当猪飞过的时候:Capcom的Big Bang Bar奇怪的历史

当我第一次听到这个故事时,我认为这是一个都市传奇。 就像Mikey的胃一样,注入了Pop Rocks和Coca-Cola的致命鸡尾酒。 或沃尔特迪斯尼的冷冻身体等待着回归完美的未来世界。

总是和蔼可亲,几乎着名的托德·图基(Todd Tuckey)在谈话时有办法让任何听起来像都市传奇的东西。 TNT娱乐公司的老板在宾夕法尼亚州因为他在21世纪初期翻新的视频游戏机 ,冷静,永无止境的广告而名声大噪。 他在与我通电话的几分钟内指出了一个事实。

我正在制作一个关于购买翻新游戏机的故事,他是我的来源。 在完成细节之后,Tuckey通过询问我是否想要听到一个真实的故事来打断我的总结。

他从一位收藏家的朋友那里听到的故事是关于一个传说中的弹球机,一台从未制造过的梦幻机器,它的设计思想永远失去了。 但是在2000年,Tuckey说,一位房地产巨头偶然发现了他刚刚购买的旧仓库后面的弹球桌设计文件。

Tuckey说,这是纯粹的,盲目的运气。

由于缺乏任何弹球经验,故事发生了,这个从未制造过弹球机或以前任何机器的人说服几百人投入资金试图重新制作弹球。 在接下来的五年里,随着对机器的希望逐渐消失,钱人消失,这群潜在的所有者开始争论,购买和交易他们欠下的机器的权利。

他们甚至有一个共同的座右铭,即他们什么时候能看到机器或他们的钱:“猪飞的时候。”

然后不可思议的事情发生了:猪飞了。 这台机器是一个收集器的物品,由分散的零件制成,由砂砾和梦想驱动,已经完成并运送给投资者,并且比任何人想象的要好。

那是Capcom的Big Bang Bar弹球的故事,或者至少是我在2007年那天听到的那个。

我后来发现纱线的细节很多都是错的。 但这并不是因为它更令人难以置信的元素是纯粹的小说,而是因为这一壮举的戏剧性和不可能性并没有真正的故事正义。

Big Bang Bar的创作是一个关于弹球接近死亡的故事,一个人试图成为一个弹球历史,破产,痴迷,短暂的救赎和个人灾难。

爱丽丝卡罗尔
Capcom Coin-Op

Big Bang Bar与芝加哥的产品一样多,也许更多,因为它是Capcom的创造。 要了解原因,你需要了解芝加哥如何成为建立弹球的基石。

虽然在路易十四统治期间弹珠将其远古祖先追溯到法国,并且在俄亥俄州辛辛那提市的英国发明家蒙塔古雷德格雷夫获得了的柱塞 ,但该游戏的核心和灵魂深深植根于芝加哥1830年代作为中西部大都市的崛起。

使用Redgrave柱塞的硬币操作游戏,称为bagatelle或billard japonais,类似于弹球游戏,在20世纪初期已经在全国各地流行,但它们还没有成为热门游戏。 至少在1931年David Gottlieb开始在他位于密歇根湖芝加哥海岸约10英里的制造工厂生产一款名为Baffle Ball的游戏。

“他们不得不打开钱水龙头,而且他们要花很多钱才能收回任何东西。”

到1932年底,美国有超过100个弹球制造商,其中大部分在芝加哥,坚定地将Windy City作为弹球之乡。

到了70年代,弹球机看起来很像今天的柱塞,脚蹼,保险杠,数字显示器和一系列控制它的固态电子设备。 这十年甚至是两部弹球电影的主场:1975年的汤米和1979年的“倾斜”。

但这是80年代中期拱廊的黄金时代,充斥着“我想要我的MTV”一代穿着降落伞裤子,穿着杰克逊,四分之一的青少年,为弹球最大的崛起创造了舞台。陷入近乎遗忘。

弹球行业在80年代首次飙升到文化塑造的高度。 然后,随着90年代的开放,这种成功交错,并开始在金融自由落体的悬崖上摇摇欲坠。 就在那时,Capcom决定建立一个致力于弹球机的工作室。

一些掌握早期Capcom Coin-Op日的第一手资料的人士表示,他们仍然不完全确定这家总部位于日本的公司决定投资弹球的原因。 有几个人告诉Polygon他们在90年代被公司联系以获得建议,并且所有这些人 - 在弹球设计和创作世界中占据重要位置 - 告诉公司这是一个坏主意。

但是Capcom无论如何都做到了,它的努力持续了18个月。

“说服Capcom进入弹球业务的那个人并不真正知道他们不知道什么,”现任Stern Pinball游戏开发副总裁的George Gomez说,但他当时正在设计弹球威廉姆斯的机器。 “他们不了解这项业务。”

爱丽丝卡罗尔

该公司于1994年首次通过一家名为GameStar的芝加哥游戏工作室参与弹球活动,但到1995年夏天,Capcom接管了该操作,并用它在芝加哥建立了Capcom Coin-Op。

“他们已经决定在日本这样做,可能会看看Data East在弹球方面的成功,”斯特恩弹球队主教练加里斯特恩说。 “他们聘请了很多威廉姆斯的人。无论他们是因为自己的做法而不成功,还是因为市场昙花一现,他们错过了高潮,我不知道。”

Capcom进入弹球世界的步伐变得复杂,因为它从威廉姆斯那里抢走了核心人群。 为了报复,戈麦斯说,威廉姆斯“基本上起诉了所有人。” 这意味着Capcom担心即使是威廉姆斯使用的最直接的弹球设计也不会引起诉讼,但他们必须彻底改造从鳍状肢到保险杠的所有东西。 Gomez说,这减慢了Capcom初始表的开发过程,并使成本达到顶峰。

他说:“他们不得不打开钱币,而且他们要花很多钱才能收回任何东西。”

