First off, I’m sure some of you have read the title and are thinking “What the heck is Meta Games”? Well, to be honest, until a month ago I had never heard of them either. It was really a chance encounter that we even ended up there.
Basically, we were on our way to Branson, MO and wanted to stop at the 1984 Arcade in Springfield, MO. Unfortunately, it was Tuesday and they aren’t open that day, so we thought we were out of luck. Luckily, by using the pinball map app, we were able to find a location that had a lot of newer games at it. That location happened to be Meta Games.
Now probably like 95% of the people going there are in it for one thing, to check out all the latest board games. In fact everyone that was there that night was doing just that, shopping for or playing board games. We however were there to play some of their pinball machines.
The lineup they had there that day was great. It include:
Star Wars Pro
Monster Bash Remake
Star Trek: The Next Generation
2 older games that I can’t remember the title
It was quite the lineup, all in great shape. I just wanted to play Deadpool but unfortunately my family was in love with that game and wouldn’t get off it, lol. So I instead played a lot of Metallica and Star Wars. Their Metallica was the best location game I’d ever played for it, I actually put up a high score while I was there.
The location is super clean. Even my wife commented on how nice and clean the place was. Most arcades are like the opposite, so this was a nice surprise.
It was so nice that we stopped there again on our way back for an hour. Kids couldn’t get enough of it. I think they both reached the Eye of Ra wizard mode on Stargate.
If you’re not familiar with the original 1984 arcade in Springfield, MO, it’s one of the best locations in the US to play 80’s era arcade and pinball games. They’ve recently added another location in Branson, MO and my family and I got to see it this past week. How was it? Read on to find out.
The Branson location has 16 pinball machines currently, ranging from 1978 to today (there was one EM there but I didn’t pay attention to when it was produced). The newest game they had was Guardians of the Galaxy (pro version). Everything was very clean and played really well. Seemed like they must be cleaning things on a pretty regular basis. While I was there I did see them working on World Cup Soccer, the only game that was broken while I was there.
They currently have a lot of extra space in the pinball area, I’m not sure what their future plans are. They have room to add a lot more games if they want to. Right now they an air hockey machine in there for those who like more head to head games. Kind of wish they’d add other games from the 80’s like foosball, Chexx Hockey, and maybe even a pool table.
About 1/2 the games were from 1992 and newer, while the rest were in the 1978 to 1988 era. Most were priced at 50 cents, only a couple were 25 cents. Either way though, a very good price for the quality offered. The games from the early 80’s were definitely harder on the pocketbook as their short ball times would chew through the quarters pretty fast.
The arcade side had about 50 games or so. You can kind of tell it’s still a work in progress as a lot of the games are duplicates (Defender, Ms Pac Man, Galaga, etc) that were probably brought from their storage. It’s currently not close to the level of the Springfield location unfortunately. The games they do have are good and some hidden gems are there (Arch Rivals? Hell yeah!), they’re just missing so many of the games that would usually be in an all-star lineup like Tron, Dig-Dug, Battlezone, Spy Hunter, etc.
There’s still a ton of room to add more games there. My guess is that they’ll be adding more and more as they become available. Some of the games they’re missing are higher priced, and until the concept fully starts paying off in Branson I’m sure they’re being conservative. By the time you’re reading this, they may have way more games than they currently do as of this writing.
Do they have food and drinks? Yep. Not like burgers and fries or anything like that, but chips, pop, etc, things that are good to snack on while playing.
They’ve also got the perfect thing for moms, a couch with a good selection of 80’s movies on VHS that you can watch. My wife laid on the couch and watched Back to the Future while the kids played pinball and arcade games. So there’s something for people to do even if they don’t want to play games.
I highly recommend that if you’re in Branson and like arcade/pinball at all to stop in and play. At only $10 for all the arcades you can play, and only 50 cents for pinball, it’s much cheaper than a lot of the attractions in Branson. Plus it’s in a nice clean location close to shopping, mini golf, and food too. Its hours as of this writing were 1 to 9, a little different than the Springfield location. For some reason everything in Branson seems to close early.
20 years ago, there were no such things as pinball clubs really. Everything basically centered around local shows and occasionally some local bars/home collections. Organization of these things was usually pretty haphazard and a lot of times didn’t last long.
Come around to today, pinball clubs are everywhere. Almost every major city has one in some shape or fashion, usually in the form of a monthly tournament. Kansas City for example has monthly tournaments at Pizza West and weekly tournaments at the 403 club. 10 years ago there were no tournaments in KC outside of an occasional one at a bar, so it’s a huge change.
Is it really a club?
Well, not really for the most part, it kind of depends on the city. Some towns have you sign up for a weekly/monthly tourney for a certain period of time and then have a finals. Most though are based upon people showing up at certain place and time for a tournament on a regular basis.
