tips & tricks

Pinball Arsenal – Beyond Basics

by Uglúk

Greetings.  Uglúk here again to impart some ancient old-ass pinball wisdom.  Last time we learned about Slap Saves and Bounce Passes, now we have to round out our skill set with a few slightly more deliberate pinball control techniques.  Fair warning:  these things all need to be witnessed in person to be truly understood.

HOLD (UP) PASS – This one’s easy but majorly handy.  Simply hold up the flipper as the ball is heading down the inlane towards it, and if the ball has enough velocity it will roll off the tip over to the other flipper.  A well-timed push/nudge can really help the ball clear the gap and keep it under control.  If the ball is really flying try raising the receiving flipper as the ball is being passed, this can take some speed off.  The Hold Pass is utilized VERY often by skilled players, so try it.

POST PASS – Here’s an extremely useful move requiring fairly precise timing and touch.  Trap the ball on a flipper then quickly drop the flipper and hit it again rapidly.  Ideally, the ball should transfer to the opposite upraised flipper.  Some pins are harder than others to successfully Post Pass on (some can seem nigh impossible…).  Ask somebody to demonstrate it, it’s pretty fun to be able to Post Pass back and forth between the flippers at will.

DROP CATCH/DROP STOP – Catch that evil ball!  So let’s say the ball didn’t quite make it up a ramp and is now screaming right back to a flipper.  Instead of wildly flipping at it — hold the flipper up in anticipation of the incoming ball, and right as the ball makes contact with said flipper, Drop the flipper.  If the timing and angles are correct, the ball should Stall right on the flipper and slowly roll down, allowing a measured shot.  You may even be able to trap the ball if it stalls near the base of the flipper.  Drop Catches are not necessarily easy and can get you into trouble… Oh, like when sometimes (or a lot of times) the ball won’t stall and instead will happily ricochet off somewheres.  Also you gotta have good reflexes for when it doesn’t quite work out and the ball attempts to rocket down the lowered flipper out of sight down the middle… that’s not a Drop Catch, that’s a Drop Drop.  Uglúk does not recommend getting good at Drop Drops.

PINBALL PERFORMANCE ENHANCERS? – Some players swear they play better pinball when under the influence of certain mind-altering substances.  Sure, adult beverages can definitely help one loosen up but they can also lead to diminished reaction times and sloppy shooting.  Some pinballers claim there exists a fungus with magical properties that will give you like a billion points.  In any event, endurance is definitely required during marathon pinball sessions.  Uglúk recommends some exercise and fresh-squeezed carrot juice.  Have fun, eh.

tips & tricks

Cheat Codes and Secret Modes

via The Duchess of Bourbon (certified Atheist)

Episode 2: Addams Family (collectors ed.) Multiball with Mansion Awards!

Ever start doing awesome mid-game and wish you could start a new game from that point on?  Well, you can if you are playing Addams Family!  It has to be the collectors edition, of which only 1000 were made, and thank god (who doesn’t exist) there’s one at Shorty’s.  There’s a pretty sweet secret trick which allows you to start a new game mid-multiball. It requires sacrificing a credit, but if you’re on ball 3 or just want to show off your fancy pants, then it’s totally worth it.

The Secret:

Put multiple credits in the machine and start a game.  You’ll probably want to do a one player game, because once you do the trick, you are essentially just starting a new game and any other players will be lost, bye bye.  Just make sure there is still a credit once you start your game.

Start a game as normal, and once you’ve lit Greed and locked the first two balls, make sure to hit it in the Chair to start Multiball (not the Vault aka Bermuda Triangle like you should normally aim for).


The first ball shoots out of swamp kickout (on the right), then you’ll hear the second of your impending multiballs kick over from the chair to the swamp. Right before it shoots out, hit the Start button. Ta Da! New game starts, the balls continue shooting out for your Multiball, and jackpots are still lit; you are automatically in Multiball with either Mamushka or Cousin It running.  You will now be on Ball 1 of your next game with 3 balls and mansion lighting possibilities with jackpots!  Wowee!  If you can take advantage of the ridiculous point scoring possibilities (I always mess it up right away), that could be awesome!

