Feb 062012

Pinball Arcade screenshotPinball Arcade, an extensible collection of pinball tables from multiple eras is set to hit iOS devices on Thursday.

Sadly, the web page is more or less useless, and the description and updates are available on Facebook only.

The game ships with four tables, with more to be released as DLC on a monthly interval.

The visuals are impressive, but as usual, a pinball game either lives or dies on how it feels.

May 122011

Noted, disappointed, that the National Pinball Museum‘s opening hours conflict spectacularly with the visit. The museum is open only on weekends (with weekend counted from Thursday evening onwards), and the visit ends on that very day.

Would have been interesting to visit, especially since Finland has got very few recent games. Then again, the museum’s spectacularly unobvious web pages do not actually list its contents, so it might have been nothing but a stronghold for the older style electro-mechanical boards.

For comparison, this guy’s collection, clocking in in at 700 pinball machines, is nothings short of impressive, either.

Jul 292009

Amnesty International posterThings that I learned today:

There was a sequel to Wasteland.

The Guns n’ Roses-pinball machine contains a song, Ain’t Going Down, that is unavailable anywhere else.

Avalon Hill’s Diplomacy is 50 years old. And there’s a presentation about the game in this weekend’s Ropecon.

Kolonists seems resemble Settlers of Catan (also headed onto the iphone) uncomfortably much.

Amnesty International creates awesome posters as seen to the right (this is an old one, so no link to the related campaign).

An umbrella is much more useful in the backpack than on the bed (this was actually not a new issue, but repetition works wonders).

Nov 102008

Attended a gamenight at Lemmy’s on saturday after having missed two previous in a row.

The two new pinball machines, Doctor Who and Theatre of Magic were designed and built in the early nineties. Both of them were nice enough to play, though I never really got a good game going with either. The latter is packed with shots and collectibles, and the former with a nicely elaborated lock-scheme.

On the console-side missed all NHL-action, and participated in Warioware as little as was polite – Nintendo really ought to come up something newer in the low barrier of entry party game-front. Brought in the original Scene It! movie trivia game, which was both respected and vilified – the games do drag on a bit, and are not of much interest to anybody with less than a casual interest in films. The newest of the new entries was Pacific Right the sequel to Motor Storm, one of the launch games for PS3. The intervening year or so has been used well by the producer – this time there’s more variety in the track selection, and most importantly a functional split-screen multiplayer mode. Managed to suck at it less than usual in driving games.

May 242008

Managed to get some real pinball therapy (following the less than well-played tournament yesterday).

Walked past an unoccupied new Indiana Jones machine in Kinopalatsi, and just had to give it a go.

The game is obviously new, and the machinery very responsive. Thus the play was as smooth as possible. The game is rather forgiving, and especially the center post between flippers will cause long ball times. It took a while to get used to the presence of the post, and managed to fumble two balls in the first game partially on its account.

The second game went much better, got a couple of multiballs going (including the eight ball Grail mode) and scored enough for a replay. The shots on the game seemed to be rather forgiving, and for a player who consistently struggles with the mode selection on the 1993-vintage Indy, this is a very welcome change indeed.

Needless to say, I liked the game a lot, and will definitely head back for the game, and will consider participating in the Pelika-organized contest to be held next weekend.

May 242008

Participated in the Sörkka Pinball Open contest yesterday evening, and have absolutely no illusions whether I’ll make it to the finals today. Managed to suck so bad at the tables, that a decent ranking would be nothing would be downright insulting.

The setting of the qualification part of the tournament was simple – score well on six tables, half of them old, half of them new – the watershed being the year 1988.

Started the effort with the oldest game of the bunch: Surf Champ, and managed to get a respectable score (meaning that it beat at least the two guys who’d been playing before me). But the old table never felt comfortable, and I wasn’t looking forward to the other two old pins at all.

