Sunday, October 30, 2011

Transform and Nerd Out!

Call it a hunch, but I  think
this is the place.

It's no secret that the game of pinball has seen better seen better days. Facing a steady decline in popularity over the past two decades, new machine releases are few and far between, and as such, a cause for celebration. So when I heard about a local pinball tournament featuring Stern's new Transfomers machine, I couldn't stay away.

Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. Like multiplayer FPS games and math, I absolutely suck at pinball. However, giant robots, games, and the promise of fabulous cash and prizes are four of my favorite things.

The event was held at Kidforce Collectibles, a comic book and game shop right down the road in Berea, Ohio. If my imagination hadn't been destroyed by 25 years video gaming, this would be my go-to place for tabletop and card games. As an added bonus, the owner is an avid pinball collector, and keeps four tables in the back of the store.
Inside Kidforce Collectibles. What a cool place!
After asking Eric--the unofficial tournament official--for a few quick pointers (basically "where do I aim for multiball?"), I gladly paid my $5 entry fee and gave it a whirl. 

...Dude, this table is fast! 

Launching the ball sends it to the bumpers at the top/left of the playfield, which in turn have about an 80% chance of dropping it into Megatron, directly underneath. Megatron's a dick. He holds onto your ball for a second and then hurls it at your flippers at about 1,000 mph, slightly off center. It's a dirty trick that'll drain you at least once, guaranteed.

It's a migraine headache disguised as a pinball machine.
Coincidentally, shooting Megatron four times is the easiest way to get multiball, so assuming this is your goal, you're constantly trying to deflect those off-center cheap shots. Great.

Preoccupied with nailinng Megatron's shiny multi-balls, my first game was pretty short, and got me nowhere close to the leaderboard.

 Undeterred, I handed over another $5 and took a approach this time around, which turned out to be a much more effective way to score points on this table. With all of the targets, ramps, missions, and special geegaws, it's almost impossible not to hit something good with every shot up the playfield. At one point, I manged to raise a ramp and hit Optimus Prime square in his Matrix of Leadership. Poor guy.
More pinball machines line the back of the store.

Finally, I activated multiball, which was a great way for a nub like me to score some points. With four or five balls whizzing around the table, activating ridiculous strobe lights and explosions, screaming robots, and whatever else the masochists over at Stern crammed into this pinball machine, the game gets pretty overwhelming and pretty awesome.

After I'd recovered from the seizures onset by the flashing lights, I picked myself up from the floor and was delighted to find that I'd scored over 7,000,000 points, which put me in second place on the bottom bracket. The top bracket was reserved for people that actually knew what they were doing.

Unfortunately, a previous engagement later in the day prevented me from competing in the playoffs, but I was happy with my performance all the same. My wife, with whom I was celebrating my third anniversary assures me that I made the right decision.

All told, I had a great time at Kidforce Collectibles, and I'll be back with another fistful of quarters--I have a score to settle with that jerk, Megatron.

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