The Breakdown:

1: Start game with credit +1

2: Get multiball in the Chair

3: First ball shoots out of Swamp

4: Listen for the second ball to kick over to the Swamp

5: Hit Start right before it shoots out… cha ching!

6: Kick ass and get billions of points on ball 1 of your fancy new game.

news & gossip

Skill Shot #10 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 10, September 2009

Wow, tons of stuff has happened since our last issue! We succeeded in getting out the last issue of Skill Shot in time for the 2nd Annual Northwest Pinball and Game Room Show (aka PAGS) which was held at Seattle Center on June 12-14th. It was tons of fun with lots of free pinball once you paid the admission fee (or volunteered like some of us did).

Some of the notable games this year were: Tommy (which has blinds that cover the flipper area); Orbitor 1 (with a crazy optical illusion playfield); Black Hole (that has a lower reversed playfield); Iron Maiden (a rare German pin); Fire! (with a LOUD bell); and Twin Win (which we had never played before despite it being featured on the cover of issue #3). Old favorites that we don’t get to play very often were also there like Whirlwind, Baywatch, The Shadow and Whitewater (which was also a raffle prize!). All the games at the show are owned by private collectors and one thing that a few of them did this year was place info cards on top of the machines that gave interesting tidbits such as the year and make of the game and other trivia. It was very cool and we hope that others will do the same thing next year.

The arcade game section was much larger this year and had its own room. If you were lucky you had a chance to see Steve Wiebe (from the movie King of Kong) play Donkey Kong in person! Naturally there were also various pinball celebrities in attendance, such as Dennis Nordman (Pirates of the Caribbean), Greg Freres (Fathom) and Steve Richie (No Fear, STTNG). There were also many world ranked pinball players at the show because of the IFPA sanctioned pinball tournament and many people were thrilled to be able to watch them ply their trade in Seattle. Some of the players (who are currently ranked in the top 20) in attendance were Keith Elwin (currently #2), the Sharpe brothers (#’s 4 & 6), Neil Shatz (#12) and of course Seattle’s own Cayle George (#14).

Like last year the tournament took place along the back side of the show space and had games that were only available to people in the tournament (like Flash and Theatre of Magic). For $10 anyone could enter the tourney and play these tables. Some of the NW locals who entered and did very well were Jamie Beth, Jeff Groper, Roya Naini , Bonnie Bedford (this year’s Powder Puff Champ), Darren Catlin (Novice Champ) and Julie Gray (Women’s Champ). The overall champion of the tournament was Eden Stamm from Vancouver BC who won both the Classics and the Open Tournament. Good show you guys!

Another good showing that weekend was by everyone who wore their brand new Skill Shot t-shirt to PAGS! Featuring the cover from issue #5, these darlings were the talk of all the pinball fashonistas and also sported the wearer’s very own pinball initials on the back! We rushed to get them ready and were ironing on the letters late into the night so that everyone could wear them to the show. They look pretty cool if you ask us. Unfortunately (for you) they are sold out.

Another highlight of that weekend was the after party at Add-a-ball Amusements in Fremont on Saturday night. Add-a-Brad (the owner) has a great collection of electro-mechanical pins in his shop including Jumping Jack, which is one of the top ranking EM machines according to the International Pinball Database ( The Skill Shot crew met lots of cool people (and a dog) at the party that had lots of pinball, beer, puking and a long walk home for Timmy!

Summer is the time for pinball parties around Seattle and the one at Rodney’s on the 4th of July was a hoot! We arrived sort of late but still were able to cram in a fireworks war, a hoola hoop contest, hot tub wrestling and (of course) a ton of pinball into our short late night visit. We were in ecstasy! Another awesome party was James Edes50th Birthday Party on August 1st which featured 50 (mostly) working pinball machines! It was like being at a mini PAGS with all the great games (like Embryon and Spectrum), an awesome cake and a tournament that not only lasted late into the night, but also qualified the players for IFPA points!

