Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown Recap

Pinball

While some may say arcades are dead, I beg to differ. “Barcades” – bars that double as old-school arcades – are thriving, and with them, arcade machines and pinballs alike. And every year, the Rocky Mountain Pinball Expo is held locally in my state, located in Highlands Ranch at the Marriott Denver South. It’s a mecca for those that don’t just love pinball, but gaming in general. No, E3 it’s not, but it works in its own offbeat, fun little way.

I attended the show last year and had lots of fun, so I made the pilgrimage down to the hotel – after dealing with a road rager too hyped on himself (a-hole) – and made my way into the hall to see what it had to offer.

First off, right off the bat, we were greeted by a classic Data East Indiana Jones pinball machine – a way better one than the Sega version – and it paved the way to a hall where everything was, including a tournament room, a seminar room, and, of course, the big pinball hall where all the main machines were.

A VIP area is in the center of everything, where a lot of the expo’s guests hang out to talk with people and get pictures. Among them included The King of Kong’s own Billy Mitchell, a champion of the classic Donkey Kong; and Walter Day, who also appeared in the film. Other pinball masters and designers were also on hand to lend advice and tell stories about the glory days of their art.

As for the main hall, it housed over 150 different pinball and arcade machines (this is where I attempted to re-conquer my high score on the 80’s classic Berzerk), including new favorites like Ghostbusters, Jersey Jack Pinball’s The Hobbit and Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International, making a limited appearance for players to enjoy. Of course, there were several classics on hand as well, all set to free play for fans to enjoy.

The halls soon filled with players, so I decided to see what the other rooms had to offer. The tournament room had several tables devoted to high score play with those that signed up, with several easily bumping up their score into the millions. In addition, there were also various game rooms with consoles, ranging from the Atari 2600 to the NES to the Turbo-Grafx, with dozens of games to choose from, ripe for the picking. Fans could also play some Smash Bros. on the Wii if they were feeling compelled.

 

The halls soon filled with players, so I decided to see what the other rooms had to offer. The tournament room had several tables devoted to high score play with those that signed up, with several easily bumping up their score into the millions. In addition, there were also various game rooms with consoles, ranging from the Atari 2600 to the NES to the Turbo-Grafx, with dozens of games to choose from, ripe for the picking. Fans could also play some Smash Bros. on the Wii if they were feeling compelled.

The seminar room hosted various presentations throughout the day, including pinball explanation panels, Q & A’s, and a big event featuring both Mitchell and Day talking about Donkey Kong and the film, amongst other topics. Fans were eager to attend these and get to learn a little something more about the history of their art, while at the same time partaking in some meet-and-greets as well.

I went back to the main hall and discovered a few vendors set up, including Games Ahoy (who helped me score a cool Streets of Rage hat that I wore to E3), Tilt Hammer Pinball Apparel and Goods, and Double Danger, each with various goods and t-shirts. Fans could also talk to pinball vendors about securing their own machines or making repairs to once they currently owned. Hyperspace Arcade also lent a few arcade machines for fans to check out, including Assault, Galaga ’88 and Space Ace (which I was more than happy to conquer in one playthrough – on Space Ace difficulty, thank you).

Sadly, I could only attend the Pinball Expo for the one day, due to previous obligations with E3 over the past week. However, the show has really come a long way based on what I saw while I was in attendance, and I’m looking forward to even more tilt-crazy action when it undoubtedly returns next year. Pinball forever!

Robert Workman is a veteran who’s worked for many sites over the years, including GameCrate, AOL GameDaily and Segadojo. When he’s not playing video games, he’s enjoying a fine craft beer and talking about how much Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to rock. Oh, yeah, and his game shirt collection rocks.

Lost Password

Sign Up