I’ve never got Indiana Jones figured out, and this time the goings on were further complicated by the very fickle mode-starting cup – out of five hits four bounced out, and the lone completed mode (path of adventure) didn’t really rack up the score. The new Indiana Jones pinball (to celebrate the arrival of the fourth movie) was no longer news to anybody but me – I’d completely missed out its delivery to the two multiplex theatres in Helsinki. Definitely something to check out later today.

My turn at Cirqus Voltaire turned out even worse. I’ve never played so bad on that table – managed no ringmaster defeats at all, and I can’t even remember the resulting score. No explanation, just managed to blow through the game without achievements – which is uncharacteristic, this is a game I actually like, and have played quite a bit. At this point it was pretty clear that the final sixteen would require comprehensively serious heroics on the remaining three tables.

And the fourth game wasn’t too bad. Despite initial misgivings (and two very nasty side-drains) on Fireball, the last few balls gathered a positive outcome from the old table. Too bad the game broke under heavy use, and the scores were disqualified in the ranking.

Next to Fireball stood Mr. and Mrs. Pacman, a game I’d never seen before. And the first encounter wasn’t really positive as I managed to get the three balls drained in record time (no ball-saver was obviously employed). This ranked as the lowest point of the evening, and I spent the singular replay on the video-game inspired table. To an even lower score, and probably a position in the very lowest group on this table.

The last qualification game I played was Junkyard, and despite a low score, this was by far the most enjoyable of the six.

The tournament tourned out to be a bust, that was certain at this point, but the rest of the collection was available for casual play. The biggest new entries in my playbook were Popeye and No Good Gofers.

The former was a pleasure to play, and despite the largish upper playing field blocking sight on the top half, I didn’t feel it was too much of an impediment – the lack of information provided for the shooting gallery and search for sweetpea, on the other hand were quite distracting.

The latter was yet another Pat Lawlor game I hadn’t tried out before, and I was quite impressed by it. Definitely not in the league of Twilight Zone or Addams Family, but then again, few games are. The slam ramp (for quick hole in one-shots) didn’t get exercised enough, but all in all there was enough variety in the game to keep the interest up.

Next to the Gofers stood Banzai Run, and early Lawlor design, which I’d only seen powered-off before. This is the only pinball that has additional flippers on the backboard. Unexpectedly I found the game rather tedious – and especially the vertical playing field felt like a tacked-on gimmick. A view which I’m more than prepared to change upon repeated exposure, the first few tries just weren’t that convincing.

Jun 172007

Had the semi-monthly gamenight at Lemmy’s place yesterday.

The new addition in the family was immediately obvious: a Scared Stiff pinball machine. It’s a 1996-vintage game, which I’ve confessed liking before. The experience was even better now, repeated games allowed experimenting with shots. Lodged a ball in the spider scoop thrice in half a dozen games, a feat not reproduced by anyone. Either got phenomenally unlucky, or my timing is odd.

Video games-wise the new guy on the block was Virtua Tennis 3 on x360. Our doubles games got off to an odd start, with the game resembling the original very little. After a couple of experiments the balls stayed alive for more than two hits, and the game got the appreciation it deserved (especially of the graphics, killer visuals on the big screen).

The regularest of the regulars, Pro Evolution Soccer, took its good time as well. Low-scoring affairs, with the vast majority of goals firmly in the ugly-end of the scale. True to real life, then.

Halo 2 proved that my FPS-fu is weak (the amount of hits scored over three games was laughably negligible).

Noted that:
a) I need a bigger better television,
b) I ought to pick up the Vice and Liberty City Stories on PS2, since the gameplay is smoothed up even from San Andreas.

Capped the evening with a decent round of Twilight Zone, still my favorite pinball machine. Started off real bad, with around 30M after the two first balls – got two extra balls with the last, and prolonged the game considerably. Though missing a couple of good scoring opportunities kept the score from advancing much beyond 200 million.

Feb 252007

Attended a crowded gamenight at Lemmy’s place yesterday.

