Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Still here...

They're wrapping up season five of the Duke City Pinball League this week... Putting together a plan to bring several games from local collectors up to Denver in June for the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown... Duke City Pinball on Facebook is still the go-to hub for what's going on with the local community...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bigger Than Ever...

Two years to the day of our last post here...

Since then, we started and completed Season One of the Duke City Pinball League and are currently in the middle of Season Two.   My wife and I now have one-year-old twins and very little time for pinball (thank goodness for League nights!)  A very popular pinball mod business has sprung up in the area (Mezelmods.com, go check them out).  EM Pinball ABQ has grown and has a shop packed full of pinball machines right near the heart of the city.  PinballMap.com has it's own Albuquerque section now. The Facebook group has grown to over 100 members, many of which have fantastic collections right here in the Albuquerque Area.

You can always email me at dukecitypinball@gmail.com, but the Facebook group is definitely the best way to stay alert to new pins, new sales, league information, tournament information and more.

Keep in touch and thanks for checking out, DukeCityPinball.com!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Duke City Pinball Open House - June 2012

Albuquerque area pinballers... I'd like to invite you all to the first Duke City Pinball open house of 2012. It's been far too long since we've had a get-together, but we will be hosting a pinball open house at our home on Saturday, June 30th at 4pm.

Come play pinball and hang out with other pinheads, enter a tournament or two for fun and prizes, it'll be potluck-style, so bring some food to share and be ready to enjoy lots of different items from our talented members!

Admission is free, but tournaments will likely have a buy-in. RSVP for directions. Family and guests are welcome. Children must be attended, please.

Tournament games and rules will be announced soon, to allow time for everyone to bone up on the games involved. Titles available for play include: Twilight Zone, Road Show, Judge Dredd, Congo, The Simpsons Pinball Party, 1963 Beat the Clock, Pin*Bot, Tales of the Arabian Nights, World Cup Soccer 94 and an unannounced Stern game I guarantee you haven't played before (assuming it arrives in time)!

Hope to see you soon!
Don and Fotini Walton

Don't forget to check out the DukeCityPinball Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/94351446988/

Friday, March 2, 2012

Albuquerque Pinball Map

Albuquerque has been added to PinballMap.com!  PinballMap.com is the biggest/best pinball map on the web, and now you can browse machines and locations right here in the Duke City.  At this time, 23 locations with nearly 40 machines have been listed.

Users can add machines, edit descriptions about prices and condition, request new locations, post high scores for citywide bragging rights and more!  Very cool... Thank you Portland Pinball Map for including the Albuquerque area and helping pinheads all over the country find some silverball action while visiting...

In addition to the online element, The Pinball Map is available on iTunes and the Android Marketplace!  FOR FREE!  Download it now and take the map with you as you travel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pinball FX2/Zen Pinball Table Breakdown


So, you've got 'real life' pinball players and you've got video gamers.  There are some of us that are familiar with both worlds, but it seems as those many pinball players don't know where to start with current generation video gaming, and many video gamers think pinball died years ago.  Despite this, Pinball FX2 was the highest selling XBox Live game of 2011.  That means that there are lots of video gamers who are interested in playing the silverball, and probably quite a few pinheads who have stepped into the realm of virtual pinball.

Pinball FX2 is currently the premier place to go for pinball on a console.  The team at Zen Pinball (developers of PBFX2) have been regularly adding new tables and content to the game since it's launch in October of 2010.  Also, many of these tables have been ported over to 'Zen Pinball' on the PS3 and in its mobile phone version.  The tables are sold piecemeal for the most part, meaning that you can buy the tables you are interested in, without buying tables you may not like.  I recently noticed that people just don't know where to start, which tables are worth buying, and which ones they should pass on.  As a pinball enthusiast, I find myself supporting the hobby and have purchased all of the tables available currently.  As such, I aim to write this guide to the tables, from the perspective of someone who is familiar with 'real' pinball machines, as well as their virtual counterparts.  It should also be noted, that on many platforms, the tables may be played once as a 'demo' before purchasing the table.

