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Pinball Rubber, Tips, Tricks, and the Best Brands

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White Pinball Rubber
White Pinball Rubber

Pinball Rubber

The one thing that every pinball machine needs every few years is new rubber. Much like the rubber on your tires, once it gets 5 years old it starts to deteriorate to the point where it likes to fall apart. On top of that, you have white rubber, black rubber, and now silicon rings which play like rubber but are something totally different. I’m going to run down all the different types, what I recommend and where to buy everything.

White Rubber

White is the original rubber that was used on all pinball machines. Super bouncy, it bounces better than all other colors. Bet you didn’t know that different colors bounce at different levels? Usually, the lighter the color, the more it bounces. So white is typically the bounciest, while black has less bounce and offers more control.

The problem with white is dirt. While black hides all the dirt, white can get dirty pretty quickly, making your new rubber look like it’s old. A quick wipe down fixes that, but it’s still additional time. On the flip side though, white rubber produces far less dirt than black rubber, meaning the playfield stays way cleaner with white rubber. So basically, either way you’re going to be cleaning something more often.

The one place white rubber is typically never used is the flippers themselves (except for on 40 year old or older games). On newer games the rubber gets too dirty and bounces too much to make it a good choice.

I typically put white rubber on all of my games when I replace all the rubbers. I find they last longer than black most of the time, and keeps the game cleaner. For the flippers, I usually match the color to what would look good on the game (red, yellow, orange, purple, etc). Some of those colors like orange though are really bouncy and make the game very hard.

Black Rubber

Black is the standard which all new games are shipped with. Because it hides dirt so well, operators prefer it so it makes their games look newer longer. It offers a pretty good mix of durability with looks and playability.

As far as aesthetics go, some games look better with white and some look better with black. I think most of the newer Stern games look better with black while some of the older titles look much better with white. The color scheme makes a big difference with which one looks best.

Generally, black is the most common rubber on modern games. I used to prefer black for a long time until I did white on a Star Trek: The Next Generation machine. The white on it played better so I switched from black on all future games.

Silicone Pinball Rubber

Silicone pinball rubber rings are the newest innovation to the pinball hobby. Unlike regular rubber, Silicone pinball rings have a lot of advantages over the traditional rings. Those advantages are:

  • Longer lasting in home use (typically don’t dry out like rubber)
  • Less dirt

They also have some disadvantages, mainly:

  • More expensive
  • Can change gameplay

I’m still on the fence whether I like them or not. On the flippers, they can cause some unnatural grip and bounce that’s hard to get used to. There are two major players in the Silicone space, Titan Pinball and Perfect Play. Titan is generally thought of as the leader in the non-rubber category.

Green Superbands
Green Superbands

Superbands

Superbands are made from polyurethane and are very similar to the silicon rings, so the descriptions above still work for them. They are less popular than Titan’s rings mainly because they change gameplay more than Titan’s. They’re also more expensive than Titan’s but they do last longer to make up for that. I had some Superbands on the flippers of Creature of the Black Lagoon and I definitely did not like the feel, so your mileage may vary.

Rubber Wrapup

I think if I were to a game in new rubber that I was planning on keeping for a long time, I’d probably go with Titan Pinball silicon rings. The overall look is better and the additional cost is minimal. I’m probably going to have to do some of my older games here in a year or two, and that’s probably the direction I’ll go.

What I would suggest is getting flipper rubber from all the different brands and then trying them out. That way you can see exactly what you personally like better before investing a bunch of money.

Super Kixx Pro Released

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In 1984, ICE first tried to go beyond Hockey and Chexx to make a soccer game, Kixx soccer.  It was a mild success, but not enough to continue it.  Fast forward 35 years, ICE has decided to finally bring a new version of Kixx to sell.

New Features (Kixx vs Super Kixx Pro)

Compared to the old version, the most obvious upgrades are to the sights and sounds on the new color screen.  Most of the surrounding plastics on the fields have gotten an upgrade as well.  Gone also is the turf from the earlier games, it’s now replaced by a flat green surface similar to the hockey games.  I think this is a big improvement in speeding up the game.

Also new are the dual LCD screens, one in each corner of the the field.  Instead of the overhead scoreboard, ICE put them in the corners.

To launch the ball, ICE added an elevator mechanism to bring the ball up to the field.

You can also order each game now with your favorite teams right off the bat.  Unfortunately, the game is also pretty expensive at over $4000.  But if you like soccer more than hockey, it could be a really good option.  You just have to decide whether you want this for $4k+ or a regular Foosball table for under $1k.  I think that’s part of the reason it hasn’t came back before now, Foosball is more popular and probably hurts sales since it’s cheaper and in the same sport.

I’m hoping to play one of these eventually on location but I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard.  I don’t expect to see very many of these around, as Super Chexx games are pretty hard to find on location as well.

 

Is Crackdown 3 really that bad?

