Astro City – Play Pinball in Essex

Astro City - Play Pinball UK

Astro City represents the first in our reviews of Places To Play Pinball in the UK, part of the . This is for sites with more than two pinball machines on site. Astro City offers a place to play pinball in Essex, with four games on site. To catch up on how it is to site machines and how it is going at Astro City, I spoke with James of Majestic Pinball.

Location: Astro City Amusements, 2c Southchurch Road, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 2NE

Getting Pinball Machines On the Astro City Scene

James – tell me a bit about Astro City – how did it come to be you were involved with siting and looking after pins at there?

I have fond memories of Astro City, i used to quite often bunk off of college with a few of my mates and get the train to Southend and spend the day playing pool and various other games. Our grades suffered but we had a great time! Fast forward quite a few years and i paid another visit just to see what was happening there. A lot of the pool tables had gone but there were a lot more arcade cabs. I reached out to Paul (the owner) to see whether he wanted his Street Fighter 2 pinball machine serviced. It was in a very sad state and I was looking to kick-start my pinball repair business. After a few tech visits he expressed his interest in providing a potential home for local pinball players. There aren’t many other places to play pinball in Essex.

As a Pinhead – it must be good to see some pins on a location that are actually well maintained. Does it make a difference to the general public?

Absolutely, I love seeing games out and being enjoyed by the public. There are so many beautiful machines in existence and its such a shame they’re almost always hidden away from the public in private collections. Whats fantastic about Astro City is they host a lot of private parties for children/teenagers so to see kids experience pinball for the first time is amazing. The impression the games give to the public is so important, if somebody who has never played pinball before plays a burnt out game that barely works, that will set the standard for them, and they will probably just presume thats all that pinball has to offer and move on.

It’s an all too familiar tale of woe, unfortunately out of some of the games I have personally reviewed, such as a No Good Gofers at Red Lodge Transport Cafe – and a Street Fighter 2 at the Bucket List in Swansea – both games were beyond playable. Knowing that pinball’s out there in locations around the country are being operated with a view to keep them playable, means there is hope of bringing new blood into the hobby.

Pins Available To Play

How many pins are on site now? What are they?

At the moment there are four machines: Street Fighter 2, Monopoly, Jokerz & Junkyard all of which are on freeplay.

Of these which is your favourite and why?

My favourite is a very close call between Junkyard & Jokerz. My family would always go on anual holidays to Majorca and they had a Junkyard in the hotel we stayed at – playing Junkyard for hours was always the highlight of the holiday! Jokerz is a game that really surprised me, I bought it as a project without ever playing one before and once shopped i fell in love with it. Its a quick, brutal game and the ‘double your score’ feature on the last ball creates such tension in multiplayer games. 

Pricing At Astro City

There’s a different approach to pricing at Astro City isn’t there?

The arcade is £5 entry per person for 2 or 3 hour sessions on Friday and Saturday nights. Paul often opens for other sessions as well. £5 is a great deal in my opinion to get your fix of pinball in Essex.

How are they being received, how’s the feedback?

From what Paul has told me they’re being received very well. The kids seem intrigued by them and the parents have fond memories of them. It’s lovely to see a parents eyes light up as they remember pinball from their youth. The parents are teaching their kids how to play and showing them what to do. It’s important that we create these memories for children as the future of our great hobby is entirely their hands!

At four games the choice is currently limited in comparison to other venues, but the added arcade machine availability and pricing makes it an easy decision to pop into Astro City and have a flip. With the machines being maintained by a hobbyist, it adds a level of assurance that your £5 will guarantee some good games. As opposed to putting some money in a random game and hoping for the best.

The Future of Pinball At Astro City

Does that mean there are plans for more?

Paul is very keen on expanding the offering. We have discussed the potential for tournaments, leagues etc. That’s in the future, but ideally there needs to be more games first. As Astro City is a freeplay arcade there are no money exchanges however the arcade is essentially offering very safe, free storage to anyone with too many machines. The owner is looking to see the support of local players first, before spending anymore money on machines himself. If anyone has anything they would like to re-home for a little while please get in touch! You can contact Majestic Pinball through James’ Facebook page.

Have you been to Astro City in Southend on Sea to play pinball? How did you find the games? Let me know your thoughts below.

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