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The Best Pinball News Sources

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It used to be that pinball news was very slow and uneventful.  In fact there basically was no news.  In 2005 when I got into the hobby, there was only one news source, Pinball News, and their biggest claim to fame were their in depth reviews of new Stern machines.  When Sterns started having unfinished code all the time on release, then Pinball News started to lose some of their draw (at least for me anyways).  I’m going to run down the top news sources for pinball right now.

#1  This Week In Pinball

If you haven’t been paying attention, a new news source for pinball has burst onto the seen this past year.  Called “This Week In Pinball”, the site goes through every major news story of the week and even does their own investigations and interviews.  The site has seen a massive rise in popularity in just a short time due to the great content it features.

I think it started out as a website that basically summarized the forum happenings on Pinside.  But as its popularity grew, he started branching out into interviews and more in depth reporting.  He’s even started his own podcast, I recommend checking it out.

This Week In Pinball can be found here:

thisweekinpinball.com

Every Monday he comes out with new news, so set a reminder.  Also, if you like his cause, don’t forget to donate, he would really appreciate it as he does a ton of work.

This Week In Pinball is also host of the TWIPY awards which caused a major stir last year when Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast end up winning.  It will be interesting this year to see who wins the awards and if there are any more controversial winners.

#2 Pinball News

The original online news source for pinball.  For a long time they only posted intermittent articles along with game reviews for newer Sterns (at least until they had the unfinished code issue, which caused them to be unable to fully review the games).  Today though they have fully written articles with the latest in pinball news.

The place where Pinball News shines above everyone else is original content.  They have a huge library of written articles and are generating new content weekly.  I highly recommend you check them out.  You can find them here:

pinballnews.com

#3  Fun With Bonus

If you’re a tournament player, this is the site to go to.  Steve Bowden, one of the world’s best players run it, and keeps it up to date with all kinds of tournament talk and other happenings in the pinball world.  A lot of people know Steve from pinball podcasts as he’s a frequent guest on a bunch of them.  His commentary on things is great.

Most of the content is links to other content from other sites for the most part.  But you’d never find it without him organizing it all for you, there are so many things going on that it’s impossible to keep track of them all.

The site is found here:

funwithbonus.com

Conclusion

Hopefully this has clued you into the best pinball news sources right now.  I’ll probably update this with new ones as they come along.  It will take someone a lot of work though to dethrone This Week In Pinball.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball

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Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball
Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball

One of the best pinball machines from the 90’s was a pinball machine made after the famous movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Despite being a really old movie at that point, John Trudeau decided that it would be the perfect theme to do his drive in movie theater pinball theme.  He was right, it turned out awesome.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball Machine

The machine itself was made by Bally/Williams in 1992.  Following up some of their monster hits like Addams Family and Terminator 2, Creature from the Black Lagoon was a huge success for Williams.  It had some things that had never been seen on a pinball machine before like:

  • Ramp chase lights
  • Hologram under the playfield
  • fish bowl at the end of the ramp

The hologram under the playfield though is the biggest feature by far.  Basically if you play well enough the ‘creature’ will come alive under the playfield and actually move.  The effect is pretty cool but you have to also play pretty well to see it.  Most novices won’t ever see the creature.

Home Ownership

I owned a Creature from the Black Lagoon for about a year I believe.  I really liked the game overall and kind of miss it.  The music to me was one of the best parts, I like the 60’s songs it played along with the drive in movie theater theme.  I think my wife’s favorite part was the snack bar, go figure, where you get popcorn and all the other food for the movie.

If you’re looking for multiball, Creature is pretty limited in that regard.  It features a 2 ball multiball for spelling ‘FILM’ and that’s it.  In fact that’s the main point of the game, to spell ‘FILM’ by completing the different goals laid out on the playfield.  The goals aren’t too hard, like spelling ‘KISS’, but since the game is somewhat difficult it can be hard for new players to actually spell ‘FILM’ to start.  Once you’re played a bunch you’ll be able to get it pretty easily, sometimes multiple times per game.

The ruleset for Creature is pretty simple, it’s basically a game that is meant for short ball times.  If you’re able to get good enough on it to keep the ball in play for an extended period, it may start to get old after a while.  Luckily that can be remedied by doing the standard pinball things to make the game harder.

