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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.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:08 p.m. CST

    First! on 1/1/11


    Yipee! PINBALLZ was a blast!

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Are you still hungover Harry?

    by FilmGuy125

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:11 p.m. CST

    Harry, you're not old enough to remember

    by ThisBethesdaSea

    Video games of the seventies. 80s maybe.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:18 p.m. CST


    by Ben Harrison

    is absolutely incredible. I could hardly believe a place like that existed, when the Pre-Pre-BNAT party was hosted there. I'd never seen so many pinball machines in one location. Found a lot of old machines we used to have at a (now closed) movie theatre for a few months at a time. A great spot.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST

    Tempest is awesme

    by GeorgieBoy

    One of my favorite games. Tempest 2000 is even more killer though.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:22 p.m. CST

    I having a hard time

    by kobain

    Trying to decide if I just read a piece of melancholic nonsense essay or a not-so-cleverly disguised ad for this pinball place in Austin. So, which one is it?

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:25 p.m. CST

    starwars vector by atari...

    by The_Cliffster my all time fave... in the sit in cabinet with the booming sampled voices - awesome for 1982 and still great.. :)

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:35 p.m. CST

    How much did they comp you to write this article?

    by ReportAbuse

    "...Has been designed for fun for all ages, 8 to 80!" What do they have against kids under 8 and elders over 80? (Just kidding about that one, but not about the comp question.)

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:43 p.m. CST

    I have 2 tempests for sale if anyone's interested

    by UltraTron

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:45 p.m. CST

    I have over 30 classic machines and you should

    by UltraTron

    come over and party if you're in the la area

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 7:54 p.m. CST

    Yeah Happy New Year guys.

    by phifty2

    Let's hope this year on aicn is as...interesting as the last one.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 8 p.m. CST


    by Noddy93

    i and some friends are driving to austin tomorrow to see tron at the bob bullock (200 mile round trip)... this sounds like a good thing to check out either pre or post. sadly i'm the only one old enough to enjoy the nostalgia of a good arcade.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 8:06 p.m. CST

    and according to their website...

    by Noddy93

    they fucking have XYBOTS!!! i remember some arcade on the drag (in maybe '88) that had Xybots. I was with a troupe of punkers trippin' balls on July 4th and I played that game for what seemed like hours). later that night we walked to the south across the river and as we crossed the bridge we caught the ONE firework set off that year by the city (thanks to rain). it was a beautiful cobalt blue.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 8:19 p.m. CST

    I got the girls in the truck 'bout 6 chicks deep

    by Redhead_Redemption

    and you know if we're rollin' it's straight sexy

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Harry, please change the animation

    by trombone

    Seriously, the image of you eating your own is making me nauseous (no exaggeration, it really is). I know a lot of your animations are gross, but this one is getting 2011 off to a shitty start. I'm sure there's plenty of fun with this, but as soon as I navigate to AICN, I start literally retching.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 9:10 p.m. CST

    Fix the log in issues

    by Redhead_Redemption

    We shouldn't have to re-log in everytime we visit the site, it gets annoying and hurts the talkbacks

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 9:20 p.m. CST

    I wish arcades would make a comeback as well

    by SoylentMean

    When I was little the only real arcades were at the beach boardwalk and the few Putt-Putts that existed in our area. Every year, when my family went to the beach, I had money saved up just for arcades. Because that was a treat. <P> Now, I don't even know if the arcades exist at the boardwalk anymore and all the Putt-Putts are gone. While I enjoy the home console videogames (especially when thinking back to how flippin' excited I was to get an Atari 2600 and later a Sega Genesis) they never really match that experience. <P> You never worry about if the game is gonna eat your quarter.<P> That cacophony of beeps and jangles isn't going to be replicated at home, unless you're super rich. Pinball games were the goddamn lords of beeps and jangles, a mix between the electric and the physical ball bearing interactions of paddles and bumpers. They were and are, art. A celebration of human ingenuity that is dying, or worse, just being ignored.<P> If someone comes along and opens up an arcade and makes it a fun and safe place to have a good time, that actively promotes the fun experience, there's really only one reason it shouldn't succeed, people are too stupid to get off their asses and go have a good time. <P> So good luck to Pinballz. Reminds me of another place I wish would branch out and become a nationwide franchise (ahem, Alamo Drafthouse, ahem).