Pinball FX Core Pack
Consists of four tables: Rome, Pascha, Secrets of the Deep and BioLab. (800 points)

Rome (Similar to 'Medieval Madness' with the trunk from 'Theatre of Magic')
- Great art package, including nice DMD animations
- Water ramps!  I wish this could work on a real life pin...
- Very clear inserts and playfield text
- Challenging Skill Shot
- Many shots can be hit from each flipper (ie. backhand)

- The ball moves very quickly through the inlanes, may be difficult for new players.
- Compared to the other tables in the 'Core Pack', there is not as much going on with this one.

Coming Soon:
- Pasha
- Secrets of the Deep
- Bio-Lab

Pinball FX Classic Pack
Consists of four tables: Speed Machine, Xtreme, Agents and Buccaneer.

Speed Machine (mirrored version of Whitewater)

- Nice job retheming Whitewater to a street racing theme
- Sharp design and look, unlike anything in pinball right now
- Great flow... fast and smooth without being overwhelming, but still challenging
- Fun modes and 'vehicle upgrades'

- Inserts are difficult to read
- Irritating sound effects (crackling electricity, Model T-era horn sounds, giggling girls, etc.)
- Boring trance soundtrack
- Center playfield can feel a little claustrophobic
- No skill shot?
- Mode selection moves too quickly

- Hit the upper loop and whirlpool shots during multiball to occupy a ball while you focus your shots with the others.

Xtreme (mirrored version of Black Knight 2000)

- A low scoring game is always refreshing...
- Your mother seems to be keeping score and issuing bonuses
- An 'xtreme' sports theme 15 years too late...
- The slingshot plastics are boring.
- Black Knight 2k without the art and theme song just feels dry...

- Play one of the many other available tables.

Agents (mirrored version of Star Trek: The Next Generation)

- Very cool sharpshooter skill shot
- Pop Bumper animation... A little dude does karate moves.  He changes poses with each pop of the bumpers.  Neat idea...
- The Borg ship returns... as an oil tanker...
- The outlanes are much easier to manage than in STTNG!
- Controller vibration increases as timed modes count down.

- 'Picard maneuver' is disabled!  That's THE shot on STTNG.  This time the shot is interrupted by the jet bumpers.
- Many shots lead to 'saucers' that interrupt the flow of the game.
- The slingshot hand 'cannons' are for show only... They do not function in the game.
- Mode selection moves too quickly

- Triple shot jackpot all day long...

Buccaneer (The Addams Family)

- Great art design.  Classic style that is as much fun to look at as it is to play.
- Is that Danny Trejo?
- Bomb Bumpers.  FIVE jet bumpers are a lot of fun.
- Based on the best selling flipper pin of all time, The Addams Family.

- The upper flippers are difficult to see in most views.
- The generic soundtrack becomes grating.
Overall: Alhough the 'Classic' pack lacks much of the flair of the newer tables, and Xtreme feels like a misstep, the tables are still fun and worth adding to your PBFX2 collection. Recommended

Coming Soon...
- Marvel Pack (Wolverine, Spiderman, Blade, Iron Man)
- Marvel: Vengeance & Virtue Pack (Moon Knight, Thor, Ghost Rider, X-Men)
- Fantastic Four
- Captain America
- Mars
- Ms. Splosion Man
- Sorcerer's Lair
- Paranormal
- Rocky & Bullwinkle
- Earth Defense
- Excalibur
- Nightmare Mansion
- Super Street Fighter II

- The Hulk

My gamertag is CallMeSteam if you'd like to compare scores or bump up your wizard score.  Comments, suggestions and corrections are welcomed.

Sources: Zen Pinball Forums

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Snowball Effect

So, I was playing a friends 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' game the other day, and noticed how easy the 'Picard' shot was.  It got me looking at mine, and I thought my upper flipper might need a little adjustment.