虽然像威廉姆斯这样的知名公司可以承受一两个失误,但Capcom Coin-Op从一开始就让现金流失,必须确保其每一张桌子都能成功。

“但没有人能百分之百正确地做到这一点,”戈麦斯说。 “Capcom的关闭并没有让我感到惊讶。我看到他们正在制作的游戏以及他们如何努力销售它们。我知道这只是时间问题。”

但在它关闭之前,该公司设法创造了一些在弹球收集圈中几乎神话般的东西: Big Bang Bar

如果不是Gene Cunningham,一位中西部八十多岁的仓库大亨和溜冰场老板,他不仅痴迷于购买难以找到的桌子而是重新创造它,那么在已经解散的公司之外很少有人会有机会玩它。

不幸的是,这项努力让坎宁安付出了沉重的代价。

滑冰

花了好几个月试图通过电话和电脑追踪Gene Cunningham,研究他的生活,并试图拼凑他如何发现自己拥有Capcom的弹球权利,然后似乎失去了不仅仅是那些权利而是一切,我决定是时候了一次旅行。

星期五飞到芝加哥,我花了一个晚上走过斯特恩弹球的工作地板,观看一个专门的男女团队线,带和卷曲的电线束,按彩色和打蜡的运动场灯和组装玩具,因为他们手工制作的弹球桌。

这是一个复杂的过程,需要空间,时间,金钱,但最重要的是经验。

星期六早上,我早早醒来,跳上租车,开车两个多小时到布卢明顿。 55号州际公路之旅是从中西部城市到美国中部地区的中心之旅,经过玉米田和广阔的空间,点缀着小城镇,两条车道上的直线车道很少需要转向方向盘。

未接听的电子邮件和电话使这成为与坎宁安交谈的必要之旅。 但首先,我想看看坎宁安第一次发现弹球的地方,这是他拥有的滑冰场数十年,然后才输给破产。

布卢明顿,伊利诺斯州.Skate'n'Place几乎是不合时宜的,它坚定地抓住了80年代。

爱丽丝卡罗尔

经过最近重新铺设的停车场和前门的柔软的沥青,游客们发现了一个从1984年开始采摘的溜冰场的霓虹灯 - 迪斯科舞会灯和聚氨酯滑板地板。

有一个滑板租赁柜台,由一个无聊的少年尽职尽责地守卫着,他们的年龄对于他这个年龄段的女孩来说很感兴趣,但并不太感兴趣。 看似总是空的专卖店里装满了柔和色的旱冰鞋,安装在人造木板上。 在后面角落是一个临时的拱廊,一个煤渣堵塞的小房子,里面装满了过时的游戏机,包括视频和弹球。 在它的中心,巨大的存在,是闪闪发光的木板,点缀着盘旋,微笑,偶尔咯咯笑的儿童和青少年。 整个场景沐浴在几乎可见的低音音乐中。

偶尔音乐会被某人通过对讲机说话的声音刺破,也许会宣布一些事情,但我真的无法说出来。 相反,我所听到的只是熟悉的啪啪声,然后再一次是纯白色的音乐噪音。

蒂姆·弗罗霍尔(Tim Overholser)看起来像一个男人在照顾一辆古董车或心爱的宠物,因为他第一次蹲下来检查一个四分之一操作的台球桌,然后偷偷溜到滑板租赁柜台,以确保运行顺利。 很明显,这对他来说不仅仅是一项业务。

Overholser穿着一件略带褪色的黑色polo衫,上面绣有一个轮滑和星团的风格图片,上面刻着他的名字。 黑色和白色的球帽紧紧贴在他宽阔的眉毛上,分享着同样的形象。

当我问他是否可以谈论基因坎宁安时,在他告诉我我们最好回到他的办公室之前,他看了一眼他的脸上有轻微的烦恼和担忧。

坎宁安于1973年开设了溜冰场,很快就成了当地儿童的聚会场所。 Overholser告诉我,当他的母亲开始将他带到这个地方时,他才八岁。 他说,当他13岁的时候,他是一名出色的选手,他开始为Cunningham工作,Cunningham是一个稳定地成为Overholser的父亲,一个单身母亲的孩子。

“我是个滑板后卫,”他说。 “我在滑冰检查柜台工作,DJ。我在这里做了很多。”

Overholser说,1988年,Overholser决定从坎宁安购买这家公司并签署一份合同,让他支付租金并为所有权付款。

“我有孩子们对轮滑充满热情。 每当我打开门时,他们就在这里。 我可以看到一英里外一个孩子的激情。 那是我。”

在接下来的五年里,Overholser说他把所有的时间花在了这个地方,这成了他的生活和滑冰的人,他的家人。 他甚至在溜冰场遇到了他的妻子。

“我在这个滑冰检查柜台工作,她上前询问轮子的轮滑,”他微笑着告诉我。 “我继续为她的溜冰鞋卖了一双轮子。她每隔几分钟就会继续说她们需要调整。但他们真的没有。这只是她跟我说话的方式,所以这就是我们是如何相遇的。”

他说,虽然溜冰场是Overholser的热情,但对于Cunningham而言,这只是一项业务。

“关于这个地方的一件事是我对轮滑的热情。我有孩子们对轮滑充满热情。他们在我打开门的时候都在这里,每次都会,”他说。 “我可以看到一英里外一个孩子的那种激情。那就是我。我就是其中一个孩子,我是那些不得不一直住在这里的孩子之一。这是我的第二个家。有时这是我的第一个家。我和吉恩之间的区别在于,他对钱,业务充满热情。“

但是在Overholser接管了溜冰场后,他和Cunningham之间的事情开始崩溃。 Overholser说,Cunningham会拖延他必须进行的修理,这对公司造成了伤害。 曾经类似于父子的两人之间的关系变得岌岌可危,最终,Overholser说他再也不能接受了。

“在1993年底,我离开它超过21年,”他说。 他不知所措地将业务卖回坎宁安,Overholser说,他搬出家乡的整个事件让他很反感。

“当时我只是需要离开这个区域,”他说。 “我每天都想到这个地方。”

然后在2014年,Overholser开始接听电话。 是银行在溜冰场拥有抵押贷款。 由于坎宁安陷入财务困境并宣布破产,该地点最近已经关闭。 银行需要有人进来让这个地方重新开始运行,获得灯光和加热。

“我告诉他们,21年前我已经离开了它,如果没有什么变化,我可能会来帮忙,”他说。 “那天晚上我和我的妻子进来了。在走进门的30秒内,我已经为他们打开了一切。没有什么变化那么多。我们看了整个建筑,谈判就在那时开始了,他们说, “你愿意接受购买溜冰场的想法吗?”

