(F.E.R. Interazar 2003)
Inderman from Pinball Hispano reports from Madrid, Spain.
On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of October the Spanish Recreational Fair (FER Interazar) for 2003 took place in the IFEMA in Madrid, Spain. The main manufacturers and companies related to recreation in Spain, as well as some representatives of foreign companies with a presence in the country were booked to appear.
Close Encounters of the AACPerian* Kind
*AACP Stands for 'Asociación de Amigos y Coleccionistas de Pinball' that is 'Pinball Friends & Collectors Association', a group of pinball fans from Spain.
being a good opportunity to find out the new features in the recreational
world, these fairs are wonderful occasions for meet other pinball fans. On
this occasion I was the only AACP outside Madrid that dropped by the FER
(as far as I know).
For a short time we enjoyed
pinball conversations and comments about our flippers. In short, an
interesting meeting. These things make a visit to a fair something much
more pleasing and interesting.
Not too much, we are not going to lie about it. We are now in the low part of the pinball cycle and the operators do not enjoy much the work needed to invest in pinballs, although it seems that this tendency is reversing. Now to see if Williams revives itself...
As far as pinballs are concerned, the best place to go was the stand of Commercial Cocamatic. Being the official importers of Stern Pinball and as Stern Pinball the only active manufacturer of pinballs in the world, it is logical to think that if there were pinballs at the fair they had to be there. And indeed they were there. A pair of The Simpsons Pinball Party machines were accompanied by 10 of the last Stern game, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. A design of Steve Ritchie that delighted all those that approached that way.
In order to promote its machines, the very same Gary Stern had come this year and it was common to see him in the vicinity of stand. I had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts with him and to thank him for his work. I wanted to ask some questions to him about his next game launch, but he stayed quite tight-lipped and pointed me to the month of November, when it is anticipated that it will be publicly released , although he commented that on Internet they had begun to circulate rumours and that they guessed right on this occasion. Alerted by the message of Juaney in the PH forum, I asked him: "It will have something to do with ' The Lord of the Rings'?". He was limited to a smile and to comment: "Perhaps. A little patience." (Note: In the time it has taken to publish the article this news has become a little out of date! :P)
Colourful and varied. The main thing with this machine is that I more or less have the same feeling as I did with 'Roller Coaster Tycoon', also from Stern and which was at the FER of the 2002. It is very showy but the great amalgamation of lights and colours on the playfield means that sometimes you do not know what to do with the ball, so you aim towards all the flashing lights that show where to shoot. That yes, the playfield is well designed and in just a short time you have an idea of what shots suit you most and those you really need to make (these last shots have the tendency to end up in the outhole or the outlanes).
5 flippers on the table, 2 of them on a mini upper playfield where they are used to lock the balls for multiball, a bank of 3 drop targets with some difficulty and closer to the drain, some ingenious toys, like the chimneys of the nuclear power station which act as bumpers or the door of the garage that, once struck, raised to reveal various prizes or modes, or Bart on his skateboard that moves on a small slide when the captive ball under the character is hit, and some others gave visual attractiveness to the game (I imagine that also they will cause a greater number of problems for the operators, but that's the price that there is to pay). If we added to it ramps and loops strategically placed, we will obtain an interesting pinball, whenever it is moderately well-taken care of.
Contrary to the SPP, the
shots seem clear enough in this machine; the objectives are well defined
and the machine guides the player towards the most interesting places,
especially if you understand the English with which it speaks to you (a
pity that the translations did not arrive at this point).
Aside from pinballs of Commercial Cocamatic, there was another device that deserves to be mentioned prominently in this article. It is not pinball itself. It is a simulator of pinball. A cabinet with the shape of average table of pinball, without a backbox, with a 42" screen in the main part and a computer inside. Perhaps some of you you have already read an article on it. Tab Austria calls it 'Virtual Pinball'.
When saying that it is pseudo-pinball I do not try to sound too contemptuous but it is not pinball. Pinball is pure physics (chaotic, but physical after all) whereas this is pure logic (quite illogical, like all computer science). It does not stop being a simulation. Showy and with many possibilities, but a simulation nothing else. They are not the same sensations. In fact they differ hugely.
What attracted the attention of Toni and me (it would be more precise to say that to Toni it caused enough repulsion) was the game that was being executed in this 'Virtual Pinball'. Very original it was not, no. Suffice to say that I do not know what Pat Lawlor will think of it (already you know that the USA people are very given to patents and to protect all their designs, inventions, etc). If you look for parallelisms between this virtual game and another real one already well known and recognized, you will find plenty. In short, I leave it to your of perceptive abilities.
Luckily no. There was one more pinball table in the Fair which went largely noticed. It was not packed with new technology, did not have piles of integrated circuits (in fact it does not have even one), was not a captivating new game to storm the market. Rather quite the opposite. It was a classic one with more years of life than I myself.
It was pleasant to see a machine that 'was so clean and conserved. Although I had the opportunity to play it, I preferred not to do it. I was concentrating on taking good pictures of it and speaking with its owner, which produced a great satisfaction to me, since I had spent a long time trying to get acquainted with him.
For those who you do not know Eulogio Pingarrón, I will say to you that his hands have designed some of the most recognized spanish machines. I have the luck to have one of his designs: The 'Odin de Luxe' from Sonic/Segasa. Spanish manufacturers like Juegos Populares, Peyper, Sonic/Segasa and Petaco had the fortune to be able to count on his talent and skill. But in addition to this, Pingarrón is a veritable encyclopedia of pinball. His head is full of memories, references, images and knowledge of pinball, both Spanish and outside Spain. I had the fortune to be able to have one long conversation with him and to know some the details of the history of pinball in our country. Although I was satisfied with the visit to the FER until that moment, this meant that the trip was worth far more. But the time was flying and so it was time to go. I took leave of Mr. Pingarrón and with Perimaton and Angel I left the FER. For this year.
This report is a translation from the Spanish original found at the great Pinball Hispano web site.
© Pinball News 2003