Space City Pinball League Season 4 Week 6: Blasts from the past

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see this post for more information and the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

After taking a brief break in weeks 4 and 5, I would return for week 6 with quite a welcome surprise or two. We would have, in the lineup, two older games that I am rather fond of: Shrek (Stern, 2008) and The Addams Family (Bally, 1992).

Both of these games have rather interesting back stories behind them. I’ll start with The Addams Family. This was the game that brought about the last great golden age of pinball from 1993 up to about 1999 or so, smashing the previous sales record of Bally’s Eight Ball from 1979. It was thus also the game that allowed Pat Lawlor to have near-complete creative control of his next game, Twilight Zone, a game he admits they never should have been allowed to make. (But which sold over 10,000 units anyway!) Alas, the wave wouldn’t last: in 1996 Premier Technologies, owners of the Gottlieb brand, went out of business, with WMS Industries, owners of the Williams and Bally brands, exiting the pinball business. (WMS also owned the Midway and Atari Games arcade video game brands which would also be folded about a year or so later.) Stern Pinball (recently divested from Sega), however, kept on cranking out games for the next decade until some other new companies started breathing new life into pinball.

Which brings us to Shrek. In 2007 Stern had a bunch of playfields and parts left over from the run of Family Guy, a game which for whatever reason didn’t sell well. Someone got an idea to take those figurative lemons, and make lemonade. That “lemonade” was Shrek, which admittedly is a much more fun theme than the original Family Guy. The Shrek pinball is empirical evidence that sometimes the theme makes all the difference between a game worth its weight in gold and the pinball equivalent of a donkey turd.

Anyway, enough waxing historical. The other games in the lineup, besides those two, were Mustang, Kiss, Domino’s Spectacular Pinball Adventure, Ghostbusters, and Wrestlemania (Pro). I would be grouped with Blake Dumesnil and Agustin Montes in a three-player group. And unfortunately, we would not get to actually play either Shrek nor The Addams Family in our five games, which was kind of a letdown.

We would begin the night playing Wrestlemania. While I was never a huge pro-wrestling fan, for some reason the theme doesn’t matter to me that much when playing this pinball. I didn’t have that great of a game, but it was good enough to eek out a first place with 18.3M+ to Blake’s 16.7M+. I did benefit from a brief Ref Knockout Multiball mode, and consistently plunged for bonus multiplier, which may well have made the difference in the final score.

Upward and onward to the Domino’s pin. This was the first time I got to play a game from Spooky Pinball, one of the newer manufacturers. The layout is decent, with a challenging plunger skill shot. When I first saw this game played on the Dead Flip stream on, I noticed the skill shot had been valued at 1 million, which tended to unbalance the game. The code we played had it valued at a more reasonable 250,000. Again, I emerged in first place with 1.22M+ to Blake’s 790K. So I’m looking at 10 standings points after two games, and starting to feel pretty damn good.

The next game to open up for us would be Mustang. Despite having two rather terrible balls to start the game (I would wind up tilting the second to try to save, only to have the ball saver kick one right back out into play), I would still manage a decent 8.38M+ good for second to Blake’s 8.94M+, bringing me up to 13 standings points on the night with two more games to go.

Ghostbusters was up next, and Agustin had a surprise for us. After not really doing much in the first three games, he’d explode with a 126M+ score. I went into the third ball just trying to get back ahead of Blake’s 37.7M+, which I did. I’d sign off with 43.4M+ good for a second place, bringing me up to a whopping 16 standings points on the night with one more game left to go.

We would finish on Kiss. This is a game I’ve been notoriously lousy on in league play. Tonight was no different, I posted a 2.76M+ which I knew instantly would be good for no better than third. Still, only one third place out of five games isn’t terrible on the night, especially given I would wind up with 17 standings points, probably the best I’ve done in recent memory if not overall.

A note about Houston Arcade Expo

Yep, that announcement I had mentioned before? It’s about my attendance at Houston Arcade Expo this year, or to state it more accurately, my lack thereof. For many reasons I’m not going to publicize, I’ll be sitting out this one barring a miracle, but I will be using the time to regroup and hopefully make it to both Texas Pinball Festival and Houston Arcade Expo next year.

I’m disappointed but at the same time I know there are greater things ahead. Stay tuned.