Bagatelle, Pachinko and Peggle at the Pacific Pinball Museum

The Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM) announced the opening of Bagatelle, Pachinko, and Pegglean exhibition of early pins-in-a-board games, and the digital extension of these games, Peggle. Bagatelles were invented by the French in the 1700’s, and came to the United States during the American Revolution when the French were on the American side against the British.


Gold Star Bagatelle, 1934

Gold Star Bagatelle, 1934

Bagatelle games took many forms.  Most used small nails or “pins” to deflect the balls into or around holes in the slanted board.   Some had legs and looked like pieces of furniture.  Others had arrays of holes at one end, and a cue type stick was used to shoot balls into the holes.  There’s a famous lithograph of Abraham Lincoln playing this kind of bagatelle.

Heiwa Custom pachinko game

Heiwa Custom pachinko game

Pachinko machines were first built during the 1920s and may have been modeled after the American bagatelle called  “Corinth game” or “korinto gemu”, in Japanese. “Pachin” is a Japanese word that’s akin to the English “click”, the sound made by the dropping balls.  “Ko” means “ball” in Japanese.  Pachinko is “the ringing noise of the ball: “pachin-ko” !
Pachinko designers use colorful and eye-catching designs, cartoons, animals, and flowering plants as themes.  The “tulip” is a flower shaped catcher for pachinko balls used on many machines.  Balls are launched with a flipper device which is the only control mechanism that the player can regulate.  Most pachinko players shoot the balls as fast as possible, relying on luck to guide the balls into winning holes. All of Japan’s pachinko parlors were closed down during World War II but re-emerged in the late 1940s, and are still very popular.

Space Blast screen from Peggle

Space Blast screen from Peggle

Since its first introduction in March 2007, the Peggle series has been downloaded more than 45 million times on the Web, and garnered more than a dozen awards from leading industry associations and trade journals.  The game is now available for PC, Mac, Web, video iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, 650 models of mobile feature phones and smartphones, Nintendo DS and Xbox Live Arcade.

Combining elements of pinball and pachinko, Peggle players fire a metallic silver ball from the top of the screen, relying on gravity to propel the ball downwards while it ricochets off unique arrangements of orange and blue pegs. The goal is to clear all the orange pegs from the screen, while earning as many points as possible, before running out of balls. A moving bucket at the bottom of the screen offers free balls, while green power-up pegs unlock special abilities via ten unique and memorable Peggle Masters who guide players through dozens of levels of gameplay challenges.  Power-ups include explosive area-clearing blasts, lobster claws that serve as pinball-like flippers and “fireballs” that cut through all pegs in their path. The Pacific Pinball Museum sponsors exhibitions such as this one to reveal the history of pinball games as they evolved into the digital age. The Pacific Pinball Museum is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to teaching science, art and history through pinball, preserving and promoting one of America’s great pastimes.

Art Exhibit Opening:  Friday, August 3,  6-10pm

Peggle Tournament: Saturday, August 4, 11am to 6pm
Tournament entry is included with admission fee.
Show runs August 3 through September 30th, 2012

*With information from The Pacific Pinball Museum (1510 Webster St., Alameda, CA 94501)


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