news & gossip reviews

A Rather Short Guide To Pinball At Shorty’s

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 11, October 2009

by Uglúk

Note: This list of pinball machines will surely change. Hopefully extra balls will be turned off for the annual tournament but there’s no telling.

SPEAKEASY:  Pinball gambling. Pay attention to the roulette wheel, especially after every ball, and avoid the dreaded Subtract-A-Ball “feature” at all costs. Leans to the left.

REVENGE FROM MARS:  Advancing to (and doing well in) Bonus Wave Multiball is handy for a solid score. Beware, this RFM’s tilt is dangerous and likes to carry over to the next player’s ball; always wait a minute or two before launching, especially after your opponent tilts.

CHAMPION PUB: Everyone’s favorite bare-knuckle boxing pinball machine! Shoot stuff and jump rope then hit the dude in the middle a bunch. Spitting gallery is easy points… door prize skill shot.

INDIANA JONES: Temple of Doom Multiball is a quick way to start racking points, I guess. Raiders of The Lost Ark Multiball is fun. Don’t ignore the Crystal Skull ramp. Shoot the Map Room a lot for more fun with bonus. EB’s abound.

’24’: Uhhhh, shooting the easy center ramp while it’s lit seems to do something. Suitcase Multiball is fairly lucrative. Moving on…

FATHOM: Now here’s a great machine for head-to-head battles. Lock the ball(s), then knock down those drop targets to release the locked ball(s) for old school multiball! (with 2X or even 3X playfield scoring!) It’s all there on the Instructions Card, if I remember correctly. Lighting and collecting the timed extra ball is a real challenge. Bonus is vital here, so don’t tilt… tilt too hard and you run the risk of tilting your competition’s turn, so be gentle or suffer the consequences!

THE ADDAMS FAMILY: Another classic game you don’t want to tilt because of the potentially gamebreaking bonus involved. Shoot the chair, shoot the ramp.  Kick ass at multiballs.  Victoly!

FAMILY GUY: Shoot the right spinner repeatedly to light the valuable TV modes. Stewie Pinball is where it’s really at, complete those shots for Stewie Multiball! A good Stewie Multiball coupled with Sexy Party or Good ‘Ol Boys (and/or Crazy Chris) should be enough for a dominating score.

BATMAN: Placing beer coasters over the searingly bright flashers so you can, you know, *see* is a good idea. Yeah. Lots of nudging is useful here. Balls like to get stuck in places, have fun with that.

STAR TREK: The Next Generation: Those outlanes are ruthless, keep ball away from them, obviously. Try forward nudges. Get comfortable with the right lock shot because Borg Multiball is the fast path to mountainous pinball success. Holodeck is easy points. Start Mission shot ain’t all that easy, timing out missions to get to The Final Frontier…?

EVEL KNIEVEL: Knock down them drop targets on the left for double bonus, then do it again for a precious EB. Shoot the lit spinner for rad points and stuff. And, seriously, don’t tilt ‘cuz it’ll make you lose.

SURF CHAMP: Rollover those rollover stars. Don’t even think of muscling this sucker around. Tilt it too hard and forfeit your whole game, fool.

NBA: New kooky pinball features spinning disc of random fun. Super fast game. I like shooting the right ramp.

MONSTER BASH: All the shots are very makeable. Collect monsters and instruments. Stay alive during multiballs to win.

TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS:  Spin the lamp to make it all lightningy.  Next, shoot the make-a-wish scoop and choose 3X lightnings. Now wail on the lamp and make mega-lightnings for massive points!! If that doesn’t work, a more conservative approach is in order…but I can’t help you there because I’m gonna make more mega-lightnings! Tilty.

MEDIEVAL MADNESS: Crush the castles! Both ramps are easy enough, don’t miss. No rubber on right outlane post makes it extra drainy lately.

news & gossip reviews

Money Money Money

by Bernard Blvd.

It’s time for another great new way to play pinball with your friends:  Dollars!

Dollars is a multiple player game during which each player strategically puts one of their own dollars on the playfield of a chosen pinball machine in an attempt to sabotage the other player(s) game.  So say you’ve got four people on Indiana Jones (the newest one).  Your friends would probably put dollars in the most obvious spots like:  Over the two scoops (there are bumpers behind them and the Sankara Stone scoop isn’t always open), hiding the magnet in front of the arc (that’s a good way to distract other players from an easy target for multiball), or covering the flippers (duh).