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Crackdown 3 Xbox One X
Crackdown 3 Xbox One X

If you’ve been reading the reviews of Crackdown 3, you’d think that it’s the worst game ever, lol.  Every major gaming website has been ripping on it for not doing things that are now standard in 2019.  I’ve been playing it quite a bit and can offer some insight on the subject.

First Impressions

When you first fire it up, you’re greeted by a pretty cool intro view featuring Terry Crews.  Unfortunately, you won’t see too many videos of him after this, although he is character you can select to play with.  The graphics are ok, not great but also not horrible.  It kind of looks like a cartoonish hi-rez 360 game honestly, behind today’s standards but not awful.

The gameplay is pretty good when you first get into it.  It uses a lock on aiming system like Red Dead Redemption 2.  Ironically most of the reviews rip this game for that system but gave RDR2 a pass for the same thing, total double standard.  The action in Crackdown 3 is way better than RDR2 though, with a nice variety of cool weapons and enemies.  Some of the explosions you do are pretty awesome, with one car blowing up to chain into another and another.  In fact there’s an achievement for blowing up like 5 cars in 5 seconds.

Later On

As you get into the game, it pretty much turns into an open world game with like 100 different things you do in just about any order (although it may be pretty tough to accomplish the harder ones to start).  From there you can just pick and choose what you want to do.  It’s lot like Far Cry games only you get a lot more powerful in this game and the map is a lot smaller.

The objectives for the most part pretty fun.  Some of them are kind of annoying with all the platforming you have to do.  There are a few bugs too with the missions, I’ve accidentally completed some and been unable to temporarily complete others due to things not working correctly.

Once you complete a bunch of the easier missions of a certain group, you get to do a boss fight.  These fights are pretty fun for the most part, most of them have a lot personality which is sometimes lacking in open world games.

Conclusion

Is the game greatest thing?  No, for sure not.  But it’s also not nearly as bad as the reviews say in my opinion.  I think that the long development cycle led to it having mismatched expectations, which in turn led to awful reviews.  I think if it would have been a normal release without all the hype it would have reviewed a lot better.  It reminds me of Ryse a little in the fact that it’s a good game that got kind of blasted in the reviews for no real reason.

The best reason to play Crackdown 3 is if you have game pass.  I’m not sure if I would spend $60 on it, but on game pass it’s a no brainer.  I’d probably give it a 7 or 8 out of 10 just because of the fun factor.  Definitely not because it does anything technically that great, it’s just a good throwback game.

Top Game Room Gift Ideas for 2019

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Holidays are rapidly approaching, so it’s time to start finding gifts for all those people who love game room stuff.  This list contains all the best items you’re going to find for Christmas and the Holidays 2018.

#1  Red Dead Redemption 2

The #1 anticipated game for 2018 is finally out in stores.  Was it worth the wait?  It’s a little slow in places but the storytelling is great and it has a huge expansive world to explore.  As of this writing it has a 97% on metacritic.  I’m not sure I would rate it quite that high, but it’s definitely worth playing.  Also to note, this game is rated M for mature, not a game you’re going to give a young kid.  It’s available through my Amazon affiliate link below:

Red Dead Redemption 2

#2  Super Chexx Pro Bubble Hockey

The new version came out last year and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  If you have hockey fans in the house, there’s no better game for them.  In my game room of foosball, ping pong, darts, pinball, etc, bubble hockey is my most popular item for two people to play by far.  It’s almost in constant use when kids come over because it’s such a unique item that isn’t seen very often.  It’s available through ICE directly only, my affiliate link is below:

Super Chexx Pro Bubble Hockey

#3  Tornado Foosball Classic Edition

If you’re looking for a foosball table that’s going to last 40 years and stand the test of time, there’s no better choice than buying a Tornado Foosball Table.  They make 4 different models, but I think the classic is the best overall value.  The T3000 looks are undeniably awesome, but it’s hard to pay that much more for marginal functionality gain.  My Amazon affiliate link is below:

Tornado Foosball Classic

#4  Spiderman/Forza Horizon 4

If you own a PS4, then Spiderman is a great choice.  If you own an Xbox, then picking up Forza Horizon 4 is a no brainer.  I own both these games on these each console, and they’re two of the best games on each console.  Unfortunately they’re exclusive so you have to own the right console in order to buy them.

Both of these are family friendly, so they’re good choices for kids.  My 9 year old has played through most of Spiderman, loves the game.  I’ve spent like 20 hours going through Forza Horizon 4, they’ve done a good job of making new challenges this time.  My Amazon affiliate links for both games are below.

Spiderman for PS4

Forza Horizon 4 for Xbox One

#5  Gran Board 3

The new Gran Board version keeps on with the excellence from the previous two versions and adds all new led lighting to the outside.  The effects are pretty awesome overall.  I’ve made some video on my Youtube channel for the Gran Board 2, the dart boards are identical other than the LED light addition.