Value

Creature from the Black Lagoon Pinball is a pretty expensive machine.  Right now as of this writing (July 2008) it will probably cost you over $5000 to buy one.  Is it worth that much?  Well one thing is for certain, its price keeps rising so while $5000 sounds like a lot today, it might be $5500 or $6000 next year.

If you really like that era of game, it’s definitely a great one to have.  It’s great for guests as well.  It’s biggest drawbacks are that technically from the sound/visual standpoint it has been passed by all the latest Sterns, and from a rules perspective it’s pretty simple compared to most modern games.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some modern games are too complicated, but it also means that it likely will get old faster than some other games.

Ranking

So where does Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machine rank?  According to Pinside rankings, it’s currently thought of as the 26th best game of all time.  That’s probably about where I would put it too, it’s not in the top 10 but somewhere in that 20 to 50 range, depending on your preferences.  I think if it had a slightly deeper ruleset or better quality sound it would probably be ranked closer to the top 10.

Modifications

There are a lot of mods for Creature.  A LOT.  The most popular ones I’ve seen are:

  • Pinsound board
  • ColorDMD
  • Snackbar Mod
  • Taillight Mod
  • video screen for creature mod (if the hologram is toast)

I think all of them have pretty good merits.  I think the Pinsound board and Color DMD would be the two I would go after.  They’d add a lot to the game.

How do you Master Overwatch?

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Master Overwatch
Master Overwatch

Overwatch is one of the toughest games I’ve played to master.  Due to the changing of characters every so often, the new maps, the character variety, etc, it makes it very difficult to master Overwatch.  I’m going to outline some strategies and tactics I’ve used when playing to help me achieve a platinum rating last season.  While I’m not the greatest, hopefully these strategies will help lower level players achieve some success.

D.Va strategies

D.Va is my main character on offense.  While she’s not super powerful with her default guns, the fact that she can take a lot of damage plus has her secondary pistol mode makes her very versatile in the game.  These are the things I do to win with D.Va:

  1. Use your shield to absorb all Reinhardt flames and Moria balls.  Those things can cause a lot of damage to multiple people on your team, so taking them out is essential.
  2. When fighting a team with a lot of snipers or Junkrat launching from a platform, you’ve got to make a priority to eliminate those players ASAP.  A good Hanzo or Junkrat can decimate you if left alone, and you may not have anyone on your team able to take them out besides you.
  3. Use your missiles when charging at characters.  Often they’ll try and shoot you while charging, if you combine shooting missiles with your shield you’ll eliminate them quickly while also protecting yourself from damage.
  4. When using your ultimate, try and shoot it into a group.  Doing it from a standstill usually doesn’t work very well.  There is an alternative strategy to this as well.  If you have your ultimate, try and get stationed on the payload so if you get to zero health, you can launch your ultimate and get a brand new suit back.  I do this quite a bit to try and eliminate 1 or 2 people while simultaneously healing myself.
DVa Overwatch
DVa Overwatch

Bastion strategies

Bastion is a player that needs a little support in order to be useful most of the time.  Without a shield or healing, it’s too easy for a Hanzo to eliminate him in a few quick shots.  To me, Bastion is the player you bring out when things aren’t working at all.  He can quickly change the dynamic if he can melt all the shields of the opposing tanks.  He’s one of the game change players if used correctly.  You’ll also have to learn how to counter him in order to master Overwatch.

  1. If the other team has Orisa and Reinhardt, you’re probably going to need a Bastion at some point.  Usually there’s just too many shields to get through if the other team has any good damage players at all.
  2. If the other team has no Hanzo’s, Genji’s, or other long distance players, then Bastion can be super effective.  He’s essentially just melt everything in his path, especially if you have shields for him.
  3. His ultimate is good ONLY if there’s no shield player on the other team currently in range.  Otherwise you end up just firing a bunch of shots into Reinhardt and do no damage.
  4. Often the best place for Bastion is out of a long line of site.  So instead of being in a long hallway, being against some wall where people don’t have time to react works really well (but also limits your effectiveness to some degree).
Bastion Overwatch
Bastion Overwatch

Lucio Strategies

Lucio is probably my favorite healer to play.  He’s not the greatest character but on some maps he’s really effective (especially the point holding maps that have edges).  Nothing is better (or more infuriating) than a Lucio ‘boop’ off the edge.  On those edge maps you have to be very careful not to get too close to Lucio near the edge.