Their choices leave you free to be more careful with your own dollar placement.  A good spot would be over the plunger lane because you can cover the five choices for the skill shot.  Another place that could handicap your opponents is over the pegs on top of the side drains.  That’s a spot where most champs can save their ball by nudging the machine, so placing a dollar there increases your chances of crippling the competition and winning FOUR BUCKS!

Of course, you can put more than one dollar down, and have each player put in a dollar at the start of every ball.  Although this option is more profitable for the winner, playing ball three with twelve dollars covering the playfield is hard.  And most people can’t afford to spend three dollars to play pinball in this economy.

But some people are still rich.  Why not play five dollars?  A hundred?  With the stakes a lot higher, players could get so into the game that they try to actually move the dollars by shaking the machine.  What about a million?  Maybe someday James Bond will bet one hundred million dollars on one ball in a big budget 007 movie.  My suggestion for the title:  Goldflipper.

So you put in a buck, pick a spot that you think would be hard for your competition to play without being able to see it, and lay your money down.  You could win a million dollars!  But remember, betting money on pinball is illegal and we only “play flipper skill games for fun and recreation”, so if the cops show up, grab that dough and run.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

news & gossip reviews

Right Here Right Now

By Bernard Blvd.

Introducing another great new way to play pinball:  Skill Shot’s NOW!  The point of NOW! is to switch players mid-turn with whoever happens to be playing and standing closest to you.  When you reach a point during play where the ball is suspended for a period of time, loudly say “NOW!” and the player you choose to go next hops onto the flippers.  In choosing that player, you must believe in their ability to keep the ball in play, and to not get caught off guard and drain the ball immediately.  The surprise of the switch can sometimes throw people off, so everyone playing has to be prepared to jump in when they hear “NOW!”.

A good time to shout “NOW!” would be before a multiball (when the ball is locked and the dot-matrix display is going multiball crazy), when the ball lands in a scoop, or when the game starts up a mode.  More advanced players of NOW! can do it when the ball goes around a ramp or even when it is going up the playfield after hitting the flipper.  This last option leaves little time for the next player to react, so remember to only do that move if they are an expert of the game.

NOW! is great for playing with people in a bar or social setting, because you can stop playing in the middle of your turn without wasting the ball or giving up the game.  This might free you up when a friend shows up that you want to talk to, or if it is your turn to buy the next pitcher and your friends are getting thirsty.  NOW! is a Round and Round type of game, as the nature of it doesn’t allow for score keeping or typical three ball games.  NOW! is a fun way to interact socially while practicing America’s favorite pastime, Pinball!

Coming up next:  Dollars!

news & gossip reviews

Room For Cream?

By Bernard Boulevard

It’s time for another new fun way to play pinball:  Skill Shot’s newest creation, HALF AND HALF!!

Known to some players as Flippers, Half and Half is a great way to find out which flipper works best for you in a pinball game.  If you suck playing only the left flipper, you might see that right flipper in a different light.

Each player takes a flipper, and an (optional) third player pulls the plunger.  The object of the game is the same as with any ball in any pinball game:  Keep the ball in play! Novices will find it strange to have no control over the opposite flipper, while experienced players will learn how to control the ball in a way that involves trusting the other player’s ability.  Being able to guess your partner’s next move is a key factor.  If you know that they can hit the trapped balls for Stewie Pinball with ease, you can bounce the ball from your flipper to your partner’s to the best effect.  But you must be sure!  If your partner isn’t paying attention or doesn’t know what he’s doing (hello Jerry!), the ball will just roll down the drain.

Playing Half and Half is the best in bars, because you have a free hand for your beer.  No more getting poisoned!  And you can include friends that normally wouldn’t play (like with Round and Round) because there is very little commitment or chance for embarrassment.  Half and Half is basically a Round and Round style game:  Each ball speaks for itself.  You can play a full game with Half and Half, but each player has to commit to a flipper.  There’s just no way to regulate the game play and scores when everyone switches flippers all the time.  The fun is in the interactivity of the game.  You are face to face with your partner, and can share ideas on the game.  Teamwork makes the dream work!

