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GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

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Column: Playfield

COLUMN: 'Playfield': A Pin Of One's Own, Part One

November 18, 2007 12:02 AM |

playfield_header_tz.jpg


[Playfield is a slightly irregular column about all things pinball-related, lovingly constructed by Octopus Motor's Sparky.]

Thinking about buying a pinball machine? Here are some things to consider.

Ugh. I think that is possibly the lamest opening sentence I have ever written. So let’s just try to forget it happened, and move on, shall we?

Pinball prices have gone up in recent years, what with Ebay and the fact that these machines aren’t getting any younger. You can spend anywhere from $0 (look what we found in Grandma’s garage) to $5000+ (brand new Stern Spiderman machine), depending on the age, popularity, and condition of the machine.

If you’re just looking for a pinball because of its theme (say, you’re a fan of KISS or Dr. Who) make sure you’ve really played it enough first. I like KISS and Dr. Who, but the pinball versions? Bleah. Now, a “KISS, Tom Baker And K-9 Meet The Phantom Of The Park” pin? That I would be thrilled to own. But don’t worry too much about replay value -- as long as you take good care of a pinball machine, you can always sell it if you get bored with it.

COLUMN: 'Playfield': Pinball -- The Big Lie?

November 2, 2007 8:01 AM |

playfield_header_tz.jpg


[Playfield is a slightly irregular column about all things pinball-related, lovingly constructed by Octopus Motor's Sparky.]

“Those illustrations on the playfield and scoreboard always made the game seem so exotic and interesting, when, by and large, one pinball game was pretty much like another in my eyes. Paddles, tubes, plungers…all that James Bond stuff in the background was a big lie.”
-- T.G.

This thoughtful quote comes from a reader’s response to my first column. You might think at this point I would go off about how every pinball machine is a unique and magical snowflake, even Dr. Dude!

But you know what, T.G.?

I used to think the same thing.

tz_playfield_smlr.jpg

Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

When pins moved from electromechanical to solid-state (in the late 70s), they started to become more interesting, as they now had software-based rules and logic. Just like with computer games, as pinball machines got more RAM, digital sound, fancier graphical displays, and more processing power, gameplay got more sophisticated.

I must admit that those older electromechanical machines aren’t much fun to me. I can certainly appreciate their aesthetics -- from those crazy Spanish backglasses to gleaming woodrails -- but I prefer the gameplay depth that you just can’t get without a CPU. I mean, I can appreciate Paul Newman’s good looks, but he wasn’t the dreamboat of my generation -- we had John Cusack.

I do, however, enjoy his spaghetti sauce.

Paul Newman’s, that is. I don’t know if John Cusack makes spaghetti sauce. but if he does, he’s welcome to bring some over to my house any time and I’ll try it.

We can even play pinball.

COLUMN: Playfield: 'The Required Introduction'

October 16, 2007 12:02 AM |

[Playfield is a slightly irregular column about all things pinball-related, lovingly constructed by Octopus Motor's Sparky.]

An Introduction To Pinball

A playfield is –- watch out, I’m gonna get technical here -- the flat wooden thing the pinball rolls around on. I know, not terribly exciting. Pinball columns are required to be called “For Amusement Only” or something that incorporates a cheap joke about balls…and I’m not the type to go for the low-hanging fruit.

Or maybe I am.

Pinball columns are also required to start with the author waxing nostalgic about the good olde days. Back then you could walk into any local pub and there in a dark corner, slugging back his ale, would be a lanky Viggo-Mortenish type who went by some nickname like “Strider” or “Blast Hardcheese” or “P. Diddy”, but who was in fact Aragorn son of Arathorn, king of Gondor, sixteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain, last descendant of Anárion.

And in the _other_ corner, there would be a pinball machine.