Best Place to Play Pinball St. Louis 2004 - Pink Galleon Billiards & Games
Introduced to the public in 1931, pinball offered an affordable distraction from the impoverished reality of the time. And for a glorious time, the bumpers-and-flippers game was king. But then came the video game, with its grab-you-by-the-eyeballs graphics, and old grandaddy pinball was relegated to the kitsch corners of Americana museums and dive bars. But for the chosen few, pinball's allure endures. "It's hard to find a pinball machine in a bar," laments Rich Grant, a local enthusiast. Grant has roughly 75 machines in his personal collection, but when he's looking to test-drive the latest in pinball technology, he heads for the Pink Galleon. Long known for its pink felt pool tables, mythic paintings of sex-kitty sea nymphs and almost-nightly drink specials, the Galleon may not have the area's deepest collection of machines, but for the connoisseur, a stop at the Pink Galleon is as inevitable as the steel ball's inexorable slip past the napping flipper. Looking for the new Harley Davidson game -- replete with simulated engine roar and miniature bikes? Head for the Galleon. How about the latest mannequin-outfitted Austin Powers game? You got it, the Galleon. But for Grant, it's not the sculptured façades of the newer games that keep pinball exciting. "The rules are what make a great pinball game," the pinball wizard imparts. "Only the true enthusiast can judge that. It takes a minimum of 30 minutes' play to know the inner depths of a game." That's no small feat. On a recent trip to the Galleon, our unlucky pockets were $2 lighter in a matter of minutes when matched against the intricacies of the new Austin Powers game. "Pinball is 80 percent skill and 20 percent luck," shrugs Grant. "I challenge anyone who says it's a game of chance to 30 minutes' play: If I still have money in my pocket and you're broke, that only goes to show that it's a game of skill."