Location: 315 N 36th St #2b, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
We first visited Add-A-Ball a year earlier. As we were passing by at the time, we dropped in for a game or two. The biggest challenge then - even in these days of satellite navigation - was actually finding it. We had the name, we had the address, but that was only half the story.
Walk to where 315 N 36th Street should be and you'll find a parking lot, or maybe a shop selling smoking equipment catering for a range of interesting substances. But no pinball.
No, to get to Add-A-Ball you need to walk down Phinney Ave N, and it is there you'll see your first clue.
On that first visit, the place was pretty quiet without much atmosphere. We bought a few drinks, played a few games and left feeling generally nonplussed.
One year on we made a return visit, and the contrast couldn't have been greater. There was a regular weekly Wednesday tournament taking place and the new, enlarged Add-A-Ball was buzzing - both inside and out.
Add-A-Ball is about the most casual place to play pinball you'll find. You can come and go as you please, there appear to be little in the way of rules as long as you abide by the law, and quite a few people seemed to just come here to hang-out.
If you came to play though, walk through the entrance and you come to the lobby where the first selection of pinballs and video games are set up.
The lobby is also where the well-stocked bar is located. They had three tap craft beers along with multiple bottles and cans - including the obligatory Rainier - spirits, wine and sodas. Prices were reasonable, and business was brisk on this particular evening.
Since our previous visit, Add-A-Ball had expanded quite considerably. A much larger room had been added deeper inside, which allowed a diner-style seating area to be installed, along with lots more pinballs and video games.
Two linking rooms between the lobby and the back room also house more pinballs and videos.
There are also a few other coin-op amusements scattered around. It was nice to see the EM classic Ringer here, as it remains a fun party game 44 years after it was first released.
The final two machines are the ones which let you play all the others.
Not that you'll need to use either all that much. Most machines were priced at just $0.50 per game, and some of the older titles were a paltry $0.25. Machine conditions were uniformly good, making the prices even more of a bargain.
Add-A-Ball don't own all the games at their location. Several people said certain games belonged to them, and others were recognisable as coming from friend's collections. All of which contributes to the community feel of the place and helps provide a regular flow of machines.
We were glad we made a second visit. People make Add-A-Ball come alive, so it's definitely worth making your first visit on one of the event evenings. Check their website to find the next one, because it's definitely worth the effort to find them.
© Pinball News 2014