While I like to consider myself a living, breathing encyclopedia about all things gaming, even I have a few gaps in my knowledge base. For example, I know very little (but would love to learn more) about the various personal computer systems that were available in the UK, like the ZX Spectrum. I also don’t know jack squat about pinball, despite understanding that it has a rather storied history that goes back to the 30s. By the time I was old enough to arcade-hop, they were the neglected machines that sat in the corner, collecting dust. That’s not to say that I had zero experience with them, having a particular attraction to a certain WWF Royal Rumble machine during my first trip to Ocean City, but I it was more the cartoon Bret Hart that drew me in than the gripping flapper tilt gameplay.
Do old pinball fans call the game “flapper tilt”? Because they should.
What The Pinball Arcade presents feels less like a collection of classic machines than a genuine attempt to preserve them for history. Virtual pinball has always been a dubious proposition, but the physics of each machine actually manage to feel right somehow, going all the way back to the more primitive machines of the 60s. As you’d imagine, there’s a limited appeal beyond the historical significance for a lot of the tables, and the pricing doesn’t always reflect that. I’ll play a Twilight Zone table and pay good money to do so, but I can’t imagine anyone that actually wants to play Central Park for more than five minutes. Considering how many of the most classic tables appear to be based on licensed properties, I can understand it to an extent. Personally, I’m content to sort of just futz around with the limited trials, going year by year and seeing the evolution of the game, understanding that a high score isn’t really in the cards for me, especially after learning that there’s an actual tilt button that I can repeatedly abuse.
Despite my ignorance, I still have the same dream of one day having a basement arcade, completely oblivious to the cost and maintenance required to own and operate pinball machines. I don’t care. We can sort this out when I’m rich. All I know is that using The Pinball Arcade as a buyer’s guide has already locked Future-Damien in for about six or seven machines. Failing that, at the very least a Black Knight 2000 table, so that I can play its theme song whenever I want.
For the betterment of my readers and all of humanity, I will now leave you with the Black Knight 2000 theme song.