Let’s Talk About Vintage Arcade Games…Again!

There’s just something about old timey video games that keeps drawing me in (and keeps me writing about them – like this time and this other time). Though I satiate this need by plugging in the old, yellowed Super Nintendo and playing Super Mario World for the millionth time (and still being unable to do that crazy jump in the Cheese Bridge level that opens the path to Soda Lake) or a newly acquired Intellivision, these aren’t always enough.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of arcades serving the not so niche market of vintage electronic entertainment seekers. One such place is the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, which despite sounding like a gallery dedicated to geriatric genitals, is fortunately nothing of the sort. Having heard about this place for years, I finally checked it out during a recent all-too-rare visit to my beloved Jersey Shore and was blown away – you walk in and see row after row of about 100 pinball games all lovingly cared for and in perfect working condition. And each one has a sign above it giving you the year the machine was made and a brief back story.

And what’s great about the place is that you pay a flat hourly (or half hourly) fee up front, and then have access to every single machine, all of which have been retrofitted with a start button instead of having to feed them quarters. That’s right – no more having to deal with that stupid change machine that keeps spitting your dollar out, or having to keep fishing into your weighted down pocket to get a new quarter when you lose. Although I’m sure some would argue that that’s part of the experience of being at an arcade.

Anyway, let’s talk about the machines, which span the decades – and explain why it’s called a museum. From simple wooden machines of the 50s and 60s, to the more feature-rich games of the 70s to the crazy bells and buzzers and brouhaha of the games of the 90s, you’re transported back in time and can see how pinball has evolved over the decades.

I enjoyed seeing those pinball machines from the 90s the most – especially the ones I remember playing at my local bowling alley in the 90s, like the Addams Family or the Indiana Jones games. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the older ones too – in particular the KISS and Playboy machines. Even the more ancient machines, though admittedly not as much fun, were still interesting to play – and they all had some suggestive artwork accompanying them.

And I would be remiss not to mention that the Silverball Museum isn’t just about games with silverballs – they also have quite a collection of classic arcade console games, like Tetris, Centipede, Frogger and other oldies but still goodies [hate that phrase but it does perfectly sum things up].

Though I was only at the Silverball Museum for a half hour, I could easily go back and spend a whole afternoon there. With a cafe serving classic boardwalk food, funnel cakes included, there’s really no reason to leave.

And now some pictures!

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Speaking of silverballs, it’s Hugh Heffner!

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I wanna knock some balls all night, and jackpot-ty every day…

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A game from a simpler time, when women knew their place – shooting lightning bolts from the back of a pinball machine.

 

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