KC’s isn’t an official club, it’s just tournaments. However, the same people regularly attend said tourneys.
What’s the reward?
What do you get out of a pinball club? Usually trophies, bragging rights, and IFPA points. What are IFPA points? IFPA stands for International Flipper Pinball Association. It didn’t use to be a big deal, but over the last few years it has really picked up steam. At the time of this writing, there are now over 37,000 players in the ranking database. That’s a huge jump from the couple thousand there were a while back.
There are so many players now that if you want to rank decently you really have to play a lot. All these pinball clubs and tournaments are a huge boon to the rankings.
The other thing that’s help the resurgence is the increase in the number of games produced from various manufacturers. It has really increased the player base.
If you live in KC or are traveling in the area, you owe it to yourself to head on over to Pizza West to eat some pizza and play some pinball. It’s one of the great combo places you can go to in the US.
First off, the pizza. You’ll have to check with their website, but they have lunch and dinner buffer a lot during the week. You can get anything you want on the buffet, from cheese pizza to dessert pizza. And they’ll even make you custom pizza for the buffet if you request it. It’s some of the best pizza in the KC area along with Minsky’s.
Then comes the pinball. They’re constantly rotating games through there, everything from classics like Firepower to new games like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. And every third Saturday of the month they have their monthly pinball tournament. It’s a $5 entry and counts towards the IFPA rankings.
The operator of the pinballs runs the website kcpins.com. He’s been operating them for years there. I actually sold him his first pinball machine years ago, a Batman Forever. Fun game but kind of limited on the ruleset.
Games range anywhere from 25 cents to 75 cents, depending on the age of the machine usually. So like Flash Gordon from 1980 might be a quarter, Star Wars from 1992 might be 50 cents, and Guardians of the Galaxy from 2017 might be 75 cents.
If you’re looking for more pinball, you only have to go a 1/2 block away down to Knub’s Pub. Kcpins.com also runs the 7 games there. Last time I was there, they had Medieval Madness, Lord of the Rings, Black Knight Sword of Rage, etc. It’s pretty small though and not as easy to play when it’s crowded. But it’s better if you’re out having a drink with some older friends, while Pizza West is a lot more kid friendly.
Hopefully you’ll come out to support Pizza West and Knub’s Pub, two of the best locations in the KC area for food and pinball.
Arcade mods have become rather huge the last few years, especially in pinball with 3d printers becoming a big thing. I’ve rounded up a list of the coolest Super Chexx mods I could find below to give you some ideas for your games.
Chexx Cup Holder
This is a mod I made personally for my game. I wanted to make a good cup holder for my Chexx game that would look cool and be reversible if needed. So I designed this cup holder and printed it out on my 3d printer.
It works really well for bottles and cans, but wouldn’t really work for those huge big gulps with the wide bases. I have a video of it here:
If you’re interested in buying a pair of chexx bubble hockey cup holders from me, email me at email@example.com.
Chexx Goal Mods
Goal and player mods are by far the most popular things to mod. One of the best goal mods was posted a few years on instructables. Basically, he used some nails, red paint, and some netting to make authentic miniature goals. They’re probably the best Chexx goals you can make at this point in time. The link is below:
It’s the easiest thing you can do to get more lighting in your game. The original bulbs also have problems with causing too much heating in the electronics above, causing them to eventually fail and the plastic to warp.
There’s actually an ebay seller now that sells an LED board for the Super CHEXX games, it’s here:
It’s a pretty nice LED board. I haven’t personally tried it though, so I can’t vouch for the improvement.
Chexx player mods
Besides lighting and goal mods, the player mods are the most popular items. Most people pick up NHL players directly from ICE themselves. The only disadvantage to that is that the players don’t actually have names and numbers, which most people kind of want. I actually made a page on how I added names and numbers to chexx players here:
In addition to this, there are a couple people who custom paint players for money. These custom painted players are far beyond what ICE offers, but they’re also way more money, so you kind of get what you pay for here. Typically custom players are slower than the ICE players as they require. I haven’t used this place below so I can’t comment on how good they are personally, but the results pictures are great.
They’re probably the best option right now if you want something a little more higher end.
There’s also a Chexx mods place online that’s selling a custom scoreboard, boards, etc. However, they haven’t responded to any of my emails, so I’m hesitant to recommend them based upon communication (because if you have a problem and they won’t respond, you’re kind of screwed). If they reach out to me at some point, then I will update this. UPDATE: They did reach out of me and seemed like nice guys, but then went silent on return emails, so I dunno. I think they’re making some cool products and they may be more responsive to a customer than someone like me, who is just a website owner.
I believe I saw one user online who had bought the scoreboard and was happy with it, but that’s all I’ve seen so far.