Other great parties that we didn’t make it to included the one for the PAGS volunteers at Lou Perazzoli’s, Keith and Dave’s Full Tilt 2009 birthday bash (with pinball outside on the deck), and Andrew Nunes’ Summer (solstice) Soiree which had a Future Spa machine that Brian Headley loved so much that he added one to the collection he is building in his apartment! Groper apparently has a bunch of new games at his place too, but we haven’t actually seen or played them yet (sniff sniff). This makes us think that we should get a pin for the Skill Shot office since we have the space for one. Anyone have a suggestion? (hint hint)

After a recent visit to Headley’s we stopped at the Redwood to play Tee’d Off and were pleasantly surprised to discover a Baby Pac-man. At least we were pleased until our ball got stuck on a piece of duct tape that was used to repair the playfield! Duct tape, really? The game was so wobbly that there was no way to dislodge it without tilting and it was kind of funny in a way. Space Age Amusements who (owns the games there) sometimes gets a bad rap for having sub par pins out on location, but we think we should still give them some props for maintaining as many games as they do. Recently we’ve heard rumors that the owner Marc O’Farrell was thinking about getting out of the business (after 30 years!), but he says that isn’t the case and he keeps adding locations such as a new spot opening soon in Burien with 6 games! Just no more duck tape please.

Speaking of things that are not well kept, many of you may have noticed that the Skill Shot web site hasn’t been updated since last October. Oops. That is soon to change as we are currently working with people to build a new site with a different URL (soon to be announced). Meanwhile the Skill Shot page at Myspace still has our most up to date Pinball List available on the internet. Check it out:

While a few places have gotten rid of their pinball machines this summer (Ozzies, Nite Lite, Teddy’s Tavern) a bunch of new places with pins have opened up! Add-a-ball Amusements of course was mentioned last issue (and this one too). Other new pinball venues are: Full Tilt 2 in Columbia City (4 pins); The Lookout (Frankenstein); and the Tiger Lounge in Georgetown that has 5 EM games (with more on the way) supplied by Silver Age/Silver Ball. Dominique, the operator of Silver Age is a great guy and he is really passionate about the older games. He’s even been building one in his basement! We love him (and gal pal Destiny) and you should too, because they helped print back issues of Skill Shot so we could give them away at PAGS. Meanwhile back at the Tiger Lounge, we’ve heard plans about a tournament they are planning for the weekend of October 24th. It will be a roving tournament with pins supplied by various private owners who won’t install the games at the venue until a few days before the event. Sounds intriguing….

Another intriguing event happened during 4th Place Andrew’s birthday party at Shorty’s when we released our other zine Chicken With Penis, and introduced the first CWP Half and Half Pinball Tournament. As you may remember Half and Half is when two-player teams compete, with one person controlling each flipper. Since this was a CWP tournament we introduced a twist at the last moment by whipping out XXXL t-shirts that both players had to wear at the same time, which then made it a Siamnese Twin Pinball Tournament! We were able to keep it a secret and some of the better players were thrown off their game, especially when a taller player like Maka was teamed up with a less tall player like Add-a-Brad. The twist worked better than expected as we got to observe a Timmy and Jason love-fest inside their shirt, and (tournament winners) Cheese Boat & Alena kicking a frisky fella out of their shirt. Skill Shot contributors Geoffro and T-Bone also participated, but for some reason the lovely Nycole stayed on the side lines. (Aww…)The top 3 teams received original CWP t-shirts hand drawn by Gordon2. Jealous!

Meanwhile after a slow summer the weekly Sunday Pinball Tournament at Shorty’s is beginning to pick up again. The main organizer Paul had a baby (well, sort of) earlier this year, but now he is ready to get things moving. These Sunday Tournaments are fun and a great way to meet people who also love the sport. Not to mention a convenient way to watch some of the better players in the area up close and personal (as they trounce all our asses). Sign up begins at 6, and no they don’t have Coca Cola!

In other related tourney news: PAPA 11(Professional/Amateur Pinball Association) World Pinball Championships in Carnegie, PA happened in August (Keith Elwin won) and according to everyone who went it was a lot of fun. Imagine our surprise when a recent visit to Facebook revealed that PAPA organizer Kevin Martin is an old school chum of Skill Shot’s own Bernard Boulevard! Guess where we’ll be next year?

