One of the most unforgettable experience as a child is placing a quarter into a Pinball machine and trying to beat the last persons’ high score. The most amazing aspect to playing Pinball is that the machines are typically simplistic in their design. Essentially, pinball is little more than preventing the silver ball from dropping out of play and getting a game over after three attempts. For the most part, this is the type of play that most people get out of pinball games. Sure the lights and buzzers make the games truly addicting and quite fun, but there is another way that people play the machines. The name of the game for a large majority of players is points. For these players, the ball dropping out of play is the least of their concerns. These people weigh their skill against the risks of shooting the ball in such a way that they score more points.
Over the course of the last one hundred years, the development of pinball machines has come a long way. Starting from the most basic machines that consisted of little more than preventing the ball from dropping to the complex sophisticated machines of the 21st century, there are literally games for every single type of person regardless of age or sex. There are games based of books, video games, movies and almost any genre you could ever imagine. Although they are enjoyable for all ages, there have also been cases of illegal gambling with machines that have caused bans in areas of North America, but compared to the positives associated with the machines, pinball games could be considered a hobby for the whole family.
The primary skill of pinball involves applying the proper timing and technique to the operation of the flippers, gently nudging the playfield when appropriate without causing the machine to tilt, and choosing targets for high scores or features that build up high scoring opportunities. A skilled player can quickly "learn the angles" and gain a high level of control of ball motion, even on a table they've never played, but just because you can’t do it your first time out doesn’t mean the next time won’t be different.
The first step to playing a new game should be by reading the game’s rules that are found on a placard that is usually in a lower corner of the playfield. Most times, it may simply show pricing information, but sometimes it also shows critical details about special scoring techniques. Such information is vital to achieving higher scores, and it typically describes a series of events that must take place (e.g., shoot right ramp and left drop targets to light 'extra ball' rollover). Learning these details makes the game more fun and challenging. With practice, and a table in good operating condition, a player can often achieve specific targets and higher scores as well as triggering exciting events.
One of the simplest tricks a beginner should learn is the art of nudging the table. Skillful players can influence the movement of the ball by nudging or bumping the pinball machine, but there are tilt mechanisms which guard against excessive manipulation of this sort. The hazard of using this method to further manipulate the pinball game is that if the tilt function is enabled, the game controls will freeze, and all you can do is stand helpless as your ball drops from the playfield. The mechanisms generally include sensors and plum bobs that are able to sense outside manipulation of the machine. A tilt will usually also result in the loss of any bonus points earned by the player during that ball. Where some modern games give tilt warnings before sacrificing the ball in play, older games would immediately end the ball in play on a tilt.
Another almost must in a true Pinball gamers repertoire of moves is his or her ability to trap the ball. This method is used by skilled players that can hold a ball in place with the flipper, giving them more control over where they want to place the ball when they shoot it forward. This technique involves catching the ball in the corner between the base of the flipper and the wall to its side, just as the ball falls towards the flipper. The flipper is then released, which allows the ball to roll slowly downward towards the flipper. The player then chooses at what moment to hit the flipper again, timing the shot as the ball slides slowly towards the end of the flipper. Once a player has successfully trapped a ball, they may then attempt to "juggle" the ball to the other flipper. This is done by tapping the flipper button quickly enough so that the trapped ball is knocked back at an angle of less than 90 degrees into the bottom of the nearest slingshot. The ball will then often bounce across the table to the other flipper, where the ball may then be hit or again trapped by the opposite flipper. The true goal behind this technique is to aim the ball at specific areas of the play field to maximize your potential score.
Pinball games have frequently been featured in popular culture since there has been pinball machines, often as a symbol of rebellion or toughness. The most famous instance in the history of pinball games is the rock opera album Tommy (1969) by The Who, which centers on the title character, a "deaf, dumb, and blind kid", who nevertheless becomes a "Pinball Wizard" who uses pinball as a symbol and tool for his messianic mission. Wizard has since become synonymous as a term for an expert pinball player. Things came full circle when Bally created the Tommy Pinball Wizard pinball game featuring Ann-Margret and The Who's Roger Daltrey on the backglass. In the movie version, Tommy plays a Gottlieb Kings and Queens machine, while The Champ plays a Gottlieb Buckaroo machine.
Other recognized moments in popular culture include the following list of instances where Pinball played some sort of aspect in television or movies. A much harder task is to try to find programs that have not mentioned pinball in one way or another than finding programs or movies that do.
- Sesame Street had a segment called Pinball Number Count where a pinball goes through many different places. The song was sung by The Pointer Sisters.
- Monday Night Football introduction played a computer generated pinball with their theme song.
- There are many references to pinball on The Simpsons. Sideshow Bob said that his former medium of TV "destroyed more young minds than syphilis and pinball combined."
- Blernsball, the futuristic version of baseball in Futurama, features pinball game elements, including captive balls and multiball.
- Pinball-themed zones made numerous appearances in the Sonic the Hedgehog series of video games, including an entire game based on the Pinball theme, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball. Sonic Adventure's Casinopolis had two room that played like Pinball games.
- A Pinball-themed courtship is featured in Bad Santa when Billy Bob Thornton shows the mechanics of the "tilt mechanism."
- In the Disney movie The Game Plan, Peyton plays a pinball machine when she goes into Joe's house while Joe reads Peyton's birth certificate or letter.
- In an episode of South Park, Indiana Jones is seen playing a Howard the Duck pinball machine. However, such a pinball has never been built.
Pinball, simply put, is one of the most fun hobbies in the world that you can become a part of at anytime. Despite your age, sex, body build, ect., you can play pinball, and you can be good at it with a little practice. There is a big difference between playing a pinball machine, and playing in a pinball machine hall where all around you are the flashing lights and sounds of pinball machines. The hardest part for most people new to the hobby is choosing whether you will be playing a vintage machine from the 60’s or a brand new game from the past few years. All games are rewarding in one way or another, and every single pinball machine will challenge all of your skills. But maybe playing the machines are just one part of your love affair with these beautiful machines. Maybe the true challenge behind these machines is restoring old broken machines for new people to play on in the future. With pinball games, the future truly is open, and with new technological advances every year, it is impossible to tell what the future hold for pinball machines.