虽然他和他的妻子都没有考虑过买房子,但他们在溜冰场都有很多历史。

“更多的是关于拯救它,”Overholser说。 “我们30年前在这里相遇。显然我们在这里有一段历史。这里有很多回忆,不仅仅是为了我们,而是为了自1973年以来在这个地方长大的所有孩子和成年人。”

Overholser和他的妻子最后在拍卖会上买了这个地方和隔壁的仓库,然后花了将近15万美元和六个星期修理和现代化溜冰场。

“我日夜住在这里,”他说。

当猪飞过的时候:Capcom的Big Bang Bar奇怪的历史
Tim和Diane Overholser在溜冰场的早期约会日。
由Tim Overholser提供

在70年代,80年代和90年代早期,Overholser对Cunningham有着丰富的知识,但他说,Cunningham直到1993年之后的某个时候才真正进入弹球,当时Overholser将这个地方卖回给他。

我感谢Overholser,但在我离开之前,他说还有一件事我应该看到。

溜冰场旁边的仓库倒塌了。 面向溜冰场的墙壁上画着旧卡通人物,但是关于这个地方的其他一切看起来都很危险。 Overholser带我走到建筑物的前面和两扇玻璃门。

Overholser说,当坎宁安开始陷入破产时,他开始失去所有的仓库。 这座废弃的建筑成为Cunningham弹球配件业务的最后安息之地。 伊利诺伊州Pin Ball,他说。

在前门内是仓库与坎宁安最后关系的标志。

这是一个空的玻璃展示柜,其玻璃顶部散落着残留的弹球部件。 它旁边是一台旧的吃豆人机器和世嘉驾驶游戏。 这个地方唯一的弹球机是一个闪光桌,它的电源线缠绕在后箱上,一块尘土飞扬的电路板放在球场玻璃上。

但这并不是Overholser想要​​告诉我的。 他带我回到建筑物的深处,进入水泥地面仓库的阴暗黑暗中。 靠在后墙上的是一个奇怪的小建筑,显然是手工建造的,用于某种特定目的。 它有一个非常低的屋顶,可能离地面七英尺。 矩形盒子缺少一面墙,另一面被一系列金属正方形折断,每个正方形可能是一英尺宽。 Overholser对我微笑。

“你知道那是什么吗?”

我绕着它走,但不能,因为我的生活,想出来。

“这是他们在Big Bang Bar橱柜上画的地方,”他说。

Overholser带我去了停车场,但他没有回到溜冰场,而是走了一大步,走到了路边,紧挨着停车场的入口。 他指着高速公路走到一条不太远的路上。 Overholser说,溜冰场的巨大新标志在广告之间悄然滑落。

“你看到那个房子了吗?” 他说。 “他就在那条路上。也许是五分钟。”

我感谢他,走回我的租车,准备短途车到坎宁安的房子。

Big Bang酒吧

来自火星星球火星的 骑自行车的宝贝 ,外星人撕裂宇航员和地下外星城市的插图:在Big Bang Bar之前,现在传奇的弹球桌开始是一个单一的概念,激发了许多非常不同的想法。

概念的早期超载是由游戏的首席设计师Rob Morrison为创造游戏所采取的独特方法所驱动的。

Morrison不是以更传统的方式创造弹球机来开发和发展游戏,而是向声音设计师Jeff Powell和艺术家Stan Fukuoka等整个团队开放了这个过程。

“我做了几百个比赛,玩不同的布局和角色,以确保我尽我所能来实现游戏的潜力,”福冈告诉我。

他的概念艺术似乎支持了这种说法。 早期的手绘图像显示了一个穿着太空服的两个男人身上隐约出现的巨型尖刺怪物。 另一个展示了一个适合太空的男人和女人被外星人抓住了大头。 在三分之一的情况下,三名女性在悬停自行车上填写了“火星上的Biker Babes”在其上方盘旋的字样。 最后,还有一个太空食堂的镜头,里面装满了外星人喝酒,玩未来的电子游戏,还有一个充满液体的管子里的舞者。

福冈表示,莫里森最初提出的以太空为主题的游戏的想法是由于他创造了一个机械臂,可以将球抬起并将球移过球场,他认为这可能会引起人们对放置在酒吧内的机器的关注。

最终,团队确定了空格键概念并开始工作。

这张桌子是Morrison的第一个个人项目,也是Powell和Fukuoka在没有导师指导或更有经验的同事的情况下工作的第一台机器 - 这似乎有助于游戏的灵感设计。

当鲍威尔来到Big Bang Bar时 ,游戏刚刚确定了它的主题和情绪,这一点已经开始通过福冈的艺术形成。

曾经他专注于外星人和太空宝贝,新的艺术品集中在将球员放在外太空吧。 背景图片,任何人都在玩游戏,并且是展示和得分之类的东西,显示出一个红色的女人直接向玩家微笑,一双未来派的太阳镜从她的眼睛中拉下来。 在这个女人的背后是一个骚乱饮酒和嬉闹的场景,一个咧着嘴笑的男服务员,以及悬挂在管子里的舞女。 整个场景沐浴在柔和的蓝色和绿色中,与传统弹球机的黑色和红色形成鲜明对比。

福冈说,一旦主题成为外太空的一方,他的愿景开始成为焦点。

“对我来说,挑战是当有人第一次看到背景时传达这个信息,”他说。 “我希望背景是黑暗的,像夜总会或空间,但也要明亮的色彩,以传达游戏的整体情绪和乐趣。”