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 9:22 p.m. CST

    I believe there's now a Pinball Museum in the D.C. area

    by SoylentMean

    It might even be in the city. I dunno.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 10:16 p.m. CST

    I too miss the arcade experience

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Nothing beat that rush of entering an arcade with a pants or jacket pocked loaded with quarters, jumping into the empty slot of a four-player game and getting into the shit with a total stranger who might be your best friend after an hour or two. Having a finite amount of quarters also intensified the experience, making you play a little smarter unless you wanted to spend the last hour before your mom picked you up standing forlornly behind the other guys and watching them play over their shoulders. Nowadays games are EASY as fuck, with a constant barrage of on-screen instructions telling you EXACTLY what to do, but you used to have to WORK at winning the old arcade cabinets. A four-player session of the TMNT arcade game circa 1989 was the SHIT back in the day.

  • Jan. 1, 2011, 10:53 p.m. CST

    You mentioned the rows and rows of pinball

    by jimbojones123

    And my many adventures with Tempest came to mind. Sure enough -- TEMPEST rules 1/3 of the article. You made my day Harry. Thanks.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:01 a.m. CST

    nasty in the pasty

    by phifty2

    I hear what you're saying but about games today telling you what to do but it's not like those old arcade games were exactly headscratchers. You were lucky if the cabinet had two buttons on it. With the virtual console and downloadable games along with top tier titles for each system we gamers have everything we could ask for and I really can't see a reason to complain. Pretty much every game ever made is available in one form or another to have right in your home. If it's the social aspect of the arcade you miss that's another thing but i never really found the people at my local arcade to be anyone I'd want to catch a ride home with.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:04 a.m. CST


    by phifty2

    ...I remember some kid's party at a Razzamataz(sp) where kids were feeding me and my buddy(I was about 10 years old at the time to take the creepy factor out of this) quarters to beat Zenophobe. We never did, but damn we got close.

  • If anything could get me over-excited for pinball, it'd be to play that machine again. Though I see they have a couple others that I recall with fondness related to Spielberg films, like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones. Btw, is it me, or can anyone else envision pinball machines for movies like Avatar and Tron? Or am I just hallucinating out of early-morning hunger?

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:08 a.m. CST

    South FL Classic Pinball/Arcade Event Feb

    by MST3KPIMP

    If your near Ft Lauderdale there will be a killer Pinball/Classic Arcade show in early feb. I went last year and it was a dream come true. Loads of machines to play and admire. Do a search for SFLAPE 2011

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:12 a.m. CST

    Mr. Do!

    by Loosejerk

    Can anyone point me in the direction of a working Mr. Do! cabinet for sale?

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:41 a.m. CST

    Every time I hear this AICN GEEK clarion call...

    by justmyluck

    ...I hear, "Give us your money, kiddies!!!" That said, it's nice to hear there is a pinball preservation/play area that's still dedicated to stealing quarters (or do the PINBALLZ tokens cost more?). My personal favorite was the original KISS and TOMMY and almost anything manufacturer BALLY delivered. The pinball cabinets will eventually succumb to time, so thank heavens for those open source ROM emulators - they're the best preservation of all. Those vector arcade games were habit-forming and, while TEMPEST was certainly cool and installed everywhere, there were vector cabinet conversions called MAJOR HAVOC and GRAVITAR which involved A LOT more skill. The free Mac/PC ROM emulators like MAME are generally fine for those two. You do need a proper controller for particular vintage arcade games, not all. Though, when you're actually losing money on a game cabinet, you take it more seriously and can have a better play session.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:48 a.m. CST

