Date: 11th-13th & 18th-20th March, 2016
Location: Ton Ton Club XL, Westergasfabriek, Pazzanistraat 37, Amsterdam

Report by Jim Jansen, Editor-in-Chief, New Scientist
Translated by Winfred de Ruijter
Pictures by Roy Del Vecchio

Arcade Games & Pinball on Location: 1,000 Games per Day

With fifty-one pinball machines, twelve air hockey tables, and an immense number of racers and shooters, the ‘Clearing Hall’ of the ‘Westergas Factory’ in Amsterdam was turned into the biggest arcade in Europe for two weekends in March. This was the return of Ton Ton XL.

"I'll be back!" says the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the display of Terminator 2 shows 'Game over'. Terminator 2 is one of the fifty-one pinball machines in the line up of Ton Ton XL this year.

A few of the many pinballs at Ton Ton XL
A few of the many pinballs at Ton Ton XL

The first edition of Ton Ton XL took place in 2015 . That event was overcrowded, with more than 14,000 visitors.

We learned from that experience,' says owner Serdar Tonkas. "At Ton Ton we look for the ideal mix of playing, food, and drinks. But it was overcrowded last year; you often had to wait an hour before being able to play a game of Mario Kart. That’s not funny. Therefore we now have eight Mario Karts in the line-up, instead of two”.

Plenty of other racers too
There are plenty of other racers too

Mini Dance Floors

At the entrance you immediately notice the Dance Dance Revolution square. Twenty mini dance floors, all connected on one stage. Twenty people dancing at the same time, on a great beat.

Tonkas likes this view, and at the same time he touches a Mortal Kombat 2 machine. He really likes that one.

This was one of the first machines we bought for our Ton Ton Club two years ago. On the night of the opening, an English tourist called Nick came by. He played that machine the whole night. Although he since moved to Chicago, he visits Amsterdam five times each year; the only reason is to play Mortal Kombat 2”.

The Popular Games

Nick is such a typical Ton Ton visitor. Aged 30, a decent job, knows pinball machines and arcade games from the earlier days, and for him this weekend feels like a trip down memory lane.

"Mortal Kombat 2 is a great game, but it's not the most favourite this weekend," says Tonkas. The most popular one? “Those machines for which people really travel to Amsterdam. They are being played non-stop all day," he says. "Like Time Crisis 2. Everyone who loves arcade games has played Time Crisis 2. I think it’ll be played more than 1,000 times each day during these weekends", predicts Tonkas. 

The most popular game in the hall?
The most popular game in the hall?


On the other side of the hall people are queuing to play pinball. Not only Terminator 2 is popular, but also the newest games like Stern’s Game of Thrones get lots of attention.

Stern's Game of Thrones was expected to be highly popular too
Stern's Game of Thrones was expected to be highly popular too

Tonkas smiles. “If people are not able to play a game now, they are welcome to do so over the coming months in our regular facility here in Westerpark. Game of Thrones will be there as well."


During Ton Ton XL a few specials were in the line up as well:

  • Balls for Cthulu
    A pentagram-shaped pinball machine for five players. The outer case is constructed out of guitars, while the bumpers in the middle are connected to a drum machine.

Balls for Cthulu
Balls for Cthulu Click to expand

  • Pinball Pianola
    This pinball was more an art object than a game as such. By playing the piano keys you could control the flippers. The targets were the piano strings, and by hitting the various objects on the playfield you could switch effects such as echo, delay and fuzz, on or off.

Pinball Pianola
Pinball Pianola Click to expand

Ton Ton XL may have finished for this year, but the Ton Ton club continues to operate all year round in its two locations in Westerpark and in Amsterdam's red light district.

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