2021 FALL ARCADE ROAD TRIP STOP 2: KICKBACK PINBALL CAFE - PITTSBURGH, PA
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
The third annual Fall Arcade Road Trip is complete! Thousands of glorious pictures were taken, hundreds of pinball machines and arcade games were played and way too many Combos Stuffed Snacks were eaten. This year Rob Miller and I headed West to the Pinball Mecca of the East, Pittsburgh, PA.
Pittsburgh is an amazing city. Home of the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association aka PAPA, the area was recently dealt a devastating blow by the wretched virus COVID which caused PAPA to discontinue holding its epic pinball tournaments and sell off its entire collection of games. Despite this sad chain of events, the people of this city are resilient. They kept their heads up and pushed forward to create some of the most amazing pinball arcades found anywhere in the country.
Rob and I managed to tie the record by visiting six cool arcades this trip. I am so excited about this particular stop that I am going to fast forward to Stop 2 the Kickback Pinball Cafe…
The trip kicked off at around 5:00 PM last Thursday. We would have hit the road earlier, but this is my oldest son’s senior year in high school and I didn’t want to miss the county championship Cross Country track meet that he was running in. Insert proud Dad comment…he managed to set Personal Record and medal in the Varsity race so I’m glad that I stayed for it. Given the late start, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to Pittsburgh in time to play pinball that night so we stopped at an arcade on the way and stayed overnight in Scranton, PA (more on that in the next write-up). I consumed a decent number of beers and Rob’s alarm didn’t go off so we got a later start to our journey to our second stop, the Kickback Pinball Cafe, than we had originally intended lol.
Doug Polka, Elizabeth Cromwell and Justin and Maria Brooks opened Kickback several years ago. The thing that immediately jumps out at you after walking in the door of this coffee joint is the absolutely breathtaking pinball art and super cool lighting everywhere. Brilliant colors depicting the game that we all love are painted on the walls, floors, even the tables are covered with pinball art.
Check out this incredible lineup (courtesy of Pinball Map):
The Addams Family (Bally, 1992)
Alien Star (Gottlieb, 1984)
Avengers: Infinity Quest (Pro) (Stern, 2020)
Batman 66 (LE) (Stern, 2016)
Frontier (Bally, 1980)
Galaxy (Stern, 1980)
Godzilla (Pro) (Stern, 2021)
Grand Lizard (Williams, 1986)
Indianapolis 500 (Bally, 1995)
Kiss (Stern, 2015)
Led Zeppelin (Pro) (Stern, 2020)
The Mandalorian (Premium) (Stern, 2021)
Monaco (Segasa, 1977)
Monster Bash (Williams, 1998)
Mystic (Bally, 1979)
Red & Ted's Road Show (Williams, 1994)
Rick and Morty (Spooky, 2019)
Robocop (Data East, 1989)
Stranger Things (Pro) (Stern, 2019)
TX-Sector (Gottlieb, 1988)
Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)
Viking (Bally, 1979)
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (Jersey Jack, 2019)
All of the games on that list other than TX-Sector which was packed up, were in perfect playing shape and in excellent condition. They take quarters and are reasonably priced at $0.25 to play for the oldest pins to $1.00 per for the newest Sterns.
So what did we play this trip? I managed to put up some thoroughly unimpressive scores on the beautiful Bally Frontier, got to try Bally Viking for the first time, tried the super uncommon EM Monaco by the Spanish manufacturer Segasa aka Sonic, the newest Stern game Godzilla Pro of course and another new one that I had never played the Premium version of before Stern Mandalorian. Some people give that game and Stern’s Stranger Things a hard time, but I have to say we had a TON of fun playing both at multiple locations this trip. I would gladly own either one in my collection. My proudest moment for me at Kickback was achieving the Monsters of Rock Wizard Mode on my first game of Monster Bash. Man I love that game. The theme and fallouts are amazing.
Kickback was absolutely incredible. I can’t say enough good things about it. Well, I still have hundreds of pictures from the trip to clean up so that’s all about Stop 2 for now. Below are a short video walkthrough of Kickback and a bunch of what I think are awesome pictures in my traditional everything cranked style. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more write-ups of Pittsburgh arcades soon…