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.

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Uncover the Clues

The first new Stern pinball release of 2009, CSI made its debut at Shorty’s recently and we were thrilled to finally get a chance to check it out. The first thing you will notice when seeing the game is the fairly unexciting back glass, which is just the television show’s logo and the faces of the various characters from the show. Unless you are a fan of CSI they are just a bunch of regular looking people looking back at you sternly. But that doesn’t matter since unlike other television and movie based pins the game itself isn’t about the characters but is actually about investigating a crime scene.

On CSI pinball there are different shots, such as the spinners, that will compare various finger prints or compile composite mug shots. Going to the pop bumpers is the equivalent of taking photographs of the crime scene, while hitting the scoop will take you to the Ballistics Lab where bullets are examined, or (if the drop targets have been hit) strands of DNA examined. Like other recent pins, starting these modes usually light up different shots on the playfield that are designated by flashing arrows that you then have to shoot for, all with the purpose of (supposedly) solving a crime. And of course, getting points.

There are lots of easy ways to get multi-balls on this game and the most obvious one is the big skull in the upper left corner. The only way to get to the skull is by going up the (only) center ramp, and once you’ve done it enough times the balls become trapped in the eye sockets and begin a multi-ball. If you are at a crime scene, there’s usually a dead body involved so that’s where the skull comes in. It’s nice to see a big skull in a pinball machine, even if it’s a sort of flat looking one. Too bad they didn’t put that on the back glass: a big skull (that’d be cool)!

The second obvious way to get a multi-ball on CSI is the centrifuge which is in the middle of the playfield. While the centrifuge is used for spinning blood samples on the show, in the game it’s for spinning (surprise) pinballs! Shoot the ball in the centrifuge and watch it spin around a bunch of times (a la Pirates of the Caribbean). Do the shot over and over, and when the centrifuge counts down to zero you’ll get a multi-ball. Just watch out for when the ball comes out of the centrifuge because it often drops straight down the middle. It’s a good idea to nudge the game a bit just as the ball is leaving the centrifuge because, while there is a center post just below the flippers, it rarely seems to work well and should only be relied on if you’re feeling lucky.

The third way to get a multi-ball is by shooting the microscope which has different colored flashing lights and a looping lane under it. Sometimes the ball just shoots through the lane and back to the flippers quickly! At other times a magnet stops the ball and begins a mode where different shots light up on the playfield that you need to hit in order to collect evidence. There are three different sections of evidence to collect that are designated by the different colors and once you’ve collected all of a particular color you get a multi-ball! The evidence collecting is our favorite because it mentions interesting things like insects, gun shot residue (GSR) and bite marks. It almost makes you want to watch the show!

The first shot of the game is of course the skill shot which is quite easy to see and figure out. It’s similar to the Wheel of Fortune skill shot because you have to shoot the ball just barely to the top of the playfield for it to drop back into the designated spot. Shoot it too hard and the ball goes to the pop bumpers and if you do it too softly it falls back to the flippers. One nice difference from the WoF skill shot is that when you shoot it too softly and it falls back to the flippers, you can let it drain without hitting anything and the game will let you do the shot over and over until you either make the skill shot or hit something that gives you points (like the pop bumpers). It’s a nice way to practice doing a skill shot, especially for people who don’t play pinball very often.

All in all the game was better than we expected it to be. While CSI isn’t as engagingly fun as Family Guy is with its Chicken Fight, Stewie Pinball and Farting, it does have multi-balls that are either easy to get or at least easy to figure out; the crime investigating theme is interesting; there’s a third flipper which hasn’t been seen on the past few Stern releases; and the looping lane adds a fun twist. There’s lots of animations that appear on the screen that are nicely done and the game gives you a bit of time to check them out before shooting the ball back into play (when it’s in the Lab). Plus there’s a big skull and that’s always cool! Did we already say that we think that Skulls are cool?