当团队完成设计时,桌子就形成了; 一个极其坚硬的弹球机,玩起来就像看别人玩的一样有趣。

爱丽丝卡罗尔

鲍勃说:“罗布有很多想法,他无法将所有内容融入其中。” “他基本上把厨房水槽扔到机器上。”

到1996年6月,大约有14台机器原型机被创建,其中一些原型机被丢弃在附近的地方进行实时测试。 结果非常积极。 人们似乎喜欢这个游戏。

但Capcom对昂贵的弹球师越来越不耐烦了。 他们希望它能够在重磅炸弹上赚钱。

根据一些人对我的绝望描述,该公司决定推翻Big Bang Bar的发布,担心带有全新科幻IP的弹球桌不会吸引Capcom需要的那种观众它的下一个表。

鲍威尔说:“就在Big Bang Bar准备好制造之前,我们就有一群德国街机老板进来了。” “他们看到了Flipper Football ,它有足球主题和足球得分,他们对此疯狂。

“Capcom跳了起来并向前推进。他们认为这将成为欧洲的热门并拯救公司。”

11月,Capcom将这两款游戏带到芝加哥弹球博览会,这是世界上最大的弹球机聚会。

Big Bang Bar吸引了众多排队参加比赛的机会。 Flipper Football几乎被忽略了。

这是Capcom为生存而必须做的事情的明显迹象。 但为时已晚。 因此,该公司将Flipper Football运送到了无法宣传的虚空之中。

不到一个月之后,Capcom关闭了它的芝加哥弹球部门,在没有装运一个单元和仍在开发中的Kingpin的情况下,对已完成的Big Bang Bar进行了封锁

关闭对工作室的人来说并不是一个惊喜,但是有一种绝望的感觉,也许如果他们足够努力,足够快,他们可以再获得一台机器。

鲍威尔说:“我们完成了这件事并准备好了。” “我们在酒吧和拱廊里有原型。艺术品已经完成,一切都已完成。这是一台完整的机器。

“我把一年的工作放在那里,然后不让它出来只是一种令人沮丧的沮丧。”

随着工作室关闭,许多在Capcom工作的人以成本购买了幸存的面包师的十几台Big Bang Bar机器(其中一台因火灾而丢失)。 看起来弹球桌的未来将失去一群敬业的员工和他们的家园。

但三年之后,由于坎宁安,这种情况发生了变化。

吉恩的机器

每个人似乎都对基因坎宁安有不同的描述。 对某些人来说,他是一个收藏家和一个梦想家。 对别人来说,他是个坚果。 或者conman和商人之间的东西。 一个人做了不可能的,不可思议的,不明智的。

现在,对许多人来说,他已经消失了。 从曾经是他熟悉的出没的弹球贸易展中消失了。 他曾经跑过溜冰场。 从弹球零件公司消失了,他曾经用完了一个旧仓库和殴打的卡车。

在与那些认识坎宁安,和他一起工作,或者觉得他们被他背叛的人交谈时,很明显他们都对坎宁安的一件事情达成一致:没什么经验,没有很多帮助,也没有成功的机会,坎宁安承诺不可能然后交付。

但坎宁安重建大爆炸酒吧的梦想并不顺利,不是长远的。

他的第一个障碍很重要。 他需要Capcom,一家日本公司,喜欢坚持其房产和游戏开发的悠久历史,出售这个房地产男子和溜冰场老板对其弹球创作的权利。

“关于弹球,制作它们并不容易。 这是很多工作,很多人,很多时间。“

事实证明,在2000年,这并不像大家想象的那么大。

斯特恩的乔治戈麦斯说:“并不像有人为这些东西敲打门。” “这是一项没有伤害他们的协议,最终权利将恢复原状。”

弹球历史学家,“弹球:银球的诱惑”一书的作者加里·花说,当时的Capcom一直在悄悄地围绕其弹球业务的残余物进行购物,其中包括其机器的权利和零件。

“基因得到风,他们抓起来,开车到全国各地买它们,”Flower说。

虽然有些人认为Cunningham的兴趣纯粹是在Big Bang Bar ,但是Flower和其他人说他一直想与当时已经不复存在的公司之一进行弹球创作。 其中包括Capcom,Williams和Bally。

Big Bang Bar恰好是他第一次成功跑步。

到2004年,在购买了Capcom的弹球机和威廉姆斯弹球部件的权利四年后,坎宁安正在进行弹球游戏,告诉人们他们可以购买未来的Big Bang Bar ,存款将减少4,500美元。

坎宁安于10月份在芝加哥举行的2004年弹球博览会上宣布重拍他的公司伊利诺伊州Pin Ball,后者主要向弹球主人出售零件。

这位表演者,坎宁安推出了他从收藏家手中购买的原创Big Bang Bar ,并宣布他将创作并出售重拍。

“这将有111台机器制造,” 。 “第一台机器将是我的。前10台将是原型机。

“机器编号01将镀上纯金,在侧边栏,腿,脚螺栓上镀上2000美元的金币。它的售价为12,000美元,已经说好了。”

他告诉人群,前十名中的其他人都会有一块牌匾,里面有机器的号码,原买家的名字和一句话。

他告诉聚集的爱好者,在他收到至少55张预订之前他不会开始这个过程。

爱丽丝卡罗尔

在为期四天的展会结束时,已有121人注册购买机器。 一个月后,他发出了要求机器存款50%的信件。

尽管有兴趣和存款,但在Capcom的原始机器上工作的人们仍有很多疑问。

“我通过葡萄藤听说Gene Cunningham买了零件,”杰夫鲍威尔说。 “每个人都持怀疑态度。没有人确切知道他是否有权这样做。

“但不知怎的,他得到了垃圾图纸和一切。我们都持怀疑态度。”他真的会去做吗?'“

Mark Ritchie说,当他第一次听到这件事时,他觉得这有点疯狂。

“我认为只有一个坚果会这样做,”他说。 “关于弹球,制作它们并不容易。这需要很多工作,很多人,很多时间。

“那个家伙怎么会在伊利诺伊州的一些shithole上做到这一点?”

