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Balls of Steel - The Pinball Review: Monopoly!

Posted by Scott / August 14, 2006

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Over the last several weeks I've been trying to track down pinball games around Montreal. Finding the silver ball in this city has proven far more difficult than I expected, and has lead to a lot of wild goose chases and terrible pints in ghastly sports bars. However, this past weekend, my accomplice and I were able to find a version of Monopoly's pinball game at the Frappe Bar (West side of St-Laurent just south of Bagg, second floor).

And yes, we were totally stoked.

Monopoly was originally released in 2001 from Stern Pinball, and was designed by Pat Lawlor, who is the genius behind The Twilight Zone game and many others. Probably the first thing to note when playing Monopoly is that, like the boardgame, you actually start with 1500 points. In the modern era of pinball, where scores are measured in millions this is probably not a weird thing, but damn if it didn't screw us both up to have points for not doing anything. All I did was put in my dollar. And drink my Grotsch.

monopoly%20rightflipper%20one.jpgThe Monopoly game at Frappe is only moderately jacked up, so the ball runs across the playfield at a fairly manageable speed, and it is rather forgiving of players with active hips. Which is to say, the game is hard to tilt. On the downside, the flipper on the upper right gets stuck quite often in a "fire" position, rendering it useless (and shots into the upper section of the table far more difficult). Coupled with the Waterworks Flipper just below it, which orbits in a constant counterclockwise spin, controlling the ball past mid-way becomes very difficult. Often you have to just fire the ball up the playfield and hope for the best.

Despite repeated assaults on "The Bank" (a primary goal in the upper portion of the playfield) neither my accomplice nor I were able to get the 4-ball multiball going, but it is possible to rack up a fairly solid score without this. There are 5 ramps (but no elevated or sunken playfields), which help to load up on points, and if you are able to hit the holes/poppers you can gain bigger bonuses. The game is fairly generous with the "shoot again" option, if the ball slams down the gutter without hitting the flippers, but sometimes the auto plunger mis-fires and sends the ball into play at mid-playfield.

On the whole I find Monopoly (as a boardgame) fatally dull. The pinball game, while not one of my favourites, is a lot more fun. Frappe is sort of a sports-jock nightmare, but the longhaired bartender on the second floor is a jovial chap (who will totally kill you at foosball), and the terrasse makes for a nice sunlit retreat between Monopoly rounds. Recommended.

Next Balls of Steel review: The Playboy Game!
Have a tip on where to find pinball in the city? Post a note and let me know.

Discussion

33 Comments

Ev / August 14, 2006 at 09:18 pm
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Machines à boules! I have pictures of the "DR. DUDE" pinball machine at Scanner in Qc City; makes you go from being a loser to a RAD HIPSTER by going through DR. DUDE's eXcellent Xray.
omar / August 15, 2006 at 05:31 am
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I will be 43 in the fall and remember when the first "digital" counter pinball machine made its debut at our local haunt in Ottawa. It was called "8 Ball" and we were awed.
scott / August 15, 2006 at 11:23 am
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Ah, to be a RAD HIPSTER again. That's pretty awesome Ev.

And Omar: I also remember when pinball entered the digital realm. It went pretty far for awhile too, with games-inside-games being played on the backboard's screen. That trend died out, but its even harder these days to find non-digital pinball in working condition.

Again, if anyone sees pinball games in Montreal, let me know.
j mac / August 15, 2006 at 02:05 pm
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It just occurred to me that there used to be a vintage machine in that sketchy bar on Parc near St. Joseph on the west side. It's kind of a sports bar, with a two syllable name that I can't remember. We went there to play the game once and it was very tough, but not as tough as the clientele, one of whom smashed a bottle and waved it at the dude he was playing pool against after the dude sunk a shot. The game might still be there. Bring a taser.
scott / August 15, 2006 at 02:51 pm
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Oh, would that be Prime Time? I haven't been in there in awhile, but will check it out. I have watched a fair amount of soccer in there, and remember seeing VLTs, but there could be pinball too.
j mac / August 15, 2006 at 03:26 pm
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Hmm, I suspect you would have seen it. I think I may have even gone in there and noticed it gone. But it's worth a look.
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