    I agree with Nasty

    by room23storeblogspotcom

    Arcades were so cool back then! I loved hanging out with friends or even people who you didn't know and playing TMNT or Street Fighter or X-Men or Double Dragon. It was even awesome just to watch others play. I miss how back in the 80's every grosery store, restaurant & convenience stores along with Water slide parks and Bowling Alleys had arcade games. Back then 7-11 was the place to hang out because of arcade games, comicbooks (only place to get them in my small town since there weren't actual stores) and Slurpees. I miss how my friend and I would ride our bikes there after school to blow our quarters. <br> <br> Sure theres Virtual Console, but theres just something about the arcade experience. Its kind of the same as the Movie Theater experience. Sure you can pop in a Blu-Ray and watch on your big screen TV, but you don't get the movie going experience.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:55 a.m. CST


    by Quint

    They have an Avatar Pinball game at Pinballz. Haven't played it, but I have put a ton of money into Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Bride of Pinbot, Jurassic Park (very vivid memories of my childhood there) and the T2 arcade game.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 12:56 a.m. CST


    by SebastianHaff

    I want your life.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 1:50 a.m. CST

    a wreath over a fireplace

    by squidman

    looks like a cyclops with a fiery mouth. (looking at a Christmas card on my desk. )

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 3:01 a.m. CST

    Aliens by Konami

    by angry_spacboy

    raped my childhood.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 3:07 a.m. CST

    two weeks of holidays...

    by angry_spacboy

    ...spent standing infront of that fucking machine, filling it with all the money i had, and then filling it with all the money i could steal from my mum and dad.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 3:10 a.m. CST


    by angry_spacboy

    if i would have been old enough, i would have fucked it.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 3:44 a.m. CST

    There's a place outside of Pittsburgh

    by mr.underwater

    <p>That has like triple the machines of the place being pimped here, some dating back to the '30s.</p><p>So if you think pinball is a neat-o novelty like Harry, there are places like pinballz (great name, by the way. gag)</p><p>However, if you seriously love pinball, there are alternatives.</p>

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 4:32 a.m. CST

    Harry was able to rent the place cheaper for this add.

    by Bandit 37

    This is just fucking gay.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 4:47 a.m. CST

    Vector does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Pinballz sounds like a nice 'hobby' for the guy who's financed it. Much better that these groovy old machines can still be played with by the public than stowed away in private.<p> Also, it's an investment that can bring return and enhance the community, rather than buying a Picasso for your mansion at the price of a hospital wing.<p> With TRON LEGACY out it seems like a nice time to give a nod back to the early vector games. Wireframe geometric shapes, pin sharp graphics and ultra fast response times. ASTEROIDS and TEMPEST are prob best known, but as others have mentioned you also have the likes of GRAVITAR and LUNAR LANDER (which sim'd gravity), and my personal fave Atari's STAR WARS.<p> STAR WARS was, and still is a thing of beauty. Sit down cabinet. Flight yoke. Psychadelic colors. Tie Fighters and the trench run... and speakers behind your head so upon blowing up the Death Star you can hear Alec Guiness whisper in your ear - 'the force will be with you always'. Class.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 9:02 a.m. CST

    So this is Harry's New Year Greeting to his readers.

    by UGG

    An advert for a fuckin pinball joint that most reader's have no chance of ever visiting? <p> This site is now beyond a joke. This year will be the death of AICN, or at least Harry's going to sell up and move on.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Happy New Year Harry and to every one else

    by KilliK

    may this new year give us new awesome movies and not the garbages like in the last year.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST


    by SmokingRobot


  • Jan. 2, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    the power of word choice

    by Dollar Bird

    "... he went up to the machine, put some tokens in and was promptly killed within moments."

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 10:45 a.m. CST

    re this site

    by emeraldboy

    Harry moved on when he took over famous you cannot ride bicylces at the same time. harry will have to fall off the aicn bike. and cycle off into the sunset on his famous monsters bike.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 11:17 a.m. CST

    video games SUCK

    by Jeff8A

    You want REAL "old school" dipshidiots? Go play MONOPOLY or YAHTZEE or SCRABBLE.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Move Harry to some nowhere town in Kansas

    by UCB Agent1

    Austin is a great town, but it's easy to lose perspective on the world there. Harry should move to some middle of nowhere town in Kansas, and try to bring "geek culture" to the lonely geeks in small towns, not in geektopia Austin.

