I got to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas last week. Here’s a review of what I thought:

While Las Vegas is one of the gaming capitals of the world, not all of its good times can be found in just the slot machines and blackjack. There is a place for pinball enthusiasts as well.

The Pinball Hall of Fame, housed on Tropicana and just off the Strip, is a collection of vintage to modern pinball machines that rings true to the glory days of the arcades of old. From the long stretch of hallways created by the machines that fill the air with buzzes, pings and clicks of the flippers, it’s a nostalgic rush that what’s left of the disappearing public arcade scene can’t seem to capture anymore. The Museum succeeds in capturing the “feel” that made places like this so special in the first place, and for veteran gamers, it’s like visiting an old friend…. Even if it’s a first-time visit.

The on-site staff is quite friendly as well, and is more than eager to regale listeners with their tales of many a high score past and present, which makes for a fun conversation from people who totally “get” the hobby. And there have been quite a few heated competitions as well to beat the highest of the high scores.

Every machine from the brand new, to machines that you had vague recollections of from your youth, to even machines well before many a current gamer’s time are all represented here in pristine, playable glory. Eagle-eyed visitors may even spot a whole row of classic arcade games as well, with Donkey Kong, TRON, and Ms. Pac-Man all ready to play.

The Museum is actually the private collection of Tim Arnold, a retired pinball collector who has taken his hobby of collecting pinball machines and has taken it to the next level by sharing it with fans. To say the collection is impressive would be an understatement, and would even stagger the Who’s “Tommy”.

All of this silver ball hitting goes to a good cause. The museum in non-profit, and Arnold donates the money generated from the machines to the Salvation Army of Las Vegas. While those quarters go to a good cause, it’s certainly an enjoyable (and addictive) way to donate them. Be prepared for repeat visits as there’s simply no way to experience all of the games at once.

Finding the Pinball Museum is one of those little gems of Vegas. For those who venture off the Strip, you can find a very different set of bells and whistles that won’t generate a fistful of quarters for yourself, but will certainly give you a good time. Even if you did end up winning a few quarters here, you’d end up putting them back in the machines anyway for that “one more try” at beating your last high score.

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