This weekend at the Embassy Suites Dallas - Frisco Hotel and Conference Center, the air was filled with sounds of flippers, launchers and bumpers. For the annual Texas Pinball Festival the place was packed with pinball tables from varying decades (as well as a smaller offering of arcade cabinets) all set to Free Play. Anyone who paid admission to the festival could walk up to a machine and start playing.
And people did. You thought pinball was dead? Tell that to the full crowd of attendees playing games, entering tournaments and, in some cases, buying pinball tables of their own.
I personally spent a lot of my time hunting down the tables based on classic video game franchises. Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Joust... I also played a lot of the Doctor Who table (there were four or five of them on the show floor, making it one of the more common machines at the festival).
It was the kind of fun event that made me think, "I should get a pinball table," before seeing someone trying to fix theirs and remembering how much work it can be to keep one working perfectly. Besides, I don't have a few thousand dollars to spare. Maybe next year.
One of the biggest lines all day Saturday was for a brand new table: The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy, created by Jersey Jack Pinball. Sadly, after I waited in line for almost half an hour to play it (again, you thought pinball was dead?) a ball got stuck in the machine and the digital portion of the game froze on the "Tilt" screen. I left before I could find out whether or not it was worth the wait.
I left the Texas Pinball Festival not only wanting a table of my own, but excited to go back next year. It's a great family event for anyone who has some love for the arcade lifestyle of ages past.
Check out the gallery below for more photos.