确实,坎宁安没有装配弹球机的工厂,但他在布卢明顿附近有很多仓库,包括一个靠近他的溜冰场的仓库。

制作弹球机的过程通常需要装配线和具有技能和经验的工人将线穿入捆绑的包中,然后必须进行压接,测试并最终连接到运动场的后部和运行游戏的电路板。

Big Bang Bar的情况下,Gene已经拥有了电路板和一些部件,但是他必须弄清楚其余部分,然后将它们全部组装起来。

除了整个事情崩溃的可能性之外,桌子的要价高于平时。 工厂直接使用的新型斯特恩弹球机成本低于坎宁安所要求的成本。

当猪飞过的时候:Capcom的Big Bang Bar奇怪的历史
大爆炸酒吧正在布卢明顿的一个仓库组装。

尽管存在反对者和挑战,但在坎宁安收集存款后不久,生产开始了。 当2005年6月到来时,桌子仍在组装中。 坎宁安告诉当时大约180名投资者,他需要剩下的钱,但他仍然不知道机器何时完成。

随着2006年的临近,一些为桌子付款的人开始将他们的预购出售给其他收藏家。 谣言开始流传,钱已经消失,桌子永远不会出货。

然后他们做到了。

首先,欧洲买家在最后一刻匆忙收到他们的机器。 2006年7月,新的立法正在实施,这将使包含铅的焊料机器运输到欧洲变得不可能。

尽管刚刚在禁止线下进行了第一批,但其他业主直到一年后的2007年夏天才接收到他们的产品。

Big Bang Bar的发布日在布卢明顿的坎宁安伊利诺伊州Pin Ball举行了一场派对。 参与制作原创游戏的许多人出来与新主人和签名艺术或表格聊天。 有气球,“生日快乐”的旗帜甚至是蛋糕。

这是一块白色磨砂的薄饼,镶嵌在蓝色糖衣的缎带上,上面刻着坎宁安演奏Big Bang Bar的照片,上面写着“ 。

“但不知怎的,他得到了垃圾图纸和一切。我们都持怀疑态度。”他真的会去做吗?'“

其中一个仓库门前的桌子上摆满了T恤,艺术品,帽子和其他商品。 仓库里面排成一排排巨大的纸板箱,每个纸箱都坐在自己的调色板上。

在回家之前,甚至还有一些机器可供人们玩耍。

美国空军研究工程师戴尔史蒂文斯是那些幸运的新主人之一。 第174号

他说他在一个名为rec.games.pinball的旧新闻组中偶然发现了Big Bang Bar 他有一天正在扫描它,发现有人在谈论坎宁安从“Capcom的灰烬”中建立一个新的弹球公司。

史蒂文斯说:“我联系了Gene和伊利诺伊州的Pin Ball,并收到了他妻子的回复信。” “我最终收到了我的存款,对此保持沉默。”

就像看起来所有购买机器的人一样,史蒂文斯对结果非常满意。

Big Bang Bar相对成功之后,Cunningham认为他会再试一次。

在接下来的六年里,坎宁安再次尝试从死者身上带回弹球桌。 首先,他尝试了另一款未发行的Capcom经典游戏: Kingpin Then with a Williams' title called Wizard Blocks .

Neither came together, and in the spring of 2013, Cunningham filed for bankruptcy; his money, his pinballs, perhaps his legacy lost in the convolutions of a contentious three-year bankruptcy case.

Bankruptcy

While Gene Cunningham delivered on his promise to ship all of the more than 180 Big Bang Bar machines all over the world, to fans of his seemingly impossible project, it cost him dearly.

Many believe Cunningham lost money on each of the machines he assembled and sent out. It's unclear how directly that impacted his life, but within two years, Cunningham was fighting to save his business and home from bankruptcy.

In 2009, as he fought to keep from bank foreclosures, he entered into an agreement with a Georgia-based pinball company to sell off Illinois Pin Ball and its inventory for just under $1 million. Instead the deal soured, kicking off nearly three years of arguments, claims of theft, deals, counter-deals and finally two lawsuits.

Reading through the voluminous court filings in the case, it appears that verbal agreements and a third company caused mayhem with the deal. The whole mess was made worse by Cunningham's urgent need for cash to fend off the banks.

Ultimately, companies in Australia and Georgia both paid Cunningham some, but not all, of the money promised, and Cunningham delivered some, but not all, of the goods. The deals and counter-deals were laced with threats and arguments, and at some point Cunningham simply started to sell some of the parts others said he already sold to them.

Buoyed temporarily by the infusion of cash, Cunningham started making the rounds at pinball shows again, trying to sell off parts for a variety of pinball machines. But eventually it all came apart and the money seemingly ran out in 2013.

The biggest issue, though, was that Cunningham failed to mention the warehouse sale he held just weeks before filing bankruptcy.

On March 1, 2013 Cunningham held a massive warehouse sale in which he cleared out most of his pinball goods, including a golden Big Bang Bar . Then, 28 days later, he filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection along with his wife, Georgianne.

Things were proceeding through the typical process of bankruptcy until the court-appointed trustee sat Cunningham down to walk him through the details of the case and it became clear that Cunningham hadn't been exactly forthright when he filed, according to court documents.

The trustee discovered that Cunningham had left out quite a number of details when filing, including the transfer of 20 pieces of real estate, the ownership of vehicles, office equipment, commercial workout equipment and pinball parts. He also, according to court records, seriously undervalued his possessions, listing the total value at $80,000 while carrying an insurance policy on his personal property for $1.1 million.

The biggest issue, though, was that Cunningham failed to mention the warehouse sale he held just weeks before filing bankruptcy.

