Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 in review

Geeze louise, what a year it has been for Bumper City! 2014 was a really exciting year what with all the stuff that has gone on. If you have been an avid reader of Bumper City, I think you know that I am all about the shameless plugs... So, here's my Year in Review post that is just a thinly veiled attempt to get you to look at the myriad of posts from 2014!
 Things were pretty quiet around the early parts of the year, though we did hear about the release of Mustang in January.
I also released my first podcast under the Bumper City banner, "Bumper City: Down at The Arcade", a hybrid podcast that consists of music and pinball soundscapes to create the illusion of spending some time down at the arcade!

Things really started to pick up in April, though! In the first few days of the month, I headed down south to Michigan Pinball Expo and got to take Stern's newest title, Mustang, for a spin!
While I was there, I also found a rare table in the wild, Banzai Run, in Windsor!
Once I got back to Toronto, Pinball Sunday was set to begin. Pinball Sundays were a series of tournaments held all over the city, from Brass Taps on the Danforth, Lipstick & Dynamite in Parkdale (though I did not attend this one), Get Well at Dundas and Ossington and finally 3030 in the Junction. Throughout most of the tournament, I made it through the first few rounds but I always managed to come up short near the finals.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Part 2 of Bumper City's House of TARG trip report is up next! This time around, we are going to take a look at some 90's pinball goodness in the form of Williams' Fish Tales!
Unlike Part 1 where we had two tables from Sega, Independence Day and Baywatch, this time it is just going to be about Fish Tales. The other Bally/Williams tables at House of TARG were Dracula, The Addams Family, and Doctor Who, all of which I have look at one way or another... click the links and read their reviews!
Fish Tales is an underrated table of the 90's but when its name comes up, it is often considered a solid and challenging title. The fishing theme is a bit of an odd choice, especially when released around the same time as tables based on big licenses like The Addams Family and Doctor Who. The designer, Mark Ritchie, seemed to have been saddled with quite a few strange original themes, having designed Taxi, Police Force, and Diner, but always managed to make the most out of them. Fish Tales is no exception and is arguably considered one of Ritchie's best tables, though it is tough to say, seeing as he also designed Top-10 table, Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Sopranos

The Sopranos is one of the few Stern tables that really holds a soft spot with me due to its history and gameplay. Not the actual history of The Sopranos TV series or the pinball table but my personal memories of this fantastic machine.
My first encounter with The Sopranos was during the first St. Catherines Pinball Journey in 2011 (that trip was before Bumper City's time but check out 2013's St. Catherines Pinball Journey here and here) During our trip, we snuck into Sherkston Shores and found The Sopranos amongst their pinball line-up of Family Guy, South Park, and Cactus Canyon. Keep in mind that the arcade was catered towards kids; I don't really know why they thought those tables would be a good idea...  especially with The Sopranos having the adult mode activated. Turns out The Sopranos does not pull any punches with the foul language and the table was often yelling out "GIVE US THE F**KIN' MONEY!" in an arcade full of children.

Later, Shane and I ran into The Sopranos at a rest stop outside of Oshawa.
 It was pretty beat-up but Shane managed to get a high score.
The Sopranos then came to the local bowling alley in Oshawa, Leisure Lanes, where we proceeded to play the hell out of it, getting hella high scores in the meantime.

The Grand Champion score on The Sopranos was from MJS and was nigh unattainable at 323,000,000. Could it have been the fabled MJB with new initials or is it a new nemesis? Have I told the story of MJB? I don't think I have but that's another story for another time. Anyways, The Sopranos got swapped out of Leisure Lanes...
Unfortunately, Star Trek was the center of attention

... And popped up at my favourite local sandwich joint in Toronto, California Sandwiches!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Time for some HOUSE OF TARG trip reports! I'm super excited to talk about the machines that were on hand at this wicked cool venue. There was quite the eclectic line-up and a few machines that you don't often see at barcades. You know that here on Bright Lights Bumper City, I like to look at some of the lesser-known tables, like Bone Busters Inc. at The Pinball Gallery in Downington, PA., Wipe Out! at the Guelph Pinball Club, and The X-Files at Michigan Pinball Expo!
I mention The X-Files specifically as it is a SEGA table and the House of TARG had quite a few Sega tables there! There was also a good representation of DATA EAST tables which complimented the Sega tables well. The reason being that Sega acquired Data East's pinball division 1994 when the latter exited the pinball market due to sales numbers dropping. Although neither Sega nor DATA EAST could compare to the Bally/Williams tables of the 90's and often played second fiddle to the main players in pinball, they did make some cool tables which aren't very well represented in today's pinball communities. There were a couple of Bally and Williams tables at the House of TARG but why talk about those when we have THESE?
Not often do you get a chance to play Independence Day... and play I did! Played the heck out of it. I always heard that Independence Day was one of Sega's stronger tables and after getting a few games on it, I would agree.
It's not a very in-depth table, only having two multiball modes but ruleset depth doesn't make or break a table for me. Instead, Independence Day really shines in it's layout. The table is tough but not unforgiving. The ramp shots are tight but feel real smooth to hit; rarely does the ball lose momentum on the ramps and fly back down towards the middle drain. The ramps are steep but certain measures have been taken to make the ramp shots slightly less dangerous. There's a return hole on the left ramp located just behind the Alien Head which the ball will drop down through if it doesn't make it all the way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Walking Dead Pinball Release Party