Other reasons why Half and Half rocks:

  1. To get rid of the last ball of a player who’s name just got called for pool.
  2. You can take your friend’s turn while they’re making out.
  3. If your partner drains the ball, you can blame it all on him/her.
  4. If you drain the ball, you can blame all it on Half and Half.

Coming up next:  Skill Shot’s NOW!


Uncover the Clues

The first new Stern pinball release of 2009, CSI made its debut at Shorty’s recently and we were thrilled to finally get a chance to check it out. The first thing you will notice when seeing the game is the fairly unexciting back glass, which is just the television show’s logo and the faces of the various characters from the show. Unless you are a fan of CSI they are just a bunch of regular looking people looking back at you sternly. But that doesn’t matter since unlike other television and movie based pins the game itself isn’t about the characters but is actually about investigating a crime scene.

On CSI pinball there are different shots, such as the spinners, that will compare various finger prints or compile composite mug shots. Going to the pop bumpers is the equivalent of taking photographs of the crime scene, while hitting the scoop will take you to the Ballistics Lab where bullets are examined, or (if the drop targets have been hit) strands of DNA examined. Like other recent pins, starting these modes usually light up different shots on the playfield that are designated by flashing arrows that you then have to shoot for, all with the purpose of (supposedly) solving a crime. And of course, getting points.

There are lots of easy ways to get multi-balls on this game and the most obvious one is the big skull in the upper left corner. The only way to get to the skull is by going up the (only) center ramp, and once you’ve done it enough times the balls become trapped in the eye sockets and begin a multi-ball. If you are at a crime scene, there’s usually a dead body involved so that’s where the skull comes in. It’s nice to see a big skull in a pinball machine, even if it’s a sort of flat looking one. Too bad they didn’t put that on the back glass: a big skull (that’d be cool)!

The second obvious way to get a multi-ball on CSI is the centrifuge which is in the middle of the playfield. While the centrifuge is used for spinning blood samples on the show, in the game it’s for spinning (surprise) pinballs! Shoot the ball in the centrifuge and watch it spin around a bunch of times (a la Pirates of the Caribbean). Do the shot over and over, and when the centrifuge counts down to zero you’ll get a multi-ball. Just watch out for when the ball comes out of the centrifuge because it often drops straight down the middle. It’s a good idea to nudge the game a bit just as the ball is leaving the centrifuge because, while there is a center post just below the flippers, it rarely seems to work well and should only be relied on if you’re feeling lucky.

The third way to get a multi-ball is by shooting the microscope which has different colored flashing lights and a looping lane under it. Sometimes the ball just shoots through the lane and back to the flippers quickly! At other times a magnet stops the ball and begins a mode where different shots light up on the playfield that you need to hit in order to collect evidence. There are three different sections of evidence to collect that are designated by the different colors and once you’ve collected all of a particular color you get a multi-ball! The evidence collecting is our favorite because it mentions interesting things like insects, gun shot residue (GSR) and bite marks. It almost makes you want to watch the show!

The first shot of the game is of course the skill shot which is quite easy to see and figure out. It’s similar to the Wheel of Fortune skill shot because you have to shoot the ball just barely to the top of the playfield for it to drop back into the designated spot. Shoot it too hard and the ball goes to the pop bumpers and if you do it too softly it falls back to the flippers. One nice difference from the WoF skill shot is that when you shoot it too softly and it falls back to the flippers, you can let it drain without hitting anything and the game will let you do the shot over and over until you either make the skill shot or hit something that gives you points (like the pop bumpers). It’s a nice way to practice doing a skill shot, especially for people who don’t play pinball very often.

All in all the game was better than we expected it to be. While CSI isn’t as engagingly fun as Family Guy is with its Chicken Fight, Stewie Pinball and Farting, it does have multi-balls that are either easy to get or at least easy to figure out; the crime investigating theme is interesting; there’s a third flipper which hasn’t been seen on the past few Stern releases; and the looping lane adds a fun twist. There’s lots of animations that appear on the screen that are nicely done and the game gives you a bit of time to check them out before shooting the ball back into play (when it’s in the Lab). Plus there’s a big skull and that’s always cool! Did we already say that we think that Skulls are cool?