Texas Pinball Festival 2014 Review

Arcade, Pinball

The Texas Pinball festival is a yearly event held in Dallas. It feature hundreds of Pinball machines and quite a few arcade games.

This year the event was held in Frisco Texas next to the Embassy Suites hotel and the location was perfect because it’s close to our home. We stayed at the hotel on Saturday just do something different and because I wanted to be able to go relax and so forth when I was tired of standing around. This should be the permanent location and from what I understand it will be there next year. No problem here in any way for me.

Price – You need to putchase the pass ahead of time to save money or bring a game and get in free. There was a mixup on the age for children under 5 and mine is 4 so I paid and later one of the organizers offered to refund my money for my child. It was cool of him because there was no hassle. Everyone knows each other or knows of each other in the community so people are pretty accessible.

Games – Well there were plenty of games for sure and nearly all of them were in working condition. It seemed that on Friday any games that were down were quickly fixed. Most of the games are on loan and you get to play damn near everything. I have no complaints on the amount of games. I got to play Wizard of Oz and that made me happy. The arcade selection was pretty decent. I think that arcades are an afterthought in Dallas but it is a pinball festival. There were some really beautiful games. Mr. Moore’s Stargazer was a beautiful restore. What can I say? The man has mad skillz. I can’t say enough about that machine. The new Star Trek pin was there. Heh bleh? Another Stern machine. I can’t get over the fact that the Enterprise is not the centerpiece. Yes I know it’s following the movie but I don’t care. I still don’t like it. There were several classic arcades missing so maybe next year we can round them up. I didn’t see a Warlords but I might have missed it. If you have one BRING IT!!! I won’t bother with the Tempest, there are always a few. Plus Mr. Danis has like a thousand of them.

Food – Was not very good but that’s from the hotel. Not the organizers fault. There were some food trucks so it wasn’t all bad. This is probably restricted somehow by the convention center. I doubt they are gonna let you set up a barbecue pit in there. Although that would be really bad ass! They need more tables for sure. Would be nice to have some chairs throughout the floor.

Layout – Okay I really put some thought into this and I personally didn’t really get into the way it was laid out. It wasn’t confusing so much as it was confining. There are so many interesting ways to lay out the pins. A circle in the middle with detached rows leading out. All kind of things. The arcades are not really organized that I can tell. They need someone to help with that because it depends on who is doing the layout. If they only know Pinball then they wouldn’t know how to group the arcades. I also do not like the tournament up front. When people walk in they should be amazed at what they see not just chairs and a tournament. You want to blow them away with some really great stuff up front. It will probably stay this way forever but it’s just a thought. I would put the tournament off to the side or in the center at the back. Not because it is less important but because again you want people to come in and flow throughout the building. The tournament is second to the festival. Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings but do you really care where it is? Overall it can be improved but it wasn’t terrible or anything at all. Just needs some tweaking.

Entertainment  – They need some music. I guarantee that more people will want music than not. There is the excuse that people want to hear the games. That is so retarded. It is so loud in there you can’t hear one machine that well. I’m a musician. I can pick out all kinds of things and isolate them and I have a hard time in there hearing what is coming out of the game. It’s a festival. Festivals have music.

The Staff – I might be biased but from just watching them I think they really did work hard to make it a good show. They were excited and got things done. A lot of them are volunteers and gave a lot of time so if you know any of them give them a pat on the back and tell them to get ready for next year.



Theatre of Magic


I finally got my first pin and so far I have been very happy with it. Theatre of Magic is a really fun game and I still enjoy playing it. The theme is fun and the average person can get it because it’s just abut a magic show. Originally it was to be a David Copperfield pin but thankfully that fell through. My kid is getting good at making shots and controlling the ball. I was surprised at how fast he is learning things because at first they just hit the flippers like crazy. Then again he always surprises me with something new everyday.

