Total Nuclear Annihilation Launch Party at AYCE Gogi

The Southern California pinball mecca known as AYCE Gogi (“gogi” being the Korean word for “meat”) had another amazing launch party over the weekend – not for a huge Stern game, but a lesser-known title from feisty pinball newcomer SPOOKY PINBALL out of Benton, Wisconsin. The game being launched is one that I’ve been very excited to play ever since I saw it making the rounds as a humble, artless whitewood: TOTAL NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION PINBALL pka TOTAL ANNIHILATION.

Total Nuclear Annihilation (TNA, tee hee, for short) began as a labor of love for one man, the incredibly talented Scott Danesi. He announced that was beginning work on his then untitled pin in December 2015 and with superhuman speed he had it built and ready to flip in time for the Chicago Pinball Expo in October 2016. One man, one machine, less than a year to build it. Hot damn!

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The (LION)Man himself, Scott Danesi (picture courtesy of ScottDanesi.com)

In its earliest form, it looked like this:

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Version 1.0 (picture courtesy of ScottDanesi.com)

By March, it grew to this:

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Version 3.0 (picture courtesy of ScottDanesi.com)
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All lit up! (picture courtesy of ScottDanesi.com)

When it was available for play in October at Multimorphic’s Booth during the Pinball Expo, it was one of the most buzzed about games from people who had a chance to play it. That buzz only got louder when Dead Flip did a livestream of the game in March 2017.

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Will the mankini catch on among pinball players?! (picture courtesy of Dead Flip)

Then, in May, Scott announced via his blog that he was working with Spooky Pinball to bring TNA to “houses and bars near you”. Which is fantastic news for pinball players everywhere!

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Total Nuclear Annihilation – The Spooky Pinball edition (picture courtesy of spookypinball.com)

TNA is fashioned as an early 80’s Bally-esque type of game, with a simplified playfield – no ramps, no magnets, and only one pop bumper. The game also keeps the rules easy to understand, yet very hard to master. The story behind the game is that you’re in the year 1998, a post-apocalyptic world, one that requires you to destroy nine nuclear reactors to…. save the world? Finish nuking the world? Hey, I could only beat two reactors, so I’m not sure what the endgame is. This is what I mean by “simplified” – your objectives are always very specific, it’s just that they get harder and harder to complete as you beat the reactors. Perhaps the first reactor goes online by hitting the drop targets in any order. Then the second one requires you to hit them left to right. The you have to hit the lit ones, but not the unlit ones… and so on. It sounds simple but then you’re trying to do all this with the pulse-pounding music and the shaker motor rattling and the scoops kicking out balls like a mule and ohhh, it’s not a simple as it looks now, is it?!?!

This machine is one of the most superb multiplayer games ever, and it all has to do with a lil’ something known as the “Danesi Lock”. A brand -new innovation in pinball, where the ball locking mechanism is via inline standups with a scoop behind them! Sort of like how the ball gets trapped behind the standup in front of the Enterprise on Stern’s Star Trek… but different. You hit a drop target to lock the first ball, then a drop target comes up in front of that one, locking it into place. Hit that drop target and it knocks the two balls forward, and a drop target in front of the two balls pops up. Hit that third drop target and it’s MULTIBALL TIME! What makes it so amazing and competitive in multiplayer games is that players can steal each other’s locked balls – my apologies to Mr. David “Double Danger” Oliver, whose balls I kept stealing (ahem) during a warm-up game. Don’t feel too bad for David – he ended up taking second in the tournament, behind Karl DeAngelo. Coming in second against a superhuman pinball pugilist like Karl is as good as coming in first, right!?!

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David “Double Danger” Oliver about to throw TNA around

Once again, it was a fantastic time at AYCE Gogi. Food & drink specials, raffle prizes, and the nicest crowd of pinballers in all of sunny Southern California. Don’t miss the next big event at AYCE Gogi – the Guardians of the Galaxy launch party on December 23rd, featuring TWO GOTGs for heads up play! I hope to see you there!

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The fierce bunch of TNA’ers (peep your boy and the non-smiling YUNG MARK in the back right)

BIG UPS to all the people who attended the TNA launch, to Shahin Nazari for blessing us with the raddest place to play pinball and the tastiest meats to grind on, to my man behind the bar whose name I forgot for taking care of all the scorekeeping and beverage procurement, to Karl DeAngelo for the Twitch stream, to Imoto Harney for the chronicling of the day’s events, and to my nephew YUNG MARK for emotional support and being a real righteous dude. Much love to all!

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