Last year both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 got released. Many gamers compared the specs of the two systems, the exclusive titles, the online interfaces, but for myself I was an early adopter of the Xbox One but the PS4 always had something I wanted. This, to me, was beyond a nuisance and I always felt as if the Xbox One wasn't even in the same hemisphere compared to the PS4. Then, finally, the most anticipated title, at least in my mind, got released for the Xbox. I'm not talking about Halo: Master Chief collection or any of the other triple A titles that have come out in the past month. No, I'm not talking about any of those as the titles I'm talking about is Pinball Arcade!
Pinball? Most anticipated? Each person has his or her own taste and on system launch days last year the PS4 got The Pinball Arcade leaving us Xbox'ers out in the cold. I've loved pinball ever since I was tall enough to play and while Zen Studio's Pinball FX2 is an amazing game it isn't the authentic experience that Pinball Arcade is. You see, this is more than just a game for me but rather a trip down memory lane with most of the titles on Pinball Arcade I played at some point some where.
One of my favorite annual stops when I'm in Vegas is The Pinball Hall of Fame (shown to the right. Why do I have such a goofy smile? I took this photo and sent it to my sister whom can't stand Wheel of Fortune... or at least she can't stand playing the game against me) but that place is some 1,600 miles away from me and now I can play many of the games there on the Xbox.
As I said though, the Pinball Arcade is more than a game for me and it is the videogame epitome of the "Associative Memory System" which is that my memories are tied to events, places, numbers, or even pinball tables. My personal favorite table of all time is the Star Trek: The Next Generation table. This past weekend I spent many, many hours going for the online world record on it and I had it for a while before another gamer put up what appears to be an unbeatable score. I'll keep going for it, but the first time I played the Star Trek pinball game was the day after my family moved from Indianapolis to Saint Louis and we went to Crestwood Plaza and the Exhilarama arcade. Remember arcades? Anyway, I, at the age of 10, was already keen on all things pinball and I noticed a long line and what appeared to be a huddle and I couldn't see the table at the time but the unmistakable music from Star Trek was playing. I got in line and it must have been about an hour before I finally got my chance and it was pure pinball heaven.
Going back to the assocaitve memory system, having Asperger's as I do it is an important part in the way I measure time and the tables on Pinball Arcade essentially span my life. Another favorite table of mine is Cirqus Voltaire. I first played this table at the Route 66 Family Fun Center in 1998 and I don't know if it were the angles of the game, the speed, or what, but I could make fifty cents (one play) last 90 minutes. Ask my dad about this table and he'll just shake his head because "one game" often meant at least an hour of waiting because my games went on and on and on. Also, it became a bowling tradition as I bowled on a Wednesday afternoon junior league so before bowling I'd often stop at the arcade to play this game.
The nostalgia could go on and on and on, but I am so elated that FarSight Studios has crafted such great representations of the pinball tables I grew up with. It's hard to find places that have working pinball tables but now with The Pinball Arcade the games I grew up with will live on forever. That, and also my memories will stay as fresh as the day it happened. I can still remember that line for Star Trek, the smell of the arcade, the dings, bells, and all the other noises long lost from the era of arcades.