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Flipperless Boring? Hardly!

(webmasters note: Since this article was written there have been over 375 VP Flipperless Games and 25 VPM Tables - Flipperless Games added and the numbers in this article are now incorrect, All of the downloads can be found in the Downloads section!)

The major reason I hear from people about why they don't play Flipperless games is that they find it boring. And so I'll always ask which Flipperless games they've played, so I can suggest at least a few others for them to try. And wouldn't you know it, most of the time they stammer "Well, now I haven't actually played any Flipperless games yet, but I'm sure they're boring. I mean, how could a game of pinball be fun without flippers"? How indeed! Well, just like EM games are different than Solid State, but both can be and often are fun, the same is more true about Flipperless and even Novelty games. In fact, there is much more variety and lack of boredom with these games than with flippered tables. Let me give you some examples, and while I'm more a fan of Flipperless than your average modern game, I'll stick to the facts.

Obviously, with Stern the only manufacturer still remaining in the business of making mainstream commercial pins, choice and variety are not much of an issue. It's a matter of take it or leave it when it comes to playing Stern's latest. While the numbers of flippers and ramps differ from one table to another, you pretty much know what to expect when it comes to pinball machines in the 21st century. There will nearly always be more than two flippers, sometimes many more. And there will also be ramps, often more ramps than a five-mile stretch of highway. In addition, there will surely be all sorts of gadgets and toys strewn over the playfield, which can make it darn nearly impossible to keep track of where your ball is at any given time. And no, I'm not arguing against Stern's new games, simply stating some facts that you may have overlooked.

Add to this video modes and voices,along with tons of music and sound effects, and you can begin to see that modern day tables are quite elaborate, colorful, and noisy. None of this is bad, except that it is one of the major reasons every other pinball manufacturer has stopped making pins. These modern games are too expensive for arcades, taverns, amusement parks and the like to make a decent profit, with the fewer number of players. Much of this has been due to stiff competition from an ever increasing number of leisure time activities, and not just video arcade games, but they have been a big factor. I think part of the problem is the hectic lifestyles most families lead, at least in the US, and probably most of the Westernized countries. The expense of keeping a family in even the most basic of creature comforts takes a lot of effort, so most adults in the workplace are worn out.

When mom and dad finally get home after a day on the job, they want and need to relax and recharge their energies. Instead, there's a meal to prepare, chores to be attended to, children who want, need, and deserve some attention, homework to supervise and lend a hand with, the list is seemingly quite endless. By the time the children are tucked safely and snugly in their beds, and mom and dad have time to pay attention to one
another, it's usually too late to consider going out for some fun, even if a
trustworthy and affordable person to watch the slumbering offspring can be found. Besides, they've got to rest up to repeat the entire process again the next day. And when the blessed weekend does arrive, there still isn't time for a family outing, since the youngsters probably have organized sports, and let's not forget household chores and yard work, if you're lucky enough to own a home. Leisure time often is merely something that dreams are made of. It's a wonder how Stern has survived with the current state of affairs.

But I'm not really talking about Stern and their latest and greatest, since most of us mainly play VP games. With well over a 1000 tables that have been emulated, recreated, and fashioned from our vivid imaginations, we have more choices than any of us have time to enjoy. And most of us have favorite eras and styles of tables we prefer playing, I surely do, as most everyone knows. But although I have my beloved bagatelles, coin-ops, and early EMs, I do play and enjoy every kind of game available for VP and VPinMAME, even if the early SS games with their electronic blips do try my patience. What I wonder is how anyone can know what their favorite are, game or era wise, if they aren't willing to do a little sampling of each variety? And since I play your favorites, no matter what your favorites happen to be, it only seems fair that you give a few of my favorites a go. I could be doing you a big favor, and you might end up with both a deeper appreciation of pinball, but even more tables to play and enjoy.

With Flipperless and Novelty tables and games, the variety is almost endless. You can choose from bagatelle, either home sales by Northwestern or Gotham, commercial, hand held toys by Marx, or a number of originals, bingos, trade stimulators, payouts, sports themed games, such as baseball, pool, or hockey, and even arcade games such as video poker, slots, and pachinko. With over 110 tables to pick from, anyone who wishes to sample these wonderful relics should have little trouble finding a few games they can enjoy. If you like interesting challenges, then you've come to the right place for sure, because a lack of flippers definitely doesn't mean a lack of fun. And while our recreations will be between fifty and a hundred years old, some of our originals are cutting edge and as modern as any flippered offerings you'll find. Let me give you a virtual tour of what Flipperless.com has to offer you for you playing pleasure.

