Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, USA.
Nestled alongside scenic Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire's Lakes Region, in three vintage arcades, is a rare find indeed. A total of 17 playable relatively clean and decently maintained pinball machines. Pinball on location these days is rare enough. Good pinball is nearly unheard of. Luckily, during this summer tourist season, pinball is alive and well at Weirs Beach, NH along the touristy boardwalk of a bygone era.
I made my trip just after 4th of July. First up was the Half Moon Penny Arcade. Here I found a nice line of six 90's machines all ready to play. Most were set for 50cent play, but the Earthshaker was set for quarter play.
I played a few rounds on Earthshaker, Revenge From Mars and Theatre Of Magic, earning several extra balls. All games were generally playable. The games were not too dirty, with only a few minor issues noted, such as burnt bulbs and a slightly off-angle set of flippers on TOM. The three arcades in downtown Weirs Beach have been there for a long time. I asked an operator at the Half Moon Penny Arcade how long they had been open, and was told that it was somewhere around 54 seasons.
Next, I made my way to the Half Moon Family Fun Center just down the boardwalk. This was my favorite of the three for overall atmosphere. In addition to the six 90's era machines that waited just inside the doorway to play, were some other arcade favorites, such as the old style shooting gallery in the rear corner.
Here I played some nice games on High Speed 2 - The Getaway, earning both a replay and a special. The supercharger was working great, and the pin was nice and clean with strong flippers. I also played Space Shuttle, which had a lively feel, but a tilt somewhat too tight for my liking. Here too, the modern machines were setup for 50 cent play with SS taking a quarter. The old wood floors in this arcade and some vintage games they had around really gave this arcade a feeling of stepping back in time.
This Chicago Coin Basketball Champ was a real treat to try, as I had never seen anything like it before.
Finally, I made my way across the street to the Winnipesaukee Pier Arcade.
Here I struck gold, finding an additional five machines in great condition, including three immaculately clean recent Stern titles, one of which was a fully functioning Sopranos. I played Sopranos and was happy to find it worked flawlessly.
I have had flipper problems, and observed non-operative "safe" toys, playing this title in several other locations, but this one was ROCK solid. I was able to score myself another replay here and have some fun games. I have to reiterate, these games were clean and had none of the black playfield goo you find so regularly on location.
All of the locations mentioned above had a nice assortment of video games and plenty of redemption devices in addition to the pinball. I saw several gun games sprinkled in too.
This report focused on the three arcades located right on the lakefront in downtown Weirs Beach. Many familiar with the area will know that Funspot, a very large arcade, is right around the corner, and has perhaps 50 or more pinball machines on the second floor. While I did not visit Funspot this year, in previous years when I visited, I have been less than impressed with the playability of the games there. If you are in the area, however, it may be worth a stop too, just to see some titles you may not have seen before. The collection includes many early '80s machines.
In all, Weirs Beach is well worth the trip if you are in the area. I like the look of these old arcades, and it's nice to see a piece of preserved history still dishing out a seasonal treat to many young and old. Clearly redemption keeps these places alive, but it's nice that they care enough to keep a few well maintained pinball machines going for dads like me who enjoy playing a game or two of pinball while my kids crank through $10 of skee ball in 15 minutes or less.
© Pinball News 2005