Location: Brisbane & Adelaide

Report from Pete Young

Well it was meant to be a trip out to Australia to see England win the Ashes. As cricket fans will know it never quite worked out like that. Nevertheless Australia is still a great place to go to especially if you want to spend a few hours playing pinball.

First stop for the Barmy Army was of course Brisbane. The first indication that Oz is a great place for pinball was when the Airport train arrived in the Roma Street terminus in central Brisbane, though I've also heard there's also a machine in the departure lounge of the airport somewhere. Nested amongst the food court is a small video games arcade, thankfully air conditioned, and the first thing you notice are a‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Streetfighter 2’ Okay, we are not talking about huge numbers of machines in any one location but the ‘little but often’ mentality towards pinball distribution is certainly prevalent out there.

An initial inspection of the playfield shows the machines to be in almost perfect condition, a standard which seems fairly consistent throughout my trip. Now I have to admit a bias towards ‘Twilight Zone’, it has always been one of personal favourites though I’ve often been severely dissappointed by the condition and functionality at other locations. No such problem here, after inserting my first $1 AUD (about 35 pence) I’m hooked.

The play is clean, the flippers strong and the replay score is achievable though challenging. The ‘Streetfighter 2’ machine also plays well though it is not one of my favourite machines and the lure of ‘Twilight Zone’ means that is where my money mostly went. With regards to staff there is only a change provider who seems fairly amused at the 'Mad Pom' feeding the pinball machines but isn’t really able to give any information on maintenance or popularity.

Three days later and I’ve given up hope on England salvaging anything from the test match. So it’s off to the centre of Brisbane to drown my sorrows. In the center is a ‘Replay’ which is your typical video emporium. However there are three pinball machines just dying to take my money.

There’s a ‘Whodunnit’, a ‘South Park’ and a ‘Star Wars’. After giving all three a go the majority of my time is spent on ‘South Park’. I haven’t really played this machine much in the past but it quickly becomes one of my favourites.

The large rubbery targets, slick playfield, not to mention the game booming out foul langauage when certain skill shots are made, make this a machine I’ll seek out again.

The ‘Whodunnit’ also plays well but I never quite got the hang of what I was meant to be doing though I had several enjoyable games trying to figure it out.

The ‘Star Wars’ is also a perfectly maintained machine though the playfield is a bit dark. This machine initially ate my money but a quick complaint to a staff member rectified that and he was quite happy for me to take a few photos though once again knew nothing about who was maintaining the machines.

The game itself is a bit too gimmicky for my tastes though the holographic video thing looked really neat and actually worked.

A couple of weeks later and it’s time to see England get their revenge in Adelaide. Three days on and, once again, I’ve given up hope as regards to cricket.

The best place to find pinball in Adelaide is in the pubs. A rough estimate is that you’ll find one in about 20% of the hostelries but maybe I was just lucky.

The good news is that in the pubs they are even better value. A $2 AUD investment will often get you 3 games and many of the machines also give you 5 balls.

My poor note taking, together with a propensity to imbibe the local brew with my nephew and girlfriend, means I can’t remember which machines I actually played.

However a ‘Judge Dredd’ and a near mint condition ‘Adams Family’ (take note Brighton!) do stick in my mind.

The clear tones of Raul Julia and Angelica Houston, all the great electric chair features, together with the hand which grabs the ball makes this my favourite machine ever.

To find one working perfectly sort of summed up what was a great holiday - shame about the cricket though.

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