Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guelph Pinball Club Trip Report Part II - EXTREME SPORTS

It's time for ROUND 2 of my Guelph Pinball Club Trip Report with a look at some EXTREEEEEEME SPORTS!! This time around we are going to take a look at Gottlieb-Premier's WIPEOUT and Williams' White Water.

Wipeout earned a soft spot with me back in 2011 during my first trip to the Michigan Pinball Expo. I came upon this old Gottlieb in one of the side rooms of the Expo and had a blast playing it. It caught my attention mostly because it has The Surfaris' Surf classic WIPEOUT as the main song.
If you follow my other ongoing project, The Surfphony of Derstruction 2000, you know how much I love surf music! On the other hand, Wipeout is not about surfing. Quite the opposite in fact; it's all about skiiing and snowboarding... in the 90's! This table is the embodiment of the 90's. All sorts of Day-Glo colours and fashions add visual flair while the callouts are all sorts of dated terms, like "TOTALLY BITCHIN' DUDE!" and"RIP THE CRUUUUD!". I'm surprised that Pauly Shore wasn't hired to do the callouts for this table. Nonetheless, the theme is totally gnarly and the playfield is wicked colourful.
 Not only that, but Wipeout is actually a decent table too. Keep in mind that Wipeout was released in October 1993, just in time for Winter! But I digress, 1993 was a BIG year for pinball; tables like Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation were hitting the arcades and pushing the game to its absolute limits. it is unfair though to compare a table like Wipeout to a SUPERPIN like Star Trek. Gottlieb, once the paragons of pinball, had lost their lustre in the mid-80's and just could not keep up with the juggernaut that Bally/Williams had become later on but that isn't to say they tried their damnedest to release fun tables. Wipeout is a darn fun table and certainly is one of their better tables of the era.

Wipeout does not have the deepest rule set but I think that is what sets it apart from some of it's contemporaries. When a pinball table has a dozen different modes and shots to make, it is difficult for someone new to the game to play it and really enjoy it. Wipeout only has several modes to complete which are easy to light and complete. Each mode has a clear shot and the player is guided along the way through audio and visual cues. The modes are not super complicated and usually require just a shot or two at a particular ramp or target.
Nathan and I played a couple of games of Wipeout and he was telling me about how he plays pinball. He plays "Hunter Style" which is were you play "slow as f**k" by trapping the ball and planning your shot rather than slapping the flippers the moment the ball is heading towards them. His style of play was quite appropriate for Wipeout as it can punish you for playing fast and loose but reward you for planning your shots carefully.
There are a couple of spots in the middle of the playfield that will mess up your day if you are not careful. There are drop target banks on the lower left and lower right which can always be a pain as well as a stand-up target below the bumpers that is set up to be a drain machine. It is placed just slightly to the left of the center drain and can send a loose ball right back down. The target is called the NEVER EVER target and I guess the name says it all.
NEVER EVER HIT THE TARGET! unless you want some BIG POINTS! There's another sneaky target hidden away in the bumpers. The Dog target can send the ball bouncing off the neighbouring bumpers or down off of the drop targets below and right down the middle so you have to be careful about hitting it. The target does come into play quite often as it lights the Slalom which is this big ol' contraption.
In order to get the slalom going, first you have to lock a ball up there. Shoot up the center and the ball will go over onto the chairlift...
Where it will be lifted up onto the ski hill and then placed into the starting gate. When Slalom is lit, go for the center shot again and the ball will drop into the slalom. The slalom is similar to the mini-playfield on Batman where you must bounce the ball around through the lit rollover lanes to get points. The difference is the fact that Wipeout's Slalom shakes all over! Hit the flippers to shake the Slalom and bounce the ball through the lit rollovers.
Wipeout wasn't the only table at the Guelph Pinball Club that was about XTREME Sports... Thankfully, Striker XTreme was not there, but there was another table that is quite the XTREME table, that being WHIIIIIITE WAAAATER! I have spoken of White Water before during my trip to the Canadian Pinball Championships in 2013 but I don't see any reason why I can't talk about it again. I took a second look at X-MEN so what's stopping me from taking a second look at White Water? Nothing really, I mean, this is my blog and all so let's talk again about White Water!
I covered a lot of the main points in my previous review of White Water so to recap, this table HATES you and will do everything in it's power to end your game. White Water has a dual layer playfield and requires precise shots on both the lower and higher playfield in order to succeed. Fast and loose playstyles will be struck down mercilessly and instead you must play a much slower and deliberate game. In order to do well, hell, to even survive in White Water, you need to know what you are doing. I mentioned in the previous review that WW is a player's table but didn't really specify what that meant besides it being "hard as hell". Having played White Water again at Guelph Pinball Club, I feel it may be easier to explain what I meant by "player's table". You need to be able to employ more pinball techniques, like drop catching and post passing, in order to play well on White Water. These sorts of techniques help stop the ball from flying all over the place and provide you with more opportunities to make precise shots. Here's a video about some pinball techniques so you can sharpen up your skills!

