It's Not Easy Being a Pinball Junkie in a Digital World

In today's nostalgic episode of the TAY-powered Speak Up on Kotaku, commenter JonathanPonikvar laments the sad plight of the modern-day pinball fiend, forced to go digital to get his fix.

I'm a complete pinball junkie who is forced to go without a fix. Local arcades in my area have completely vanished, except for one — and it has nothing but fighting and gun games, with a smattering of DDR and skee ball. No pinball to be found. I even searched in an online directory of pinball tables (yes, such online directories exist) and confirmed that — at least as far as the site knew — there were none available within a 25-mile radius of my home.


Now, I love Pinball FX2 and Zen Pinball. Have every table for them and have a good portion of the high scores on my friends list (about half, in a bit of a grudge match against my brother online for the rest). These tables never quite feel like true pinball though, since they do a lot of things that wouldn't be possible on a physical table (moving characters, morphing lanes, special effects, etc.). The Pinball Hall of Fame releases and most recently the Pinball Arcade on Xbox Live and PSN are my favorites, since they're digital recreations of actual tables produced over the past 50 years. The Williams Collection in particular was amazing since it had my two favorites: Funhouse and Black Knight. But sadly, this is the closest I can come now to getting my pinball fix.

With arcades pretty much on life support in the US and me lacking the $3-10K it costs to buy a table of my own, it's downright depressing to think that traditional pinball machines might be a dying art form. I mean hell, even if I did have the money to buy my own table, the only way to find them is used or refurbished. There is now only ONE company in operation today that still makes new tables (Stern), and they are premium priced collector's items. Digital pinball is fun, sure, but there's just no replacement for actually standing at a machine in person. I can't be one of the only people left who still feel this way.


Does anyone else have this addiction to pinball that has been sorely unsatisfied lately? Or do you have access to an arcade that still houses a table or two? Or even better, actually own a physical table of your own (in which case, I both admire and hate you)?

About Speak Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That's why we have a forum on Kotaku called TAY. That's the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Every weekday we'll pull one of the best TAY posts we can find and highlight it here.

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As a fellow pinball junkie, I am thankful to be close to Asbury Park, NJ. Why you may ask? This. An interactive pinball museum. I'm there every weekend or so, and it's heaven. Highly suggest making the trip. Go for the pinball, stay for the shows at Stone Pony