Monday, February 12, 2018

Pinball Nirvana: FunHouse

There's this place in Greenpoint Brooklyn called Sunshine Laundromat ("Air conditioned and free WiFi for your cleansing pleasure"). After you walk past the rows of washers and driers, if you push in on the drier wall at the back of the store, you'll enter an inner sanctum with cool bar (great beer!) and lots of classic pinball on beautifully-maintained machines. It's amazing.

The best machine of all is out front, however, in the laundromat. I'd never before heard of FunHouse, a loopy Williams machine from the 1990's featuring a heckling animatronic head named Rudy, but I fell instantly in love. It was designed by Pat Lawlor, who also did the famed and wonderful Adams Family machine (which can be played in the inner sanctum).

Here's a personal YouTube tour of FunHouse, part of the landmark “My Pinball Collection” series:

Read comments/reviews on the game from pinball nerds, and check out this inside info about how they put insane work into having Rudy assign each player a nickname, so he could heckle every one personally.

If you can't get to Greenpoint (and can't find a FunHouse at your local pinball parlor - most towns these days have one, by the way), you can play a terrific simulation of this and lots of other great pinball machines - including Adams Family - on all mobile computers and gaming systems courtesy of the Pinball arcade app. If you figure emulated pinball's got to be lame, you're wrong. They've nailed the physics and gameplay experience. It's a marvel.

FunHouse is great pinball, but the music is what puts it over the top. It was composed by a guy named Chris Granner. Below you can hear the score, but a lot of the brilliance is in how music interacts with gameplay. I’ve never seen/heard anything like it.

Courtesy of Granner's web site:

Funhouse soundtrack #1
Funhouse soundtrack #2
Funhouse soundtrack #3
Funhouse soundtrack #4
Funhouse soundtrack #5

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