I dug in, did my adjusting and then noticed that my lower right flipper might need a little tweak as well.  I adjusted it, but thought... ah... that flipper is a little discolored, I might as well see if I have a spare new flipper on hand.  Sure enough, swapped it out, and saw the real different between a nice, fresh new flipper, and a 20 year old, beat to heck flipper... You can see the difference as well in the above photo.

Then I figured, well... while I'm here, I might as well swap the left flipper out too...

I just played a game with my new flippers, and they look great.  More interestingly, they FEEL better.  Why?  Well, the old flippers were actually cracked!  They both had small, but long cracks along the tips of the flippers.  I don't know if this really made a difference, but the game sure feels differently.  I still need to go back in and swap out the upper right flipper, but she's on her way...

And while I was in there I gave the Borg entry and Borg lock switches a tap in Test Mode to turn off the alarm (it's been a LOOOOONG time since I've hit those shots, and the game noticed!)...  Hey!  I never claimed to be a GOOD player! *cough*


In similar news, I met a couple engineers/pinheads locally recently, and they really got me to nut up a bit and try some tougher fixes.  To step out of my comfort zone a little bit.  I'm taking baby steps, but I'm actually trying to narrow down board issues now.  And thinking a bit more outside of my usual box.  It feels great...

What's going on in your pinworld right now?


ALSO... new pins on the Albuquerque Pinball Map!  Go check it out and see if you have some new pins in your area...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'Medieval Madness' Madness!

A friend of mine recently purchased a Medieval Madness machine. It's in pretty good shape, except that the castle didn't work! Well, as anyone who has played MM knows, the castle is the biggest toy in the game. The previous owner included a replacement gate/drawbridge assembly. I looked up instructions on how to replace the assembly online, and was shocked to find that the instructions were over 20 pages long! (Here's a link to the tutorial.)

 So, with a stack of instructions in hand, I set out to swap the gate assemblies. Besides shopping an entire game, this is one of the largets projects I've worked on. I figured it would take about 5 hours, and I was right on. That included time to install Cliffy protectors and plastic protectors, and clean anything I came across. Besides stalling out while testing the gate. It did take about 4.5 hours. Unlike the instructions, I opted to unsolder the optos, and that only took a moment. I assume its much faster to unsolder and resolder the optos, than to pull all the wires out, one by one, but both methods work.

Here's a few photos I snapped along the way:

Here you see the old mech in the foreground, and the new mech behind it. The silver disc on the drawbridge is a weight that was added to allow the drawbridge to drop. I'm not sure why this was needed, the only issue seemed to be the obviously broken gate (in the top photo you see that it snapped clear in half!). A little adjustment of the set screws and switches on the drawbridge link allows you to properly raise or lower the bridge. I also found shards of soda cans taped to the underside of the gate. Someone needed shims and got creative! We've all been there...

Here's a shot underneath the game, with the mech and moat removed. It's a pretty large hole.

This is a shot with the exploding castle mech removed, as well as the stone pathway into the castle. In order to install the Cliffy around the sinkhole here, I had to remove the catapult and left ramp, as well as much of this area. I removed much more for the Cliffy than I did to actually replace the gate mech! I love seeing that clean, untouched wood though... niiiice... 

It was fun, and I learned a bit about MM. Namely, DON'T TRUST TEST MODE. I was able to get each item to work in test mode, but not all together in order to pass the test. I finally got fed up and just played a game, and it worked perfectly in game mode! We played about a dozen games, and it worked great every time! Don't be afraid to dig into your pins. Most were made with operators in mind, and are somewhat easy to pull apart. If you don't trust yourself, take lots of photos! Every time I have to mess with soldering, I take lots of photos to be certain and get all the different colored wires in the correct spot. Mixing wires leads to more repairs! Now onto that playfield swap....