Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Demolition Man

For the first weekend of July, Shane and I hit the open road on our way to...
Actually, it wasn't so much "open road", we got stuck in a bit of a traffic jam on the QEW... but the rest of the drive was really good! Also, it wasn't so much a "pinball journey" like it was last year. In the first half of the 2013 Pinball Journey, Shane and I travelled to Welland in search of Super Mario World and a couple of tables at a little laundromat in Port Colborne. The second half consisted of my favorite bar in Port Colborne, Harborfront Inn, as well as a FINE HUNT in Niagara Falls, having found Theatre of Magic at a strip mall laundromat.
This time around though, Shane and I were going to see a car show in the city of St. Catherines and it was a darn fine car show. Here's a couple of my favorite car pix!
Is that... THE LAST OF THE V8 INTERCEPTORS? from... THE ROAD WARRIOR?! HELL YEAH IT IS! Here's the crazy part... We saw this very same vehicle last year!
Too wild! Anyways, this is not a car blog but if you do like cars and you want to see some more of my car pix then might I suggest checking out my little tumblr page, The Cadillac Kid? I post a cool car pic of mine once a day.
After we checked out the cars in St. Catharines, we made our way southbound to Port Colborne for some fish'n'chips and pinball! If you find yourself in Port Colborne, check out Minor Fisheries at 176 West St., right along the canal. They have some downright amazing perch there! Shane and I ate some fish'n'chips then we watched a boat go through the canal... time for some BOAT PIX!
OK enough dilly-dallying! Bright Lights Bumper City is a pinball blog and I have been talking about everything but pinball! So, when we arrived in Port Colborne, we walked by Harborfront Inn. Temptation got the best of me and I looked in the window to see if there was still a table in their midst. Demolition Man was there but it was turned off. Needless to say, I got a bit worried. After eating some dinner and watching some boats, we stepped into Harborfront Inn and made our way to the back for the moment of truth... Was the machine working or was it OUT OF ORDER?!
As it turned out, Demolition Man was working and just needed to be turned on! So we got down to business and played some serious pinball. I spoke a bit about DM in last year's St. Catherines Pinball Journey post so this will be a bit of a "second look", ala my most recent X-MEN post. We were more familiar with the table this time around so we were able to really get into it.
The number 1 thing I love about Demolition Man is the amount of shots. DM is one of several in Bally's SUPERPIN line, a revival of the widebody tables from the 70s and 80s. Whereas most of the SUPERPIN tables, like Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation had all sorts of crazy gimmicks and toys, Demolition Man is pretty much just ramps and loops.
The table reminds me a lot of some of the early System-11 tables back when ramps and wireform habitrails were becoming commonplace, such as High Speed and Truck Stop, where you can just make endless combos hitting all the ramps and loops. The difference between those tables of the 80's and Demolition Man is that DM has much more real estate to work with and takes total advantage of the additional space.

The flow of this table is downright beautiful. Nearly every shot leads into one another; The ramps send the ball along habitrails that deliver it right back to the flippers. Even the third flipper has a nice set-up which many tables with upper playfield flippers struggle with. Hitting the center ramp sends the ball down to the left and to the upper flipper. The shot is great because the ball loses momentum and slowly drops down to the third flipper, giving you ample time to set up the shot to hit either the upper scoop or the ramp right below it.
The bonus of hitting all the shots sequentially leads to lighting Extra Ball after 8 combos. Getting the 8 combos is easy but the difficult part is actually getting the Extra Ball. The Extra Ball shot is the left loop and it is a really tight shot to make. Missed shots will bounce off posts and send the ball right down the middle. Shane especially was having a tough time with this shot with nearly every attempt ending with a straight down the middle drain.
Demolition Man has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. Hit the right ramp that will feed the ball to the right flipper and light Quick Freeze, which is a ball-lock hurryup for Fortress Multiball. By hitting the left ramp, you will lock a ball for the multiball mode but keep in mind that there is only a short timeframe in which you can do this. From there, if you light the Cryo Claw and hit the correct shot to get to the Cryo Claw, go for the Freeze Lock award and, if you hit have a ball locked already, you will activate Fortress Multiball. More often than not, I found this happening quite early in my games and got Multiball almost right off the bat.
The multiball modes are where some of DM's issues lie. The scoring on DM is a bit unbalanced; you can get HUUUUGE points in multiball but all the other modes do not offer much in terms of points. The best thing to do on Demolition Man is work towards activating the multiballs and focusing on scoring Jackpots to get a big score. Ignore pretty much everything else. One strategy I used is to activate the Cryo Claw as quickly as possible and obtain all five features. Be careful with the Cryo Claw though; each feature drops the ball along a different path and in the case of Prison Break (the middle award), it drops the ball down along the left loop and sometimes even straight down the middle. I digress though... Obtain all five Cryo Claw awards to activate DEMOLITION TIME, the table's Wizard Mode. It's a 5 multiball mode (can't recall since there were so many balls flying around the table) and all the shots are lit for BIG POINTS! If yer looking for a big score, try to aim for DEMOLITION TIME

