Originally published in Skill Shot issue 52
For the past eleven years the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS) has signified the beginning of summer in Seattle, and this year was no different. From June 8-10th, pinball players and arcade gamers descended upon Tacoma for the biggest show yet. Over 200 pinball machines were at this year’s NWPAS with many more in the tournament-only area. In case you don’t know, NWPAS is an event where home game collectors bring their games for the public to enjoy, all set on free play! While the Seattle area is lucky to have a lot of pins out in the wild, there are even more games that can only be found in private collections, such as Spectrum, Hercules, and Laser War as well as a wide variety of older EM pins and even older flipper-less games. A big thanks should go out to the collectors for sharing their games that weekend – Thanks!
Along with the home collectors were also pinball manufacturers and distributors with pins available to play. Stern and Marco Specialties had a huge display with lots of new Iron Maiden games and many more of their most recent releases. Vancouver’s Nitro Pinball had a larger footprint at this year’s show with many Houdini pins and a couple of Thunderbirds pins – a new game from Homepin based on the TV show. Seattle Pinball Museum, the local distributor for Jersey Jack Pinball, had one each of their pins including the yet-to-be-released Pirates of the Caribbean. New!
Thanks to the NWPAS pre-tournaments held in the months leading up to this year’s show, many lucky players won both free entries into the various tournaments held that weekend and passes to the show. As a result, many Seattleites treat the event as a mini-vacation and spend the whole weekend in Tacoma. It’s fun to hang out in and explore Tacoma, and many weekend revelers indubiously end up at the Triple Knock – much to the dismay of the local patrons, who apparently fled to the Airport Tavern, another pin-filled Tacoma bar. Vacation!
The new Iron Maiden seems to be a big hit in Seattle, with over ten of them on location in the city and the surrounding region. We’re not sure if it’s Iron Maiden’s popularity or the Keith Elwin design that has people buying it up, but either way, it’s sure to raise Elwin’s profile in the company – as if being a world pinball champion wasn’t enough! Stern’s newest release is Deadpool. Spooky Pinball also has a hit on their hands with Total Nuclear Annihilation, which is slowly being added to more locations. It’s definitely gotten a lot of buzz as a fun game, and now that Spooky has been around for a few years more local operators seem willing to give their games a chance. Spooky’s next release will be Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle. Hits!
American Pinball is yet another newish company, making strides with their Houdini pin. Houdini first premiered at last year’s NWPAS and can now be found at multiple locations. American recently announced their next pin at this year’s Vancouver Pinball Expo: Oktoberfest! Chicago Gaming, the company responsible for the Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars remakes, is re-releasing Monster Bash as their next product. We’ve heard that they may also have Cactus Canyon in the queue, but since that rumor has been around for years, we’ll believe it once they’ve officially announced it. Rumors!
Tournaments are a big part of pinball life in Seattle. Whether you play in them or not, chances are good that you will eventually encounter one happening at some point. Especially since there’s at least one happening every day of the week! Jupiter, Flip Flip Ding Ding, Ice Box, Hounds Tooth and many other locations host low-cost buy-in weeklies, with the 8-Bit even having one on Fridays that doesn’t cost anything (except for coin drop). These are all good places for new players to test their skills and learn by playing with/against seasoned competitors. Besides meeting new people, these weekly (and monthly) events are a good training ground if you are interested in competing in some of the more high stakes tournaments the region often hosts. Stakes!
The NWPAS Tournaments and The Northwest Pinball Championships are two recent examples of local events that have drawn in a fair number of out-of-state players. But even without the visiting competition, the local playing field holds more than enough tough competitors, highlighted by the fact that two of the highest ranked players in the world, Raymond Davidson and Cayle George, both live here. The Shorty’s Annual in November is the next event that may have a larger out-of-state turnout since this will be the last one held in the current, original location of this iconic Seattle bar. They will be moving further up 2nd Ave. to a new location sometime in the next year. Icon!
Quicksilverball is a unique tournament where participants ride bicycles to various locations and then have to beat a pinball wizard before they can continue to the next location. At this year’s Quicksilverball, the “dudes” category was won by Skill Shot’s own Andrew Cole! Another unusual format is the Progressive Tournament, held for a number of weeks with the winners of each week entered into a final event with a chance to win a big jackpot. Both Another Castle and Raygun Lounge have hosted a few of these. The Add-a-Ball Wrestling Federation is a mix of WWE and pinball. There are various title-holders with actual wrestling belts who take on challengers (at pinball matches), with the winners getting the belts and bragging rights. Like TV wrestling, there’s a lot of trash-talking, and is definitely not for the easily offended. Suck it!
Thanks to everyone who gave us feedback when we revealed Skill Shot’s new format at NWPAS. Besides adding color, this format allows us to add more ads, and as we do we will add more pages as well. The Skill Shot Amber is a new beer crafted by Slaughter County Brewing Co. from Port Orchard. We’re not sure when or if there will be bottles available in Seattle, but you can buy at the brewery now – while supplies last! We want to give a shout out to Pingravings.com, who surprised us at NWPAS with an engraved print of 4 previous zine covers! You may have seen a video of them making it at the show. Sweet!
Pinball Tidbits – The number of women playing pinball just keeps on growing. To celebrate that fact, Add-a-Ball is hosting their 1st annual Ladies Only Tournament in October. * Monday Night Pinball began their new season in September – go to their website to find out how to join the fun! * World champ Raymond has begun hosting weekly tournaments at Coindexter’s every Thursday. No, he won’t be playing in them. * A world-class pinball player recently had a family member move to Seattle, so expect them to attend more local events. * Queen Anne’s The Great Nabob recently closed their doors – with the Grand Champion Games pins still inside! * After being gone from the scene for the past few years, Geekgamer.TV is back with a vengeance! Chase and Ashley did an excellent job covering the NW Championships. Listen to Chase’s interview on the Skill Shot Pincast to hear what he’s been up to. * Support Local Pinball