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Since the 1970s, people all over the country have enjoyed playing and collecting pinball machines. These games are engaging, fun to learn, and rewarding to restore. If you are just getting started with pinball as a hobby, there are many things to learn.
What are good entry-level pinball machines for beginners? Beginner pinball players should start with simple, restored solid-state games like Taxi, The Addams Family, Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, and Judge Dredd.
Read on to learn more about these beginner machines and how to pick out your first pinball.
If you want to see some current pinball machines or other retro arcade machines just click here.
The Best Entry Level Pinball Machines
Each pinball game has its own rules and strategies that are required to win. It can be great fun to try out many different machines, learn how they work, and discover the tricks and movements you need to win points and unlock fun features.
While some machines have a learning curve for beginners, it can often be half the fun to play until you figure out each game. Here are some popular games that are great choices for entry-level pinball machines.
“Get ready for the Taxi everyone is going to be lined up for!” Taxi is a classic pinball game that was manufactured in 1988 by Williams Electronic Games, Inc. This solid-state machine allows for single play or up to four players. Because of its popularity, this machine is widely accessible for pinball collectors to purchase, often for around $1,900.
The object of the game is to pick up five passengers in your taxi. These passengers—Pinbot, Gorbie, Lola, Dracula, and Santa—are displayed as light-up illustrations on the playfield and back glass. The original version of the game included Marilyn Monroe as Lola. This game requires you to develop a careful strategy to learn the game and win. It’s a great option for beginner pinball players to practice their moves.
The Addams Family pinball game is an incredibly popular one. Originally manufactured in 1992, this game allows up to four players. It comes with a dark playfield that can sometimes make it difficult to locate where the ball is. It’s a solid-state pinball machine with four flippers, five pop bumpers, and a handful of other pretty unique features including:
● The Power is a feature you can unlock during gameplay. This makes magnets underneath the playfield can change the movement of your ball.
● A bookcase rotates to reveal a lock hole.
● “Thing” sits in the upper right corner of the playfield. When activated, this plastic hand will magnetically “pick up” the ball to take it under the playfield
● One of the flippers is controlled by the game itself and will move at points throughout your game.
Attack from Mars
Attack from Mars is a solid-state pinball machine made by Bally Manufacturing Co. in 1995. This older game is both fun and easy to play. Your job is to save the Earth from a Martian invasion.
The playfield features a flying saucer, dancing Martian figures, and a strobe light that activates for Strobe Multiball. As you learn to play this game, you can achieve a combo of shots to unlock Martian Multiball and the Super Jackpot.
When you’re getting into pinball collecting, Medieval Madness is an important game to know—many people consider it the best pinball of all time. This solid-state Williams classic was made in 1997, and it’s pretty easy to play. You can learn and use simple tricks to earn loads of points.
Medieval Madness is a great option for fans of magic and fantasy. The game features a catapult on the left side of the playfield that will launch balls into the air to land in a habitrail. You can also unlock Trolls Mode, where two troll figures will pop up on the playfield.
The game’s sounds feature actress, Tina Fey, who voices the opera singer and one of the princesses.
These few machines are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pinball collecting. There are hundreds of games available in electromechanical machines, solid-states, and DMDs. Check out some more favorites:
● Demolition Man
● Big Bang Bar
● Twilight Zone
● Space Shuttle
● Judge Dredd
● Cactus Canyon
● Black Hole
● Jungle Lord
● Time Warps
● Pirates of the Carribean
Tips for Getting Started Playing Pinball
When you are first getting into playing pinball machines, it’s important to take your time shopping for the first machine in your collection. Keep these tips in mind as you search for your first pinball for your home arcade:
Visit an Arcade to Start Playing
You don’t have to make a big purchase in order to enjoy pinball machines. Before making an investment in your pinball machine, find an arcade to check out the available games. Try out different ones to practice your strategy and technique. This can help you determine which machine feels good to you and which is the most fun. You can then start deciding which machine to purchase for your at-home arcade.
Determine Your Budget
New pinball machines can cost between $4,500-6,000. For some beginners, that’s a hefty investment for the first machine in their collection. You can often find a vintage electromechanical for $500-2,000. Some used machines will require more work than others, so it is important to consider the condition of your machine when looking at a lower price.
Decide on the Specs of Your Machine
Choose the best machine for you. Pinball machines will vary in price based on the type of machine, age, condition, and more. Think about whether you want a vintage machine from the 1970s or something more modern and easy to maintain like a solid-state or DMD.
Choose a Seller
Where you buy your machine will make a great difference in its quality and how much work you have to put in to maintain it.
Many people choose Craigslist or eBay to buy a machine directly from a person. Buying a used machine in this manner will often be cheaper than buying from a retailer, but this option will require you to have some technical knowledge about these machines. Make sure to inspect a machine well before purchasing it. While it is fun to restore and work on pinball machines, beginners may not want to take this route. Fixer-uppers require you to know how to take it apart, maintain it, and put it back together.
Retailers may offer more expensive machines, but that often means they have already been professionally maintained. Some even offer warranties to cover repairs.
Consider the Size and Noise Level of Your Machine
Lastly, you will want to consider how your new machine will fit into your home.
● Will the machine fit in the space you’ve designated for your home arcade? Consider doors you must pass through when deciding on a machine’s dimensions.
● Does the machine make loud noises that could wake your baby or disturb neighbors?
● Is the machine manageable to move, or will you have to lug it up or down a flight of stairs? Some machines can weigh up to 300 pounds!
Beginners can learn a ton of helpful information by joining local pinball groups and communities. You will probably be able to find someone who is selling a machine or even a veteran collector who can give you some great pointers on buying a used one.
Need a really cheap one?
Are all of the used machines out of your price range? Well I have the perfect pinball machine for you! It is only $100 and it is a miniature virtual pinball machine!
Check it out on the video below.