Wii proved to continue as a crowd-pleaser. Sucked at bowling (probably the only sport where I’m decidedly better at the real thing than the simulation), enjoyed the newest Wario-game as much as on the previous occasion and was mystified by the very variable quality of the Monkey Ball party games. I so need to get a second controller before the Wednesday Emperors’ Spring Equinox shindig (and maybe also a third and a fourth). Excite Truck was the first driving game on the Wii that I’ve tried, and the controls, while intuitive are no match to driving with a wheel (and a traditional pad beats the wiimote probably as well).

Had my first encounter with Radiant Silvergun on the Saturn, the most expensive game I’ve ever bought. The game’s vastly more complex than apparent from the first sight – and I certainly didn’t know that there are no less than seven different weapon systems available. It’s a vertically scrolling shoot’em up, with a ton of action on screen. Apart from the variety of weapons, it quite resembles Ikaruga, and despite being run on older hardware, manages to put a respectable amount of bullets/missiles/ships/whatever on screen.

On Pro Evolution Soccer the five or so four-player games were pretty even – no goalfests occurred this time. Scoring ranged from ugly sweeps in front of the goal to well-executed passes. Played on the PS2, somehow that version seems more attractive than the X360 (whose glaring omissions do not affect casual play that much).

On the pinball front spent a lot of time on the newest addition: Pat Lawlor‘s rare Safecracker. It is a combination of a traditional pinball game and an electronic boardgame. And played against a time limit, not with a certain number of balls. Struggled with the game a lot, and only with the last play of the evening managed to beat the boardgame. Victory in which results in being awarded a special token that can be used to start an extremely fast-paced assault game against the bank. Put up decent scores in both the regular and assault, but on other pins the pickings were meager: beat 100M on Twilight Zone on every game, but never got a proper game going with Addams Family or Getaway.

Social electroning entertainment at its very best.

Jan 142007

Had the regular game night yesterday.

The main event of the evening was the introduction of Nintendo’s Wii – which remains in the “so sold out, no-one has any idea of next batch”-category. My not so gentle introduction to the console was the new Wario-game, which is pretty much the same as it has been on other formats – mindless tasks that last a few seconds. It suits wii well, as the wireless controllers allow for a much wider (and odder) variety of tasks to be implemented. Wii Sports wasn’t bad either – though the moves in bowling are somewhat far removed from the real thing. And yeah, I want a Wii as well – but it’ll be a while before the resupply-round reaches as far as Finland.

Pro Evolution Soccer, the mainstay of pretty much all game nights, was played once again. This time on a PS2, whose version has a lot more bling than the X360. Played 3-on-3, and the games were on the chaotic side. As opposed to the highlight-reel material of the last session, the goals scored actually resembled actual football. No slanting runs through defenses finishing off with a curling shot just inside the bars, nope, these goals were glancing blows from a few meters, usually following a more or less unexpected bounce of the ball within the box.

NHL07 presented as few goals as last time. Though the shooting has improved since the previous encounter, the goalies remain supernaturally good (even at the lower difficulty setting). But it’s the rest of the game that gave us problems – controlled offense is hard to orchestrate, and sensible defense even more so.

The team continued its repetitively sucky progress through six man Ghost Recon 2. No finished missions, and some unusually shoddy co-operation. Though this time collateral damage was kept to a minimum, but not entirely eliminated.

The two racing games played (Novadrome and Rallisport Challenge) proved interesting. Apart from the ice stretches in the latter, which ought to be forcibly excised from the disc. Both games were a bit limited in scope, due to the fact that not all of the consoles had the full extent of tracks or cars available. Which neatly brings us to my pet peeve – the game industry is probably the only segment of the market that flogs expensive products, and locks the audience away from most of the content. Having to progress through the game in a single-player mode before reaching all it has to offer is all right, but I’d sure expect the game to offer a wider range of content in multiplayer – at least I feel entitled to it after spending sixty or so euros on it.

