I had taken the day off on Friday to spend some more time with Chris before he leaves for a long work trip, and our hopes of taking a hike or motorcycle ride were dashed when a drizzly rain greeting us in the morning. In search of something interesting indoors, we discovered PinFest 2015, a pinball show being held in Allentown, just about an hour’s drive away. Curious, we set off for it.
Wow! I had never seen so many pinball machines in my life! Turns out this gathering is a pretty big deal in the pinball world. In addition to over 200 free-play machines (with your $17 entry) there is a flea market style area where you can buy, sell, or trade parts as well as an ongoing weekend tournament. Many of the games set up for free play were also for sale- some with contact information for the seller, others with big SOLD signs on them. After wandering around and seeing all the different mechanical elements of both the classic games and the newer ones, we had a blast trying out tons of the machines. I am not very good at pinball. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t believe the way people here were talking about techniques of tilting and aiming. I just hit the flippers when the ball comes toward them and hope for the best!
The older games are fairly simple, just two flippers at the bottom and various little targets for your ball to hit, usually with a mechanical scorekeeping system and old wooden accents. Newer games have all sorts of bells and whistles. Lights and sounds triggered by hitting certain things, complicated bonus rounds, tunnels, ramps, and bridges for the balls to glide across. Some even have three or four flippers, and many have levels that encourage having more than one ball in play. Some of the old ones were too boring and some of the new ones were too convoluted, so I found myself drawn to the “middle of the road” games that had classic features but interesting details.
We spent the better part of the day there. Somewhere around machine number 20, I lost count. We easily tried over two dozen different ones, playing countless games on each one before moving on. Many of them were themed toward specific brands or franchises- we saw Star Wars, Baywatch, Harley Davidson, NBA, Playboy, NASCAR, Batman, and many others. We stayed away from the tournament area though, the participants took their pinball very seriously!
Prior to this, I couldn’t remember when I last played a real pinball game. It was certainly a unique experience and a fun way to spend a rainy day.