My husband is currently working on a project that involves pinball machines, and last night he let me tag along on one of his research trips to an East Village bar. Yes, it’s a charmed life.
We lucked out, because not only did this bar have pinball, it had Family Guy pinball! (It also had Spider Man pinball, but we quickly got over the thrill of that predictable movie tie-in.)
Family Guy has been my favorite “viewer discretion” show for a while now—I think I might be a bigger fan than John at this point, though I still feel compelled to sigh disapprovingly at a vulgar joke every once in a while.
The pinball version of the show is simply charming, though, with little vinyl characters and even a tiny “Stewie mini-pinball” built into the top right section of the playfield.
John was a master at the game. Me, not so much. We switched off on the balls, his turns taking upwards of ten minutes and mine usually lasting less than one. Still, a good time was had by all.
There’s something about the 3-dimensionality and and physicality of pinball that makes it so engrossing, especially now that we’re all used to video games. It’s like there’s a little flickering world inside the machine, full of unexpected obstacles, lights, and noises. And there’s something called “fart multiball” in the Family Guy game, which is as much old-school fun as its name indicates.
John tells me that in his research, he found that pinball was banned from New York for a good number of years because it was seen as a gateway activity to booze and gambling. Now it’s not easy to find anywhere, but for different reasons. But the shining beacon of novelty that is Family Guy pinball gives us hope.