Address: Kriesbachstrasse 1, 8304 Wallisellen, Zurich, Switzerland.
Date: 21st March 2008
Report by Phillip Eaton
After my recent relocation to Zurich for work, one of the most important Google searches I had to do was to find out what pinball was on offer here. The UK pinball scene has recently grown dramatically and now has numerous league events. Moving abroad might have caused a significant obstacle for my pinball habit.
I needn’t have worried because it appears that there is more than just gold hidden in Switzerland’s earth. A page of Google links later and I’d found what many in the UK might consider complete fantasy; a permanent collection of nearly 70 pinball machines, open for play 2 or 3 times a month, including a licensed bar with food and open until the last person goes home.
I’d seen the pictures on their web site www.hurri.ch, together with a huge list of games and to be honest, I wasn’t sure I really believed it. Surely this was some kind of dealer of arcade machines and this was just a list of ‘in stock’ machines? After all, the web site was written in German…
I should learn to be more trusting. Once I’d found the stairway down to the Hurricane Flipper Club, somewhere in a quiet semi‑industrial area, a couple of stops east from central Zurich, it became clear that this was something that doesn’t exist in my native UK.
After hanging my coat up at the bottom of the stairs and starting to wander, it came to my attention that there were a lot of games here, as well as many other assorted amusement memorabilia and novelties.
The Hurricane Flipper Club and all the machines in it are owned and run by Daniel Köchli, together with a couple of friends Philippe Kappeler and Marcel Bürgin, with their web site updated by Roman Schätzle.
According to Dani and Philippe, it all started innocently enough, with a small number of machines that eventually required a basement to put them in.
Once installed in the basement, they expanded little by little and now, almost exactly 5 years on, they’ve filled the rest of the basement that was available.
Nowadays, the machines are accompanied by a fully licensed bar, complete with food, jukebox, football table, comfy dining seats and everything else you’d love to have in your ideal games room. There are even numerous LCD screens around the venue running adverts for related events.
Dani not only runs the bar with help from the others, but also maintains the machines himself, all of which I found were in superb condition and working perfectly.
As you can imagine, there are many pinballers in the Zurich area that have made this their ‘local’, but because of its location, people come from neighbouring Germany and Austria too. There are around 40 regulars and up to 60 additional people who turn up, depending on the day of the week the venue is open.
Having been to the 2008 European Pinball Championships in Denmark a couple of weeks earlier, I recognised some of my fellow competitors and ended so up in a few matches. The first was Medieval Madness and I was playing with Röbi Sutter and Levente Tregova.
Before the game I was told that Röbi was probably the best player in Switzerland and currently 15th in the WPPR rankings. Considering my 4th-last finish at the EPC a couple of weeks earlier, I wasn’t holding much hope out of getting a result.
Pinball is a funny old game though, as I managed a whopping 62 million on my first game, my best score ever by a long, long way and that was one win to me. I don’t quite remember what happened in the games after that and I think it’s perhaps best to leave it that way…
My visit was on Easter Friday evening and on various tables and shelves around the place were little baskets of chocolate bunnies and mini eggs. As the next day was a weekend, many of the people had brought their partners and children along to join in the fun and finish off the sweeties.
It’s not all perfect at the Hurricane Flipper Club, though, and the jukebox was a point in case. I had a quick look through the selection of CDs on offer, finding Roxette, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Bananarama, Wham, Jive Bunny and Dusty Springfield.
Understandably, I then found myself frantically looking for Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, some Bachman Turner Overdrive or even Bohemian Rhapsody.
Sadly, a generic Bon Jovi album and a Lets Rock Now compilation featuring Metallica’s Enter Sandman was as good as it got. I’ll have to have words with the owner, because this is surely unacceptable.
If you’re suitable outgoing, you’ll find many of the locals are happy to talk and play pinball with you, and they certainly made me feel really at home. Thomas (left) and Zoltan were two such locals and were playing against Zoltan’s young daughter that night. (And whom was camera shy!)
The collection of machines at the Hurricane Flipper Club has variety, with a great mix of '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s examples, which I personally prefer to simply having all the regular dot matrix machines.
It was also great to see that most of the many children in attendance were playing the pinballs, with the grabber machine very lightly used.
In addition, there are many other miscellaneous machines and novelties that one would find in an old-time amusement arcade, such as the two player flipper football game above that was popular.
Another person I bumped into announced himself as ‘camperdeluxe from the German pinball group’ (real name Andreas Gräber). He was promoting his range of LED replacements for pinball bulbs to anyone who would listen. When I questioned him about the ‘flicker’ that some have complained about when using LED conversions, he showed me the capacitor configuration he uses to reduce this.
Towards the end of the evening many people, who were obviously familiar with Dani, were shaking his hand as they were leaving. Being Easter, they all left with a gratis good-sized Lindt chocolate bunny. I don’t remember my landlord in the UK ever giving me one of those!
The Hurricane Flipper Club holds it own tournament this summer on Saturday 5th July, 2008 and has several qualification events all through the spring and summer until that date.
The venue currently allows smoking, which is a huge disappointment for me after just moving from the UK where it’s just been outlawed in bars. However, Dani has recently polled members as to whether this should continue and so this policy is under review. I hope they come to a decision that helps them move with the times.
The pinball machines available for play on my visit were:
plus numerous other amusement machines.
If you’re in or around Zurich, you owe it to yourself to check out the Hurricane Flipper Club's diary on their web site, www.hurri.ch. It’s well worth a look if your visit coincides with an open evening. Entry is free and machines are 1 Swiss Franc per play (approx. $1, £0.50 or €0.64) for 5 balls.
© Pinball News 2008