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!


We Love Spectrum!!

Spectrum is one of the coolest pinball games ever created!

The first time we saw Spectrum was at last summer’s Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show at the Seattle Center. It totally drew us in with its colorful playfield and back glass, and once we played it we realized there was a lot more to this game than we expected.

The first thing that comes to your attention when you play Spectrum is the fact that there is no plunger; instead, you hit one of the flippers, and that launches the ball from the drain area up into the playfield. The second feature that quickly becomes apparent is that there are no side drains, and instead there are hidden side lanes that, once the ball enters, prompt the game to eject a different ball just above the flippers.

While these two unique features are enough to confuse many people, it’s the object of the game that really makes this pin stand out. Unlike the typical way you get points on most games, with Spectrum the object is to figure out the secret color code that the machine randomly selects. Red, yellow, green, and blue are your choices, and you either guess correctly or not by hitting the appropriate targets on the play field. The more guesses you try before draining the ball determines your score.

Confusing? You bet! This game really opened our eyes to the potential of pinball and how most of the games we see and play today are just the tip of the iceberg. We look forward to all the other pinball machines we have yet to discover, both from the past and into the future. Spectrum kicks ass!

Spectrum Fun Facts:

Spectrum is based on the board game Mastermind.

Bally manufactured 994 machines, but due to low sales over half were dismantled.

Spectrum has a lot of speech programs that continually run while the game is played. Many clues concerning the hidden codes are given this way.

If you ever get a chance to play Spectrum, do it!

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 6.5, November 2008