‘You are going to slip on all those tickets’

By Andrew Gilstrap

Super Shots at GameWorks in Tempe

Skee Ball Super Shot machines at GameWorks


After a long day trip with my class to Tucson and Nogales — where we saw the Arizona-Mexico border fence — my classmates and I returned to Arizona State University’s downtown campus at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4. It had been a long day, but I still had a little left in me to make the night longer. So when I got back to ASU, I called my wife and asked her to meet me at Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, Ariz. It was a good halfway point for her and for where I was.

Full-size arcade basketball machineShe and I met up at the mall, and we eventually made our way into GameWorks, an arcade that is still going strong. The mall was fairly quiet for a weekend, but that wouldn’t deter what I came to do. I was hoping to play the full-size arcade basketball game — as shown in this picture — but it was out of order. I’ll have to wait until another day to report on strategies and successes of playing this free-throw-length basketball system.

I moved on and put $10 worth of credits on my GameWorks card. (Yes, I have game cards ready whenever I go to a GameWorks, Dave & Buster’s or even the arcade at Castles N’ Coasters.) So where did I go? To the back of the arcade — to my default/familiar location: The standard Pop-A-Shot machines.

This GameWorks has five linked Skee Ball Super Shot machines, which you can see in the picture at the top. This Super Shot machine is the most common Pop-A-Shot I see at arcades in Arizona. The machines say they were built in 1994 — in Phoenix, nonetheless — and I personally don’t see them going away anytime soon. There is a new version of the Super Shot system, but I have yet to see it in arcades here. For this evening, I stuck with the “Classic” game feature for the six games I played and the three my wife played; this I the setting on which I usually play and which I always recommend.

Base of the Skee Ball Super Shot machine

The "Classic" setting is the button at the top left.


I had some good games and some mediocre ones on the evening. My best scores were 81 and 66. My wife — being seven months pregnant — only played three rounds, but two of her scores were outstanding: 49 and 44. She almost beat me during that round of 49. The first machine I was playing on was not keeping score correctly during my third game there, and it didn’t help that the middle machine was out of order. (GameWorks didn’t exactly have its best foot forward on this night.) I racked up a few hundred tickets while playing, all the while telling myself, Don’t slip on your tickets! I’d talk more about my arcade play, but I’d rather show you. Below is a world premiere video of my 81-point game at GameWorks. Credit to Katie Gilstrap for filming me.


Now that my arcade prowess is on Youtube, I will be looking at other videos of Pop-A-Shot players over the next week and doing some comparisons. I know there are plenty of these clips out there, but I need to round a good number of them up to get a full analysis. I will hopefully also be able to gather some ideas and techniques from the other Pop-A-Shot ‘gunners’ in the arcade world. I will report my conclusions next week after I get a good idea of what — and who — is out there.


I want you to leave here with a laugh today. I came across this video on Youtube and it relates to arcade basketball, but not how you’d think. The best action is in the first five seconds. This video comes from Youtube user dontbethatguyfilms.


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