It's Halloween here on Bright Lights Bumper City! We kicked off the frightening festivities by getting Scared Stiff with Elvira then we had a Nightmare ... on Elm Street to follow up. We took a peek at The Addams Family out in Sauble Beach as well as Attack From Mars for our second half of my Michigan Pinball Expo review for October. Now it's time to walk with the dead!
AMC's The Walking Dead is the latest release from Stern and there couldn't be a more appropriate time to review this table than now! I finally, finally had the chance to make it out to one of the release parties that happen around the world with each new table release by Stern.
I've been trying to go to one of these release parties ever since Transformers but due to circumstances, money, lack of a ride, the location actually being in Mississauga, what-have-you, I have never been able to make it out to a release party. This time around, I had some folks from the Toronto Pinball Crew (click the link and join the gang!) all going and so we hopped in a car and made our way out to Wacky Wings for the release party of The Walking Dead!
The Walking Dead pinball is based on the TV show that is based on the comic series, The Walking Dead. Stern's latest table uses the license in some interesting ways.  The table pays homage to the TV series by referencing certain locales, characters, and events. One of the big toys on the table is the Well Walker which is from the Cherokee Rose episode (Season 2, Episode 4). It's a big, ugly and I mean, UGLY, zombie that got caught in a well and got all bloated up as corpses tend to do when waterlogged (not speaking from experience, mind you).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MIchigan Pinball Expo Part 3.5

Time for Part 3 and a half of my Michigan Pinball Expo 2014 report! Elvira's Scared Stiff was the table of the first half and kicked off our little Halloween Hootenanny here on Bumper City! Now I know that martians are moreso based in the science fiction genre but I already did a sci-fi theme for my MPE trip reports and I figured that aliens would work well for Halloween despite not being a part of the horror genre. HEY people like to dress up as martians for Halloween right? RIGHT! So let's take a look at Attack From Mars!
Attack From Mars is basically pinball distilled. Tables of the 90's, like Twilight Zone, were revolutionizing pinball, though they were not without their faults, what with clunky playfields or complicated rulesets. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, designer Brian Eddy, opted for a more basic design on AFM.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Addams Family at Giggles Arcade in Sauble Beach

I am always in the pursuit of pinball, no matter where I am. Back during May long weekend (a long, long time ago), I found myself up in Port Elgin for a little getaway and so I consulted the pinball map on Pinside to see if there was anything nearby to hunt down. I found out about Giggles Arcade in Sauble Beach and so my friends and I ventured out to the little beach town in search of pinball!

We arrived at Giggles Arcade to the sounds of redemption games and the scent of Subway. There was a Subway attached to the arcade and if you are familiar at all with Subway, you know the smell that penetrates anything and everything. Anyways, we made our way over to the pinball tables...
Not bad! Wizard of Oz and The Addams Family! The website had indicated that Iron Man and Family Guy made up the pinball section along with TAF but it looks like that got switched up somewhere along the line. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see Wizard of Oz up against The Addams Family.
I talk a lot about The Addams Family here on Bright Lights Bumper City; I have mentioned its influence, popularity, layout and designer, Pat Lawlor. There is good reason to mention The Addams Family so much, though; it is one of the ultimate pinball tables. The Addams Family was THE most popular pinball table. When people think of pinball, they think about The Addams Family, whether they have been playing all their lives or stopped by an arcade when they were young. The theme was known by everyone, whether you knew The Addams Family as a comic strip, cartoon, or a movie. The table itself is considered to be a masterpiece of pinball. The sound and music, the artwork, and the layout all work together to create one of the best tables around.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nightmare on Elm Street

Back in the Winter, I headed up to the Bathurst and Glencairn area in search of some pinball at Bathurst Bowlerama. My search was not in vain and I found that Bowlerama has a pretty cool arcade.
C'mon, you have two pinball machines, Offroad Challenge AND Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time! Ya can't go wrong with that line-up!
The particular table we will be looking at is Premier-Gottlieb's Nightmare on Elm Street! Yeah, I know that I last played this machine all the way back in the Winter but I thought it would be appropriate to save the review for Halloween, seeing as Nightmare on Elm Street is a horror movie and all! (plus I took notes when I played it)

Nightmare on Elm Street has to be one of Premier's weirdest tables and that's saying a lot! Premier had some hard times back in the 90's, having been left in the dust by Bally and Williams. Many Premier tables could just not complete with the quality and playability of the tables from the Big Two. Premier did have some shining stars in their line-ups like Wipeout and Stargate SG-1 but much of their output is considered sub-par.  Many of their releases in the 90's had some pretty far-out gimmicks; some worked well but others like Shaq Attaq's basketball shot were cool in theory... but not so much in practice.