Didn’t give pinball games the time they’d deserve. Reached semi-respectable scores in both Indy and Attack from Mars – and actually had a game of Getaway that lasted more than a minute. Twilight Zone proved as hard as it usually is, and didn’t manage to crack 150 million on any of the three games I played.

Dec 032006

Attended a gamenight at Lemmy’s place. Had missed last three or so, mainly due to badly calendared travel.

The pinball collection had had a small update, Star Trek: The Next Generation was replaced by Williams’ The Getaway. Unlike the previous few acquisitions (Cirqus Voltaire and Attack From Mars) this was not an easy game to get to grips with. Spent a decent chunk of time, but never got the scoring to accelerate. Addams Family was down for the count, predictably sucked at Indy, and got a passable score on my favorite of them all, Twilight Zone, on the first and only try.

Indeed, spent only a little time on pinballs, and concentrated on videogames instead. The two recent sports games on 360 got a definite seal of approval. NHL 2007 has a new puck control mechanism, which caused a lot of confusion in 2-on-2 games – scoring goals was hard, apart from the last of the three games we steadily produced goalless draws (and took a long time scoring in the shootout). The new mechanism was thus hard, but rewarding – the few goals were celebrated accordingly. Pro Evolution Soccer 6 is missing a lot of the bling the PlayStation 2 version has. But that doesn’t affect the gameplay itself, which is stil a stellar approximation of football. Round-robin 2-on-2 games produced decent games for the most part – only the last was an utter massacre. Tried out a new Tom Clancy-derived game on four xboxes, while this was not close to the traditional Ghost Recon 2 in its ability to lure us into ambushes, even the first mission proved hard to beat.

Jun 272006

Some things to check out in case the games get boring.

  • Zork over IP, which goes to show that no matter what the platform, a Z-machine implementation will soon be ported to it.
  • Moleskine has expanded its product range to city guidebooks.
  • The deepest hole ever drilled into the crust of Gaia.
  • This must be the biggest page on the web, after all it covers the deep sky in some 8.1 nonillion pixels. Something to scroll through in a long-winded and badly ventilated meeting.
  • A draft of a history of interactive fiction.
  • Future of pinball is a forthcoming document of Williams’ Pinball 2000 project. A project that was supposed to bring the game into the 21st century, but was instead untimely shut down.
Jun 182006

Yet another monthly gamenight at Lemmy’s place is now history.

Missed the previous one, and thus the arrival of the sixth pinball machine, Attack from Mars, wasn’t news for anybody else. So I pretty much got to monopolize the machine for long stretches. And it was a very good machine indeed. Open field, shots that do not require the manual dexterity of a clocksmith and interesting modes. And large scores. Very large scores. Got over a billion points on the first go, and didn’t come close to the replay limit. That kind of defines inflation doesn’t it…

The other big event was the very traditional Pro Evolution Soccer-session. Had a two-round game with everybody teamed with everybody else. Some great moments – like scoring on a hail mary-style play on the very last second of injury time, and some not so great ones – like being on the receiving end of a five goal effort from van Nistelroum (that’s Ruud van, Konami hasn’t bothered to license all the teams).

Another quality evening amongs electronic entertainment – and I’m definitely looking forward for the next one – the newest pinball machine didn’t yet surrender its secrets fully.

Apr 232006

The Stockholm Pinball Open 2006 is organized in late may at the KTH in our western neighbour’s capital.

And the program seems to be a little more ambitious than that of the finnish tourney. But then, they have the multiple luxuries of tradition, sponsorships and multiple day-duration on their side.

Some of the mini-tournaments (like Tommy-play – where parts of the playing field are covered) do sound exciting, and are by no means confined to a real tournament.

Haven’t browsed the other competitions’ pages, but I’m sure the likes of european championships (to be held in a couple of weeks) and big tournaments in the states outshine our neighbours. But it’s always better to have something to aim for than slowly topple from the top of the heap.

