Hot Shot

There was a bowling alley bar in Missoula that I would sometimes frequent with my friends. In the corner of the watering hole was a basketball hot shot game. Trouble visualizing what I am talking about? It was a coin-operated game consisting of a mini basketball hoop with netted sides that would challenge you to sink as many baskets as possible in a certain amount of time. But there was something unique about this particular hot shot game…

For those brave or drunk enough, you could challenge a certain talented bartender to a shootout. Now I don’t remember her name, but she was barely five feet tall and didn’t necessarily look like a basketball all-star. But once she pressed the “START” button on the game and those mini basketballs were released down the ramp, it was lights out.

This is how the challenge worked: The bar patron would pay for him/herself and the bartender to play. The challenger would go first and register a score. It was then up to the bartender to beat it. If she did, you simply lost your money. If she didn’t, you won a free drink. But trust me, from what I saw, that bar never needed to pour any complimentary beer.

I love these basketball “hot shot” arcade games. This one is similar to the one at the bar.

As someone who has frequented many arcades ranging from major chains like Dave & Buster’s to the Spokane family-owned Wonderland my family visited this past weekend, I believe there is one common game that provides the greatest value of them all: Hot Shot Basketball.

Although arcades have evolved over the years, hot shot has remained a mainstay along with skee ball and air hockey. Any entertainment center worth a damn will have multiple basketball games to play and with good reason…

1. Cost – Hot shot won’t eat up your credits. For those looking to waste your money in quick fashion, you can play the newest shoot ‘em up gun game for $3 or you can spend a couple quarters and pretend to be Michael Jordan sinking last second shots.

2. Redemption – Not only is hot shot cheap, but you earn tickets for playing it. So if you are set on winning a couple pieces of candy or a toy ring, you can achieve your goal by shooting basketballs. Playing life-sized 3D Pac-Man won’t satisfy your sweet tooth.

3. Competition – Hot shot tests your accuracy and stamina, two things that carry bragging rights. Sidney and I went back-and-forth last weekend trying to beat each other. One year in elementary school at our end of the year ice cream social/carnival, I spent my entire time at the hot shot station, determined to register the highest score out of everyone at the event.


Despite all my hot shot experience leading up to that one night in the Missoula bar, I still couldn’t beat the bartender. But perhaps all that experience isn’t worth that much in the first place because Sidney still beats me more often than not. Regardless of how good or bad I really am, I do know one thing––I love hot shot. Don’t Blink.

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