Las Vegas, Part 2

MGM Grand Statue

Monday was the first full day in Las Vegas. We had lunch in Chinatown again and drove to the MGM Grand to see the lions. Unlike at a zoo, these lions are treated like pets. Two or three keepers are actually in the exhibit with the two lions. Lions at the MGM GrandOne of them was actually playing with the lions like they were house cats! He tossed a toy around and later was shaking a toy in front of a lion’s face to get it attention. While this looks very exciting, the keepers actually had very apathetic expressions the whole time. I think it’s to seem non threatening to the lions. One toothy smile may send the wrong signal to a lion (namely, “Let’s fight!”) so the keepers loaf around with blank looks.

From there my parents and I split up for the day. I took a bus a few blocks off the Strip to see the Pinball Hall of Fame, culminating a dream years in the making. Ok, not really. Well, there’s some truth in that statement. Once Kristin and I had a major pinball kick, and we found out about the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. We joked that we should make a pilgrimage one day, and years later, here I am! Pinball Hall of Fame EntranceThe Hall of Fame is definitely fueled by the love of the game. Inside nondescript building (across the street from the Liberace Museum!) are over a hundred playable pinball machines from the 50s up to the newest ones. The older games were great to experience. I could really feel the mechanical parts that controlled everything, like the flippers and the plungers. Each move had a physical impact that could be felt in each hand. The old games were also brutally hard. The flippers tend to be smaller than in newer games, and the gap between them were larger. The ball also went blindingly fast past the bumpers before I could even react.

In contrast the latest games have a lot flash. The use of magnets seems to be the latest thing. In the Indiana Jones (2008) game, once the Ark is activated, a magnet kicks in, invisibly stopping the ball as the Ark opened and five (!) balls spilled out.

I took the bus back to the Strip. I walked to New York, New York based on a tip that there was an arcade there. It was bigger than I thought, filled with the usual array of claw games, large arcade games, and… a drum game? New York, New York, in Las VegasI saw an electronic drumset in a booth blaring rock music. The side said “MTV Drumscape.” My interest was piqued so I sat on the drum stool and put in $2. I picked a song, “Smoke on the Water,” and got ready to drum to a track of colored blocks. Aaand… there were no blocks. Instead of a drum game like Drum Mania or Rock Band, this setup was freeform drumming! I’ve only drummed to instructions so I was lost trying to make my own beat. But, I did get the hang of it by the first chorus and from then on it was crazy fun drumming along with Deep Purple. Even though I did a lot of fun things in my Vegas trip, playing MTV Drumscape was by far the highlight.

I made my way back to the Encore hotel to meet my parents for dinner and a show. That’s… another post. 🙂

Flickr has more pictures of the trip! There some especially good pinball ones.

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