualify to gain points for the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association), but regulars around Shorty’s seem less concerned about that, and more about someone from Seattle winning.

Apparently Shorty’s will change out a machine the day before the tournament. Those of us who like to speculate suspect that either Speakeasy or Pirates of the Caribbean will be the next to go. But what will be the replacement pin? If anyone knows for sure, they’re not saying, but we certainly hope that it’s not another Fish Tales! How many of those games does Seattle need anyways?

Speaking of places getting new games, The Twilight Exit is finally leaving their current location and will be in their new spot (at 25th and Cherry) by early December. Their new space sounds exciting because there’s going to be a game room with a lot more pinball! So if you want to suggest a pinball machine for them to get, we’re guessing that now is the time to do so.

As always, please check out both our website ( and our mySpace page ( for Seattle Pinball List updates as well as present and past articles from previous issues. New web-only features are also in the works. Do you know what the next new Stern pinball machine is going to be? C.S.I.