OUTLANE, HURRI & MURI
Locations in this report:
Report by Phillip Eaton
If you’d read my previous site report from the Hurricane Flipper Club, Zürich, you’d know that it boasts a fantastic array of around 70 machines, from the '70s to the modern day. Since that report a year ago, I’ve discovered more about the Swiss pinball scene and the large handful of publicly accessible pinball venues, each typically open two or three times a month, regular as clockwork.
What could be better than to invite some friends over for a long weekend, carefully choose some dates and line up three nights of pinball at three different locations? The answer; do the above and fit in some sightseeing, a boat trip around Zürich and then head off into the mountains for a day’s skiing.
Following a day out around Zürich city centre (easily navigable on foot or by inexpensive tram should you so wish) our first stop was Outlane Spielbar & Flipperraum in Altstetten (game bar and pinball room). Outlane is one of the oldest pinball clubs in the Zürich area and probably beyond, having recently released it’s 10 Years of Outlane: The DVD, featuring clips of Outlane and most other pinball venues in Switzerland.
Right now, Outlane is run by Ivo Vasella and he provides a warm welcome to the venue, which boasts over 40 pinball machines and more than a dozen classic video games (many picked from Ivo’s large collection of video game PCBs). A wide variety is on offer, from modern dot matrix machines right back to wood rails from '40s and '50s, and also many other novelty games.
The venue is two or three kilometres from central Zürich and located in a basement, with the entrance inside an underground car park – it took me over 30 minutes to find it the first time, even with a sat-nav! (It might have helped if I read the German directions more closely, though.)
Several large speakers dotted around the location, playing a great selection of period pop and rock music set the scene nicely, whilst you are playing or having a beer in the bar area. Of the three locations visited, Outlane feels the most like an '80s arcade, it’s a bit rough and ready in places (though that’s no bad thing), with a few too-many machines and it can get quite busy, no doubt due to it’s central location. In general, Switzerland is yet to embrace modern European non-smoking culture and this is Outlane’s biggest downside – smoking is allowed inside.
The second venue of the tour was the Hurricane Flipper Club in Wallisellen, as I previously reported in early-mid 2008. Once again, Daniel Köchli and his team were most welcoming of our British contingent. There’s not much to add to the original review of the venue. The quality of the machines is still to a very high standard, the walls and floor are spotless, the lighting is clean and bright and the bar well stocked with food and drink.
Almost 70 pinball machines, a handful of video games and many novelty machines and retro memorabilia are on offer. The Hurricane Club is again in a basement, underneath an Italian restaurant, with plenty of parking around some commercial buildings close by. With no smoking allowed in the venue (apart from at the bar), the air is clean also.
So far, we’d seen the sights of Zürich, by foot in the city, from a boat on Lake Zürich and from the Uetliberg, the local mountain that all tourists visit (except that it wasn’t summer at the time, so the city panorama left something to be desired). Nonetheless, it was time to get a bit more adventurous and visit some real mountains, so we headed for the Swiss Alps, for some skiing.
From central Zürich, the mountains are a 1 hour train ride away and you can buy ‘Snow & Rail’ tickets that make the whole experience relatively inexpensive, which is probably why so many Swiss ski – there are even children’s school holidays especially set aside for sports!
Trains are good, but when there’s a group of you, a 4WD car is even better, and while half of us hurtled down the Flumserberg mountains, the other half wandered around the mountains taking in the mountain air. Whilst Zürich and the rest of Switzerland is a very safe and clean country, you do see a fair amount of graffiti, and obviously Swiss mountains are no exception.
For the final stop of our 3-day pinball bonanza, we were welcomed to Flipper Club Sins, Muri AG. Don’t be alarmed, Sins refers to the name of the place where the club originated in 1994, but when the location changed to Muri, the name remained.
Muri takes around 30-40 minutes to reach by car from Zürich, the leisurely drive taking in some mountain switchback roads, which afford some great scenery. Whilst Outlane and Hurricane have a more commercial feel to them, with machines on pay-per-play, Flipperclub Sins has a different feel to it.
Firstly, there are fewer machines than the other locations, numbering in the high 20s, but still with good variety from several decades. From experience, there are rarely more than 10 players in the location at any one time, so, as you can imagine, the place has a much more laid back feel. There is a pool table and a table soccer, and a key difference is that the machines are on free play – you can pay on entry, or buy a pass that lasts for several months or a year.
The club is generally managed by Andreas Mathys and Jaco Sidler (not pictured) and many of the regulars help out, by running the bar, fixing machines and all the other jobs that need doing. Indeed, the club has an annual general meeting, where the various committee members are voted in and the finances are discussed.
With the Muri community spirit in mind, I was able to arrange a special Saturday evening opening, to accommodate the UK visitors and to arrange a small tournament. Six machines were picked at random and, to be honest, from the selection that came out, we managed to avoid everybody’s favourites. (D'oh!)
Each player in the tournament played the six machines, scores were awarded ranking points and were totalled and the results are shown below. A few machine settings and problems aside, the results show that young Svenja Babiczky (shown in the photo above), has a bright future in pinball, with third place overall and highest score on Swords of Fury.
Outlane Spielbar & Flipperraum is open on the last Thursday of each month.
Hurricane Flipper Club is open every second Thursday and last Friday of each month, with additional Fridays in winter months.
Flipperclub Sins is officially open each second Friday of each month, but is unofficially open every Friday as long as a member is around to open up (from experience, there always is), but check first.
If planning a visit, check the opening times on the respective venue website before setting out.
Currency exchange rates at time of writing 1SFr = 0.59GBP = 0.89USD = 0.66EUR
Since this report was written, the Hurricane Flipper Club has announced it will close on 25th February 2011 due to rising costs. We will leave it here as a reminder of what a great place it used to be.
© Pinball News 2008