Monday, June 9, 2014

Arcade Review: The Pinball Wizard Arcade in New Hampshire

I had the joy of visiting The Pinball Wizard Arcade in NH this last Thursday and it was a sight to behold.

At first I was going to go check out Fun Spot, but I heard somewhere that PWA maintained their machines better, and hey it was closer to where I was staying.
Well this visit was a testament to that:  All of their machines were in incredible condition.  No weak flippers in the house.  No dirt to be found.  I don't even think I noticed any bulbs out.

This place is run by an awesome woman named Sarah, whom I met while she was fixing a head-2-head USA Football pinball machine.  (which she finished working on, BTW, and I managed to sneak in 2 games on it with a friend before we left.  Forgot to snap a photo though.)
Sarah was in and out during the day, making tech housecalls.  I think I saw 3 other people there working on machines that day.
They take game quality seriously!  I can't stress that enough.

Their web site lists 172 video games, 113 pins, and 33 other games.  Only about 5% were turned off.

Blackwater 100's left flippers weren't working.  Mentioned it to the staff, 20 minutes later it was fixed.
I walked up to Paragon at one point and the score displays were off.  I mentioned it to an employee, and I got a token refund, and 10 minutes later it was working.
They apparently was some issue on a Pacman machine.  It was pulled slightly out of the lineup and a tech had it back in there, 100%, less than 30 minutes later.
4+ hours of pinball, and I think the only other technical issue I could spot was the outlane gate on Big Guns not closing after being used.  (Forgot to report that one.)
I can't even keep my 4 games in this nice of condition, but they have over 100 pins in ace condition, ready to play.

You get a cup of 100 tokens for $20, and most games are 2 tokens (40 cents) or 3 tokens (60 cents) per credit.  Only the super pricey games (ST:LE, Mustang:LE, Medieval Madness, WOZ,) were 4 tokens.

We went on a Thursday and it was storming outside and despite a number of other gamers there, it felt like we had this castle of games to ourselves.  We spent 4 hours there and I barely got to put a single game on each of the pins I was interested in.  If you plan a trip, I'd recommend 2 days there.  The first day, you're just overwhelmed by easy access to all of these excellent games in excellent shape.

Games that I had not known well, but really impressed me:
Banzai Run
Transporter: The Rescue
Mustang: LE
Scorpion (widebody!)
Space Invaders (widebody!)

Not pictured?  Many of the games, many of the games in focus, and oh yes, a Star Trek: Limited Edition, and Wizard Of Oz Limited Edition are also there.
They had one of the 9 Fix-It Felix games there, which just seems perfect.  They have a Nintendo Play Choice 10 next to a Nintendo Super System.  So many great curiousities.
They had the sit-on S.T.U.N. RUNNER!
They had all of the popular Mortal Kombats and Street Fighters and Tekkens and Capcom/Marvel fighters, all of the popular multiplayer sports games, all of the "odd controller" game that you can never quite replicate the feel of on your emulator.
3 player Xenophobe!
6 player X-Men!
Atari's 1974 Tank!

If you check their photo album from 2012 on their site, I see so many games in those shots that aren't there now.  HIGH TURNOVER.  This is not a stagnant collection.  The pictorial history suggests that there will always be many new things there.  I can't wait to see what's new when I visit there next year.