I love my video games and am shocked at how many people mention they are knee-deep in games on Twitter. It seems I’m not the only one with an iPhone in one hand, an Xbox controller in the other. Not just the reserve of the nerd, today gaming is mainstream. And with some fantastic documentaries out there giving an insight into the masters of arcade games, I have always been open to jumping on a machine – no matter how uncoordinated I might be.
I remember Timezone – to be found in every Australian – and Grundys on the Gold Coast, which we would travel to every single school holiday while we were growing up. And then there were the lock-ins. This is where you could abandon your parents (desperate to go shopping in peace) and for two hours enjoy a free reign of every arcade game in Timezone. Those days are very few and far between now – yet I still know a few people heading back to Queensland for this very reason. Who says we have to grow up?
If you are as keen as I am on documentaries, I suggest searching out The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters. Plus we recently headed to the ACMI to see The Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters. I’d learnt about Twin Galaxies, seen the showdowns, followed the rivalries. So it was with a certain amount of fan-dom that I visited Pinball Faith at Bumper Action Amusements in South Melbourne.
On the first Friday of every month between 7pm-11pm, attendees can roam the entire showroom floor, which is filled with classic and vintage pinball machines and arcade games – all set to ‘free play’. You want to play the original Star Wars pinball machine? You got it. You want to get back in the seat to play Daytona USA? Auto or manual? Remember how to do Scorpion’s fatality for the original Mortal Kombat? Finish him.
If you are anywhere in Victoria and the venue has a vintage game, Wurlitzer jukebox or sports tables then they most probably get it from the Bumper boys as they have been in the business for the past 40 years and are pretty much able to find any game your heart may desire. And if you have a game that needs a refurb – they will get onto that, too.
The fun part comes when their parlour turns into a man-cave as gamers flock here in droves to check that they still have the level of skill they believed they once possessed in the past. There’s a smattering of women and kids, and all are given the chance to play on any of the machines. I thought the men would strong-arm their way onto the machines – but that is not the case. Have a go for a high score and then you move on. Very orderly.
Talking of orderly – the $25 entry fee includes free popcorn when you arrive and then halfway through the night the pizzas come out. I have never seen so many men drop what they are doing so quickly and efficiently to go and line up for pizza. If their girlfriends or wives asked then to finish their game and come for something to eat none of these guys would have heard them. But weirdly, in this twilight zone, it happens.
At eight o’clock there is a call-out for the sudden death knockout pinball competition where you can win $100 cash. Everyone has a chance so it’s worth throwing your hat in the ring and trying your luck.
If you have any sort of nostalgia for the arcade games of old then it’s well worth giving a few friends a call and meeting up after work on a Friday to shark your way around the showroom. Plus it’s BYO booze – another reason to ditch the after-work crowd.
562 City Road South Melbourne VIC 3205
Adults – $25 Kids under 13 years – $10
Kids under 5 years – Free
Includes Free pizza and snacks