IF YOU GO
What: PinBall Jones is a fully loaded pinball arcade with old and new models.
Where: 107 Linden St. in Old Town
Fort Collins, Colo. Look for the sign pointing toward the steps to the entrance.
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, 3-11 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m.
By Josh Rhoten
Kim Jones’ head is buried in the guts of an ancient looking pinball machine. One finger is following the pulse of a power cord around the underside of flashing lights while her other hand balances the board atop her head.
She finally pulls her head out, lowers the board into place and slides the glass back over the top. After twisting a key to lock it, she gently rubbed her hands on her shorts to remove the dust.
The machine begins beeping and humming behind her, ready again to swallow quarters and make a racket.
“I’m no expert on this stuff, but there is a great community out there -- online and here in the city -- of people who love them and want to keep them going,” she said. “That really helps.”
Jones is the owner of PinBall Jones, an arcade tucked under the main stretch of Old Town Fort Collins. Twenty-two machines chime and buzz at the bottom of a few flights of steps, representing an impressive cross-section of old school and modern pinball tables.
Jones worked in an arcade in her youth and fell back in love with pinball again when her friend bought one. She started with a few machines around Fort Collins before opening the downtown location, which has been active for about two years.
She said business has been good, mostly because people either have great memories of coming to parlors when they were young or want to see an actual machine in person.
“A lot of people have played on their phones or something, but there is nothing that compares to being on a table and seeing the ball move,” Jones said.
Tables in the parlor are constantly being rotated in and out. Jones purchases, trades and sells them as she goes more so with the eye of a player than a collector. Some have value based on their age, others because of rarity. But her main criteria is it must be something she wants to play.
Right now, “Medieval Madness” is the prize of her collection. A fast-paced game with lots of humor, it features voice acting from “Saturday Night Live” alum Tina Fey and is built around a castle that explodes with each hit of the ball. Released in 1997, only about 4,000 of these kitschy machines exist in the world. Jones brought hers in from Europe and added a new board to make sure it plays well.
“I always talk that one up because it is so fun and hard to find,” she said. “We probably won’t be selling that one for awhile.”
Pinball Jones also hosts leagues regularly and tournaments throughout the month. Players can come down and try to post high scores on various machines, playing for cash prizes and bragging rights.
More and more arcades like Pinball Jones are popping up in urban cities across the U.S. Jones said she was excited to be a part of that trend, helping to expose younger children to the game of pinball which was once so popular.
“The kids we get in here are great and I just love seeing their faces light up when they start to play,” she said. “I know they are getting hooked.”
Partial list of games available at PinBall Jones
“The Addams Family”
“Attack From Mars”
“Creature From the Black Lagoon”
“Lord of the Rings”