We don’t really miss going out to bars all that much, unless you’re talking about the one downtown with all the pinball machines. Don’t get us wrong — pinball emulators have gotten crazy good, and you can find exact digital replicas of most machines to play on your phone or whatever. But it just doesn’t compare to the thrill of playing a real cabinet.
Don’t despair, because for the next couple of weeks, you can queue up to play on a real Oktoberfest pinball machine that’s sitting in Espoo, Finland. The controls are hooked up to a Raspberry Pi 4 through a custom HAT, along with a camera pointed at the playfield and another focused on the backglass screen. The game development/video streaming company Surrogate is hosting a tournament over the internet, and will be giving prizes to the top ten high rollers.
We usually have to wait until the holiday season to come across these remote-reality gaming opportunities. Having played it several times now, we recommend spamming the flippers until you get a feel for the lag. Also, just holding the flippers up while the ball is in the upper half of the playfield will catch a lot of balls that you might otherwise lose due to flipper lag, and sometimes they end up back in front of the launcher to shoot again. After the break, check out a brief but amusing video of setting up the cameras and Pi that includes a taste of the Oktoberfest music.
The tournament runs until the end of August, which should be enough time for somebody to set up CV and a keyboard to play this automatically. Need inspiration? Here’s an open-source pinball machine that can play itself.