Apr 172006

The official results of the Sörkka Pinball Open 2006 are now out. And they confirm my earlier analysis = I didn’t play very well on saturday. The high score and corresponding 54 points from Cleopatra were a nice surprise, the score wasn’t that high and I was certain someone would blast by it (and a couple of swedes came quite close in the waning minutes).

And some random pictures of the event as well.

In other news, flipperitutka reports that there are now TWO copies of World Poker Tour in Helsinki, both located in movie megaplexes. Time to pick some single euro coins and go exploring.

Apr 152006

Safecracker and friends

As opposed to “wizardry”, that is. Participated in the annual Sörkka Pinball Open-championships, and didn’t exactly excel. Placed ~40th out of 54 participants, which is not really cause to celebrate (haven’t seen the official results yet).

The competition was indeed organized in Sörnäinen, in an industrial building put to better use. Filled with pinball machines, out of which six were chosen to select the champions out of mere mortals. Three electro-mechanical games and and three solid-state games. Managed to suck in both.

First up was a definite old-skool game, Williams’ Strato-Flite, whose simple layout didn’t exactly give clue what combos (if any) would lead to decent scores. As a result, the pickings were on the meager side.

Harlem Globetrotters, another old game was next (I’m not 100% sure whether this is indeed the game linked to – the playfield seemed to be plainer). Mechanically rather simple, but unforgiving nonetheless – this was the game where I began to experience very fast drains, something that didn’t really let up during the competition. In other words, no big score here either.

Scared Stiff was the first modern game to tackle. Never played it before, so in the face of a zillion combos I definitely had a disadvantage over more experienced competitors. Had a decent outing, and came away thinking that this would be near the top of the “Pins to Own”-list – which is to say that I quite liked the board.

The crowd was surging near the remaining two recent-ish games, so retreated to the world of mechanical pinball. Cleopatra was the first game of the day where I managed to play well, laying down the high score among the forty or so first players (no idea whether it remained to the very end). Definitely a simple game, where target pickup succeeded remarkably well. Second ball drained almost instantly, but the other two racked a very reasonable score.

The last two pins, Sword of Fury and Bram Stoker’s Dracula exhibited disturbingly similar pattern of quick drains. Did have some decent moments on both, but as a whole, pretty much sucked – lack of practice, especially specific and but also general rearing its ugly head. The former had an interesting extra playing field on the top right corner, which turned out to be hard to control – on the latter a powerful center shot was a bad choice indeed, since a head-on collision sent the ball back towards a certain center drain.

So, the competition didn’t go that well, but fortunately that was not the whole width of the excursion. More and more games of the collection were opened for free gaming, and they were put to good use. Had never seen Pat Lawlor‘s pinball/boardgame-combo Safecracker, and managed to score unexpectedly high on that. Another completely new game was Bally’s Speakeasy, that proved to be very generous with awarding of extra balls (at one time I had no less than four). Those extra balls didn’t however score well-enough, and despite a formidable surge on the first two, it was Matti who got the top honours in the game. This was one of the must-pay games, where scores were indeed tallied – between the three of us (yours truly, Matti and Lemmy) we got six replays, which, after a fifteen minutes or so of intese play didn’t feel like spending, so they were left in the machine fo others to enjoy.

The finale of the tournament was played on Banzai Run, another Pat Lawlor game. Would definitely have wanted to have a go at this odd two-field game (the backboard is used as well), but that’ll happen some other time. Not all of the machines were available, unfortunately, so I still haven’t tried out the likes of Guns n’ Roses or Baby Pacman.

Definitely a good competition, and one I shall attempt to attend next year as well.

Feb 122006

After an extended hiatus, yet another night of quality gaming at Casa Lemmy.

Star of the show was the newest arrival, an Addams Family pinball in perfect working order. Tough as always, an utter lack of a grace period after launching a ball makes this the most merciless of games. That, combined with a recent waxing of the playing surface meant that individual games were over quite rapidly. Didn’t even get close to the free game score, which is not an indication of a mastered table.

