Saying hi, playing lots of real pinball for 1st time in 20 years!


New member
May 4, 2012
Hi, this is invitro, I used to post a lot here until TPA and then Zen/Williams slowed down or stopped making new stuff. I finally made it out to two "retro" arcades about 30 minutes from me (they opened a few years ago; I had some driving problems that prevented me from going earlier). They both are just wonderful, packed with new and old pinball machines in very good condition, and I've been playing tons of pinball at them for the last four weekends. This is the first time in about 20 years since I've played pinball regularly, and I thought this might never happen, at least without me moving to a new city. It's (almost) as much fun as it ever was, and I can still play well, and I'm just ecstatic at this! :)

I'm wonderfully surprised at how *good* some of the new Stern machines are. The arcades have: Mandalorian, Jurassic Park, Stranger Things, Elvira House of Horrors, Avengers Infinity Quest, Ghostbusters, TMNT, Deadpool, and a couple non-Stern games like Houdini and Hobbit (I don't know if those games are new). I am mainly a fan of 1990's Williams/Bally machines, and have often bemoaned that Stern machines are just nowhere near the quality of the WMS games.

I'm shocked and very happy to say that these new Sterns are at least at the level of the average WMS game! They may not be quite as good as the very best, top 10 WMS games like TZ, TAF, MM, AFM, but some of them fit in very well with the next tier of WMS games (WWater, ToM, whatever counts as second-tier for you).

My favorites right now are Stranger Things and Jurassic Park. I've played both dozens of times and am not close to getting bored. They both have really fun playfields, good (if uninspired) rules, great art (especially JP), and great video (especially STh). Right now I'd put STh about #20 on the IPDb rankings, which means a lot coming from me. Elvira HoH will probably be with those two if/when it gets fixed; my local machine currently has both ramps broken (I've sent an email and talked about it to the clerks). Mandalorian and AIQ are both lots of fun and just a step behind.

One of the arcades is all Stern (7 of them), and seems to get new games frequently (I think Manda is pretty new). The other arcade has a whopping 40 machines, a few Sterns but mostly 1990's WMS and DE/Sega and Premier. This one has a WCS in great condition that I've been loving, but unfortunately most of the other 1990's WMS games (TAF, Dracula, WWater) have pretty big problems. They also have some alphanumerics (BoP, Cyclone, Grand Lizard) that are in very good shape.

Adding to my joy, these places are cheap! The seven-Stern arcade lets you pay for a credit at a time (with a card), and a credit costs only $1, and I get $30 of credits for $20, making games even cheaper now than they were 20 years ago! And if I get replays and high scores, then I get free games, just like in the old days. The other arcade costs $10/day, which is more (I'm averaging paying $6/day at the Stern arcade), but still a great deal since I stay for about two hours when I go.

I'm shocked to see that my pinball skills seem to be about what they were 20 years ago. I have three Grand Champions, and #2 or higher on the other machines I play the most. I haven't had a monster game yet, but hopefully that's coming. I'm actually hoping to fly to one of the big tournaments after a year of practice time, if my skills keep improving. I am keeping in mind that I'm over 50 years old, and my reaction time and coordination will certainly start dropping soon, but apparently that hasn't happened yet. :) :)

I think all my time on TPA and Zen really did help my pinball skills not get stale.

This is just a "I'm really happy that I'm playing pinball again and it's pretty much what it used to be" post, or "you can go home again." It's a great feeling, especially for a middle-aged man like me who spends a lot of time missing the good old days of the 1990's.

I hope everyone's doing well, and has some sort of pinball activity. I'll bet there will be another great pinball video game in a few years, featuring lots of these new Stern games as well as the WMS classics. It may take a while, as the very high quality of new Sterns probably means there is less demand for computer pinball -- I know that I have no desire to play a game like TPA right now, since I've got the real thing.

Best regards, invitro

Jeff Strong

Staff member
Feb 19, 2012
That's fantastic news, man! I'm so happy to hear you've stumbled upon a couple pin gold mines. Sounds like you're having a blast, and the fact that you still have the skills is icing on the cake. I guess all the digital practice paid off! :cool:


Jul 9, 2012
Sounds Great!
Much Envy!!!

I'm just very happy right now to have access to my cab which at least gives me a "taste" of real Pinball.

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