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BY JOSH ROGERS
Patrons who enjoyed " the bowling game, " as it was known by many, at Geno’s will have to move on to the big balls: Gold Mine was sold a few weeks ago.
Made by the Williams company in 1987, Gold Mine was the latest in a long line of " shuffle alley " mechanical arcade games, in which players would slide plastic pucks down a miniature alleyway toward mechanical pins. The original flier for the machine proclaimed it " a game rich in innovation, engineering, and design. "
Players at Geno’s loved it for its physicality. " You could have a workout on that machine, " says manager Barb Moran. " People would come in there and just rip the shit out of that puck and take their aggressions out — if you were pissed off, that was a great machine. "
Unfortunately, says Moran, what was once touted by the Williams company as a " sleek cabinet with its extra-fast playfield " had become dulled with age. " The pins were stuck, " she says. " They weren’t coming down after the pucks were shot and the sand, the cheese, that we were using on the floor of it wasn’t working too well after so many years no matter how much we put down. "
" There were interruptions each game. People were getting fucked every other quarter, so to speak. " So they decided to get rid of the damned thing. A regular customer and rabid fan of the game took it off their hands for a mere $200, instantly making his garage the coolest hangout in Portland.
Although players loved the game for its glitches and its retro goofiness, some things about it may not be missed. Moran cites the electronic Yosemite Sam-like character that inhabited the electronic scoreboard: " That f’in gold miner scared the shit out of you when no one was around and said all this shit to you — it would freak us out. Like, I’d be there at three o’clock in the morning after cleaning out the bar and be alone and this sonofabitch would be like ‘YEE-HAWWW!’ and I’d be like ‘Oh my gaawwwd!’ — it was like the ghost of Geno’s or something, so in that respect, no one’s gonna miss the noise from it. "
A nice foosball table has replaced Gold Mine and Geno’s has started an informal foosball tourney (last Monday of every month), so things aren’t all bad. The saddest part is that no one will ever be able to best Sales Manager Marc Shepard’s all-time top Phoenix score of 12,880.