“We will watch your career with great interest!”

I’ve always had a love\hate relationship with pinball.  On one hand, what’s not to like about the colourful chaos that comes with getting on a point-scoring rampage?  Lights are flashing, the immaculately shiny ball is dancing and darting its way all over the place…  it can be mesmerizing.

On the other hand, they’re fairly limited in terms of presentation.  With older tables, it was common to have a theme, maybe a scoreboard of some kind, or anything to jump out at you and scream “PLAY ME!!”  Even though our local arcades had a section in the back for them, I rarely expended my valuable quarters for them.  I couldn’t play violent fighters, fun beat ’em ups or light gun games at home, so I stuck close to them.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I have family in Bristol, Connecticut.  About an hour away sit two rather large casinos; Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Foxwoods Resort and Casino - Huge, and in the middle of nowhere.

Not only am I not big into gambling now, but I had been dragged to these two places before actually being of age to play anything.  I had to find stuff to do while my parents had fun with slot machines, and luckily, each complex had a pretty cool arcade to kill time in.

1999 - Williams Pinball

When I came around a corner and saw this at Foxwoods, I’m fairly sure there were bells ringing, angels singing and Duel of the Fates blaring from the heavens…  well, that might have been from the machine itself.  In any case, I’m not sure if I ran or floated to the thing, but I downed a fair amount of tokens into it right then and there.

The first thing that popped out at me was the lightsaber.  I just friggin’ wanted to bust the glass open and take it for myself.

Best Christmas present ever, though the one from the machine would have been nice, too.

What the image above doesn’t show are two remarkable things I had never seen on a pinball machine before.  The first is a video screen that reacts to your ball reaching different parts of the board, and shows various clips from the movie.  That’s not too bad, but what blew my mind was a hologram (!!!) on the inside that would react to the ball going through it.  It wasn’t always there, but would pop up whenever you got on a roll.  Sometimes it was an animation of Anakin’s pod racer, and others it could be a batch of battle droids.

I was quite obviously fascinated by it, but I never again saw it with my own eyes.  In the video below, I can’t quite make out exactly what the hologram is showing, but it does make an appearance or two.  I think it’s just the angle at which it’s being recorded.

Sticking with the arcade theme, here’s another game I only got to play a handful of times, since it was in our local movie theatre arcade for only a little while.

What’s strange is that I only really got to play this in 2001 or so.  I remember seeing Swordfish in theatres (honestly, there was only one reason for me to see that movie) and playing this while we waited for it to start.  Really though, that was 2001!  That was two full years after TPM‘s release, and long after any interest I had in the movie had waned.

Having either one of these sitting in a game room would be the ultimate thrill, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I don’t see myself dwelling on Episode I games any more than one more post about them…  I promise.

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