This is long; bear with me if you choose, or tilt and go on to the next game as your mood suits you. My first “sweet moment” was back in 1975. I was at college, and I had only been playing pinball for a couple of months. This is in upstate New York; that’s relevant, since free games were illegal at the time. All of the machines were the “extra ball” versions. I’d gotten somewhat good and was at the point where I was now trying to get the high score on a couple of the games. One of the other decent players there had a bit too much ego / attitude / whatever for my taste; not a bad guy, we were loose friends, he was just too cocky at times. Well, there was this favorite game of his, Summer Time, a Williams [Travel Time is the free game version]. It was a weird game, running on a clock rather than 5 balls, so I hadn’t played it much. I believe this was the first clock-based machine; I know it predates James Bond (1980) and Beat The Clock (1985). I thought I’d challenge myself by trying to learn it well enough to beat this guy’s high score on his favorite game. I finally beat his best, then we traded high scores for a week or two. But I had dialed in the skill shot and the clock-stop saucer and target shots, and I figured I could blow up the game. So one Sunday, I came in just after the game room opened and started in on it. My buddies and various other folks came by to watch as the day progressed and I was still there. My 25 cents [2 games for a quarter back then] was still going. Not winning free games, you couldn’t do that, I was playing the same game. I rolled it [100K]. Five times. Twelve, breaking my previous best. By late afternoon, I was in the 4M range. Around dinner time, I had a … visitor. The game room assistant manager had called the route operator, back when not much was either open or done on Sundays, let alone in the winter. The manager suspected I was tampering with the game to keep playing it, but since he couldn’t see me doing anything he could identify as wrong, he figured he should have the operator come look. So the operator drove out from wherever he lived and came in to watch me. Nope, no tampering going on. He watched. And watched. And shook his head and left. He never said a word to me. I don’t know what he said to the manager, but I got no hassle from either of them. My pals continued to come and go; a few watched the game for me when I took quick food and bathroom breaks. The game ended when the campus game room closed at 11 pm and they turned off the power. I still had plenty of time on the play clock. The score was 10.7M. I was tired, but I knew I’d reached a new skill tier, not just score, but endurance. The hardest part was actually not the “playing well” part; it was never playing poorly for more than about three minutes the whole time, since if the clock went to zero and you drained, game over. [The clock maxes out at 2:55.] It’s not easy to stay focused for that many hours nonstop. Ah, the energy of youth …. Besides the score, the other most satisfying part was freaking out the route operator. We all felt sort of at the operator’s mercy as far as game settings, etc. [maybe it was just his attitude?]. His making a special trip out on a Sunday to check it out was like the mountain coming to Mohammed from our point of view [I remember the crowd watching me going, “Look! Bill’s here! Do you believe this?”], and the fact that it was legit made it all the better. Lots of people had a high score at some point, but nobody had ever done anything to make him show up outside his usual coin-collection or swap machines schedule.
FWIW, I think that most “A” players could learn to do this on a Summer Time in newish condition. Sadly, it makes a crappy tournament game: when it’s in tune, it’s too easy; when it’s not [e.g. playing slow due to weak slings, bumpers or flippers, or too shallow a slope], it’s an exercise in clock frustration. For competition timer games, Beat The Clock is way more fun.