Tuesday night party at the Costas

I want to keep the verbosity to a minimum on this post, so I would simply like to thank John and Michelle Costa for hosting us at their house in suburban/rural Brazoria County (near Pearland, but well outside city limits) this past Tuesday night. I would also like to thank John for the the chance to learn a little bit of tech that I didn’t know before (details below).

I also need to apologize a bit for this post being a bit untimely. The party was on May 3, which will be a bit over a week ago by the time I get this post ready for publication. I try to get them done and posted a bit sooner than that.

The Costa Casa (as some refer to it) had the following games at the time of the event: Funhouse, Twilight Zone, The Addams Family, Indiana Jones (Williams), Champion Pub, Tommy, Kiss (Stern), Metallica, The Walking Dead, Batman Forever, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Elvis, Theatre of Magic, Spiderman, Pinball Magic (Capcom), Cirqus Voltaire, Scared Stiff, World’s Fair Jig-Saw (a pre-World War II-era pure mechanical game), and possibly a couple of others. I spent a plurality of my time playing Tales of the Arabian Nights and Funhouse, which I consider two of the better games to have come from the 1990s pinball renaissance.

There were a couple of slot machines made available for “free play” in a similar manner as World’s Fair Jig-Saw

I hadn’t had the chance to play Funhouse in quite some time, so seeing it in the collection was a welcome sight. Surprisingly, I never thought of Funhouse as a title I was particularly good at, so I was surprised to wind up putting up the score I did (11.4M+, which was not good enough to make the high score list, but good enough to firmly establish I’m no slouch).

The other notable high scores of the night were on Tommy, Spiderman, Scared Stiff, Metallica, and The Walking Dead. I also threw in a pic of the best performance on World’s Fair Jig-Saw I was able to pull off, just for the heck of it.

Also included are two pictures of the ball stuck on Tommy where the rubber busted. I replaced this rubber before I left (with some help from John), and also helped fix the upper flipper that had croaked in the meantime. (The screw holding the mechanism together had fallen out and had to be replaced due to being too stripped/worn.)

Finally, not long before I left, I remedied the issue of Twilight Zone having too few balls installed (it is supposed to have six: five steel, one cermaic). This was easy: I just placed the additional balls on a convenient place on the playfield (the left ramp return lane), and let the game take care of the rest. For any other Twilight Zone owners out there, nothing special needs to be done to load the additional balls into the gumball machine. What happens, the game will load the balls such that the ceramic “powerball” is first in line, using the right spiral magnet to make sure steel balls aren’t loaded first.

Also, if you are new to pinball ownership: most pinball games made during the solid-state multiball era (i.e. anything made in or after 1980) should have a sticker under the lockdown bar that reads something like “INSTALL 3 BALLS”. In this example, there should be three physical balls inside the machine for proper play. If there are only two, the game will likely complain with a message like “PINBALL MISSING” or “MISSING 1 BALL” upon trying to start a game. Older games which retain the ball in the outhole after draining and don’t kick it up into another hole closer to the plunger are one-ball games.

(Sidenote: Sometimes a game will play with less than the proper number of balls, but features will not work correctly. In the particular case of Twilight Zone, it will play with only three balls, but will get confused and think the ceramic “powerball” is another steel ball–a surefire way to get the ceramic ball stuck on the upper playfield (the “Magna-flip” won’t work on it). Black Hole will act like it is starting a game but will not actually kick the ball out until it can account for all three balls. I once, many years ago, played a Rollergames on location–set for coin play!–that had only one ball in it and gave me multiball with only one ball in the machine. I had a field day; the operator probably had some swear words to say when he/she checked the audits.)