Pinball can be cheap — and the better you get the cheaper it is. More things in life should work like that. Replays, extra balls and simply keeping the ball in play can really stretch the lifespan of a couple quarters.
On Sundays hit the Tin Hat in Ballard for free pinball all day. Reasonable food and drink prices don’t hurt either. Come back to Ballard for Taco Tuesdays, with $1 tacos at the 2 Bit or $0.69 tacos at the Tin Hat.
On Mondays, the Cuff not only has free pinball, but free games of all kinds! Darts, pool, Ms. Pac-man – all free. To top it off, they serve $2 pints of Manny’s all night. You can play and drink for hours on a Monday night and barely dent your wallet!
Down the hill on Pike, you’ll find an immaculate Terminator 2 set at three games for $1 in the front window of Ltd. Art Gallery, who currently have a great Star Wars-inspired exhibit on display. (Full disclosure: The T2 is run by Skill Shot’s own Andrew Cole. He keeps a tidy playfield.)
But the current king of free gaming is the Comet Tavern, which currently has free pinball, all day, every day. The games aren’t in great shape and tragically aren’t regularly maintained right now, but they’re uncommon pins (Nightmare on Elm Street! Road Kings!) and, seriously: Free pinball. All day. Every day.
For 25-cent games around town, look no further than the golden oldies serviced by Dominique at silverAge silverBall. You can find these at charming locales around town like Sureshot Cafe,Sully’s Snowgoose, Artful Dodger,and Seattle Tattoo Emporium. Add-a-Ball also sports a handful of top-notch quarter-per-game pins to go with their old school aesthetic. When you get hungry, you can’t beat the taste or cost of the nearby taco truck.
If you’re up for a drive or bus ride north, check out the brand new Replay Cafe in Everett. The Replay Cafe is a time machine back to arcades of the 80’s, with its extensive arsenal of games, aesthetic, and prices. It may not be gourmet, but pizza slices top out at $1.50 and whole pies sell at $6. When we visited, their special was a hot dog, drink, and a bag of chips for $3.50. The arcade games are $0.25, as were most of the two dozen pinball games (the rest are $0.50).
For sheer selection and value, you still can’t beat the Seattle Pinball Museum. A flat fee gives you unlimited access to over 40 games, and the value is what you make of it. Heck, the worse your games, the better the deal! Just start another one! SPM is perfect for camping out and mastering the art of the silver ball. When you get hungry, grab a banh mi for $3 at Sun Bakery or Saigon Deli, a slice at World Pizza, or any number of other great deals in the neighborhood. You can subsist on very little in the International District. Make a day out of it. But please keep in mind that SPM now has a two-tiered pricing system: one-time entry and all-day passes. Plan and purchase accordingly.
But hands down, the cheapest AND best way to play pinball on the cheap is to pool money together with friends for multi-credit price breaks, or make friends with sociable pin owners. It’s more fun to play with friends!