Fanservice and Pinball

Note: This post discusses a sensitive topic, both overall and in pinball and western otaku culture: sexism. As a cis straight male, I know I am speaking from a privileged position, but I hope to be as fair and informative as I can be. There are excellent resources out there devoted to the topic, so check those out if you’re interested.

I recently received a gift from someone outside of the pinball community who knew I was into pinball and Japanese games. The game in question is Peach Ball: Senran Kagura for the Nintendo Switch. As the title implies, the game is a spin-off of the Senran Kagura series of games, which itself is a series of Japanese beat-em-up games featuring groups of female ninjas.

The series is known primarily for its excessive use of “fanservice.” For those unfamiliar with the term, fanservice is content found in some form of media that is pandering to the media’s target demographic. While fanservice can sometimes refer to things like in-jokes for major fans of a franchise, the term typically refers to titillating content such as skimpy/torn clothing and other light erotic scenes.

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My Body Wasn’t Ready: Observations from 24 Continuous Hours of Pinball

(note: I apologize for the lack of photos in this post. I’m bad at remembering to take photos. If you’d like to see photos from the event, check out Gene X. Hwang’s site.)

Before I get into too much detail, I need to say one thing: GET YOURSELF TO THE SANCTUM!!!! If you have the means and the opportunity, the 24 Hour Final Battle at the Sanctum is an absolutely fantastic event. The tournament directors do a great job keeping things organized throughout the event, and the games at the Sanctum are always a joy to play on.

Now that I’ve gotten the praise out of the way, IF YOU PLAN ON COMPETING IN A 24-HOUR EVENT FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU WILL NOT BE FULLY PREPARED. This was the 5th annual 24 Hour Final Battle, and for many of the competitors at this year’s event, it was not their first experience with a marathon event like this. Even though I made it through the whole event without falling asleep or missing any rounds, I made quite a few mistakes when it came to preparation for the event. Continue reading “My Body Wasn’t Ready: Observations from 24 Continuous Hours of Pinball”

My History with Pinball: Playing, Competing, Obsessing

Things have been a bit hectic in my life recently, so I’ve decided to reminisce, taking a look back at how I got into pinball. Although my story isn’t particularly exciting in any way, I believe that everyone’s personal experience is unique, and I hope that you enjoy the long journey I’ve taken to eventually arrive in the land of the silver ball.

Early Beginnings

I cannot remember when I didn’t know about pinball. I’m sure that my parents introduced me to the game, as they both played when they were in their teens and 20’s. Neither of them had “the bug,” however, so the introduction they gave me didn’t have a ton of impact. Something about pinball must have grabbed a hold of me, however, as I can recall quite a few pinball memories.

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Shooting Under Par: Pin-Golf and Playing for Something Besides Score

When I first started playing pinball, I couldn’t have cared less about score (unless I was playing a multiplayer game). The most interesting part of pinball to me was shooting difficult shots and making progress in the game. I didn’t know a ton about rules or modes, but I knew that progress could be made and certain features could be started. Sinking the ship in POTC or destroying a saucer in AFM always made me feel good, and starting multiball was like watching a fireworks show.

A┬ácouple years ago when I decided to get into competitive pinball, I was a bit overwhelmed with the pressure of trying to maximize my scores, as it seemed like most of the newer games had point-scoring strategies more complicated than “keep the ball alive for as long as possible.” While there is an unspoken language to modern pinball machines (this will be discussed in a future post), simply shooting the flashing lights isn’t enough to have a competitive score on many games.

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“Which one of these gives me the most points?”

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Practice, Practice, Practice?

The goal of any competitive pinball player, to some extent, is to better their game. While pinball may have roots in games of chance, the addition of flippers turned the game into one of skill.

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Hulk may have anger issues, but even he appreciates skillful play

There are many elements that contribute to the success of top pinball players, ranging from flipper skills to rules knowledge and mental composure. These skills, as with most other skills, can be developed through practice, whether it be deliberate or coincidental. Unlike most other hobbies, however, it is not always easy to maintain a practice regimen for pinball. Aside from players who are in close proximity to machines, whether in their homes or at a nearby location, pinheads must deal with issues of access and travel in order to better their skills.

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Why match play? What makes Pin Maine-ia and Pinburgh so great?

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Last Saturday, I had the good fortune to compete in Pin Maine-ia 12, a.k.a. the New England Pinball Championship. Pin Maine-ia is an annual event that this year took place in Gorham, Maine. I’d like to give my thanks again to John Reuter for opening up his home and his collection for this great event.

Pin Maine-ia has quite a positive reputation in the Northeast US, with an impressive roster of former champions including Steve Bowden, Josh Sharpe, and Bowen Kerins (congrats Bowen on your win this year). Capped at 64 players, the tournament consists of 6 rounds of match play. The first 3 rounds determine which division you will play in (A or B) and the next three rounds determine who goes on to finals (top 6 per division). Also, after the first round, you will play in groups of similarly performing players.

If this format seems familiar to you, then you won’t be surprised to learn that Pin Maine-ia is the predecessor to Pinburgh. Unfortunately, I will not be attending Pinburgh this year, but I did compete last year. Pinburgh, while exhausting, was one of my favorite tournaments and I look forward to next year where I hope to compete again.

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Introductions

Greetings, fellow pinheads, and welcome to Collect Bonus, a new pinball blog from the perspective of a competitive player working their way through the ranks. My name is Tyler, and I’ve been playing pinball for at least 15 years on and off but only 2 years competitively. I have yet to acquire a machine of my own, but I hope to change that very soon.

I follow a fair amount of pinball-related forms of media, and I feel that the landscape might benefit from my perspective. I have been playing long enough to understand that pinball is a game where many factors affect your play, and my approach to improvement is to try and isolate these factors to analyze their effects. From physical factors like stamina and alertness to emotional factors like anxiety, I hope to blog about my observations on how these elements will alter your play and how one might use these to your advantage.

Amidst these posts I also hope to cover local pinball news and events. Being located in New England, I am fortunate to have a decent pinball scene here, and I endeavor to provide a new look at it.