  1. Obviously you want to do speed when going to the point and healing otherwise.  That’s pretty much a given.  The only time I change back to speed while at the point is when an ultimate is coming, then I speed away.
  2. His gun is pretty ineffective, but it has unlimited range so you should pretty much be firing from the second you see something.  I usually just spam firing randomly into a crowd hoping to get a few hits.  It works pretty well honestly.
  3. And of course you have the edges.  The best way to work this is to either come up behind them and boop them off the edge, or charge at them and do it.

You can also wall ride on some maps pretty well but unless you’re trying to delay point capture it’s pretty hard to do anything effective while doing that.

Lucio Overwatch
Lucio Overwatch

Other characters to Master Overwatch

Some other characters I like to play are Moria, Orisa, Pharah, and Symetra.  Although with the nerfing of Symetra I’m pretty sure I won’t be using her again anytime soon.  It was probably good that they nerfed her because she was making it impossible to take the point sometimes against good teams.

Orisa is great at two things.  First combining here with Bastion or Torbjorn on defense is a lethal combo IF you have someone watching your back a little (or if you can get up against a wall).  She’s also great at moving the payload with Bastion on top.

Hopefully this article has given you a little insight into how to master Overwatch.  I think keying on a few characters and really getting good at them really helps your win percentage.  I was never able to climb to Platinum until I really focused on becoming good with D.Va.

Overwatch Reddit

A great place to pick up tactics for Overwatch is the Overwatch Reddit here.  You can learn a lot of great strategies, tips, tricks, etc. that will help you win over time.  Some of them are hard to master, as much as I try I’ll never be any good with Genji, lol.

There’s also a competitive overwatch section on reddit if you really desire.

Should I buy an expensive TV?

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65 inch LG 4k TV
65 inch LG 4k TV

It happens to everyone, your neighbor buys some top of the line huge TV that’s major $$$ and looks great, and you start thinking that maybe you should upgrade too.  The question is, how much to spend?  And is it really worth it to spend triple the money a TV with new technology like OLED?

My TV buying philosophy

I’m probably a bigger audio/visual nut than probably 95% of the population.  When it comes to TV’s, do I buy the latest and greatest 2,000 dollar TV?  Nope, not a chance.  Every TV I’ve bought in the past 10 years has been $900 or under.  TV’s anymore are just a commodity in my opinion, and you just don’t get much additional for your dollar when you spend double or triple the money for the same size TV.

Would I spend more for a bigger TV?  Absolutely.  Size makes a big difference and I would pay for size.  The thing that is deceiving on TV size is that going from 55″ to 65″ doesn’t seem like a big increase, (since 55″ / 65″ is only about a 16% difference) but in square inches 1296 / 1824 is a 29% difference, so it’s a much bigger screen than you think.

Would I spend more for an OLED vs your standard 4k screen of today?  Absolutely not.  It’s two to three times as expensive for better black levels and picture, but are you going to notice it that much on a daily basis?  Most of the inputs into a TV from streaming, cable, etc aren’t of fantastic quality, so a lot of the gain you might get is lost because no matter what the screen is, it can’t make up for poor quality input.

The Financial Math of TV’s

So if you wanted a 65″ 4k HDR OLED TV today, it’s going to cost you $2500 plus tax.  A 65″ 4k HDR TV can be had for $699 plus tax like the LG 65UJ6200 I bought a while back.  Almost a $2000 difference for a TV that has the same size, same features, just worse contrast on the cheaper one.  You could buy a lot of stuff with that $2000 like an Xbox One X, a PS4, Netflix for a decade, etc.

Basically, it’s a ton of money for something that is going to decrease to zero in a few years because it’s a depreciating asset.  All TV’s get outdated rather quickly and get replaced by newer models with better features and picture, so why spend the big bucks now for it?  In a few years that same $2500 TV will be available brand new for $699 probably, if history is any indicator.

What TV should I buy?

My recommendation is to buy the biggest brand name you can for whatever is reasonable for your budget.  So you wouldn’t buy a TV from a brand you’ve never heard of, but buying the cheaper LG, Samsung, etc would be perfectly acceptable.  I think almost all the cheap TV’s I’ve bought lately have been LG except for one TCL that we bought because of the good reviews and Roku features (my son wanted to have NBA league pass on his TV and the TCL is one of the few with that stuff built in).