Now that your skills are up to par, let's look at White Water some more. A lot of shots are meant to mess up your day, like many of the targets littered throughout the playfield, especially the Extra Ball target.
Talk about Risk versus Reward! This is the embodiment of the term. It looks easy enough; it's close to the flippers and looks like a quick shot that will return back to the flippers but that is wrong, so wrong. That target will launch the ball at mach speed right down the middle drain or it will fall and bounce off of the top of the right slingshot and drain out the right outlane. Just stay away from the Extra Ball target. Instead, try to get up to the upper playfield and stay there as much as possible. It's much safer and the best way to build up points.
The easiest way to get to the upper playfield is by hitting the left ramp. Keep in mind though, White Water despises you and doesn't make this easy. The ramp is steep and reaches all the way from the left to the very right side of the playfield so if the ball doesn't have enough speed going up, it's going to come right back down and more than likely right through the drain. Once you are on the upper playfield, there are two shots to make, the lower shot being Insanity Falls...
... And the upper shot being Big Foot's Cave. But there's one problem... Bigfoot will redirect any shots at his cave and send it down into the whirlpool which will then drop the ball right into the Boulder Garden. The Boulder Garden is placed in such a way that almost nearly every time the ball comes out of the Garden, it's going to drain. There's an opening that leads right towards the center drain and another that is above the lanes. If the ball pops out of that exit, it's supposed to fall down to the right flipper but the exit is set up in such a way that the ball will bounce between the lane posts and... probably just drain down the right outlane.
But I digress... In order to access Big Foot's Cave and score the Big Foot Jackpot, you have to complete the Bigfoot Hotfoot mode 4 times to distract Big Foot. Yes, 4 times... Not only that, the targets are located across from the Extra Ball target, next to one of the Boulder Garden exits and those targets are going to run your day. The angle is set up to either send the ball down the center drain or launch it right at the left outlane. Have I mentioned how much White Water hates you? I feel like I should mention it again. 4 times... seriously...
Despite the difficulty that White Water presents, it's one of those tables that you just gotta say "one more game". It kicks your butt all over the place the first few games, then you start figuring things out and then you have a semi-decent game so you want to keep playing and try to take down this beast! Thankfully, White Water was on free play at Guelph Pinball Club so I didn't have to dump a lot of money into it. Instead, I was able to keep coming back for more!
Things got a little bit XTREEEEME in this installment of my Guelph Pinball Club Trip Reports! Last time around were the Natural Disasters, Earthshaker and Whirlwind. For Part II of The Trip Report, I took a look at an underrated early 90's Gottlieb-Premier, Wipeout. Named after the eponymous song by the Surfaris, the table also features it as the main track although the table's theme is not about surfin'... heck, it's not even about Summer! It's all about bein' cool and skiing and snowboarding! GNARLY!
White Water was the other table reviewed, the theme being white water rafting. I had reviewed White Water previously during my trip to the Canadian Pinball Championships in 2013 but I didn't get to play it too much as White Water is a helluva tough table. I have improved since then... Not that it helped much! I cannot stress how hard White Water is but if you play carefully and use the techniques necessary to capture and control the ball, you might be able to stay afloat for longer than 30 seconds. It also helped that White Water was on freeplay...
What's next for Guelph Pinball Club? I'm not sure yet but I have narrowed it down to two tables at this point. Two heavyweights of the 90's, the magnum opus of their designers, Pat Lawlor and Steve Ritchie... Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation! It's only a matter of time before I review both but which one first? I guess we will have to see! Stay tuned for Part III of the Guelph Pinball Club trip report!

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