Updated 25 June 2005 & 27 August 2004
Location: Southsea is the coastal part of Portsmouth, so it is on England's south coast between Brighton and Southampton. Clarence Pier is at the western end of the seafront.
Interesting word "pier". You probably have a vision of a long platform stretching out into the waters. Defying Nature's attempts to control the sea. A monument to Man's refusal to be bounded by the limits of land.
And then there's Clarence Pier.
Pier? What pier? Well in truth some of it is suspended over water - if you walk past the Games Wharf you'll see - but it's not your classical structure. Nevertheless, the Clarence Pier complex has undergone a recent redevelopment, with the result that some of the older stalls and rides have gone, and a new hotel/pub has gone up together with a new arcade and mini-golf course.
Overall, the Pier now looks much more modern and family-friendly and on this Bank Holiday weekend it was packed.
Car parking is right behind the complex, or there's metered parking on adjacent streets. It's not cheap - £1 gets you 1.5hrs in the main car park and I believe it's about 20p/20 minutes at the meters. Fortunately, if you don't mind a slightly longer walk there is free street parking a little further from the seafront.
For the rest of this report we hand over to Pinball News readers Andy Davies and Jon Ashley who sent in their reports 11 month apart. Over to Andy first and then Jon updates the story;
I'm please to say that Pinball is still alive and well in Southsea - but only just! Out of the 4 very large arcades which adjoins the funfair, only 1 has pinball. But there are 4 tables to choose from and all the tables are in good mechanical working order, but all could do with a small service to replace the dozen or so lights missing on each table.
All 4 tables are located in the Southsea Island Leisure Emporium which is the newest of the arcades and located next to the crazy golf course. It was sad to see that no-one was playing any of the pins on this very warm August afternoon. However I wasn't complaining! There are a couple of Ballys a Williams and a Sega table to play. First up was Scared Stiff. A good table in great working order, strong flippers and kickers but out of all 4 of the tables this one needed the greatest amount of new bulbs fitted and made playing it not as much fun as it would have been I'm sure with all lights in working order.
Next along was Johnny Mnemonic, a film tie-in table which unfortunately didn't see any of my pound coins, Manly because the star of the foursome in this arcade was a mighty fine Medieval Madness located to Johnny's right.
I am ashamed to say this is the first time I have played this machine. (I'm down south and don't get out much!) But this table, to me anyway, is what pinball is meant to be. Fun, Skillful, Entertaining, Challenging and most of all so enjoyable it gets you a parking ticket! This table is a credit to the industry and would be on the top of my shopping list if the wife leaves!!
The table was set up just right. Not too easy and not too hard. It did however suffer from a lack of fully working lights but not too many to distract from the game play. I did get 3rd and 4th place on the high score table with my first 2 credits so it wasn't set-up too hard! Everything worked very well, the drawbridge, castle, catapult, rescuing the damsel etc. All in all it's the most fun I have had on a pintable for a long long time. In fact reminds me on when I first started playing pins seriously with 8 ball deluxe many many years ago. With a good clean and quick replacement of the blown bulbs, this would be the best pin I have ever played. My only wish is that it was closer to home - Like in my living room!
Next to MM was a Sega Star Wars, which again I didn't play - Sorry - But looked very nice and out of all 4 pins in the best condition with all lights working and the table in good condition.
Overall Southsea is worth a visit. I didn't have time to get up to the South Parade Pier - Planning a visit here soon.
Just a couple of negatives. Lights on all four tables need replacing. A simple job and not much excuse for not doing it. All the fruit machines (100's of them) all had their lights in perfect working order. And the other, if you plan a visit, the lovely parking wardens sit in a van in the car park and don't leave it. So please don't be late back to your car!
And if any other of the arcades in Southsea read this, please place a New Stern table in one of your arcades - I haven't played them yet!!
Well firstly, as previously mentioned - siting of these machines is not good. Overhead strip lights mean you can actually lose the ball from time to time, but excusing this let's see what there is to play. As the previous reporter stated we have Scared Stiff (2 within a mile of each other?), Johnny Mnemonic, Medieval Madness and star Wars Episode IV from Sega - suffice to say not working and off with plug hanging over the backglass- oh dear. Not that I would have played it - I would have rather had had my fingernails removed by tweezers than play that abomination.
So onto what was available: Scared Stiff - not bad, needs a good clean - you can tell by the sluggish play - a real problem though was the ball ejector under the right ramp - I counted the ball trying to eject at a maximum of 9 times. Technician!!
Medieval Madness was next - not bad again, but not brilliant - which is a shame as this game needs to be in tip top condition - all the main features working fine, but again needs a damn good clean - obviously someone at this place is on a very long holiday. I felt like offering some tips and selling the cashier some Novus - but once again the blank expression I got when I asked why Star Wars was not working was enough to justify my reason for making a hasty retreat to the burger bar outside.
So whilst filling my face with Shergar, Paul and I planned our next outing - next week to Hayling Island - both East and West.....no it's not that big, but hey I live here!
© Pinball News 2004