Demolition Man doesn't come with the usual gimmicks that were prevalent in the 90's era of pinball. There is the previously mentioned Cryo-Claw but it isn't a huge factor in the gameplay besides triggering certain modes and features. The main gimmick of Demolition Man has to be THE TRIGGLE HANDLES!!!
It's a whole new way to play pinball! A lot of players have a love/hate relationship with DM's trigger handles, most going the "hate" route, though "hate" is such a strong word... Most players dislike the handles saying they're a fun novelty for a game or two but end up going right back to the flipper buttons. I'm always one to go against the grain and have to say that I love playing with the trigger handles. It is a different way to play the game and adds some new strategies. Since you have a closed-fist grip on the handles compared to the open-palm grip of the flipper buttons, it is a lot easier to shake and nudge the machine, especially for little precision nudges. There's also a scoring benefit related to using the handles. Apparently, there are certain trigger combinations that provide additional scoring (at least according to DM's flyer). What the bonuses are, I have no idea but it's all the more incentive to use the trigger handles!
If you're looking for a pinball table with flow, Demolition Man has to be your best bet. This table is the epitome of flow. I know many people say Steve Ritchie is the king of flow and I don't deny that, he certainly is and many of his tables are great examples of such. However, I would say Ritchie revolutionized playfield design by creating some beautifully flowing layouts, like High Speed and Black Knight 2000 but the designer of Demolition Man, Dennis Nordman, perfected the definition of flow with this table. The perfect blend of ramps and loops and lack of momentum stopping shots, (though there are a few, mind you) are all mixed into a widebody table to provide plenty of room without feeling cramped and clunky. Though the scoring is a bit unbalanced, the multiball modes are easy to enable and build up some serious scores. The trigger handles are a wild gimmick but are quite polarizing; some people consider them a cheap, one-game novelty while others (like myself) love the diversion from the usual flipper button set-up.

By the time we got to Harborfront Inn, the day was already getting late and we only had about an hour to play before we had to head out. During our last few games, Shane and I were earning a couple of replays from decent scores. I kept saying "one more game!" while Shane watched the clock, getting nervous about the time. Once I thought we played our final round, we earned a replay during the match sequence and I said the fateful words "... one more game." Shane agreed as long as we played a lightning round. Lightning Rounds are for when you have two players but only one credit left. Each player takes a turn and whoever gets the higher score gets the final ball. It was a tight game but I was able to get a higher score than Shane on my turn and so I took the third ball. During my third ball, I was able to climb my way up into the High Score bracket and managed to get the Extra Ball. Shane let me take the Extra Ball round and during that round, I completed all the Cryo Claw features and activated DEMOLITION TIME!! With a five ball multiball and all sorts of jackpots to hit, I got up to the #2 spot but threw it all away. At a crucial moment where the ball was bouncing between the left inlane and outlane, I got a little too frisky and tilted the machine, sacrificing my bonus score and opportunity to become NUMBER 1! Number 2 ain't bad though!
Normally, I would have entered MUF but whenever Shane and I play a lightning round and one of us gets a high score, we put in an amalgamation of each other's letters as a sign of teamwork! And so, TUF is here to stay in Port Colborne!

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