Report by John
During the Chinese New Year holidays in February 2013, I visited Tokyo with my wife on my leisure trip. This time, we were staying in the hotel Toyoko-Inn Tokyo Shinagawa-eki Konan-guchi Tennozu (東橫INN 東京品川站港南口天王洲). This hotel was new and also good value for money.
On day one, the first pinball location was the Neverland amusement centre near the JR Toyoda train station.
I had an appointment with my Japanese friend Mr. Ito who is the current Japanese pinball champion. I arrived at Neverland at around 11:30am to find Mr. Ito had already been playing pinball for thirty minutes.
There was a total of six pinballs there. They were Rancho, Quicksilver , Dr. Dude, Spider-Man, Shrek and Batman.
The pinballs I played the most were Racho and Quicksilver. Why? Because I like those old electro-mechanical pinballs produced in the 1970s.
Luckily, I could get the third highest score record for both of these machines. For Rancho my highest score was over 800,000 points, but unfortunately I accidentally reset it (/_\).
I had a one-to-one tournament with Mr. Ito on the pinball Dr. Dude. Of course, I was totally defeated by him (/_\). In addition, he also got the No. 2 record of this pin for Feb 2013 (all of the records are reset on first day of every month).
In principle, taking photos is not allowed inside the Neverland centre. However, I was exceptionally allowed to do so when Mr. Ito explained to its staff that I am a roving reporter for Pinball News. For this, I need to thank Mr. Ito again here.
In order to list my two No. 3 records in the Neverland, I joined the Tokyo Pinball Organization (TPO). I suspect I was the first non-Japanese to join this association.
According to Mr. Ito, he needs to keep achieving good results on the pinballs in Neverland every month in order to get certain credits for his ranking. In addition, he also needs to participate in pinball tournaments in Japan. For me, pinballs are just a hobby which can make me happy and relaxed from anxiety. Frequently participating in pinball tournaments would be too much for me!
I noted that there was pinball news and league information posted on a notice board inside Neverland. I believe that Neverland is a core element of Japanese pinball. In fact, I hope that there will be someone in Hong Kong to hold regular tournaments in the future.
Other than the six pinballs, there is also a mini-pinball and some assorted video games.
We stayed there for more than six hours and left around 5:30pm.
However, the story was not over since we were continuing to our next pinball location - Zools Darts and Music. We would have dinner and pinball more play there.
One morning during the Chinese New Year holidays in February 2014, I re-visited Neverland game arcade.
The updated list of pinballs is:
Since my last visit in February 2013, Hot Tip, Xenon and The Champion Pub had been introduced into Neverland.
Of these, the one I loved the most was the Hot Tip. I got the high score #1 after spending two hours playing this pinball. I believe that this record will soon be easily broken by some good players of Neverland.
This time, I met both Mr. Sato and Mr. Horiguchi in Neverland.
Mr. Sato is one of the major pinball operators in Japan, and he is famous for supplying good quality pinballs.
Mr. Sato introduced me the special features of the electromechanical Hot Tip pinball. Only 1,300 EM Hot Tip models were produced in June 1977, while 4901 solid-state models were made. It was one of the last batches of EM pinballs produced anywhere in the world. This machine is almost 40 years old but it was still possible to keep it in good condition, although it is not an easy task.
Mr. Horiguchi is the Vice-President of TPO (Tokyo Pinball Organization), Country Director forJapan of the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association), and also a staff member of Neverland. He showed me schedule of 2014 pinball events in Tokyo .
In addition, he also showed me all of the Japanese pinball tips manuals he produced when he was still working for Data East pinball. They are quite amazing!
Mr. Horiguchi and I had a one-to-one tournament on the Hot Tip pinball. As expected, I was totally defeated. (/_\)
Finally, Mr. Horiguchi made me a gift of a Ninja pinball skills manual and a selection of Pinball Expo souvenirs. For this, I need to thank him again.
By the end, I had stayed in the Neverland from 11am until 5pm. I then proceeded to my next pinball location - Beer Cafe Zinc at Nakano, where I would meet my Japanese pinball friends.
There have been big changes since my last visit in February 2014. All of the six pinballs had been replaced during the 8 months before.
The current picture is:
All of the machines were kept in excellent condition. It is definitely the nicest pinball location in Tokyo. Although I played pinballs there for six hours, it was still not enough for me.
I found a new pinball friend, Youmei san, who was working very hard in Neverland since this was the last day to get high score records in September.
Here is some more information about Neverland:
There have been several changes since my previous visit in September last year
1. The four pinballs have been replaced. The current picture is:
2. Some pinballs are set to 50 Yen per game on a selected Friday of each month. Luckily, I arrived at Neverland on that selected Friday in September.
© Pinball News 2014