Crazy Flipper Fingers: A review of ZapCon 2016

Once again, I got to go to ZAPCON this Saturday at the Mesa Convention Center. To say I came home from an adrenaline high would be an understatement. I played new games, I played old games. I played consoles and I played tabletops. Balls flew and scores were tallied and I was overall pleased with my day. So let’s get down to the works.

I had to get in line to play the two top games, Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy and Game of Thrones Premium Edition. Hobbit had full motion picture added in to the backboard. This meant that during scoring, you had the cast yelling about “Orc Hurry Up”s and Smaug chasing the Fellowship during Dragon Multiball. You had to gather up the Fellowship to unlock the Travel across Middle Earth questline. You also had to spell out “ELF”,”DWARF”, and “MEN” to activate the War of Five Armies Multiball. Little Orc and Warg heads popped up on the field, reminiscent of the orcs in Medieval Madness. I didn’t achieve a very good score so all I saw during my game was the Dragon Multiball. Had there been less of a line, I would have tried for a semi-decent score to go home with.

 

Game of Thrones was interesting in that you can control the storyline by picking your house and then all the videoplay on the scoreboard is visions of that House. I ended up in a 4-player game as Player #2. I picked Greyjoy so I saw lots of ships and Theon in my playthrough, the other three picked Baratheon and Stark so their playthroughs had Arya and Jaime Lannister as their characters to be played through. Personally, I was quite proud in picking up Needle as it is my favorite weapon, regardless of my GOT score on the machine. (I ended up with the high score of the round, which made me proud.)

I was sad to see that one of my favorite pinball machines, Funhouse(1990), was modified to have a lower volume. I understand that the cabinet was probably in a home environment where loud decibels were detrimental, but in an arcade setting where every game is battling for control of the senses, the loss of the mannequin head, Rudy, smacktalking really made me miss the little bastard. Sure he was there in person, but knowing he was silently insulting my every move made me miss the days when he really used to burn my proverbial toast.

I played Metallica Pro Edition and was less than impressed with the cartoony aspect of the game, although it would be a fun game to throw an errant quarter into.

I got my butt properly trounced in a barroom brawler game, The Champion Pub(1998). It is a game in which you are a young boxer training to take on the champs using a wire jumprope, a speedbag, and a punching bag that rotates to present a solid fighter on the playboard.

I quite enjoyed Incredible Hulk(1979) although it seemed overly simple for 1979. It was very green and I turned out to be terrible at getting the ball anywhere but between the flippers. I also got a kick out of Medusa(1981)

I also got a kick out of Medusa(1981)

Last Year, the big game to play was the AC/DC piball machine and I tried it out again this year. I was average at the gane but really enjoyed the experience while I had the time.

Cueball Wizard turned out to have an interesting mechanic of a cue ball in the middle of the field. It was okay, but the gimmick seemed more in-the-way than a setup-for-success. I found myself trying to dodge the ball rather than use the ball.

During the Con, I spent much of the afternoon waiting to see the impressive feat of a killscreen by Robbie Lakeman who as of this writing is #2 on the Twingalaxies high score board for DonkeyKong.(He was updated to be verified #1 on the date I attended on 4/17/16 although the server had not updated as of time of writing) He did it on the second attempt. It was mildly fulfilling to get to see one of the greats.

His verification run can be accessed at ( http://www.twingalaxies.com/showthread.php/154886 )

Now we talk about the sleeper hit game of the Con, Killer Queen. When I initially saw the game, I figured it to be another merchandiser trying to draw people in to their wares(and it probably was) but the barker did his job well in his cute and bubbly killer bee costume. There were three win conditions, economic(collect enough nectar), military(kill the opposing Queen three times) and Snail(Yes, ride a slowmoving snail all the way to your team’s net)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(1991) was less exciting than I expected.

With the Addams Family(1994) and StarTrek:NextGeneration(1993) used as stellar games, at least some of their glamour and design would have rubbed off on TMNT in the design phase.

World Poker Tour(2006) was a game I played a couple times with Captain Blackheart and Minion. We came to an agreement that while we did well in playing the game, knowing a bit more on the scoring might have helped us out in our forays.

I gave Black Hole(1981) another chance this time and it seemed easier than I remembered or it could just be that I understood what I was aiming for. Still not one of my favorites.

I also enjoyed NBA JAM, a double set of machines that allowed the two players to go head to head with unlimited balls during a timed game. Minion and I challenged each other for a round during which I only narrowly won 47-45 playing as the Houston Rockets.

I even tried Iron Man Vault Edition which was okay. I lost terribly and had to leave due to a line.

I didn’t only play pinball. Captain Blackheart and Minion squared off in a PacMan rivalry on a cocktail cabinet that Minion won.

Minion, Blackheart and I played Street Fighter II:Championship Edition (Go E. Honda!). I won most of the battles but was eventually defeated by Minion playing Blanka.

I even played Polybius, even if I stunk at the game.

We all worked together to defeat Magneto in X-Men 6Player edition.

I played Space Castle(1980), a fun little game I stunk at.

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