65″ TV’s are available currently for $699 or less and 55″ for $399 or less, so you don’t even have to have a very big budget to get a really nice TV.  Much different than 15 years ago where you had to spend $2000 to get a 55″ HDTV that weighed 200 pounds and was gigantic.

The most important features as of this writing (July 2018) are:

  • 4k resolution
  • HDR
  • Smart TV features
  • Number of HDMI inputs
  • ARC capable (for sound bars)

Hopefully that helps what to look for.

Buttkicker LFE Review

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Buttkicker LFE on mount
Buttkicker LFE on mount

One of the biggest advances in home theater technology came a ways back when Buttkicker started making devices that would emulate bass through furniture.  At first I thought, “how good could it be?” but I’m hear to tell you that the difference is night and day.  Buttkicker LFE’s are amazing for movies and video games.

Buttkicker LFE Installation

Installation is probably the hardest part of the whole thing.  Depending on how many you have, each one has a different wiring diagram to get the Ohm reading right for the amp.  They selling wiring kits and I think they’re probably worth the money for the most part.  I had part of a wiring kit in the used setup I bought, and it was definitely much easier than doing it via stripping wires.  The Buttkicker LFE is available through my Amazon affiliate link below:

ButtKicker BK-LFE Low Frequency Effects System

I had three to put on my chairs, and you can either mount them directly to the chairs or use the little floor mount that you put the chair on.  I bought the floor mounts because that’s a lot easier than mounting them to the chair and works really well.  It costs a little more but definitely worth it.  You can see them via my Amazon affiliate link below:

ButtKicker BK-CMAK Couch/Chair Mounting Accessory Kit

For an amp, some people try and get by with an older receiver but I think it makes a lot more sense to just buy the standard Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp they make.  If you use a receiver with the low Ohm values the Buttkicker LFE’s have, you stand a good chance of sending it into protection mode or not getting the full effect you desire.  Going with the one you know will work right is worth the money in this situation.

In order to drive the amp, you’ll need a signal from your receiver’s bass output for a subwoofer.  Depending on your setup, that may or may not be an easy thing to get to your Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp.  In mine, it was pretty easy, but if it isn’t they make a wireless kit to help solve that issue.  The wireless kit is pretty affordable and can solve that wiring problem for you.

Buttkicker LFE in Movies

Depending on the movie, you may or may not get a ton of effect from the Buttkicker, it totally depends on the bass track your film has.  It really shines during intense action films but can even add a lot to your standard comedy.  I have mine on all the time regardless of the movie, I wouldn’t want to watch a movie without it.  When you combine it with the rest of your parts of a home theater, it makes watching at home better than the theater.

Buttkicker LFE during Video Games

This is where I spend the majority of my time in my theater, playing video games.  Games like Call of Duty will really work the system to its fullest, it’s actually pretty amazing.  The immersion factor is off the charts.  I spend most of my time playing Overwatch currently, I’ve gotten really hooked on it again.  I used to use them a lot when playing Rocksmith, was fun to jam out when they were on.

With the official Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp you don’t have to turn it off and on every time, which is nice.  It senses when there is a bass signal and automatically turns on.  That makes it super nice to just turn it to a volume and leave it there indefinitely in sleep mode, and when I start playing it will start up again and go.  I usually never have to mess with the volume.

Bass without waking up the kids

One of the biggest things for me is that I can’t really use my sub when the kids are sleeping, it just shakes the whole house.  The Buttkicker system though can totally give me all that bass I want without waking them up, which is a huge win for me.  The only time I could see it interfering with their sleep is if they’re in the basement and your theater is above them.  Then maybe the shaking from the Buttkickers might vibrate their ceiling some?  I don’t know for sure because mine are in the basement.

Buttkicker LFE under chair
Buttkicker LFE under chair

It would also be really useful if you’re living in an apartment complex or somewhere else quiet where using a sub would get you into big trouble.  The Buttkickers can totally fix that issues for you.  I think some people even combine the Buttkicker LFE with headphones so they get all the tactile bass with zero noise.

Buttkicker  BKA-1000 amp
Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp

Conclusion

If you’re looking for bass that you can feel, there’s no better option that the Buttkicker LFE system.  I’ve had mine for years without a single issue.  Where can you buy it?  I think most people buy it off Amazon or Ebay, although occasionally you will get lucky and someone on craigslist will have it for sale (that’s how I got mine).  However, I haven’t seen Buttkicker’s on my craigslist for 5 years, so I think I just got extremely lucky.  🙂