I’ve been infected with a rare disease known as Pinball-alaria-itis. Symptoms are listed as playing pinball constantly and having fun. Some of the infected have even been known to ignore all other types of games completely, only focusing on pinball. People are generally introduced to a machine containing the virus from those who are already infected. The state of Maine has issued a health warning at several locations, which I decided to visit to document the growth of this disease further.
There are three places, within walking distance of each other, in Portland that have pinball machines available. Pizza Villa and Geno’s each have one machine, while The Fun Box Monster Emporium has two. Out of of the four machines, there’s really only three different types because Pizza Villa and The Fun Box each have a Monster Bash game. Which is good. Since that game is so awesome, there’s room enough for two. The Fun Box also features an Earth-shaker machine, which shakes during multi-balls. It’s a personal favorite of mine. Geno’s has an Indiana Jones machine that combines all of the movies, including the Crystal Skull. Keep in mind that does mean that Shia LeBouf is in this game. While that is devastating news, it does have an eight ball multi-ball which balances the scales. Each location is welcoming to players, though The Fun Box was the most comfortable in which to play. I was able to strike up conversations at each location with other people infected with the virus. VERDICT: The rate of infection is high at all three locations.
The Twilight Zone arcade (or as their marquee says “Twili ht Zone”) in South Portland has only one pinball machine. They’ve got an Indiana Jones machine as well, but it’s not nearly as fun as the machine at Geno’s. But there is no Shia LeBouf in this one. I understand that can be a deal breaker for some of you. The machine is decent, but the environment is uninviting, almost sterile. It was the opposite of what I felt when playing in-town Portland. It does explain the handful of apathetic teens hanging out there though.
VERDICT: This place has the lowest success rate of transmitting the virus.
The arcade at Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach had a sizable collection in the back. You won’t see these from the street. You need to navigate past the kids snacking on fried dough while playing DDR (which seems counter productive) to get to them. They have five machines available, including Lord of the Rings, Shrek, The Simpsons, Funhouse, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Star Trek and Funhouse machines were broken, so no viruses there. Out of the remaining three, Shrek was easily the most fun. The Simpsons and LOTR machines were decent, but left me feeling abused by their difficulty. Wait, I liked Shrek, but I didn’t like The Simpsons? What type of bizarro world did I enter here? Despite this pop culture paradox, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the arcade. The only drawback is that this location is only open during the summer. VERDICT: The infection rate for the virus is high when the arcade is open.
The next stop was in Westbrook, at the Skybox Bar & Grille. When I drove up to this place, I noticed it violated a rule I have about bars: Don’t enter a bar that has almost no windows (i.e. Rockin’ Ricky’s Tavern). This wasn’t about me though; this was about cataloging a virus. I went in. They have six machines available at this location: Elvira, Tales from the Crypt, Whirlpool, Elvis, Johnny Mnemonic, and a Terminator 3 machine. The only three that were working were the T3, Elvis and Johnny Mnemonic machines. This was a disappointment, as Elvira and T.F.T.C. looked awesome. The Elvis machine was a lot of fun, and the T3 and J.M. machines were easily better than the movies they are licensed from. The environment is dicey, but thankfully the classic rock cover band made things more comfortable. Pinball just isn’t pinball if you don’t hear someone singing “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger. Once you settle in, the place starts to feel welcoming. They also host a pinball tournament every Tuesday at 7 p.m. for three bucks. VERDICT: This place spreads the virus like warm butter on a biscuit.
The last stop is where, I believe, the virus was cultivated. The Pin Maine-ia tournament in Gorham. This is an annual pinball tournament arranged by John Reuter. It’s located at his house and currently features 104 machines available for play over three days for an entry fee. Reuter also rents out these machines to local businesses. The level of competition at Pin Maine-ia is fierce. These pinball players made me look like I had no motor functions. In other words, it gets real, real fast. The amount of free play you receive with admission is enough to infect anyone with the virus. The environment is crazy, and you end up learning so much from the more seasoned players. It’s really a great deal and an amazing experience.
VERDICT: The chances of contracting the virus at this location are currently at 100%.
Overall, Maine has several locations that are capable of spreading the virus at an alarming rate. Those who are opposed to fun and being social should avoid these situations at all cost. Visiting these locations may also result in you making new friends via a new-found common interest. The state of Maine urges you all to proceed with caution.