Back at Shorty’s we were surprised to discover that the new Stern release NBA had replaced the (still sort of new) CSI machine. Part of our surprise was that we didn’t even notice the new game until we were there for over an hour because the new Stern games look so similar to each other. Like their last release 24, NBA doesn’t have a skill shot so we are kind of bummed about that, but it seems like a fun game, as long as Avout can keep that spinner on the playfield working.

In other news: Hooverville, that had a fire earlier this year, will be reopening soon (September?) and yes there will be pinball! As before, Shorty’s will be providing the games so maybe we will see the return of Wheel of Fortune to Seattle? We hope so. Avout is still unsure if the Centaur that was damaged in the fire is salvageable, but the game may soon be opened up for inspection.

And ELF was on tour and missed it all!

pinball sez

pinball sez #5

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

Skill Shot #9 News & Gossip

Originally published in Skill Shot issue 9, June 2009

The 2009 Powder Puff Pinball Tournament happened May 17th at Shorty’s and it was so much fun! 28 ladies signed up in the double elimination head to head competition that was hosted by Larry Reid, who also hosts the Annual Shorty’s Tournament as well as the recent one in Georgetown. Many of the area’s top female players were there including Julie Gray (Powder Puff winner for 2007) and Nycole Hyatt, who was the top scoring female at the last two open tournaments. Skill Shot caused a bit of a stir by premiering our super-limited edition t-shirts, because we didn’t have any extras to sell. Elizabeth and Savannah were good sports and agreed to be our Powder Puff t-shirt models for the day- and Savannah actually did very well in the tournament, tying with Naomi for 6th place! The grand prize was a Night Rider pinball machine which was won by Bonnie Bedford of Vancouver BC, who narrowly beat Jamie Beth by just 160 points! Other prizes for the event included t-shirts, Jagermeister thongs, and a PBR tent! Check out for pictures of the tournament.

Speaking of PBR: Our last issue was rushed from the printers so that we could hand them out at PBR Customer Appreciation Night at Shorty’s on April 1st (which actually fooled some people). Shorty’s sells the most PBR in Seattle (#2 in the state) and besides having lots of the usual give-aways (t-shirts, stickers, etc), almost all of the pinball machines were set to free play for the night. The Shorty’s/PBR beer mugs were the most sought-after freebie and by the end of the night, if you weren’t holding on to yours tightly, you risked having it snatched from under your nose (right, Geoffro?).

Another tournament that happened recently was at Ground Kontrol in Portland Oregon on April 19th. They had 120 contestants for the event, which lasted a whopping 16 hours! Seattle didn’t have a lot of players there that weekend despite many of the plans we heard beforehand, but a few of those who did go represented Seattle well, with ELF and MAK tying for 9th place and Cayle George cementing his standing as one of the Pacific Northwest’s best players by winning the whole thing.

In other regional news, we recently took a trip to Tacoma to check out their pinball scene. Our first stop was Hell’s Kitchen, which has a nice pin area featuring a very nice The Shadow machine. We loved playing this game since there isn’t one available in Seattle, and the Doctor Who game was nice too. Over at Tower Lanes, the Super Mario Bros. pinball machine had the volume set at ear-piercing levels – which was quickly fixed when Stan the pinball repair dude showed up less than 20 minutes after being called! We were impressed. Although we only hit those two spots, the locals happily informed us of other good places to go, including a Whirl Wind game at a hotel (!). We’ll be back!

Meanwhile, back in Seattle: May 25th was the grand opening of Add-a-Ball Amusments in Fremont. Part scooter repair shop, part pinball hall, Add-a-Ball plans on having EM (electro-mechanical) pinball machines, including a few European ones that are rarely seen in the States. Dominique of Silver Age Silver Ball naturally has some of his games there since EM pins are what he distributes, and Add-a-Brad (Add-a-Ball’s owner) hopes to turn more people on to these classic games. Go there NOW!

