BEST PLACE TO PLAY PINBALL Minneapolis 2007 - S.S. Billiards
Ask anyone who knows local pinball about S.S. Billiards, and chances are they'll say, "Oh, you mean Lloyd's." They're talking about Lloyd Olson, the Hopkins arcade's owner and operator since 1979. (His mother owned it before him. She bought it from a man named Sam Snelling, hence the "S.S.") Lloyd is a fixture in the local pinball community, in part because of his devotion to preserving and refurbishing the rare and finicky beast that is the pinball machine. More important might be the fact that visitors to his arcade can't help but talk to him. Literally. There isn't a change machine on the premises, so Lloyd dispenses all quarters by hand. This allows him ample time to crack the odd avuncular joke and otherwise make fast friends with his regulars. As for the place itself, the plain, square room lacks a designer's touch, but the rows and rows of games—with all their retro bells and whistles—are enough to distract players beyond caring. Lloyd doesn't always have the newest games—only bars can afford those, so try Mortimer's or Mackenzie's—but his late-'80s and early-'90s titles are better anyway. Hint: Make sure you play "Big Bang Bar" while you're there. It's one of only a handful of prototypes created before Capcom pulled the plug on its pinball operations, and many hardcore pin-flippers swear it's the best game ever made.