If there is one place that I love going on a trip or vacation, it’s Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas lives up to all of its favorite cliches and sayings it’s earned over the years. The sights, the sounds, the thrill of gambling, entertainment, this city seems to have it all. Since 2014, I try to visit at least once a year. Of all of the places in Las Vegas that I like to visit, there is always one place that I go to on every visit, the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Located on Tropicana Ave, The Pinball Hall of Fame opened up on November 3, 2009. The Pinball Hall of Fame is an attempt to house and display the world’s most extensive collection of pinball games open to the public. It was founded as a not-for-profit museum, with excess revenues going to non-denominational charities. A 10,000 square feet gaming pavilion, you can find many classic games spanning several decades. Pinball games from various companies such as Gottlieb, Bally’s, Stern’s Pinball and more going back as far as the 1950s. A place that seems to draw inspiration from classic arcades from the late 1970s to early 1980s, there aren’t any ticket dispensing games like you find at Dave and Buster’s or Chuck E Cheese. It’s a near real pinball experience with some arcade games to try and recreate that experience.
The Pinball Hall of Fame was founded by Tim Arnold. In 1976 he opened up a gaming arcade called Pinball Pete’s in Michigan. In 1990, Tim sold his interest in the arcades and moved to Vegas for his “retirement” and took his pinball collection with him. Deciding that he could do more with his free time, he took his near 1,000 machines and opened up The Pinball of Fame.
While I like to play almost any video game. I also do like to play pinball. It’s games that require skill and luck to get a hi-score, while most video games can have typical patterns and layouts that you follow to get a hi-score or beat the competition. I’ve always liked the challenge that the pinball game can give me. Whether it’s trying to access new areas of the table or getting an exciting multi-ball frenzy with the flip of the left or right paddle. Unfortunately, there are somewhat hard to come by whenever I go to most arcades, and I can see why. Pinball tables can take up a lot of room and can be the length of 2 or 3 arcade games put back to back. A near infinite playing experience, I don’t get the same closure that I could with an arcade game if I either beat it or get a high score. Pinball machines don’t dispense tickets to reward a player with prizes, only the chance of a free game if you get the required score. The only other way you can win a free game on pinball is to match the last two digits of your score with a randomly generated two digit number and get a free game, a feat that seems to be near impossible to do. I have done this, but it’s only been either a handful of times or when I get a hi-score.
The cost of the games here is anywhere from $0.25 to $1.00, with most of the newer games costing a dollar. There is an excellent variety of pinball games ranging from the 1950s to today to play. Many games go from basic and bland, exciting and loud, to strange but appealing themes. I always have a great time when I visit this place. I could spend $10, $20 or even more I’m left unchecked. But $10 can last an hour and a half, at least for me.
For me, I missed out on experiencing the golden age of arcades. Of course, I was only a few years old during this period, and the video game crash prevented me from being part of that experience. This is the closest that I feel, I will get to that experience, in terms of pinball. The darkened room full of pinball games, the clanging of the bumpers, the flipping of the paddles, and dinging as the scoreboards go up, to even the few retro arcade games that this place houses. It’s a feeling of a time that I won’t be able to fully experience but appreciate that someone was able to attempt and recreate it for me.
I also was able to learn more about pinball games at this place. It’s interesting to see and discover many of the amusement games that came out over the years. There is an index card on some of the machines that give a little history describing each machine. Things I was unaware of like how many machines of each game was produced or the year that each table came out. This only seems to apply on the older machines as most of the modern era machines (ones that were from the late 1980s and newer) didn’t have this. While I appreciate the history, the presentation feels a bit cheap. I don’t know what resources, time and dedication to this are, but something could be used to help enhance the history and educate someone of each old game. For example, have something scan your smartphone with a QR code to take them to a webpage listing the past or even a stand next to the game with typed out notes on a stand, maybe even a flyer to educate guests more on pinball history, games, and the people involved with making them. Otherwise, it’s still nice to get some kind of account with most of the games.
What I thought was awesome is that pinball games are still being made today. Finding games like Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy, and some based on rock music like Megadeth and Aerosmith. It’s great to see that pinball is still going on today. Of course, I like to play some classic games as well. My only understanding gripe with the old games is they don’t work the way that they should. I ran into problems with the flipper’s not responding or the bumpers registering to my score. But with games that are 40-50 years old, I can understand they won’t work like they had once worked in the past and can still have fun and be given a challenge.
There are some basic snack foods there as well. You can get popcorn for a quarter and purchase various beverages at a soda machine. There is no full-on snack bar or food pavilion, but I’m okay with that. With many of these games being classic and most likely not able to get replacement parts for these games, I’d hate to see someone spill food or drink on them. Whenever I’m there, I hardly see anyone eating or leaving food or drinks on the machines. It’s nice to see some people show respect to these machines.
One thing that impressed me here is the are other arcade games this place has. Besides arcade games, these are old amusement games that seemed not to have been mentioned in many online videos and have been lost. These are basic amusement games that are either really impressive for their time, or show their age and are outdated. It’s nice to discover some new that never was mentioned by others in the context of gaming. Check out Pinball Hall of Fame at http://www.pinballmuseum.org if you are interested in this pace and the topic of pinball.
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