Starting with the Novelty section, we have nicolas.b's Billiards Engine Billiards,which shows us the physics of pool, and which might well be adapted into an actual working VP billiards game. But along side of it are a pair of arcade games by Apoc, both which I enjoy playing, although I'm not very good at either of them. And Breakthru is Apoc's take on the always popular game, and his VPMan is his entertaining version of PacMan, where you have to stay a step or two ahead of the Pinball. Or for some carnival style fun gave either version of Midget Skeeball by OBX and Duglis a play. Pitch Ball, This is a recreation of the amusement park's penny arcade game where you try to get the little man to toss a ball into the bullseye for the top score. Just like with the real thing which I played in the 60s and early 70s, your aim and strength of your shot can be tricky to master. As a bonus, there is a Fortune Teller machine off to the side, and if you win enough tokens for your score, you'll be treated to some amusing forecasts, thanks to the vocal talents of multi-faceted Duglis. Or maybe you'd enjoy some Flipperless Frogger, a VP Frog hopping game by Anthias. As I've said, the variety is almost endless.

Or if Sports Themes appeal to your fancy, we might have just what you're looking for. 10th Inning by gobble hole hater Warrior is a simple but fun 1948 United game. Or you might check out a pair of originals named Bottom Of The Ninth, By Andy H and Richard Ginn. Although they share the same title, and of course are both baseball themed, they are both unique and well thought out tables. Or you might be in the mood for a round of Mini Golf, either the regular or enhanced Pro version by OBX and Duglis. Or maybe a rough and tumble game of Munro Tabletop Hockey is more your speed. Freewheel offers his interpretation of what might be the first tabletop hockey game, which was made in Canada. There are many sports themed games available at Pinball Nirvana, golf, hockey, soccer and baseball.

We also have a small but entertaining collection of nine Pachinko, Slots, and Video Poker games, done by seven different authors, with Aussie34 contributing three of his popular slot machines. You might want to give one of our three Pachinko games a try, and discover the fun of Japanese Bagatelle. And speaking of Bagatelle, we have a dozen of these historic relics, and six originals. Among these is one that Nissananimal and I recreated, Double Poosh M Up, a Northwestern Products home sale game from the 30s. We even took some liberties with our version, and enhanced it for the enjoyment of children. You'll also find a pair of originals by Willpower, who is both a graphics and musical artist. And his Flipperless Fantasy was both a contest winner, and a nominee for Game Of The Year. Not bad for a game category so many folks consider boring. If only they knew the truth!

Our largest group of tables is the Commercial Coin-Op section, which has twenty-nine tables from 13 different manufacturers, dating between 1904 and 1956, and less than half made by either Bally or Gottlieb. If for no other reason, the competition made for more experimentation and lots of trial and error. Quite often what the companies saw as errors in judgement have been proven in later years to provide some of the more interesting gameplay. One of the most unique games ever was Rock-Ola's 1933 World's Fair Jigsaw, which was masterfully done for VP by Chris. This is almost a commercial bagatelle, having pins that make your game even more challenging, as you try to guide your ball into the right sections of the table, so that a Jigsaw puzzle is flipped and revealed. Another tough challenge is Genco's 1941 Seven Up, which was one of the final production tables made before the US became involved in WW II. It is offered for you to try by Nissananimal, Russ Jensen, and me, and without Russ giving generously of his experience, it would never have turned out so well.

Probably the most notorious category we have is the Bingo and Wagering section. While there are only fourteen tables in this group, a dozen of them are from druadic. Except for Coney Island by Haza and SnakeEyes and Metro from the ever busy Duglis, this category is laced with bingos, payouts, Silver Streak and a trade stimulator Log Cabin by our Flipperless King, Will Degelmann. All of these games paid the player, either in merchandise or cash, although the Bingos were paid off "under the counter" and if you were under age you might receive chips and soda pop instead of money. The payouts, most which seemed to be one ball games, and which Will has just begun recreating, were grossly unfair to the player, and were made in such a way as to appear that the player had a fairly good chance of winning, which at least doubled your money. But when you play any of these wagering games, you'll see that they weren't much more than highway robbery. Still, during the Great Depression and even before, the possibility to make a few easy coins was a temptation that many couldn't resist. No wonder such pinball games were at long last outlawed.

So, as you can see, there really is something for nearly anyone and everyone at Pinball Nirvana, no matter what kind of games you prefer. Speedway offers a challenging Indy style racer game, complete with sound effects, and Juggle Ball give you a cue-stick device to help you control and master the ball in a beautiful 70 year old game that probably should have it's own category, but which you'll find in our section. I'm not against newer tables, since I at least try almost every game that comes out, with very few exceptions. Flippered games are a joy to me too, if they happen to be EMs, while early SS are my least favorite of them all. But what makes me shake my head in wonderment is the more modern games with an overdose of both flippers and ramps. Sometimes a pinball game seems to be little more than timing a series of looping ramp shots to build up more and more points. Now I'm not saying that competition and winning can't be fun, but can anyone really tell me just how many 19,000,000,000,000 points is? And even if you can, so what? After a certain level, more and more points start to get a bit meaningless. A high score on 864 on an antique EM or maybe a bagatelle can be a lot more satisfying and rewarding that a score as big as the national debt. So I'll keep playing all those new fangled games if you return the favor and try a few of these jewels you find here at Pinball Nirvana.
Enjoy your stay . . . and your play.

Updated Jul 06, 2004 Written by tiltjlp
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