So what will this project entail? Probably wasting a bunch of money that I will never get back if I sell it. But I don’t care about selling or trading anything that I have. I would like to add the motorized saw mod and the hat with rotating playing card mods (changed to the Ace of Spades and the other side the Queen of Hearts.) I think it needs mirrored sides on both sides of the playfield and a Color DMD. After that it’s playfield stuff like cleaning and waxing it and all that fun stuff. I will also change the led colors. There is nothing wrong with them now, I just have an idea of how I want it to be. I don’t like the gold theme and will try black mirrored blades and black siderails and lockdownbar. I want it to have a dark feel like you are in a theatre with the lights down.

Flashers are not working but I was able to figure it out from the schematics. I verified this with Talon2000 (KLOV) so I have a pretty good understanding of what is going on and how it works. It looks like it is a capacitor or a bridge rectifier. I just need to troubleshoot it more. Here is a really detailed guide on Williams pinball machines.


Troubleshoot Flashers

The Pinball Comeback Fantasy


There is a lot of talk about Pinball making a comeback. It seems everywhere people are playing pinball right? Many people wish to see their choice of gaming come back and kick those video games in the ass. Because after all, pinball is more real right? Wrong. There is a surge in interest not a comeback. They are two very different things.

I walked around Texas Pinball Festival looking for games to play and see a lot of young people but not a huge amount. It’s a collectors hobby which is fine by me. I prefer that not every douche in town own one and the price be driven through the roof.  I mean it is a little ridiculous that Medieval Madness is $15,000. Don’t worry though the bubble will burst, it always has and it always will. Pinball may gain some popularity but it’s day is over and will stay as a collector hobby just  as arcade machines. Sure it will surge and wane but that happens with anything.

So why can’t there be a huge comeback? Well pinball machines don’t fit into our society. In 2012 there 190 million next-gen consoles in homes and the new consoles are geared around social media which further entrenches video games into the lives of all the younger generations. More and more games are downloaded and eventually Gamestop will be out of the “fucking you out of money” business. There is no way pinball can compete with 190 million consoles. Sure they are selling more but that does not mean it will explode into popular culture again. 70% of Stern’s machine go to hobbyist and collectors. Not many average users. The games are just too expensive. A new Stern game will run you $5000 dollars. Think about that. One single game is $5000. With the youth of today so used to throw away culture they would be bored in three days.

My question is this. Why do you want a comeback? You’re best kept secret will be out and then every Tom, Dick, and Harry will be a pinball wizard. The pinball community has its own world that is already alive and breathing. Like the arcade world it is full of all kinds of colorful characters. Do you really want your hobby commercialized and have people that have no interest trying to make money off of it? I sure hope not because I don’t.

Video Games vs. Pinball

Arcade, Pinball

The number one thing I hear about Pinball that drives me nuts is that it’s better because it’s real. Technically they are both real. One uses a ball and the other uses electrons. I think that maybe they mean it is more of a physical game.

How is it any more physical? Well in pinball you can bump the machine to manipulate the ball. It is accepted in the rules that you can nudge the machine but Pinball machines were designed so that you wouldn’t bump the machine. If you were not able to nudge the machine you most likely will lose your ball long before you are too exhausted to play. You do not have a way to defend against a ball from all possible direction. If it comes straight down the middle and you can’t nudge the machine you are screwed. Don’t get me wrong I nudge the machine myself but I still think it’s manipulating the game.

An arcade game almost on the other hand always has a way to defend against the enemy. Either the difficulty increases or you collapse and die from exhaustion. I can’t do anything to change the game from how it is programmed. Unlike Pinball there are very few things that you can’t defend against.

Pinball playfields are all very similar and if you can play one you can play most of the others. They all have their quirks but essentially it’s the same. Video games come in all kinds of different configurations. First person, third person, racing, shooting, puzzles and so on. To be good at a lot of video games takes a lot more work.

Pinball is a combination of luck and skill while arcade games are more skill than luck. I don’t dislike Pinball machines at all. I think they are awesome it’s just that when I hear people say they are better than video games I think they haven’t really thought it through. It’s obvious that video games are superior.