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.