Shooting the ball into a moving basketball net is a pretty cool gimmick but is hindered by Premier's weak flippers and the protective dome obscuring much of the upper playfield. Though the gimmicks sometimes didn't work too well in execution, you have to give credit to Premier for trying new and strange ideas on their tables.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Michigan Pinball Expo PT III - HALLOWEEN

It's that time of year again! It's October and the weather is getting a bit colder. It's also time for Halloween! Around the same time last year, I reviewed a pretty spooky table from the Ottawa Pinball Expo.
Elvira is quite a strange individual to base a pinball table off of but nothing is TOO strange in pinball. There are all sorts of weird tables with some odd themes throughout the years. Who would have thought that a golf-themed table would be good?
Things get even more weird with Elvira; there is not only one but TWO pinball machines based on the Mistress of The Dark. Elvira and The Party Monsters, released in October 1989, was the first table to bear Elvira's likeness. If you want a closer look at Elvira and The Party Monsters, check out my review from Ottawa Pinball Expo '13.
The successor to Party Monsters is Elvira's Scared Stiff, released in September 1996. Seeing as Party Monsters was at the Ottawa Pinball Expo, it's only fitting that I review Scared Stiff from Michigan Pinball Expo!
Party Monsters had wicked visual appeal but the gameplay left a bit to be desired. A couple of years later and a few advances in technology later, the Elvira license gets a much more fleshed-out table.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bumper City: A Pinball Exposition WRAPPED UP

Holy moley! My little pinball show went real well!
Thanks to everyone who attended Bumper City: A Pinball Exposition. I couldn't have made it happen without all of you! I know it's pretty cliche to say that but I don't care, this is my blog and I will say what I want! I will say thank you again to everyone that supported the event.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Williamson - The Black Cat Gallery
Gotta send some big thanks to Dan of The Pinball Sessions and Nathan of The Pinball Club for helping organize this event with me. Big thanks to Andrew of The Black Cat for providing the space! It looked real good with all the pinball machines! For those that weren't able to make it out to the lil expo, let me show you around!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I know the zombie trend is getting awfully played out... Zombies are everywhere; they're on TV, movies, and video games... but pinball? I can't really think of any zombies-themed tables... Well, Stern just dropped the announcement of their latest table!

The Walking Dead will be Stern's latest table and if the pictures are any indication, it's going to be one helluva table!
I'm getting some serious Metallica vibes from this table and if that's any indication, The Walking Dead is going to be wicked!
You have the usual big targets that Stern likes to use but beyond that, this table looks very shot-oriented. Lots of ramps and loops to the looks of it. I can see about 4 in the above shot alone! DANG!
 Would ya look at that too! Right next to the prison are rollover targets! nice! I haven't seen those in ages! It's nice to see an old design feature making its way back onto modern tables.
Stern has also released a teaser picture of the premium version of Walking Dead and it looks really cool.
It even has a fish tank with illuminated sculpted zombie heads! WHAT?! That sounds awesome.
So far, just a few pictures from Stern have been released but keep tuned into Bright Lights Bumper City and as soon as I play this table, you know that I will have a review about it! I can't wait!

Monday, September 8, 2014


Earlier in the year, I heard some rumblings of a pinball resurgence in Ottawa. I made my first venture up north to our Nation's Great Capital back in September 2013 for the Ottawa Pinball Expo and although I did not see many pinball machines out in the wild while I was in Ottawa, I got to see firsthand the strong following of pinball in the area. Several months later, I started hearing that a bar was opening up in Ottawa that would have not one, not two, not even three pinball machines...
but a whole bunch of pinball machines!! This mecca of pinball was to be named The House of TARG after the classic arcade game, TARG.

The House of TARG has been open for a couple of months now and my buddy Penstone, who lives in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, checked it out back in May. Here is what he had to say "OK... Come to Ottawa is all I have to say... goddamn." So my brother Shane and I planned a trip to Ottawa in July in order to hunt down this amazing bar. Lemme tell you... The House of TARG is amazing. Wall-to-wall lineups of pinball and arcade games, lotsa beer, live music, and perogies! The two main features of The House of TARG are pinball and perogies, with a large variety of pinball, everything from classic Bally/Williams tables...