Pin It

Flipping Out 

A rundown of Bend's pinball machines and bar games

With reporting (pinball playing) by Kayja Buhmann

I am terrible at arcade games.

Really, really bad.

But the string of curse words that spewed into Reed Pub after one of my in-play balls ricocheted off the Temple of Doom and straight back into the gutter of the Indiana Jones pinball machine last weekend would convince anyone otherwise. You'd think I'd invested my life in pinball—that I'd just lost the World Series of pinball, that I was the sad, lonely shell of a once great pinball player, doomed to wander the pool halls of America, hitting machine after machine, and never achieving a high score.

That's because it is so easy to get hooked; seriously, pinball should be illegal.

The popularity of old-school arcade games is on the rise. Exceedingly popular in the '70s, many of the companies, like Sega (which had pinball games such as Surfing and Woman-Lib), drifted to electronic arcade games. By 2002, there was only one pinball machine maker left in the world, Stern Pinball, which had bought out Chicago Coin, one of the original pinball manufacturers, and recently acquired what was left from the Sega pinball division. A family business based in Chicago (where most of the pinball manufacturers had been based), it began to bank its games on pop culture icons—like an NFL game, a Playboy one and an Austin Powers machine. It has followed with games based on Metallica, "Walking Dead," Avatar and The Lord of the Rings.

A decade later, two new pinball manufacturers have emerged, one in Belgium and another in the states, Jersey Jack Pinball, which has been successful with its modern adaptation Wizard of Oz machine design, the first ever to have an LCD HD-quality monitor as a backbox.

It's easy to understand the surge in popularity once my fingers are on the flippers. Who doesn't want to drink beer and act like a giant child playing wistful arcade games? The flat mechanical smacking sounds of the pinball machines make me nostalgic for a time when we didn't carry tiny computers in our pockets.

Robert Gregory, owner of Central Oregon Amusement—a company that leases more than 100 arcade machines, including pinball, in town—said that he's seen a recent demand for pinball machines and the resurgence of what he calls "retro" games from the '80s and '90s, such as Centipede, Defender and Donkey Kong.

"The generations that are hanging out in the bars now grew up with the arcade games," said Gregory. "They like the retro games because that's what they played when they were kids. A few years back it was the golf games that were popular. Those have died."

Bars like Ground Kontrol in Portland, which has more than 50 retro and new arcade games, Level Up in Eugene and The Coin Jam in Salem all make their living being a Chuck E. Cheese for adults, reviving arcade games of yore and adding alcohol.

Bend doesn't have its own barcade, although it may soon; the owners of the currently under construction venue The Capitol—a restaurant, bar and vintage arcade destination opening below Bishops Barbershop and Wild Rose Thai on Oregon Avenue this spring—wants to be the new hub.

"I feel like we will be filling a missing niche in Bend," said owner Sean Day. "The games are fun for kids in the day and for adults at night when they can drink and play."

Gregory confirmed that The Capitol has requested more than a half-dozen pinball machines and a handful of retro arcade games as well as Skee-Ball and a photo booth.

Dan McCoy, owner of Atlas Cider, also hopes to have arcade games in his new tasting room in the Old Mill Market Place opening this spring.

"We are looking at pool, vintage arcade, maybe a small movie viewing venue, music, and also partnering with local food carts," said McCoy, who added that his favorite pinball machines are Twilight Zone—an absolute classic—and Star Trek. "We want it to be more than a place to come in and taste. Come in, have a pint or two, enjoy some pool, some pinball, some music. We are focusing on things people aren't already doing in Bend."

Until spring, machines lay scattered across Bend and we made a valiant attempt to play many of them. As a counterpart to our insert booklet, Cocktail Compass, detailing happy hours and breweries across town, we offer an array of drinking games, locations and offerings of Bend's bars to local gamers.


Indiana Jones Pinball with Tournament Play

A newer machine (I know because there are not only face melted-Nazis, but also references to the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the machine play), this machine gets frequent use, according to the bartender at Reed Pub, especially from one couple who will come in, order beers, and play the night away.

Bonus games: Digital Jukebox, Mounted Wildebeest head (that's a game right?)


Indiana Jones Pinball

Sandwiched between a Centipede machine and a 2-Minute Ice Drill basketball game is an exact duplicate of the Indiana Jones Machine at Reed Pub (minus tournament play)! This one looks slightly more used and is in a much more distracting environment as lights flash and racing games screech around it.

Bonus games: Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pacman, Big Buck Hunter, Skee-Ball, and more! Racing games, Strom Trooper, bumper cars, pool, and lots of shiny lights.

Note: You cannot take beer into the arcade portion of the fun center. Lame.


Sopranos Pinball

Bonus games: Golf game, some sort of punching game.


Demolition Man Pinball

I'll be honest, I did not remember the movie Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock. IMDB tells me it was released in 1993 and the plot goes something like, "A police officer is brought out of suspended animation in prison to pursue an old ultra-violent nemesis who is loose in a non-violent future society." What that has to do with pinball, the world may never know, but this is a pretty fun machine, especially when your ball gets stuck in the '"retina scan" trap.

Bonus games: Try to finish three liquor drinks without passing out stone-cold drunk.


Batman Pinball

From the Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight era, this machine is Batman with a particularly creepy picture of Heath Ledger on the backbox. Based on a Source story written by Mike Bookey in 2011, we know that particular machine has seen some good play.

Star Trek Pinball

By far the shiniest of all the machines we played, the game was challenging (maybe because at this point we had had a few beers) and flashy. If you hit a particular feature, a mini model of the Starship Enterprise starts to rock like it's being pummeled by a field of asteroids. AWESOME.

Bonus game: Digital jukebox, try to read everything on the bathroom wall in the women's room before you finish peeing.


Spiderman Pinball

None of this new Amazing Spiderman crap...Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst kissing upside down FOREVER.


Family Guy Pinball

Bonus games: Digital jukebox and excellent people watching between midnight and 2:30 am.


Medieval Madness Pinball

Lord of the Rings Pinball

Bonus Games: Punching machine, Big Buck Hunter, Golf.


Whitewater Rafting Pinball


Family Guy Pinball

Bonus games: Racing games, air hockey, coin games, Skee-Ball.


AC/DC Pinball


Bonus games: Shuffleboard and an original analog jukebox with more than 190 PHYSICAL CDs!


Bonus games: Big Buck Safari Hunter, Golden Tee Golf.


Bonus games: Golf.


Bonus games: Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Millipede, Centipede, Defender, Asteroids.


Bonus games: Digital Jukebox


Bonus games: Punching bag, and Bend's only mechanical bull!


Bonus games: Dance Dance Revolution, hunting games, racing games.

Did we miss anything? Comment on this story at and help us complete the list of arcade games in Bend!


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