Since the last post, I lost a family member, went on a family vacation, had some work travel and did summer stuff. So, I have a lot to post about, but let's start with this weekend's acquisition of NBA Fastbreak, George Gomez' 1997 effort from Bally. I drove out to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which is just about four hours from where I live in the Chicago suburbs. It was on my wish list, and the ad came up for a bit more than I wanted to be into the game for with shipping. So, we agreed on a price and I made the trek to Cedar Rapids.
Anyone who know me knows that I like a lot of George Gomez games. I like his multi-level ramps. I like his continues use of the Blue Rubber Bumper as a way to get one more shot into the game without turning it into a clunkfest. NBA Fastbreak was on my wish list ever since I played it in a tournament at ORD Pinball in Elk Grove Village, IL.
Let's check out the game.
The machine was exactly as described. It's a great survivor, and much better than the players quality ones I've seen lately in the Chicago area. Well worth the drive for the price. I like the shooter as the lockdown bar button. The playfield is in great shape. There is some mylar peeling, but it has not taken the art with it. So, I'll leave that.
There is a bit of flipper wear on the backbox flipper game as you can see in the photo below, but not enough to replace or recondition it. They all have this type of wear.
The previous owner kept it very clean. An owner before him did an LED conversion and replaced the rings with translucent rings and purple flipper rings. It looks pretty decent. But, one of my pet peeves is cool LED light on an older game. So, I'm already tinkering with the bulbs.
This is George Gomez' third game, and the one right after Johnny Mnemonic. It game has a lot of George Gomez elements in it. Let's look a bit, back to front, left to right. The major features require the player to spell S-H-O-O-T by making shots, and hit all four shots into the basket that "The Defender" is blocking. Theses four shots are interesting, because you pass back and forth to avoid The Defender, who moves to the hole (VUK) which is holding the ball.
Next, you'll see a pair of ramps with similar shape to dual ramps on Johnny Mnemonic, Batman, Deadpool and other Gomez machines. This one is a bit different, because they both exit right. One (above the H in SHOOT) has a diverter. You can see a lot of Batman and Batman '66 in this part of the playfield. There is a very steep center ramp that leads to the hoop. It's a well-executed design. It looks more complicated than it feels when you play.
You can see the SLAM DUNK diverter on the left ramp. That is a lot of fun. When it's open, it makes a cool half loop and goes into the hoop. Gomez captured the flow very well on this part of the design.
The center ramp is steep, making it a gamble to go for three points or the "Million Dollar Shot" end of ball rescue save. As a quick aside, Jersey Jack's Wizard of Oz has end of ball rescue options that I have heard claimed as innovations, but that is 15 years after the Million Dollar Shot save option, where you have a few seconds to make it up the center ramp and into the hoop.
There is a long metal rail, much like that on Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Deadpool and others. This is a fast (and probably cheap) way of moving the ball back. The plastic multi-level ramps with diverters probably ate up a lot of the manufacturing budget.
So, it's a nice game, in great shape. So, I gave it a quick cleaning, and changed a few rubber rings with ones left over from No Fear. I get what a previous owner was doing with the translucent rings. I did a test, checked with my daughter, and wound up with mostly white rings, with some red and orange options. Check them out in the slideshow below. If you have a NBA Fastbreak, and need new rings, grab this set I curated at Titan Pinball.
So, it's a great early game by veteran designer George Gomez. George doesn't get the attention of some of the other designers, but he has a great design language and sensibility. Let's see what we do to this thing in the next few weeks.