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Top 5 Pinball Machines for Kids

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Top Pinball Machines for Kids
Top Pinball Machines for Kids

If you’re a parent who knows nothing about pinball, picking out that first pinball machine for your family can be hard. There are a thousand different options and it’s really hard to know “which pinball machine should I pick for my family?”. I’m going to go through the top 5 pinball machines for kids, some full size and some smaller ones for those with smaller budgets or really small kids.

#1 Super Mario Bros

Probably the best pinball machine for kids aligns pretty closely with the best video game system for kids, the Nintendo Switch. Super Mario Bros is a great pinball machine for a family. The goal is to beat all the castles and save the princess, which takes a decent amount of skill. It has all the sounds from the video game plus all the colorful graphics from it too.

Even though it’s over 25 years old, it still earns a lot of money on location because kids are naturally drawn to it. It also ranks high with mom’s because a lot of them grew up playing Super Mario on the NES.

#2 Attack From Mars

This is the most expensive game on my list and for good reason, it’s a great game. It’s probably the most highly regarded by pinball players as well. It’s so highly thought of that they’ve started remaking it new again, even though it came out over 20 years ago.

It’s a game that has great comedy. It has jiggly aliens, a space ship you can blow up, ships beaming up cows, etc. My whole family loves this game, as do I. There’s a sister game that’s pretty popular as well, Medieval Madness, but I think Attack From Mars is a better game for families overall.

#3 NBA Fastbreak

To serious pinball collectors, they would scoff at having a NBA Fast Break in their collection as most pinball players don’t like sports. Kids though do. In fact, I know of a family that owned this game and then sold it for a Medieval Madness. After a little bit the family made the dad sell the Medieval Madness to get the NBA Fast Break back. It’s just a really fun game with easy to understand rules for everyone. Who doesn’t like scoring baskets? The score is in points rather than millions, so a good score on NBA Fast Break would be like 100 points which is a lot easier for kids to understand.

#4 Pirates of the Caribbean (Zizzle)

A company called Zizzle made a Pirates of the Caribbean game a few years ago. 3/4 size, it was an affordable option for those looking for a home machine. Whereas full size games will cost thousands of dollars, this game only retailed for $399. They’re pretty easy to find on craigslist and Facebook marketplace, though some people have ridiculous prices on them (like way over what they sold for originally).

Is it the best game ever? No, but it’s affordable and a good introduction to pinball.

#5 Deadpool

Deadpool? Family friendly? Well, if you were talking about the movie, definitely not. But the pinball machine is based on the comic and is actually hilarious. It captures all the classic Deadpool comedy including the Chimichanga truck.

My whole family loves this game on location, in fact I really like it too. It’s on the top of my list for next games to get. One of the funniest game I’ve played.

Meta Games Unlimited Review

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Meta Games Unlimited

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.

Pinball Lineup

The lineup they had there that day was great. It include:

  • Indy 500
  • Star Wars Pro
  • Deadpool Premium
  • Metallica Pro
  • Monster Bash Remake
  • Stargate
  • Iron Man
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • 2 older games that I can’t remember the title
Meta Games Unlimited
Meta Games Unlimited

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.

1984 Arcade In Branson, MO Review

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1984 arcade in Branson, MO
1984 arcade in Branson, MO

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.

Pinball

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.

1984 Arcade Pinball Row in Branson, MO
1984 Arcade Pinball Row in Branson, MO

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.

Arcade

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.

1984 Arcade room
1984 Arcade room

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.

Other stuff

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.

1984 arcade air hockey
1984 arcade air hockey

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.

Wrapup

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.

Pinball Clubs

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Pinball Club Machine
Pinball Club Machine

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.

Pizza West, A Great Pizza and Pinball Place

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Pizza West Pinball Lineup
Pizza West Pinball Lineup

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.

Knub’s Pub

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.