ASCII by Jason Scott

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Lyons Pinball —

I had a very successful weekend in Colorado. I got to interview two interactive fiction authors for GET LAMP, and even got in an interview with an arcade owner for the arcade documentary. As previously stated, if I can fit in something for ARCADE, I do it, but never at the cost of a text adventure interview. This is why when I was just in Chicago, even though it’s the center of the coin-op universe, I only filmed text adventure authors this time through. One of the Colorado-based IF authors, Robb Sherwin, was kind enough to point out the existence of the Lyons arcade near where I was filming, and after some contact with Kevin and Carole Carroll (the owners), an interview was arranged the same weekend.

If you don’t want to wade through a bunch of paragraphs being sold on this place and why you must immediately buy a plane ticket or get into your car and go there, I’ll just give you three words: Joust Pinball Machine.

Only 402 were ever made. All of the surviving ones are in the hands of collectors. It’s one of the rarest machines to find. And you can walk right in the door and play one. I swear to you, I was sure that I was going to take a dirt nap long before ever getting near one, much less be given the opportunity to play one. Not only did I get to play, but Kevin gave me a tutorial and matched me up against another regular, so we could go head to head. Oh, did I mention the Joust Pinball Machine is a head to head pinball machine? You might not have known that, which I inferred because you’re still reading and not in your car driving directly to Lyons, Colorado.

Lyons Pinball is the dream and family business of the Carrolls, who were inspired to open it by the sight of the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. This isn’t some worn-out busted pinball hall gripping onto its last days; it was opened just 4 years ago, designed from the ground up to be a primo pinball location. The arcade is open 4 days a week; Kevin explained to me how they spend the “closed” days performing maintenance and upkeep on the roughly 40 pinballs onsite. Their policy and promise is “100% maintained”, which means that when you walk up to a machine, whether it’s 10 years old or 40, it’s going to run properly and not ruin your game with a stuck bumper or broken flipper.

The machine selection’s great; besides a wide range of pinballs including Black Knight, Theatre of Magic, Cyclone and Eight Ball Deluxe (Limited Edition), they have the almost impossible-to-find-working Discs of Tron in an environmental cabinet, as well as the equally-rare fully-working Hercules by Atari Pinball, the largest commercial pinball machine made. (It uses a cue ball for a pinball).

Here’s a couple screengrabs from the interview, with Kevin in them, next to a few of those well-maintained machines.

Wait, are you still here? When’s your flight?

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  1. bluknight says:

    Oh… my… God. I grew up near Lyons (up the hill, in Estes Park). To this day, I had no idea that was there (but I can count the number of times I’ve been through Lyons on one hand in the past 5 years).

    I will make it a point to stop there the very next time I’m in Colorado.

  2. Michael Kohne says:

    I had no idea how rare Joust was. I’ve played it at The Pinball Parlour (in Earlington, PA.
    Last time I was in it wasn’t working too well, but I can agree that it’s a real trip to play the thing.


  3. Kim Rollins says:

    That looks super-sweet. I think we’re down to one operating Ye Olde Medieval Madness machine in all of Seattle.

    –Sir Psycho and the Duke of Bourbon

  4. Gottlieb says:

    Joust was my favorite video game as a teen. I am a pinball machine nut and never knew there was a Joust Machine. Damn – there goes my XMAS fund. 🙂