Review by Retro

"Just keep in mind that this is Skee-Ball and not "Test your pitching skills.""

Whether you wanted a new radio, a collection of shot glasses, a deck of playing cards, a new lamp, just want to play for fun, or whatever, playing Skee-Ball has always been more fun and definitely more classic than just about any other redemption (ticket-wielding) game ever made.

I guess you could say that Skee-Ball is a distant cousin of the game of bowling. It works like this: Depending on the machine you're playing on and whether it's working or not, you get the chance of testing your aim and rolling anywhere from zero to nine (maybe more in places?) wooden balls down a short alley of only a few feet, up a small ramp, and hopefully into a scoring ring. Years ago, there was usually five different scoring rings on each Skee-Ball machine. The scoring rings that would earn you either ten or twenty points were pretty big and hard to miss, and the scoring rings for the thirty, forty, and fifty point slots weren't much bigger than the ball itself.

But Skee-Ball has evolutionized a bit and now when you go to an arcade, carnival, etc., and find Skee-Ball ready to play, those five scoring slots are still there, but most of them also have a tiny and hard to ring one hundred point slot on each side.

Whether you're playing on a classic or a newer Skee-Ball machine, the game awards in the same way. Again, depending on the machine, once you get a certain number of points on the electronic scoreboard (usually around 180 or less), the machine will begin to spit out a few tickets. Of course, the more you score after beginning your ticket-earning quest, the more and more tickets you'll rack up.

Your success at the crippled, but still going strong game of Skee-Ball depends mostly on your aim and your power. In a way, you could say it's kind of like shooting basketball. If you don't roll it hard enough or if you don't have your aim working well for you, you probably won't do so well. But if you're a sureshot (don't ask me if that's really a word) and your power is just right, you should be getting a few nothing but rings and a high score, making it easier for you to get closer and closer to using your tickets for what you want.

I hope you're not expecting Skee-Ball to be like a video game, because it's not. It doesn't have any graphics to judge unless you want to look at the design of the fiberglass, the wood, or the flashing lights. However, Skee-Ball machines do have some cool sounds. Even if you're keeping your eyes closed for a better challenge, you can tell how well or not so well you're doing because, based on how well you're doing, the machine will make a certain sound. For instant, if you ring the 40-point slot, the machine might beep four times (you know, 10 X 4 = 40), but if you score a zero, a horrible sound will play, which is the machine's nice way of saying that you suck. There are also different sounds and music that will play for when you begin earning tickets, for when you score an unbelievably high, and more.

Skee-Ball's control depends entirely on the one who's rolling the wooden weapons. You might see someone score a fifty or a hundred on almost every roll on one machine, and you might see somebody on another machine throwing a fastball at the rings and possibly having the ball bounce off of the game's fiberglass and then landing right through a customer's newly replaced windshield on their car. Just be sure to play on a machine that's a good distance away from the latter type of player and make sure that the Skee-Ball machine that you choose to play on isn't flashing a message such as ''Help'' on its screen, because that would mean that it's not working and that it'd be selfish of giving you tickets.

Finally, the one aspect of a video game that Skee-Ball does have, is the fun factor. In my opinion, there's not any redemption game that's more classic or that's nearly as fun as Skee-Ball. If you haven't ever played it before, give it a shot, you'll probably be addicted head over heels before you know it. And if you don't want to take my word for it, just think about the fact that Skee-Ball was made in 1909 (that's what I read about it long time ago on a website) and that it's still rolling just as fast as ever. Now how many games do you know of that are THAT old and still just as popular as ever?


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/02/01, Updated 05/20/02


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