Pinball Wizards: Heartland Pinball & Arcade Supershow

by jason lee, the southern
Dan Goett, front, talks to Brian Martinez about the game Pirates of the Caribbean. The pair who are from Hallsville and Columbia, Missouri came to Herrin to have the chance to play pinball machines they havent been able to play. Pinball wizards and arcade addicts were in coin-op heaven Friday as the second annual Heartland Pinball & Arcade Supershow brought fifty years of gaming history to the Herrin Civic Center.Offering more than 85 playable pinball and video arcade games from 1955 to 2006, the show gave gamers a chance to try out tables from five decades as well as participate in a pinball tournament for cash prizes and trophies.
Joystick jockeys could be seen Friday night sweating out arcade classics like Donkey Kong Jr. and Smash T.V., while others battled bumpers on retro pinball tables featuring KISS, RoboCop and Indiana Jones.Rob Craig of Marion, coordinator of the event, said he came up with the idea after attending the Pinball Expo, an annual pinball show in Chicago.Craig said he and a group of local pinball buddies wanted to bring the same experience to Southern Illinois."On the drive back from Chicago we decided that we wanted to do this here," Craig said. "Last year's event went great and it's awesome to be able to provide this for the community."This is the first year at the Herrin Civic Center, which Craig said offered a more intimate atmosphere for the show.The event continues from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, and attendees can play unlimited games at no cost after paying the price of admission: $5 for children ages 6 to 12, $10 for adults and free for children younger than 5."You can come and play until you're sick," Craig said.Restoring tables and playing pinball has been a hobby of Craig's for nearly nine years. He said he likes the challenge of the game as well as the camaraderie with other pinball fanatics."Pinball is so great because it's a live-action game," Craig said. "While a TV screen is really just static that moves in two dimension, pinball moves in three dimension. It's slamming, it's pounding and it's aggressive. That's what gets people into pinball, and then they get hooked."Ken Hall of Vienna owns about 35 classic pinball machines and brought several to the show.Hall said most of his tables were made from 1968 to 1977."I especially like tables from the era I grew up in," Hall said. "Pinball sort of rekindles the fun you had growing up and you become consumed with it."A pinball table titled "Time Tunnel," brought by another collector, is one of only 70 ever made. Several of the games are also for sale, ranging from $250 to more than $2,000.A new Pirates of the Caribbean pinball game just released a few days ago also made it to the show."This is a really great show this year," Hall said. "It really feels like an arcade in here."For more information about the Heartland Pinball & Arcade Supershow, visit www.supershow.popbumper.com on the Internet.

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