The trustee saw the failure to disclose all of this as deliberate and told the court Cunningham wasn't making a good faith effort to clear up his debts. The court agreed, and on June 25, 2014, the case was converted from a voluntary chapter 11 to a chapter 7.

By then, much of what Cunningham owned was already gone.

In June 2013, an auction cleared out the contents of the skating rink where he learned to love pinball.

After his filing became a chapter 7 case, the sell-off of Cunningham's life quickened. In June 2014, Planetary Pinball Supply bought much of what remained of Illinois Pin Ball.

An Aug. 26, 2016 filing offers a glimpse into the steady drip feed of cash to Cunningham's mountain of debtors. In all, 25 pages of columns showing sell-offs, deposits and disbursements to credit card companies, people owed unpaid wages, the IRS. More than $300,000 paid out in one filing.

One month later, the case, documenting over 414 court filings running from a single page to dozens of pages each, finally closed.

His story

After a short drive from the skating rink to a rural neighborhood, I park my rental car under the bowed limbs of some unidentifiable trees, just short of a run of train tracks that look like they might still be in use. Gene Cunningham's house sits back a bit from the road, but not so far back someone couldn't clearly see me walking straight toward his door.

The front yard is home to a massive dish antenna; the huge side yard is dotted with a variety of playground equipment like a wooden swing set, a massive half-buried tractor tire, a tiny castle, picnic benches and a fort with a slide. There's also a moss-covered pond.

The front door, I discover as I walk closer, doesn't look used. I decide the side door is probably the best choice.

As I approach it, I catch my first glimpse of the back of the house. Where one might put a yard, Cunningham has placed what used to be a massive warehouse. Now it's just a pile of blackened rubble, curled beams and folded-over sheet metal.

The obvious fire damage looks fresh. I notice a dangle of wire snaking through the debris and leading up to a beaten-up truck next to the wreckage. The cable dangles limply from under the lifted hood of the vehicle.

Then I'm at the door and knocking. No time to think about fires or trucks.

Alice Carroll

My first attempt to talk with Cunningham wasn't an unannounced visit to his home, halfway across the country. It started with calls to his attorney and the US Attorney's Office. Then, after tracking down his phone number, calls to his house. Most were unanswered, but I talked a few times to someone that I can only assume is his wife, Georgianne. Every time, I left a message for Gene. Told her what I wanted to talk about, what I hoped to achieve. Every time, she said she'd let him know. He never called back or came to the phone.

So it came down to this final Hail Mary: showing up at the house and asking in person, nicely, if we could sit down and talk.

I knew my chances weren't good, that it would be unlikely anyone would want to pick through the wreckage of their life with a stranger. But I gave it a try anyway.

After a long pause, after my knock, the door shuddered slightly and then opened. It was Georgianne looking slightly confused, maybe slightly alarmed, asking me who I was, what I wanted, why I was here at her front door.

I told her the same story I had on the phone. In the background I caught a glimpse of someone, likely Gene, standing in the shadows. I heard him asking who it was, what they wanted. Georgianne turned and talked for a few seconds, then turned back to me.

"Have a seat," she says. "He'll be out in a minute."

And the door closed.

We sit inside a small enclosed patio at a round glass table in slightly aged swivel patio chairs. Gene Cunningham is wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt, his white hair combed straight back from his forehead. He shows some of the wear of his recent struggles in his face, but his eyes are sharp, piercing and brook no platitudes. He wants to get straight to it.

Cunningham's interest in pinball started when he was a kid, he says, but it didn't become a serious thing until he owned the skating rink.

Like a lot of rinks, Cunningham had a company providing games for his business. One day, the vending machine people came out to switch out a few of the games and he asked them what they'd be doing with the pinballs they were taking out. They said they would fix them up and sell them.

"When I visited him, he had 1,000 games, but very few of them were in working condition. They were just set up on legs. There were rows upon rows of them. I don't think you could even walk between them."

"I said, 'Well just take them to my house,'" he tells me. "Next thing they did was take the jukebox. I said the same thing, 'Bring the jukebox to my house.' So I had two pinball machines and a jukebox. That went on. Every time they would change one, I would buy it or go over to their shop and buy it, so I got up to six or seven of them. I don't remember the exact count."

Over time, Cunningham began to develop particular tastes in pinball and soon found himself collecting them, then attending auctions, first in Indianapolis and then all over the country.

As he attended first auctions and later conventions, his knowledge of pinball machines grew until one day he stumbled across the story of Big Bang Bar .

"I knew where one game was," he says. "I went and played it and I liked it, so I looked around and the people who had it wouldn't sell it."

He gave up on the idea, at least for then, and continued to collect machines. Soon he had hundreds.

Pinball historian Flower would later tell me about how he once visited one of Cunningham's warehouses.

"I knew Gene as someone who had amassed a large number of pinball machines," Flower said. "He would buy them and put them in storage.

"When I visited him, he had 1,000 games, but very few of them were in working condition. They were just set up on legs. There were rows upon rows of them.

"I don't think you could even walk between them."

The more machines Cunningham bought, the more he thought about getting into the business. Then, one day, he heard that Capcom, which by now had shut down its pinball business, was looking around for a buyer. Cunningham was so electrified by the idea of buying up the company he hopped into one of his big box trucks and drove his way down to California and Capcom, unannounced.

He said when he got there, he was the only one interested in buying. He bought the parts they had, any machines and, most importantly, the rights to the machines the pinball division had created, including rights to Big Bang Bar and Kingpin , both games that were never sold.

"I took it all, just loaded it up right then," he says.

当猪飞过的时候:Capcom的Big Bang Bar奇怪的历史
Cunningham shows off figures used in Big Bang Bar while chatting at his house.
Brian Crecente / Polygon

Cunningham was so excited about closing the deal that he didn't think to weigh what he was loading into his truck and, while heading through the Nevada mountains on his way home, his truck's transmission went out.

He ended up getting towed to Reno where he had to wait for parts. The next transmission lasted just long enough to get him to a little town called Elkhorn, Nev. before it gave out.

"It caught on fire, burned my pants and my clothes," he says. "I got out and luckily two truckers came by with their fire extinguishers and put out the fire. So I'm sitting there waiting for another tow truck that took me in the direction I was headed to the next town. I looked around and got another truck and then I loaded everything by hand, from the one truck to the other truck and trailer, and got home with it."

Once he had the purchase at home, he starting selling parts for the Capcom pinballs. Soon he started hearing from people who were looking for Big Bang Bar parts.

"I had a lot of phone calls from people [asking] 'When are they going to be ready?' I said, 'We're working on it.' Because all these people trusted me with their money."

The requests got him thinking about that machine again and he started hunting around for one to try.

"I finally found one up in a little town in northern Illinois," he says. "There was a professor who had it in his basement, and I went and played it and asked if he wanted to sell it. And he didn't want to sell it. He liked it too much."

Cunningham eventually convinced the professor to sell.

He says he believes he ended up paying about $18,000 for the machine, then rushed it back home to spend more time with it.

The more he looked into the machine and its history, the more he asked about it online, the more he realized that there was a genuine interest by aficionados to get their hands on the machine, he tells me.

After digging around through the stock he purchased, Cunningham discovered that he had a decent collection of the game's parts, including circuit boards. So he started talking to some other friends about the possibility of using the parts to reproduce the game himself.

Finally settling into the idea, Cunningham attended an expo in 2004 and told the gathered collectors his plans. He just needed a deposit from enough people to show interest. By the end of the show, he says he had orders from 110 people.

To recreate the machine, Cunningham had to rely on the circuit boards he picked up from Capcom. Those were, he tells me, the things he couldn't get remade.

For the rest, he used parts he had and recreated others. To do that, he took the machine he purchased and tore it apart.

"We measured everything," he says. "We copied the artwork."

Next, Cunningham went about tracking down most of the original part creators for the machine. Often companies will use other manufacturers to create parts for a pinball machine. Cunningham was able to find many of them and get them to recreate the originals for his new table.

While the process seemed to be fraught with obstacles, Cunningham went into the details of just one of them: the dancing girl.

The back of Big Bang Bar 's playfield is occupied, in part, by a big, plastic, see-through tube. Inside the tube is what appears to be either a nude or bikini-clad dancing girl. But Cunningham couldn't figure out how to recreate the showpiece toy or where they were made.

The problem was that he needed the original cast to make a mold of the figure, which could then be used to create the rubber figures.

"I made my mind up that it was going to happen. It cost me a lot of money, but I knew I could do it."

"I looked around and around and I couldn't find anybody," he says as he pulls out the figure from a pocket. "I don't remember the name of the company, but I found one that made toys. So I took the one out of my machine, the green one like this; this might even be the original one I took with me. I don't know. Because, see, she danced; she wiggled. So I went to different companies. 'No we can't do that.' So I went to another toy company. Finally the third toy company I went to, I sat at the guy's desk and I said, 'I understand you make molds' and I showed him one like this in the green. And I said, 'I want to make these, but everyone says they can't make them.' He said, 'Well, Gene, just wait a bit' and he went back in his back room and came out with the solid one, not the mold but the solid one and said, 'Will this help you?' I said, 'Yes, thank you very much.' I didn't ask anymore."

Cast of the figure in hand, Cunningham was able to get a mold made and eventually create all of those wiggly, rubber tube dancers.

He's so proud of the result that he stops our interview to hunt two up from somewhere inside his home. Throughout the rest of the interview the two figures lay on the table between us, or in Cunningham's hands as he absentmindedly plays with them.

Those rubber dancers were one of countless hurdles Cunningham and his team had to overcome while making the machines. Cunningham estimates that the entire process from beginning to end probably took about two years. Much longer than anyone expected it would take.

"I had a lot of phone calls from people [asking] 'When are they going to be ready,'" he tells me. "I said, 'We're working on it.' Because all these people trusted me with their money. Then word got out that I was running way over and some of them said, 'Let us pay you more,' and I said, 'No.' I gave my word that I'd make them for $4,500 and that's what it was."

Cunningham gathered a crew of people together and built a makeshift assembly line at the warehouse that shared the parking lot with his skating rink. He finally completed the machines in two waves, and then went back and made a third round of machines from extra parts.

The entire thing wrapped up as the party at the warehouse. Cunningham says people came from all over the country to celebrate and pick up their pinballs. They came to celebrate not just the launch of a pinball machine lost to time but the achievement of what nearly everyone thought at one time was the impossible. Everyone, that is, but Cunningham.

"I made my mind up that it was going to happen," he says. "It cost me a lot of money, but I knew I could do it."

Cunningham estimates he spent about $7,200 on each machine, selling them for the promised $4,500.

"It cost a lot more than that for a lot of them because we made some special ones for some people — gold trim, brass trim, sidebar and legs, and in the case of my daughter's machine, which is probably the most valuable one, it's all done in metallic green and all the employees and the guests that day signed it. It's probably got 500 or more signatures written under the boards, inside the cabinet," he says.

Despite the cost and loss of personal time, Cunningham says it was worth it.

"For the personal satisfaction," he says. "It also gave me a good name around the business."

Eventually we get around to the remnants of the warehouse in his backyard. The discussion of the blaze that tore through the remains of his life comes after a long pause, after I finally broach the subject of his years-long bankruptcy and he declines to discuss it.

"Are you asking if I think the bankruptcy was justified. If someone took your business, how would you feel?"

But he's more than willing to talk about the fire.

"See that mess down there?" he says pointing over my shoulder to the melted wreckage. "See the yellow cord hanging down the door down there?"

It was the cord, a battery cable that was plugged into an outlet inside the building and was being used to charge an old pickup truck's battery, that started the fire, he tells me.

He was out at the time. The wind picked up, knocking loose a rock that held the door to the warehouse open. Over time, as the door opened and closed on the cord, it began to fray and eventually cut it. A small fire started, and Cunningham's 13-year-old grandson called in a panic to tell him his warehouse was on fire.

"The fire started inside that door," Cunningham tells me.

He says he lost everything in the warehouse, including 28 pinball machines and schematics of other machines like Big Bang Bar , in the blaze.

"Now the insurance company says they won't pay anything," he tells me.

The Aug. 17 fire was so intense, according to a local paper, that firefighters from four surrounding towns joined in to douse it.

The 20,000-square-foot steel warehouse was home to a personal exercise gym, hair studio, tool warehouse, storage area and several antique pinball machines, according to the paper.

Bloomington township's fire chief, Tom Willan, said at the time that the cause of the blaze was under investigation. When I called him a month later, the fire chief declined to tell me the outcome. Instead he directed me to the insurance investigator, who didn't return my calls.

I stare at the gutted warehouse for a moment, tell Cunningham that it must have been hard losing so much in such a short period of time.

I ask him about the bankruptcy again and he tells me that it is finally over, after three years. That the federal court-appointed trustees in the case "milked all of the money out of it they could."

But when I press him about its connection to Big Bang Bar , the money he lost by making them and the subsequent business deal that became two lawsuits, Cunningham asks to go off the record.

After chatting for a bit, he agrees to talk on the record again.

"It was probably the best game ever made."

"Are you asking if I think the bankruptcy was justified," he says. "If someone took your business, how would you feel?"

"What are you left with?" I ask him.

"Well, when we went through the bankruptcy, I called a man in California — I'm not going to tell you his name — and I told him what was going on, and I said if you call the trustee and make a half a million dollar offer you'll own the company," Cunningham tells me. "He called and made an offer of $500,000 cash and he owns the company now.

"I can work through his company and do whatever I want, but I'm nearly 80 years old. I turn 79 in a couple of days."

But, he finally adds, the bankruptcy is done.

Later Cunningham goes back into his house to bring out a magazine. He opens it up to an ad for a Big Bang Bar . It's selling for $17,000.

"One of the rarest and highest sought-after machines ever produced," according to the text under a picture. "This futuristic, space bar themed pinball machine is one of only 200 in existence."

Cunningham picks up the Big Bang Bar 's rubbery dolls again, one in each hand, each held delicately by a leg, as he seems to look at them through me.

"It was," he says, "probably the best game ever made."

Alice Carroll
遗产

Players of Big Bang Bar seem to universally enjoy Cunningham's recreation of the game. But not everyone involved shares the same feelings about Cunningham and what place, if any, he holds in the history of the game.

Skate rink owner Overholser described his former father figure as the sort of guy he'd still shake hands with but then would need to stop and count his fingers.

Gary Stern regards the pinball recreations as an accomplishment but nothing historical, and George Gomez describes Cunningham as a "collector and a dreamer," though he sees the machine itself as not that big of a deal.

Pinball designer Mark Ritchie says that Cunningham's impact on the pinball industry at a time when it appeared to be approaching death was significant.

"Gene Cunningham broke the ice for all of these companies to sell directly into homes," Ritchie said. "He did a huge favor to the industry."

Pinball historian Gary Flower agrees.

"It's quite possible that if Gene hadn't set the ball rolling by doing the first ever remake, maybe the Medieval Madness table wouldn't have been made," he said. "That's worthy of mention. He should get credit for showing the pinball world you could go out and make pinball machines on a relatively small budget."

Insert credit

It was raining, just this side of sleeting, when I finally found the address in Brooklyn, New York — a train ride and two subway trips from my home. The glass door is so cluttered with signs I can't see in: "No Hunting," "Try our gourmet vegetarian washing machines and vegan dryers," "There will be a 100% surcharge for full-service orders which include garments bearing the Trump brand name." Four matching stickers, each one for a different year's award for Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For, line the top of the glass door above the signs.

Inside, silver washing machines and dryers cover one wall. The other is cluttered with unplugged pinball machines and a vending machine packed with a mix of snacks and other oddities, like a real $2 bill, a DNA paternity test and cans of Gillette shaving cream. In between the two walls is a pathway just wide enough to walk. It leads me back to the rear wall and a woman sitting guard in a chair. Next to her, built into the back wall is a washing machine and dryer combo. Through the glass of the washing machine's door I can see a wonderland of pinball machines and beer.

It's been nine years since I first heard the legend of Big Bang Bar — nine years filled with countless court files, interviews, phone calls, a plane trip, a road trip and now, one story.

Pushing through the makeshift door, I find myself in the backroom of the Sunshine Laundry, a sort of laundromat, bar, pinball speakeasy.

The backroom is packed, nearly button to button, with pinball machines of all types. There's a solid selection of Stern machines, but I also find oddities like Taxi and World Cup . There's also a fabled machine built out of a boutique pinball design shop in the Netherlands based on the movie "The Big Lebowski." The table features clips from the movie, a mini bowling alley and even a replica of Lebowski's trademark drink, a white russian on the rocks, attached to the playfield glass in the corner of the table.

The dusty wooden flooring creaks as I walk over to the bar and order a beer. I ignore the chimp making predictions from a nearby machine and walk back toward the entrance, soaking in the jangle of play, the occasional pop of a free game and the small but boisterous clientele that make the place feel busy even on a random Tuesday night.

In a corner, lost next to the arc of the Sunshine's laundry machine entrance, stands the product of one of pinball's strangest little stories. Big Bang Bar sits next to Cirqus Voltaire and Theater of Magic tables. Its aqua blues and greens beckon me. A small brass plate tells me this is #2.

It's been nine years since I first heard the legend of Big Bang Bar — nine years filled with countless court files, interviews, phone calls, a plane trip, a road trip and now, one story.

But this moment is what matters now.

I slip in three quarters, tap the start button, pull back the plunger and roll into the welcoming world of Big Bang Bar .

当猪飞过的时候:Capcom的Big Bang Bar奇怪的历史
Big Bang Bar machines waiting to be picked up from Cunningham.

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