The Game Preserve (North), April 16

I know this is a bit stale by now but going through my notes and pictures wound up being a bit more of a challenge than originally expected.

The main items that are remarkable are the video game scores. I mean, sure, there’s another roll-over score on Charlie’s Angels but those are barely newsworthy now (though it still takes me a few games to get to one every time I play it). There are two Joust pinball scores as one is from a one-player game (only the highest one-player score) and one is from a two-player game.

On Elvira and the Party Monsters, it seemed like the right  flipper was incapable of making the left ramp, and the left flipper making the right ramp was only possible with considerable effort with a much smaller than usual margin for error. (Since jackpot is to make both ramps in multiball and many other awards are keyed off of the left ramp, one could make the case this makes the game nearly pointless versus the designer’s original vision.) Given both of these I consider my what’s normally a rather lousy 2.1M+ to be actually quite decent.

It had been a while since I had made a trip out to The Game Preserve. My goal is to make it out to each location at least twice a year going forward, possibly more depending on certain other things happening.

Cidercade, April 12: High scores a-plenty

The Tuesday night of April 12 brought with it another opportunity to visit Cidercade and try to put up some good scores. And that I most certainly did; it seemed like once I got in a groove on certain games that I almost couldn’t lose. The 206.9M+ Cactus Canyon run was one such example. Now, granted, this particular machine is set to give a nearly ridonkulous number of extra balls. However, this did give me the opportunity to learn that you still need to make the right shots and not do anything overly risky that will result in instant drains to get to this kind of a score. (For better or worse, this score did not stay on the high score list for that long as I saw even higher scores on a later visit.)

The 179.2M+ score on Rush will also boost my confidence significantly going forward. Granted, it’s not on the same type of tournament settings like the one at Texas Pinball Festival where I put up the lovely 21.09M+ good enough for a whopping 96th and 2 qualifying points. This one, too, awards an extra ball by score on top of the “normal” extra balls. At least now, though, I feel familiar with the game should I see it in a later competitive event (whether a tournament or league night).

I’m also feeling pretty good about the 6.81M+ on Heavy Metal (which is a very high score for this game as a garden variety score rarely goes much past a million or two). The Avengers IQ score of 85.99M+ as well as the Black Knight: Sword of Rage (Pro) score of 81.85M+ were also what I’d call the highlights of the night.

I’m starting to enjoy some of the newer games now that I’ve had a chance to play them and get into them. I am finding that Cidercade is a great environment for that, where I can pay once and not have to worry about getting more change or reloading a game card after so many rounds.


Strikeouts Under the Moon, 2022 April

And so, finally I catch up to Monday, April 4.

We finally had what I hope to be the first of many tournaments under the auspices of the (relatively) new Bayou City Pinball League. Though this post, here, will primarily be an account of the tournament from my perspective as a player, I was also the tournament director.

Thankfully, on this night, there were no irregularities and thus I didn’t need to make any rulings. Thus, my responsibilities as TD were restricted to entering the results of each round. I’m sure I will get plenty of opportunities to botch make rulings at future events.

Round 1 started off simply enough on Family Guy against Bayou Bill, one of two players brand new to the tournament scene. I love the gameplay of Family Guy even though I’m not at all keen on the theme. This was, honestly, the one game I was expecting to have issues (as in technical problems) as the night wore on, but thankfully those issues never materialized. This first game wound up being a surprisingly low-scoring contest but I would manage to prevail with a paltry 5.29M+.

The next round would bring up Creature from the Black Lagoon against Colby Lewis. This, too, was lower scoring than expected, but I pulled out a victory with 37.3M+ to 33.9M+.

For the third round, I drew Spider-Man against Hannah. As it happens, this is one of the two machines out of the four-game lineup at Little Dipper that I consider among my best. I definitely proved it tonight as this quickly became a blowout. I would put up 67.5M+ good enough to get my initials on the board (which I didn’t get a picture of, unfortunately).

The one issue with heads-up strikeout tournaments is that when you get down to a low, odd number of players, there will be a lot of byes as there’s nobody to pair up to. Such was the case with our fourth round. I would face off against Colby on Spider-Man (again) while Hannah had the bye. I actually wound up getting my first strike as Colby put up 26.4M+ versus my 5.84M+; it was just not one of my better games. I’m still feeling confident as there was a lot of pinball left to be played.

Our fifth round would pair me against Hannah on Creature from the Black Lagoon, with Colby getting the bye. This was another surprisingly low scoring game, as I would squeak by with a 17.9M+ versus Hannah’s 11.7M+. This would eliminate Hannah from the tournament (Bill was out after round 3) and so the final three rounds would be just Colby and I. At this point, we have only one strike apiece, thus making the remainder of the tournament an effective best-of-three match.

The sixth round would send us back to Family Guy where once again I would have one of my better performances: 52.1M+ versus Colby’s 20.5M+. And again I would get to enter my initials.

But, Colby wasn’t going away quietly. The next game on The Walking Dead would end with a very close score. I had put up 28.7M+, and Colby drained his last ball just short of that score prior to the bonus count. However, after adding the bonus, he would squeak by with 29.6M+.

It would come down to the eighth and final round, which would be on Family Guy. I wound up signing off with a 28.5M+, which was a significant lead (and again this is from memory, I was not recording intermediate scores). Colby kept the ball in play for a surprisingly long time, coming quite close but still short with 24.8M+. And that’s the tournament, my somewhat surprising first time finishing first in an IFPA-endorsed event.

As nice as that is, though, that’s not the real story here. There are two real stories here. One is that Houston has a new pinball tournament director. The other is that two brand new players have been introduced to the joy that is competitive pinball.

I’m already looking forward to next month.

Little Dipper and Cidercade, week of March 28

After the Texas Pinball Festival, the following week saw a visit to Little Dipper and a couple of visits to Cidercade. I should note that I am now part of the “nerd herd” (monthly members) at Cidercade. Thus, you will probably start seeing me there a lot more often.

A lot of these scores may seem rather low. I will admit that they probably do not represent my best effort in most cases, as many of these games were just about becoming re-acquainted with these games (beyond what I had time to play at the Texas Pinball Festival where applicable). Of note, Heavy Metal is just a low-scoring game compared to other Stern DMD-era games, and 5 million points is considered extremely good. The high scores at Cidercade are in the 15 to 20 million range if memory serves correctly (will re-verify in the coming weeks).

Gallery 1, Little Dipper, March 28 (after trivia):

Gallery 2, Cidercade (Houston), March 29:

Gallery 3, Cidercade (Houston), April 1: