Can’t Hear No Buzzers and Bells


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When I was a kid, this pinball machine artwork scared the devil out of me. I don’t know if I ever played it, but I do recall the fear I felt whenever I came across it at a roller rink or arcade. I recently visited the (soon to close) Budapest Pinball Museum. With a modest fee of 2,000 Hungarian forints to enter (students do get small discounts with an ID card), you can play all the games they have therein. The only limitation is that some might be off limits due to tournaments (although I cheekily played a Spider-Man pinball machine marked for the day’s tournament while it was free to use and none of the staff seemed overly fussed). There is also a Hungarian pinball machine called Mese Vonat (Story Train), but you can’t play this, and I imagine it is due to preservation concerns. I imagine getting another Gorgar machine is easier than procurring another Mese Vonat one. As for Gorgar, the couple of games I played on it were rather disappointing and lackluster. The fear I felt as a child in no way translated to a decent game of pinball for an adult.

 

My favourite part of the Mese Vonat maching was an area in the upper right corner of the game where you could see a small reproduction of how trains are turned around. I assumed this factored into the gameplay, but it’s hard to know for sure without actually being able to play the machine.

 

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I just can’t say how much I enjoyed this museum, and I certainly consider it that, even if the collection isn’t your typical fare. I swung between being overwhelmed with nostalgia and being completely pulled into discovering older machines from before my time and seeing how they worked. My favourite of these by far was the shooting gallery machines from the 1960’s. It was also interesting to see the information cards on all the machines, as you could read the dates the individual machines were manufactured. Many of them I would have pegged as being firmly from the 1970’s were actually from the 1990’s, which just adds credence to my theory that pinball artwork has changed little over the years (the themes do change, but the artwork certainly doesn’t). I imagine this consistent style of artwork adds to one’s feeling of nostalgia.

 

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I have to apologise for the quality of the photos, but I only took them with my iPhone and then quickly ran them through Pixlr. They aren’t the best, but they certainly work. Even with a proper camera, I think it would be a hard place to photograph due to most of the light coming from pinball machines. Barring all of this, if you look closely at the photo above, at the shooting gallery on the left, you will see a small shiny object in the middle and at the back. This is a small metal bear (I think all the targets were tin) that popped up for extra points. I had the most fun trying to shoot this. The game was great because it used real “bullets”. These bullets were small metal bearings that were fired out of the gun by air. The air level seemed to fluctuate, and this made aiming that much more of a challenge.

The following pinball machine wins my dual award for best geographically relelvant/most historically inaccurate game. It was also listed as a tournament machine the day I visited, and I wasn’t going to cheekily play two of them in one night, even if I was rather tempted to.

 

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The award for most interesting game concept goes to the machine you see below. My wife remembers these from Balaton when she was younger. I can certainly imagine people enjoying langos and Soproni beer while watching the game play out in flashes of quick moving colour after a day of swimming in the lake. This is a football game, and it works with a ball controller and air blast (as far as my non-expert eye could see). The ball entered the playing field from the left of the photo and was blown out by air. It landed randomly in one of the cups. The players then had to use the ball controller to move their colour of light (pink of my side) to the cup first. If they did, they were able to use the buttons to use a blast of air to “kick” the ball towards the opponent’s goal. I found it absolutely fascinating, and even enjoyed a one player game of sorts as I didn’t have anyone to play against. Apart from an opponent, lake air, langos and Soproni were also lacking.

 

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On a side note, my 3 year old son recently learned about Guns N’ Roses. I was reminded of him singing the chorus of Paradise City when I saw the following machine.

 

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This game was interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with a light that reads ‘Coma’ before, but it was the 1980’s after all.

Sadly, the tax authority has decided this is a gamgling establishment. I don’t see it, but the recent tax bill that was handed to them is beyond their means, and they are closing sometime in June. I only hope that the resourcefulness of the Hungarians will find a way to get around this hefty fine. It really is a collection to see. You can enjoy a game of Space Invaders, classic pinball machines, early versions of bowling machines and a whole range of other games. Enjoy it while you can. The best part is that it’s very near the Street & River apartment. You’ve only got about a 15 minute walk at most and you are able to enter a world of flashing lights, bells and buzzers.

 

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