The dart board allows you to hook up to a cell phone or ipad to display all the current scores for the game.  You can even pipe the video to a TV screen off the phone if you want, I’ve done that as well.  My Amazon affiliate link is below for the Gran Board 3.

Gran Board 3

#6  Roku Express

If you want to stream shows but your built in smart TV functionality is lackluster, the Roku Express is the perfect solution.  After our older LG WebOS TV didn’t support SlingTV, we got a Roku Express to go on it.  Not only is it faster than WebOS, it supports way more apps.  Now that we’ve got it, we run everything through it.

The best part?  It’s only $29.99, which is bargain for all the functionality it gives you.  Highly recommended for those TV’s lacking things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.  Roku Express is available through my Amazon affiliate link below.

Roku Express

 

Affordable pinball machines

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Affordable pinball machines
Affordable pinball machines

I’ve done a bunch of pinball lists over the past year, ranging from the Best Pinball Machines for Home Use to the Best Pinball Machines Under $1000.  Today I’m going to focus on affordable pinball machines, basically what games can anyone buy right now for not much money.  Some of them might need some work, but that’s what makes them affordable.  🙂

Affordable pinball machine #1, EM Era

Almost everything from the EM (Electro-mechanical, basically the games that had scoring reels) era is pretty affordable, with most ranging from free to $500 (which a few outliers).  Almost all of the ones you see on craigslist are in some state of not working, but luckily there are tons of guides out there on how to repair them.

Are they fun?  Absolutely.  Some a lot more than others.  They’re also very heavy, especially if you get the 4 player versions which can really give you a workout when moving them.  Typical problems are the reels stick and don’t score right or the game won’t even start up at all.

The best place to go to fix EM problems is Clay’s Repairing EM guide.  Clay has wrote a bunch of guides over the years, a true asset to the community.  I used to use his guides a bunch when I was first starting out.  As the supply of project games has dried up though, I haven’t used them as much.

If I was trying to find an affordable pinball machine, EM’s is where I’d start as there are tons of them around and can be had for almost nothing.

Pinball bargain #2

What’s the second best bargain?  Gottlieb solid state games from the 80’s.  Gottlieb made a bunch of digital games in the 80’s but were always considered way back of Bally and Williams, hence there game prices are way lower.  I’ve seen a lot of Gottlieb games of that era go for dirt cheap (under $500) which is lower than every other digital pinball machine available.

Why do Gottlieb’s go for so cheap?  I think the main reason is that their art and electronics were far behind Bally and Williams.  They just didn’t make as good of games as those two and the prices reflect that.  There are a lot of Gottlieb games that people aren’t even aware that they made.  I know that even though I’ve been doing pinball for 13 years there are still some old games from them that pop up that I’ve never seen previously.  I think it’s because collectors don’t usually have them.  Hence, never get to see them unless someone is trying to sell one on craigslist.

Some of them are definitely more fun than their given credit.  Although not cheap, Joker Poker is one my favorites of that era.  Genie though is affordable and a ton of fun, as is Pinball Pool.  IPDB.org is a great resource for checking out these older games.  They have reviews and pictures for every game ever produced, which makes it a lot easier to decide whether you want it or now.

Cheap games #3

Although they’ve been trending upwards for a while, classic Stern titles from 1977 to 1984 are pretty affordable still.  Some of the rarer ones like Stargazer are pushing $4k to $5k but others are still between $500 and $1k.  You’ll see a lot of these available that need a little work, basically because the boards are a little hard to work with and are prone to acid damage and bad connections.

Stars is one of the games that isn’t the best looking game but has developed a reputation as a great player.  Meteor is one you can find a lot and it’s both affordable and a great game.  Most of them were produced in smaller numbers so you don’t see them super often.  Also, due to the fact that weren’t in arcades as much as Williams and Bally, their prices are lower as a result (no nostalgia).  I’ve owned Flight 2000 from this group, it was a fun game but the multiball mech took up an obscene amount of playfield space, lol.  The Stern’s I’ve played also had really good spinners, better than other games of the era in my opinion.

Other deals?

So I’ve gone over three classes of games that you’ll find the most affordable games in.  How else can you get a good deal on a game that’s not in any of those categories?  There are few things you can do:

  1. Learn how to repair games.  It’s the #1 way to save money in this hobby.
  2. Make friends with the local pinball scene.  It will help you get an occasional deal.
  3. Watch Craiglist, Facebook, local newspaper, etc for games every day.  Often you can get a good deal just by watching these closely.  Not sure if it’s a super good use of your time if there’s lots of competition though.
  4. Estate sales.  Lots of old games at these sales, often with owners and auction services that don’t know the values of the games.  You can often get the games very cheap.

I’ve gotten games from all four of those.  I used to get most of my games from #3 but the competition is so high now that I haven’t bought a game that way for years.  Depends on your area though.

Hopefully this article was helpful you.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at gameroominfo@gmail.com.