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lucky juju's pinball museum
games Posted 2009-02-03 18:13:17 by Jim Crawford
On Saturday I went to Lucky Juju's Pinball Museum in Alameda with Casey. Was pretty fascinating, seeing the evolution from games of pure chance -- though optimized for drama and emotional payoff, like modern games still are -- through games with tiny, anemic flippers that give the players some minimal degree of control, to games where skill is a large factor.

It was also interesting to see what tricks pinball designers pulled out of their hats after they had to start competing with video games. The simplest one was going from four digit scores in the 1960s to nine digit scores in the 1990s, and of course there were game design advances like ramps and multiball, but I'm mostly thinking of gimmicks like the one Orbitor 1 is based around: it has a curved playfield and magnetic bumpers that impart the ball with highly erratic motion. Another good one was when Bram Stoker's Dracula grabbed the ball with a magnet hidden inside the cabinet and made it wobble across the playfield.

While I was there I picked up a brochure for Musee Mecanique in Fisherman's Wharf, which seems to be a more general version of the same idea: coin-operated mechanical entertainment through the ages, like mechanically animated dioramas and automated musical instruments. I'm looking forward to checking that place out as well.
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