Solid State pinball arcade bar coming to Pike/Pine bringing fine-tuned flippers, booze, and Cup Noodles

The horse racing-themed Hot Tip is considered the granddaddy of solid-state pinball machines

Williams Electronics is credited with creating the first mass-market pinball machine with solid-state technology. The microprocessors introduced more complicated play including lighting effects, sound, and speech. A new pinball arcade bar dedicated to honoring those silicon roots is being readied to flip flip, ding ding in the heart of Pike/Pine by this summer.

“It was the first time that things became software computerized,” Joe Ricci tells CHS. He and a group of fellow first time bar owners are hard at work shaping Solid State, a new arcade, drinking, and Cup Noodles venue being planned for 10th Ave in the Jack building between Pike and Union.

The pinball wiz… no, we won’t do it… expert Ricci already supplies some of your favorite games on the Hill at the Raygun Lounge. He hopes for Solidstate to add to the arcade community already on Capitol Hill with a connoisseur-level collection of games and by taking a craftsman’s approach to the machines with the highest level of fine tuning, maintenance, and repair. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Raygun Lounge rolling out barcade expansion, espresso

(Image: Gamma Ray Games/Raygun Lounge)

(Image: Gamma Ray Games/Raygun Lounge)

Fans of Gamma Ray Games and Raygun Lounge have likely noticed some changes and can expect a few more in the coming months.

A grand reopening to celebrate the overhaul including new lighting, and some layout changes for the combined Capitol Hill retail/gaming/eating/drinking space is planned for Saturday. More arcade games, coffee and beer taps are on their way.

“The neighborhood has changed a lot and the market has changed a lot so we’re kind of adjusting,” owner Eric Logan told CHS. “…What we used to do worked seven years ago. It doesn’t work today.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Hearthstone and cupcakes


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Pokemon Go still brings a crowd to Cal Anderson. It’s not the only game bringing people together on Capitol Hill. Wednesday night, CHS stopped by a regular Hearthstone meetup. We won’t begin to try to explain the game to you but we can tell you about cupcakes from host venue Cupcake Royale and free pizza from Windy City Pie. Seattle gaming company RumbleMonkey is behind the Hearthstone meetups designed for both the “competitive player” and those who need to “practice.” The meetups are free and BYOD — bring your own device. You can watch the RumbleMonkey Facebook page to keep track of the next get-together.

‘Capitol Hill is lousy with zubats’

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

If you see people wandering Capitol Hill with faces buried in their phones… well, it’s just another Thursday in Pike/Pine. But there is, indeed, something new on the streets of Capitol Hill and it is giving the mobile device-enabled yet another digital addiction to serve as well as a new excuse to wander the neighborhood.

Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game the company has been hyping with Nintendo and Google spin-off Niantic since last year, has finally been released to the wild — along with, apparently, Squirtles, Caterpies, Beautiflies, and Heliolisks. (OK, bring it nerds — I dare you to be the first to tell CHS that there are no Squirtles in Pokemon Go.) Continue reading

Pike/Pine’s Puzzle Break builds business on ’live-action’ games

“Welcome to the room. You have one hour to escape.” This mysterious introduction leads you into Puzzle Break’s brand new game, Escape the Midnight Carnival, which opened last weekend. Located in the studio spaces below 10th Ave, this unusual “live-action” game business has called Capitol Hill home since debuting in 2013.

The idea for the new puzzle came from the company’s “Chief Creative Officer,” Lindsay Morse. “We agreed to do no clowns,” said Nate Martin, CEO and co-founder.

Using a broad range of themes, Puzzle Break’s games are designed to each be their own world, a niche experience, like walking into a period piece. Their last puzzle, a nautical themed adventure titled Escape from 2,000 Leagues, is still open for playing.

“Our chief creative officer has a huge number of themes, and when it becomes time to open a new room, we sit down and see what we are feeling, what kind of puzzles we can shape to an overall theme, so when you are solving a particular puzzle it feels appropriate and it furthers the story of the theme,” Martin tells CHS.  This attention to detail is what makes the game work — and now you’ll know more about bugs and Mayan mythology than you ever thought you would.

Down the ramp to Puzzle Break (Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

Down the ramp to Puzzle Break (Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

CHS first reported on Puzzle Break in 2013 as the small company from a product manager at Electronic Arts and a visiting assistant professor, Classics at the University of Puget Sound, began its venture dedicated to “designing and tuning puzzles and environments.”

Puzzle Break has now been in operation for three years. The first puzzles were bootstrapped, the co-founders sourcing much of the tools and props from thrift stores, creatively making ends meet. But, as they soon found out, people love puzzles. Their popularity continues to grow, and tickets often sell out for weeks in advance. From 2014 to 2015, Puzzle Break’s revenue increased 270%, with over 20,000 players and counting, the company touts. Tickets run $30 per person and group sales are a big part of the business. The strong financials have allowed Puzzle Break to research and create increasingly sophisticated and intricate puzzles.

Many of the puzzles in the new game were designed and built through a partnership with SoDo MakerSpace. Laser cutting, 3D printers, and beautiful craftsmanship made the puzzles and props authentic and charming.

Escape the Midnight Carnival, which involves multiple types of beetles, the Mayans, and a gaggle of codes to break, continued to gain more and more depth as we played it, the game revealing new layers of detail and plot as discoveries were made. Similar to learning the method and language of a crossword puzzle, you get better at it the longer you play. Teamwork is critical, communication is key, and you must beat that clock.

Puzzle Break Seattle is located at 1423 10th Ave. To find out more and buy tickets visit

New wizard takes over John John’s Game Room, Capitol Hill’s pinball bar

(Image: John John's)

(Image: John John’s)

In coming weeks, there will be a new set of machines and a new owner at John John’s Game Room at the base of E Olive Way. But don’t expect anybody to mess with John John’s.

“It has its own little niche and we don’t want to mess with that,” new owner Jeff Rogers tells CHS.

Rogers is taking over the well-loved pinball bar founded by the Add-a-Ball crew and opened in 2012. Add-a-Ball’s original home in Fremont, meanwhile, will keep on flipping. Continue reading