Date: 4th & 5th April, 2015
This year's Easter weekend brought, along with eggs and bunnies, a new combined competitive video and pinball show, held in the village of Lostock Gralam in northwest England.
This two-day event was jointly organised by Arcade Club who open their large arcade based in Haslingden in Lancashire every Saturday, and the Northern Lights team who organise pinball events at gaming and arcade shows in the north of England.
The venue was the Lostock Sports & Social Club, where the Rumours nightclub was filled to the brim with a mix of upright and cocktail videos, and a multitude of pinballs.
8BitFlip ran from 10am until 6pmon both the Saturday and Sunday. Entry cost £12 for one day, or £20 for both days.
The atmosphere inside was very much that of an old-style arcade, where pinball and videos sat side-by-side, competing for the attention of visitors.
The weekend was intended to be primarily for competitive events, but that didn't stop many casual players attending too.
Inevitably, machines develop faults across the weekend, but the repair team was there to keep things running smoothly.
The venue included a bar which served drinks at reasonable prices, and also provided hot and cold food ranging from £2.50 to £3.50 ($3.80-$5.40/€3.40-€4.80).
A second bar was located in the main Club building, providing quieter, more comfortable surroundings complete with two more pinballs and several pool tables, while those wanting to stay at the event on Saturday evening could purchase special £10 'lock-in' tickets which included a meal of a pie and peas/beans.
Of course the main impetus for the weekend was competitive gaming, and three pinball tournaments were run at 8BitFlip. The main one was on Saturday with a maximum of 64 players, and was called The Big Flip.
In the first seeding round all players were paired up to play best-of-five matches on randomly-chosen machines. The winners then joined round two's Group A with the losers continuing in Group B.
Round two saw another set of best-of-five matches, only this time games were played in 4-player groups with a 9-5-2-0 points scoring system. The player with the fewest points from Group A dropped out of the tournament completely, while it was the two lowest scorers in Group B. Furthermore, the Group A winners earned a bye through round three which was a valuable prize, as round three repeated the four-player groups of round two, but with only the highest scorer progressing.
From that point on, the remaining 16 players paired up to play more best-of-five head-to-head matches to reduce the field to 8 and then a final four.
Throughout the tournament, the machines used were picked from those available to play on the floor, meaning they could be played by non-competitors too. The waiting that resulted and a number of lengthy games meant the tournament ran past its expected 6pm deadline, with the last four starting the final around 9:30pm.
Those four were Andy Foster, Lukasz Romanowski, Martin Ayub and Nick Marshall, and due to the late finish the final was reduced to a best-of-three match. The third game of that final was played on Mustang.
In truth, the winner has already been decided after the points from the previous games made Martin unassailable. But he still needed to play in the last game to help decide the remaining places, and couldn't help but finish with a win on that game too.
So Martin was the winner, Andy was second, Lukasz third, and Nick fourth. Trophies and certificates were presented by tournament director David Dutton.
Here are the full results:
Sunday brought two new tournaments - The Old Flip and the Pinball News PinGolf Tournament.
The Old Flip was the classics tournament which was run by Kate Morris and held on ten pre-DMD solid-state machines:
A qualifying round saw competitors play five of the ten machines and get ranking points for their positions on each. The total of their ranking points determined their qualifying position.
The top 16 players qualified and then played in four four-player best-of-three matches using the 9-5-2-0 points system. The top two from each group continued into the semi-finals where four head-to-head best-of-three matches produced the final four.
The final four were Lukasz Romanowski, Martin Ayub, Peter Blakemore and Will Dutton. They played another best-of-three match on randomly-drawn machines.
It proved to be a close final with any of Lukasz, Martin or Will in with a chance going into the last game on TX Sector. Peter had severe bad luck on the first two machines and was out of contention for the win. After a good start, Martin damaged his chances with a tilt from a slap save on Genesis which also tilted the next player's turn, automatically relegating himself to last place on that game.
In the end, it was Lukasz who put up the winning score and took the final, ahead of Will in second, Martin in third and Peter in fourth. Kate presented the trophies and certificates.
Here are the full results of The Old Flip:
The second event on Sunday was the Pinball News PinGolf Tournament run by Martin Ayub.
Nine machines were set up and each had an objective to complete using the fewest balls possible. Each ball used counted as one stroke and as soon as the objective was achieved the number of strokes taken was recorded on the player's score card. Some objectives were to reach a certain score while others needed a specific feature to be completed.
The machines were all set to 5 balls, and if the objective wasn't achieved after all five a score of 6 strokes was recorded. Here are the machines and their objectives:
The four players with the lowest 9-hole course total made it into the final round. They were Craig Pullen (18), Andy Foster (21), Martin Ayub (21) and Nick Marshall (21).
The final involved starting again at the first hole (The Party Zone) and continuing round the course until all places had been decided. Nick Marshall and Andy Foster reached the 20M target score on their first ball, but Craig Pullen and Martin Ayub took more shots - 2 and 3 respectively - and so finished in third and fourth places.
Nick and Andy moved on to Dracula where they had to start Coffin Multiball. Andy completed that in fewer balls than Nick, giving Andy the win and making Nick second.
Trophies were then presented to the top four by tournament organiser Martin Ayub.
Here are the full results:
In addition to the three main tournaments, there were also two high score competitions held on machines behind the tournament desk.
A World Cup Soccer had separate tournaments on each day, while the adjacent Beat the Clock had a single tournament across both days.
Wayne Johns was the winner on World Cup Soccer on both days.
David Dutton took the honours on Beat the Clock, collecting his award from Darren Ball.
8BitFlip continued until 6pm when the tear-down of machines began, continuing into the following day.
This was the first fully competitive event for the Northern Lights team, and also their first collaboration with Arcade Club to host a joint pinball and video game weekend. The turnout was encouraging, and there was no doubt the visitors thoroughly enjoyed playing and competing on the wide range of machines available. Even die-hard pinball fans were tempted to put down the flippers and pick up a joystick for a few rounds of their favourite video games.
The venue was a little run-down, but it did recreate the classic, slightly seedy old-school arcade feel from the late '70s and '80s, albeit without the customary reek of cigarette smoke.
Hopefully everyone involved in organising and running it felt it was a worthwhile addition to the UK's competitive scene, and it will return for round two in 2016.
Literally minutes after this report was published, word came to us that 8BitFlip will indeed return at Easter 2016 with, as the organisers put it, "more competitions and more fun".
© Pinball News 2015