  • It seems sites like Deadline are now the place to go if you want a "scoop" and AICN is the place to go if you want to hear about Harry's emotions, bowel movements, and nostalgic ramblings about what it is to be a geek. I think a better (and less misleading) title for this article would be: VISIT PINBALLZ NOW FOR A GOOD TIME, YA'LL!

  • a 40 something i totally dig Harry's nostalgia ''bites'' - dude is simply keeping the ''flame'' alive man - don't harsh him for that. Harry - love what you do and represent - kudo's for your involvement with Famous Monsters and keep on keep'in on brother!

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 3:17 p.m. CST

    Happy New Year fellow geeks!!!!!

    by Jobafet

    There is a place here in Brooklyn called Barcade that is pretty cool, it's more 80's arcades and it's nowhere near as big, but it totally embodies that feeling you're talk about Harry. Hopefully when I'm in Austin in April I can make it to Pinballz it sounds like a blast.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Oh the irony!!

    by gabbygall

    Harry rents an arcade full of standup cabinets and he is in a fucking wheelchair. Way to go idiot!

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Old school gaming is where it's at

    by alienindisguise

    Todays games are for pussies with no real skills. Pinballz sounds like a kick ass place. The only arcade left in my part of the country is in a kmart. I'm glad MAME is around!!!

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Telemarketer does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Telemarketer, yes it's true this site has felt in decline lately.<p> Yes it's true that it still feels borderline broken, having to log in every time you revisit the site to post a comment.<p> Yes it's true that many of the reliable old regulars who were always good for a joke or debate have upped and gone.<p> Yes its true what you say about Harry putting an hour a day into posting and proof reading.<p> But you can't give someone 'friendly' advice 10 minutes after utterly shitting on them, calling the dude a weird fat fuck and insulting his wife!<p> That's the Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde school of advice?<p> Good cop bad cop?<p> Friendly advice just doesnt work when coming from a schizo.<p> ps. if you really are a telemarketer then you have my sympathies. You guys truly are the lowest of the low.

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 11 p.m. CST

    That is a rather crappy list of pinball machines they have.

    by ExcaliburFfolkes

    There isn't a single great machine on there, and very few decent ones, either. Was that really the best they could do?

  • Jan. 2, 2011, 11:47 p.m. CST

    the telemarketer

    by UGG

    The Telemarketer wins the talkback<p> And some even from the past and future.<p>Well said.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 9:36 a.m. CST

    The best part of Tron Legacy

    by skycrapper

    was when he flipped the power on at Flynn's arcade and the old 80's style jukebox was blairing "Separate Ways", man THAT took me back.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST


    by D.Vader


  • Jan. 3, 2011, 12:06 p.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    you had me at 'im not a telemarketer'.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 2:07 p.m. CST

    excaliburffolkes huh?

    by MST3KPIMP

    were you kidding about that Pinball list? It's actually quite astonishing esp in this day and age. Monster Bash, Scared Stiff, Star Trek TNG, Twilight Zone, BOTH Indy machines, Dr. Who ect. I'm curious as to what machines would make the list "impressive" for you.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Does anyone play Visual Pinball?

    by MST3KPIMP

    Its a pinball simulator you run on your PC that a talented group keep alive with tables and tech. I got into it like 10 years ago and its really come along with quality tables and playing characteristics. Nothing beats the real thing but this is quite awesome & allows you to play any table from history.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Hey Harry

    by D.Vader

    How about spending some more time making AICN better. And by better, I mean before it took a huge landslide into black hole of suck it is now, man. Its sad.

  • Jan. 3, 2011, 2:26 p.m. CST

    I meant that as a New Year's resolution

    by D.Vader

  • Jan. 4, 2011, 2:43 p.m. CST

    Hey D. Vader

    by room23storeblogspotcom

    Its good to have you back. Theres a Lost discussion over at Hercules top 10 Talkback.