The other new offering was the Xbox 360. Played a couple of games, played a couple of demos. Project Gotham Racing was pretty, and the cars handled well – the two-player experience was marred by the total lack of other traffic on the roads. Call of Duty was pretty as well, and the same barrenness plagued this game as well. The maps stretch far and wide, and even in a four player deathmatch most of the time was spent looking for others. So the highlight of the machine turned out to be a demo of Geometry Wars. Old Skool shoot ‘em up mixed with enough eye candy to churn the screen into such an orgy of moving colour to lose the ship completely out of sight.

The usual main events: Pro Evolution Soccer and Ghost Recon got played as well. Neither provided classic outings. Goals were hard to come by in the former, and the enemies kept wiping the grounds with us in the latter.

Wasabi Nutties were the new’n'funky snack of the evening. Despite a silly name and a jolly green tube-package these pack a mean punch.

Jan 082006

The usual disclaimers apply. All safe for work.

  • Last year in lists. Tons and tons of lists.
  • Flipperitutka shows the extremely few pinball machines currently residing in Helsinki.
  • SeatGuru takes out the random element of seat selection in airplanes. I will consult this before the next transatlantic flight.
  • A beginner’s guide to setting up a reef aquarium is yet another fine product hosted by the folks at the premier finnish fishkeeping site.
  • Twenty-sided fuzzy dice. Carrying these would not exactly pimp anyone’s ride.
Nov 272005

Had an enjoyable evening with electronic entertainment apparatus and friends at Pekka’s place (his blog gone the way of the dodo, it appears).

First up was the latest incarnation of the best football franchise: Pro Evolution Soccer 5. The game had not changed much, but enough to prove that scoring goals is hard. A grand total of three in four games shows that there are indeed some new tricks that have to be learned.

Star Wars Battlefront II was a brand new arrival for all but the host, and as such the games cannot really be regarded as anything but beginners fumblings. Especially when the manual proved to be on very much the nothing but the obvious-side. But good fun was had, and the game’s scope obviously allows for vastly larger battles than the six-some we had.

Continued sucking in Ghost Recon 2.

The third game in the TimeSplitters series proved that simple frantic violence sometimes is therapeutic. Apart from a couple of randomly selected levels where the default weaponry was inequal, this turned out to be the sleeper hit of the evening. Good clean fun, and dimly recalled some levels from the previous part played some good two+ years ago.

Pinball was uneven. Had two decent scores in Twilight Zone, but got utterly outplayed by the newest arrival in the stable.

Ate far too many smoked almonds. No-one had yet seen the Cappuccino-variant of Pepsi Max, which sounds like a scary combination that allows use of some taste essences that are banned in civilized countries. But judgment will be reserved until the first actual sip.

May 282005

Helped Pekka carry in his newest acquisition. Not too much of trouble, the non-widebody machine moved nicely with four bearers. Which cannot really be said of the ST:TNG that needed to be moved during the rearrangement of machinery.

And a pretty sweet machine the Cirqus Voltaire is, indeed. Lots of things to do, and a rubber ball on the playing field to add to the chaos. And how could you not love a game that gives a score-replay on the very first game. And twice more during half a dozen tries. Either I was very good, or the thresholds were set very low. My money’s on the latter alternative.

May 082005

As Pekka notes, yet another monthly gamenight in the Flouder’s Attic is now past.

Continued to suck at pinball… Both Twilight Zone and TNG were playing very much hard to get. Former with regard to points (“high” score a meager 150M), the latter with one unfortunately misplaced ball (though a decent score would still not have been likely, but higher definitely as the game now perfectly mistimed all modes). Personal high score in Indy was pretty much the only really bright spot, silverball-wise.

Had my first encounter with Sony’s Eye Toy. Was sceptical, but the camera proved to be quite successful as interaction device, and games (remixed Sega classics) definitely on the amusing side.

Pro Evolution Soccer via multitap (2-on-2) was fun as usual, GT4 got a suitably subdued reception. And yeah, I’m not that thrilled either.