Monday, April 20, 2015


House of TARG takes their pinball game seriously, often switching machines in and out which makes my occasional visits all the better. Below is the latest lineup that I got to partake in during my trip in February.
There are a few staples at the barcade, such as The Addams Family, but compared to my last report, there were many new tables to play on. One particular new entry was the Williams classic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
T2 is a legendary table. It was one of the first tables to include a Dot Matrix Display though it was beat by Gilligan's Island due to a longer-than-expected development cycle. T2 was also the first to feature a video mode as well as an oscillating cannon!

Now, where have I seen a cannon before? Oh yeah, in my review of Stern's AC/DC
Before AC/DC, there was Terminator 2! The originator of the cannon was Steve Ritchie, who designed both T2 and AC/DC. Note the similarities between the two tables!
Dual ramps, kickback target next to the left ramp and a target bank in the middle, not to mention the cannon. If my review of AC/DC didn't make it clear how difficult some Steve Ritchie-designed tables were, then this look at T2 will put it to rest. 
Needless to say, T2 is tough. The table is a fast player and combined with the tight shots that Ritchie is known for, you may be seeing the game over screen before you know it. Many of the required shots are very risky; they require precision accuracy and lightning-fast reflexes. Lighting the multiball lock is a particularly tough shot. In order to light the ball lock, you have to hit the shot below the T2 skull. But that's only the beginning. There is actually a drop target hidden underneath the skull that is knocked down upon the initial shot and returns the ball at mach speed to the lower playfield. Whether it ends up at the flippers, in the slingshots, or down the drain, that really depends on the T2 you're playing. The shot trajectory is so precise that an off-level table would tend to send the ball right down the middle.
Once the lock is lit, you have to hit the Skull shot again to send the ball over to the cannon and from there you can activate Multiball... but don't party just yet! Multiball doesn't come that easily. Once the ball is loaded into the cannon, you have to hit the lit target opposite the cannon in order to even start multiball! If you miss that target, better say your prayers because that ball is going right for the drain!
Now dig this... during Multiball, in order to get the Super Jackpot you must load a ball into the cannon and hit the lit moving target... while there are other balls bouncing around the playfield! Talk about a tough shot!
Something I like about T2 that doesn't necessarily have to do with the playfield design but rather the art design is that the shot trajectories are outlined by the artwork. Take a look at the ramp shots, the lights create a line that almost reaches to the flippers and gives you an idea of the path you need to hit in order to make the ramp shots. This is the signature of pinball artist, Doug Watson. I mentioned in my review of Attack From Mars that Watson has a knack for using bold shapes to enhance the visual flow of the pinball table. In the case of T2, the art design really helps in dialing in those tough shots.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a legendary table in its history and it's difficulty. It was one of the first tables to include a DMD and video mode and it's notoriety of crushing dreams and eating quarters is well-justified. T2's playfield design has outstanding flow that come with positive and negative repercussions. Each shot works well together and there is very little that stops the ball in play. On the other hand, the ball can really get up to a crazy speed with little time for you to react. Add to that some unforgiving and tight shots and you have a game over before you even blink! The points are tough to come by but when you really dial it on Terminator 2, the points really begin to rack up. The feeling of accomplishment when you get a high score on T2 is something else... I should know.

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