I’ll be in Scottsdale next week and while I won’t have a ton of free time, it would be nice to play some pinball on my night off. Pinball Maps has me thinking I should hit up Star Fighters, Tilt Studio, or The Grid.
Can anyone advise which I should try to hit up, given a preference for venues that have well maintained games, and aren’t family friendly?
Thanks for asking this - I’ll be out there on the 8th and was going to do the same. Go figure.
The past two years I have been visiting my partner’s family who snowbirds in Mesa. This year I made it to the Grid twice and like it, plus I think they recently expanded. Games were in great shape (except for a metallica with a really worn Sparky magnet). If you drink, there is a very large and good beer selection. I was able to hit two of their regular tournies there and everyone was fun, friendly, but tough competition.
I’ve never made it to starfighters because of bad timing (their hours aren’t too accommodating), but I would like to given its selection of games. It should be a pretty direct AZ 101 -> 202 trip from Scottsdale. Word is generally that the East Valley is where most pinball is in the area, and Pinball Map seems to bear that out. I played at a couple other random one-two machine locations. The map seems mostly current.
Never made it to Tilt but heard there’s a good regular tournament there, too. Don’t recall if it is weekly or monthly. Can’t speak to the game selection.
Are you looking to play in a tournament or doesn’t that matter? And by not family friendly you want a place that does not have kids running around and serves alcohol?
Tracy does a fantastic job of listing all upcoming public tournaments in Arizona on this website:
Tilt Studio has a Tuesday night weekly league starting at 6:30 and ending around 8:30. Group match play. 4 player groups. 4 rounds. There have been about 40 players showing up. A mix of casual players and competitive players, but everyone is friendly and there to have a good time. They have half newer Stern games along with half older games. They host the local launch party tournaments for the new Stern games. Iron Maiden launch party is next Sunday, May 6. The pinside game list is out of date. They got rid of a few of the older unreliable games to make room for new Sterns. They serve alcohol and food. It’s located at Arizona Mills mall. They have those big newer type arcade games and a few classic arcade games. Not a lot of kids running around near the pinball area.
Starfighters is only open on Friday and Saturday nights 7-11 and Sunday afternoons.3-7. Monthly pinball tournaments start at 2pm on a Saturday and end before 7pm and have 40+ player turnout. Next tournament is May 5th. They have a good mix of new and old pinball machines from early solid state to DMD to new Sterns, and they have over 130 classic arcade games. Family friendly. You’ll see a bunch of teenagers there having some good clean fun, but you’ll also find adults there playing. Just $10 per person for the day and all the games are on free play. Very well maintained games.
The Grid is a barcade. I believe there is an age limit. Thursday night league, group match play, 4 rounds. Less players than Tilt Studio. Only around 10 players or less have been showing up, maybe because there are so many other tournaments in the area. There are about 8 pinball machines there, mostly Sterns. A few that aren’t at other locations, like Total Nuclear Annihilation, Tron: Legacy and Batman Dark Knight. The operator of those games keeps them well maintained. They also usually host a monthly tournament on a Sunday with a turnout of around 16-24 players. The barcade usually has entertainment later at night, open mic night, comedy, bands, etc. Sometimes a cover charge, like on weekend nights for a show.
If you want to meet local players and have a few drinks then try to make the Tilt Studio Tuesday night event. If you don’t care about tournaments and just want to play by yourself, then go on another night. If you’re there until next weekend then try to make the Saturday Starfighters tournament or the Tilt Studio Iron Maiden launch party tournament. Those usually have a big turnout. If you want to play later at night by yourself on a weeknight then try the Grid since they’re open late.
All 3 locations are near freeways, so pretty easy to get to from Scottsdale once rush hour died down on weekdays.
You hit the nail on the head for “not family friendly”. Looking to have a couple drinks, and avoid worrying about knocking over/out the kid that inevitably insists on standing 6 inches away watching. Since Thursday is probably going to be my free night, it sounds like The Grid is the way to go. Thanks much.
Yay for pinball loving visitors to Phoenix! And thank you to @JShop for doing such an outstanding job detailing all the options! For @Law depending on what part of town you’ll be in, there’s also games at a comic book store in the West Valley, Jesse James Comics, and a few pins at Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Phoenix. Hope you both enjoy your visits!
I forgot to say the Thursday weekly tournament at The Grid starts at 7pm. The traffic can still be a bit heavy coming south from Scottsdale around 6pm, so check your google maps, etc. for traffic conditions.