Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wayback Machine - Pinball

I recently had a chance to go visit a local nickel arcade, something I do every so often with my girlfriend. Usually we play the games that spit out tickets, so we can collect them and get prizes, but that's another story. After we had gathered enough tickets to satify our needs, we decided to wander through and play the other games, you know, the regular old cabinet style arcade games. Well I rounded a corner and saw a blast from my past, Star Wars Pinball.

Pinball machines have been around forever, and are probably the oldest school when it comes to video games. Even though pinball is not really a video game, it is a form of entertainment that can still be found in modern-day aracdes everywhere. This is a testament to this wonderful little invention. They have been a staple in modern society, and even spawned a rock opera (The Who's 'Pinball Wizard'). Yes I could go on and on about the pinball machine, and it's history, and importance in modern life, but I think I will stop here and move on to my own experience at the flippers.

I don't remember where I played my first machine, nor do I even recall what my first pinball experience was. I do have a memory in the dark recesses of my mind that involves me as a young kid, in a dark arcade, in a pizza parlor playing some form of the game. I also remember sucking at it. I was awful at pinball as a kid, and in fact I still suck at it to this very day. But man what wonderful things they are. Flashing lights, music, garbled speech, trap doors, and small pinball rollercoasters, all things a kid like me enjoyed. I would always prefer to play the ones that had the most elaborate roller-coasters. In my opinion, the more elaborate, the better.This probably played a big role in my later love of the classic arcade game "Marble madness"

As I got older, I continued to play whenever I found one, and like I said before, I never was any good at them. I think in the whole history of my life, I have only ever once gotten one replay for getting a high enough score, but then again, it may have been a replay based off the "match" feature found on some games when you lose. Either way, I am completely suck when it comes to pinballing. But my suckiness has never stopped me from continuiing to play them whenever I see one that looks like it could be fun. Unfortunately most of the ones I see these days are run down, and half the lights, and bumpers have stopped working. I usually pass on those. I have tried playing pinball games that were ported on to gameing consoles, and never found them quite the same. There is no substitute for an actual physical pinball machine.

For me the greatest amount of fun is unlocking the multi-ball. There is nothing more exciting than playing pinball with multiple balls on the playing field. You really must find a zone, and just focus all your attention on the flippers to keep as many balls in play for as long as possible.

Things that bother me about pinball machines:

- Insanely high replay scores: Usually in the neighborhood of like 200 million points.
- Outlanes: The annoying little lanes on either side of the main flipper drain. A.K.A. Insta death.
- Gravity: Some times a ball will get lodged somewhere in the workings of the hardware. Game over.
- Outlanes without a kickback.

The good parts:

- The bump and jolt associated with playing the game.
- All the pretty colors and flashing lights.
- The rollercoasters.
- Outlanes with a kickback (death thwarted).
- The mini-games.
- Multi-ball.
- The nostalgia of childhood.

So in conclusion, pinball machines are a timeless classic. A possibly dying industry, that still has something to offer today's younger generation of PS3 and XBox junkies. I challenge everyone to go out and find a pinball machine, and re-ignite that relationship with an old friend. You will not be dissapointed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Game 10 - Ghosts'N Goblins

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 1986 (home consoles); 1985 (Arcade)
Genre: Platform (side-scroller)

For Starters:

Shit biscuits! This game is a mother-fucker! While this is one of the classic games found on the NES, it is also one of the most frustrating games ever created. Addictive, and challenging, Ghosts'n Goblins will keep you coming back for more, until you either suffer a mental breakdown, or break your Nintendo system by throwing it out an open window.

I first played this game in the arcade at the mall, and immediately fell in love with the music, and the graphics. Unfortunately, the game always managed to feed me Alcatraz Sandwiches, and I could never get past the first fucking stage. When I finally found it on the NES, I thought...maybe if I owned it, I could actually spend the time, and finally beat that damned first stage. Holy shit was I ever wrong, and here it is over 20 years later, and I still struggle to get through that initial fucking stage.

Why is this game so difficult? This game throws a steady stream of enemies at you, from both directions, some of them shooting fireballs. Then, they give you impossible jumps, some of them involving moving platforms. This game will break your balls, and like a sucker, you will come back for more.

The Good:

There are enough good things about Ghosts'n Goblins to keep you coming back for more, time and time again. The music, the graphics, the pure adrenaline associated with this game is enough to bring you back. Most of all, is the idea that keeps growing in the back of your brain, that maybe, just maybe you will
advance to the next level. And to be honest, the more you play, the further you get, even if it's just a fraction of a screen further. This game taunts you. It teases you. It shows you something that looks so easy, yet you will continue to die, and you will find yourself screaming in determination to beat that one single part of the game. I guess that's the biggest draw this game has, outside of the music, is the addictive challenge that this game forces upon your fragile little psyche.

The Bad:

Do I really need to list the bad qualities of this game? Haven't I already illustrated the sheer hell this game will put you through? Challenging jumps, swarms of monsters, and the possibility of permanent damage to your
Dick-head takes girl...go get her Arthur.
console, and/or home as a result of the fits of rage this game will induce? Well, you sadistic little sap, here are a few more to help quench that thirst that now grows inside you. You sick puppy.

This game does allow you 2 hits before death. The first hit knocks you out of your armor, and allows you to continue fighting in your red undies.  The second blow will cause you to turn in to a pile of bones. Bones = death.
From frog to death...

If these traits are not bad enough, the game itself makes you beat it twice in order to complete it. That's right. You have to play through this thing TWICE in order to beat the game. UGH! Once is difficult enough.


Yes Ghosts'n Goblins is difficult, and frustrating, but it has managed to remain  one that I continue to play over and over again. It does enough right to make this one a classic. If you play this one, be warned, it will cause fits, and will frustrate the hell out of you. But, you will find yourself playing this one again and again. Enjoy!