Hey everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Harry here, and it is strange how New Year celebrations wear the brain down. I mean, last night I rented this new arcade in town, PINBALLZ - themed the party to the 70's - due to the fact this place has 13,000 square feet of Vintage Arcade joygasms.
I bring this up, because if anything - the mere existence of PINBALLZ shows an encouraging trend for geek kind. I know about places like DAVE & BUSTERS and their ilk. They're fun places, but there's something that feels wrong about them. They're... corporate. They're missing any sense of personal style.
PINBALLZ has 91 different stand-up Pinball machines going back into the 1960s. The place feels like a museum, but you can play with everything. I've been quickly falling in love with this joint, I don't have any relation to the place, but last night around 2:30am I was talking to the owners and just asking where and how this place came to exist. Turns out - he's a guy who owns a couple of Tech companies here in Austin, who has decided he needed a cool hobby that could help teach his sons about business and responsibility. SO - he's put together an Arcade. The best arcade I've ever been to.
If you're around my age - and you have strong memories of arcades in the Seventies, you can remember the sound. Remember that sensation. When it was oh... 70% Pinball noise, but with a bit of noise coming from the birth of Video Games along a small portion of the arcade? Well, last night - when we had about 100 folks all playing Pinball and games at the same time, the sound was... amazing.
You could lose yourself in it. From about 8:30pm till 2:30am we all became Pinball Wizards.
Why would I write about this place, on the first day of the New Year?
Simple. I want people to discover PINBALLZ, I want other folks around the country to think about it. Too often we disappear into our computers, play emulations of classic games... but TEMPEST sucks on your computer and it is unbearably awesome in the Cabinet model. And those classic games, they're hard. Getting to the red levels on TEMPEST takes skill, real skill. Because you can't put a token in to continue the game, you have to do it all on your own. That's old school.
It was so much fun last night when my nephew, who had been observing me & a few friends playing TEMPEST against one another - then we stood around talking for a bit, and he went up to the machine, put some tokens in and was promptly killed within moments. He's 10. But I have to say, perhaps amongst my favorite moments of Uncle-hood, was when he asked me, "Uncle Harry, can you teach me how to play TEMPEST?"
My god, the smile that hit me was one that put dimples upon my soul. I went up to the machine, put my tokens in, and then had the best game of TEMPEST I've played in over 23 years. There was something about showing my nephew the tricks of TEMPEST. Rapid hitting of the fire button, as opposed to holding it down. Not wild spinning, but controlled. The right angle to kill those flipping bastards when they get to your level. It was so sad, I got one level from RED before dying. Sometimes it is those simple things. He'll quickly be able to destroy me, if he practices - but that's what those old school games required. Practice.
Now that I'm coming down from the aches & pains of New Year's celebration, I figure that I owe all of you a December's worth of DVD Columns, I'm pretty far along on it, let's see if I can get it out before the end of today. HAPPY NEW YEAR - let this be the year that you live your dreams and indulge in the fun you deserve.