Friday, September 05, 2008

The UK Pinball Show 2008

Last weekend I had the fortune of being able to attend the 2008 UK Pinball Show, along with my brother Kevyn and nephew Nathan. We headed out of Bognor towards Wicksteed Park in Kettering at approximately 6.45am and the traffic was very good, so we arrived just before 10:00am. I had to pay £17 which covered both Saturday and Sunday, but Kev got in for free because he brought a table along with him (Jurassic Park) which he set up as soon as we arrived.

The weather was quite warm on the Saturday which meant combined with the almost 200 pinball tables giving off energy and roughly the same amount of people in attendance, things got rather warm towards the middle of the day. As for the tables, there was a sizable collection of classic machines, from the old electromechanical machines from Gottlieb, through later 80's tables, the 90's (which is where I think Pinball really started coming alive) and there was also a sizable amount of right up to the minute Stern tables available. Pinball Heaven had brought along display models of the brand new Indiana Jones and Batman Dark Knight tables for people to play, and they proved incredibly popular. To get a game of on the Dark Knight it wasn't unheard of to have to queue for half an hour or more. The Indiana Jones table didn't really impress me much - sure it looked nice and the speech samples were brilliantly clear, but the game seemed very shallow and consisted mainly of four modes (on for each of the films) and a few sets of drop targets. The Dark Knight seemed to have much more to offer, but I only got to play it twice so I only got a very rough impression of it.

Elsewhere on the show floor loads of great games could be found, including (but not limited to): Monster Bash, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Scared Stiff, Lord of the Rings, The Sopranos, Fish Tales, Theater of Magic and Medieval Madness. Unfortunately on Saturday, two of my favourite tables, Spiderman from Stern and High Speed 2: The Getaway were off limits due to being in the tournament area. Luckily on day two they were made available for everyone to play, and there were also fewer people around so we got to play quite a lot of Spiderman. It really is a fantastic game and were it not so expensive my brother would probably add it to his collection immediately. As it is we'll have to wait a while and hope we spot a bargain one day (like he did with Lord of the Rings).

High Speed 2 is definitely my own personal favourite pinball table at the moment, and were I to replace my Hurricane table with anything this would be it. I also really enjoyed The Sopranos, mainly because it was set to five balls and you could earn unlimited extra balls, which made for nice long games.

We had great fun at the show but there's no doubt it's rather exhausting (you'll be on your feet for 6-7 hours a day and the noise of all the machine can be a bit overbearing at times). Check out the YouTube video below for a tour around the show floor (provided by nmisys). I actually appear in the video at about the 3:45 minute mark, playing Medieval Madness with my nephew. My brothers Jurassic Park table is also in the video.

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