By some counts, fewer than a dozen pinball arcades remain in the U.S. So count yourself lucky, Twin Cities, because one of the best is in your own backyard. S.S. Billiards, a spartan little storefront in a beaten-down Hopkins strip mall, has been leading the Bally table charge for more than three decades. For this annual party, owner Lloyd Olson will add a few machines to his 20-plus collection (which includes "Big Bang Bar," one of only a handful ever produced), switch them all to "free" mode, and watch the digit counters fall. City Pages recently caught up with one of the area's biggest pinball fans, David Slabiak, of the Twin Cities Pinball Enthusiasts, for his thoughts on his favorite pastime.
City Pages: What's your favorite pinball game?
David Slabiak: Capcom's "Big Bang Bar." Alas, it never made it past prototype stage, but how can you go wrong with a space-bar-themed game that's painted in DayGlo?
CP: What's the most memorable quarter you've ever spent?
DS: That would have to be on a game called "Earthshaker!" I shot the center ramp over 99 times in one game to get to "The End of the Road." I earned full multiplier bonus and over 20 fault trips. My bonus countdown was huge and went on for a very, very long time. It was probably the most rewarding bonus I've ever earned.
CP: Wow. My pinball nickname is "Skill Shot." What's yours?
DS: "The Mahatma of Pinball," because I really and truly believe in the peaceful and harmonious ability of pinball to coexist with home video game platforms. We just have to help create enthusiasm for pinball, so that it doesn't get lost in all the new ways to entertain yourself nowadays.
"The Pinball Circus" at S.S. Billiards begins at noon on Saturday, March 17. $20 at the door. A pinball tournament begins at 8:00 p.m. 732 11th Ave. S., Hopkins; 952.938.9259