May 15: An epic run on Whirlwind

With the twin monster scores of two nights ago still fresh on my mind, I decided once again to descend upon Poison Girl for a few more games of Whirlwind, and possibly other games, depending on how the first few went.

Let’s just say that I surprised myself by putting up a score I didn’t even think was possible. But first a bit of history…

I have some very fond memories of playing this game growing up. I don’t think I ever broke 10 million all those years, not once. Getting the million plus shot (basically, the multiball jackpot) once was enough to put me over the moon. I don’t have any notes from back then but I think my best from that era was something like 9.3M+.

Fast forward to today, and a “good game” for me starts at 10M. To get an idea of the scale of this game on this particular evening, my score had already rocketed to 38.7M+ by the end of the first ball (including extra balls). I would sign off with 48,150,810 including three multiballs and a maxed-out 99 skyway tolls. Good for a new grand champion score, and good enough to have completely taken over the high score list on this particular machine.

What really stands out about this one, though, was it was my very first game on this machine after walking into the bar. There is a definite parallel here between this and a typical tournament situation where I would need to “catch lightning in a bottle” as I once described it.

No, I’m not done playing Whirlwind at Poison Girl yet. It’s still a fun game to play (possibly even my all-time favorite at this point), even if I don’t run the score counter up to stratospheric numbers.

May 13: Not a typical night at the bar

Saturday night was another trip over to Poison Girl for a well-earned pinball break after an afternoon/evening at work. I actually walked past some credits someone had left on Iron Maiden to coin up Whirlwind. Now I didn’t set a new grand champion score or, for that matter, even make the high score list, which I myself have inflated with some stratospheric numbers (see previous posts).

No, the surprise here may not seem like much to wizards who think nothing of rolling the score counter on a game like Whirlwind. But I do feel it’s a potential watershed moment in my progress as a pinball player. For the first time in a long while, I put up two monster scores on the same game, not just in the same outing, but back-to-back: 32.5M+ and 28.1M+. In one of these games I had 97 skyway tolls (and I’ve previously finished with 98 skyway tolls before as well, one short of the 99 needed to max them out), and in one of these I think was the first time I’ve hit multiple million ramps in quick multiball.

Since I have only been posting the very highest score for non-tournament outings, it’s impossible for most readers of this blog to realize this next point unless I come out and say it. My usual pattern of play almost never involves two games this good, this close together. Prior to the 32.5M+ game I had five games all under 10M, with only one of those over 8M and at least one not good enough for a replay.

The replay score, incidentally, was at 5.0M on arrival, and not too long ago was at 4.6M. I would venture a guess that a lot of that increase is my handiwork. (Any reasonably modern game–and Whirlwind is recent enough to quality as “reasonably modern” here–has a feature called “auto-percentaging” for replay scores and sometimes other features. This feature automatically adjusts the replay score based on how many have been awarded; if the percentage is higher than the set amount, the replay score goes up and, likewise, down if the percentage is lower.) It’s also notable that the number of extra balls I’ve been winning has caused the first skyway toll extra ball level to go up to 8, and I predict it will probably settle down at 10 or higher sometime in the next month or so. (I think the factory default is 6.)

I know this took a while; this event was such that it needed its own post. The next one needs its own post as well…

April 28 through May 9: Avengers, lizards, and winds, oh my

April 28: Travels took me back through Beaumont once again, just in time to check out the new pinball arrival at Colorado Canyon, Avengers: Infinity Quest. Not really one of my all-time favorite games, but I still think it’s fun. To be honest, I spent more money on redemption (ticket) games, most notably a Spongebob Squarepants-themed coin pusher game. No pictures from that, but the other picture is one of my better scores on Skee-Ball.

May 5: My first stop turned out to no longer have the pinball machine listed on Pinball Map, so it was off to Del-Mar Lanes to play some Godzilla as I was already about halfway there and had meant to drop by for quite a while. After I was done I played Pac-Man Battle Royale Chompionship Edition (yes, the name is actually spelled like that) because I noticed someone had put in 50 cents towards a $1 credit, and I figured, why not. Yes, that’s five pictures for Godzilla because of all the mode high scores.

May 7: I finally make it down to Einstein’s Pub in Katy. My main reason for this trip was to play Foo Fighters and properly evaluate this game for once, a little over a month after playing it in the tournament. Of course, that’s not the only noteworthy item: I finally made the high score list on Hoops. Now that I’ve learned how to score the big points on this game, I’ll probably be playing it a lot more often. Admittedly, most of the best scores on this trip are kind of blah save for Hoops, Stars, Foo Fighters, and maybe Beatles.

May 8: Trivia night at Little Dipper. No other takers for a pinball social night as advertised, unfortunately. Of particular note was my run of 288.4M+ on Creature of the Black Lagoon, good for a new third place on the high score board, including the first time I’ve made the super jackpot shot during multiball. For once I feel like I’m finally within striking distance of the current grand champion score of 310M+.

May 9: Poison Girl. Whirlwind has a working coin mechanism once again, so that’s what I spend most of my time playing. And it was time well spent: 36.3M+ after a series of games where I had trouble breaking the 10M mark. Later in the same session I was able to make three Million Plus shots during multiball for the first time. The 36.3M+ game here featured another “Skyway Paid For” max-out of the skyway tolls, as well as three multiballs and collecting two specials (one from the sixth multiball lock, one from the Mega Door Bonus). Between this and the previous night’s run on Creature, I’m really starting to feel like I finally have my pinball groove back. I just need to carry momentum like this with me into a major tournament somehow.

(Edit 2023-05-12: Replaced picture of 3rd and 4th high scores with a different frame from the same video, as the previous photo actually had a couple of artifacts from the start of the animation leading to a potentially wrong reading of the scores.)