Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pinball Update: The Junction

I always like to say that I know of nearly every pinball machine in Toronto. I don't say I know of every single one because I know there are still a bunch out there I've yet to find. There's so much of the city to explore and I bet a few pinball machines to still find as well!

This past Friday, I ventured out to the Junction, a neighborhood of Toronto that gets its namesake from the four railway lines in the area. I heard a lot about 3030 Dundas West, a cool bar with some sweet beers on tap and a couple of vintage pinball machines. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. 3030 had a really good collection of old school Electro-Mechanical and Solid-State tables from the 70's and 80's. Dig this line-up!

So, you have there Gottlieb's Sure Shot, Bally's Mata Hari, Williams' Comet and Blackout and Gottlieb's Strange World. It's really cool to see a line-up of all vintage tables when most of the selection in the city are late-model Stern tables.

 Though these older tables don't have the crazy depth that newer tables do, there's a certain charm to them. The artwork on many of the older tables is beautiful; back in the day, the artwork packages were hand done rather than the Photoshop jobs that most current tables have.

The gameplay on these tables is a lot slower and you are able to play at a more leisurely pace. I find that novice pinball players dig on these tables a lot more due to the less frantic pace and simpler rulesets than late model DMD tables. It's easier to keep track of the ball and get a better handle for the game though these tables can be just as tricky about drains.

 Many earlier tales didn't have the current traditional layout with the 4 or 5 outlanes with two slingshots on either side. Instead some would just have a slingshot next the flipper and an outlane on the other side, causing some nasty drains. Nudging can be tough with these too as they are wicked unforgiving. There's no chance you can get away with a Whitby Shuffle on an old EM table!

After 3030, my friend Johanna and I moseyed along Dundas West on the hunt for more pinball machines in the Junction. We stopped by one bar to see if they had a machine and ended up hanging out with some of the patrons there. There wasn't a machine at the bar but I did have a wicked conversation with one dude, Mikey, about Street Fighter and where some machines are in the city. I mentioned to him that Kitch on Geary and Dufferin has a clean Street Fighter 2 arcade machine so if yer wanna play Street Fighter 2, I would suggest going to Kitch. get some nachos too. ANYWAYS, Mikey and a lady told me that there was a billiards lounge down the road called Shoxs that used to have a machine a few years ago though they renovated recently and may not have one any more. I figured it was worth a shot to take a look so when we passed by, I gave the place a quick scan and managed to sneek a peek of a pinball machine in the far back of the bar. Johanna and I made our way and spotted Sega's South Park!

South Park isn't known to be the best pinball game... The playfield layout is really weak; it is marred by lame shots and a steep as hell ramp. The table has two big holes, one for Cartman's mode and another for Kenny's. The shots are easy to make but it's not very engaging since they end up being really the only two shots you can make. That is because the other shot was impossible to hit! There's a ramp at the top right of the playfield that is not only a hard shot to make as it is tucked between Kenny and the table wall but it's so friggin' steep. Every game I played I could not hit that ramp for the life of me. I don't know if this is something about all South Park tables or if it was just unique to this table but no matter what I could not hit that ramp. The flippers could have been weak but they didn't feel like it to me as I was making many other shots with ease. The worst part about being unable to hit the ramp is that the only way to start multiball is to hit that ramp.

A good thing about this table though is that the playfield is super clean and even has LEDs installed in the playfield inserts! It looks great and really makes the table pop. As well, if you're a South Park fan, you will really enjoy this table. The table is very faithful to the show and includes all sorts of references and sound clips.

After playing South Park, Johanna and I had to call it quits. The Junction has only been partially explored but the outcome so far for pinball  has been the vintage line-up at 3030 Dundas West, South Park at Shoxs and Medieval Madness at Boo Radley's which I found back in the Spring and you can read about here. Here's to hoping there's more pinball to be found in the Junction!

P.S. My Google Pinball map has been updated as well. You can check out Pinballin' in The Big City here to keep up-to-date with my latest findings!

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