Family Guy Pinball
May 2nd, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Rather than sit in traffic today, as it’s ridiculously fucking snowing on May 1st out here, I broke ranks and headed over to Jason’s Billiards in order to play some Family Guy pinball. It is one of the newest pinball machines in the world, from Stern. I had heard that it was a lot of fun from regular people, and heard that it did not cause the heads of posters to combust with rage (a solid 8.5 on their scale, then). I had five bucks on me, so what the hell.

I think, for a beginner (which I still am, regardless of the fact that Vitriola and I have been going about every third weekend to play pinball over in Lyons) the kind of tables I dig are those that give me something to work for at my sickening beginner level. If there are more advanced things going on then great: the rest of the pinball-playing populace can enjoy them as well. But when I think of some of my favorites at this point in time, it comes down to the following:

Black Hole: I am obsessed with getting the ball to the lower playfield. Since I started playing the Xbox version of this on “Gottlieb Greatest Hits” (like Air Supply’s greatest hits there are not exactly the requisite ten choices) I have been obsessed with getting the popup targets “BLACK” and “HOLE” down in order.

Black Knight 2000: I am obsessed with keeping the ball in the top playfield. (And also determining if it is at all influenced by Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but that’s this whole other thing.)

Theatre of Magic: I am obsessed with both hitting the locked chest with the pinball over and over again, as well as immediately draining my ball so the lovely assistant in the game will say, “Here is another ball!”

… Likewise, Family Guy gives me something to shoot for: Stewie’s Mini-Pinball.

What these genius BASTARDS at Stern have done is include another pinball game inside the regular pinball game. It’s awesome. All you have to do to get up there is to hit the captive balls 7 times (lighting up the word “pinball”) and then shoot the pinball you control into a little hole. Boom, just like that, the Stewie action figure turns around and Mini-Pinball starts with a tiny pinball and tiny flippers.

And when I say “hit the captive balls” I mean just that. You don’t hit the figure of Brian or Peter, but balls in cylinders in two places (that I could see) on the playfield.

This also creates an enormous amount of frustration, in the good way, when you have all the lights lit to begin Stewie Pinball, but can’t put the ball in play into that hole. I got “Fart Multiball” fairly easily but could not describe how I did so, but getting into “Fart Multib –” let’s just call it “FM” — almost guarantees that Mini-Pinball will be ready afterwards. With that much shit running around the table it’s inevitable. They did a great job making you long for shit in this game.

I was also made aware of something called “Tournament Mode.” I always thought that Tourneys were just something that you entered with a bunch of other pinball players in physical proximity to you. Hah! What, is this hobby made up of a bunch of baseball and soccer players? Not fucking likely. No, in 2007 you can enter a tournament even though you are the only person in the building without a tattoo or chain-attached wallet. A regular Family Guy game is fifty cents at Jason’s, but if you put a dollar into the machine (and hit the “tournament” button) you can enter for a cash pot that other players, playing at any old time, have put up. Well, I mean, you contribute to the pot as well in this mode. You know what I mean.

Presumably the game saves your name if you qualify. Or saves a password, or something. You gots to get paid, right? I did not qualify so I am going to be a little short on the details of cash-out. My best score, before I gave Tourney Mode a shot, was 27 million. Replay was 34 million, so I actually had a decent game for my skill level. All I wanted was to enter Mini-Pinball for my tourney game. I did not want to embarrass myself. (Even though Jason’s Billiard’s is a massive pool hall and there were only four other people in the building, none of whom were playing the pins.) Well, lucky for me, I did not embarrass myself. I at least got to play the mode I was hoping for and had my third-best game of the evening. For me, this is pretty good.

Of course, I probably had the worst score of anyone who tried, but since it did not ask me for my name I didn’t have to enter it, so no-one will ever truly know.

Anyway, I want to get good at pinball. It’s pretty much an unofficial goal of mine: get good at four or five tables before the end of the year. Games like Family Guy make it easy to continue the addiction. I actually laughed a couple times at the speech coming out of the game. Okay, that’s not really all that impressive, as out-of-context sound bites were coming fast and hard, BUT STILL. The game is a lot of fun for the newbie and I can totally see myself heading back to play it the next time there is an ounce of suspected precipitation out here and the highway comes to a standstill. In other words: Monday, probably.

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