Another new addition to the Seattle pinball community (besides Avout’s new baby) is Stern’s latest release, 24. We haven’t played enough to have a super confirmed opinion about it but the fact that there is not a skill shot doesn’t leave us feeling too positive for obvious reasons. Still there’s plenty of easy to get multi-balls so that’s cool. We were sad to see Wheel of Fortune removed to make room for it though since it was the only one around and it seemed as if people were finally warming up to the game (it was interesting to play, but suffered from a dorky theme). Bring Back WoF!!!

On June 12-14 the NW Pinball and Game Room Show returns to Seattle Center for what looks to be an exciting weekend! Over 200 different pinball and arcade games will be set at free play and we are hyped to play some of these rarely seen machines. A few of the pins we’re looking forward to include games that were featured on past covers of Skill Shot (Spectrum, Twin Win) and other machines that we haven’t seen since last year’s show (Banzai Run, Pharoah). There’s also tons of cool arcade games (Berzerk!), guest speakers, tournaments, and prizes, and it should be tons of fun. (For more details go to Look for us at the show and say “Hi!”. We’ll be handing out zines in our fancy Skill Shot t-shirts.

And if you act quickly, you too can get a fancy Skill Shot t-shirt! We’re printing up a limited edition shirt with the cover of issue #5 on the front, plus (while supplies last) you’ll get 3 iron-on letters so you can put your pinball initials on the back. Gnarly! Ask about them when you see us, or shoot us an email at

Another thing you’ll want to ask us about is the first ever Skill Shot Half and Half Tournament. Half and Half is a team game with one person on each flipper (introduced in Skill Shot #7), so pick your partner now and be ready to sign up for fun and fabulous prizes! Email us for more details.

tips & tricks

Cheat Codes and Secret Modes

via The Duchess of Bourbon

Up up down down left right – wait a minute, this isn’t Contra! We play pinball, but cheat codes and secret modes can still be a part of our life. Some of our most beloved pinball games have fun little secrets that can offer you multiballs, bonus scoring, alternate modes, or even a fresh audio track. All it takes is a few simple maneuvers or flicking the flippers in a particular pattern and such a prize can be yours.

Episode 1: Monster Bash
Ever get annoyed or just bored with the same old audio? Try this little trick to start the game in “Lyman’s Lament,” a mode where all shots get you a bit of wisdom from the game’s programmer, Lyman Sheats. It’s pretty funny, and fun to show off.

With two credits on the machine, begin a one player game.

Before launching the ball, hit both flippers, then the left flipper 11 times, then the right flipper once, left 5 times, right once, left 6 times, and the right once more and you should hear “Totally”. Plunge your ball and get it in the scoop, and cha ching! The music will change, “Lyman’s Lament” will appear on the screen and you’ll hear a distinctly different god-like voice coming from the machine in front of you, and it’s nothing short of magical:  It will blow your mind, change your life, make you a much better pinball player, and slightly more attractive, I promise…

They appear to have played around a bunch when programming this game. In addition to the Lyman’s Lament supertrick-cheat code awesomeness (which by the way, if you’ll notice, spells KEF, Mr. Sheats’s pinball initials perhaps?), there’s also a 50 million bonus when you get Monsters of Rock with at least 110 million points, if and only if Monster Bash mode has not been played. Good to know, huh?

So anyhoo, have fun playing, and stay tuned for more fun tricks and hidden modes on such classics as Addams Family, Attack From Mars, Junkyard and more…

Again that’s:

Put quarters in
Press Start
Both Flippers
Left x 11
Right x 1
Left x 5
Right x 1
Left x 6
Right x 1
Plunge and hit Scoop!

news & gossip tips & tricks

“Make It So”

by Geoffro

After eight (and a half) successful issues of  Skill Shot, we thought it was about time to print an article concerning our namesake. And since the cover of our latest issue features the lovely Lt. Worf from the backglass of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we figured, why not talk about the skill shot from this classic game? Most machines’ skill shots are fairly straightforward affairs, and often simply hitting a lit target will do the trick. Star Trek’s opening shot, however, is a bit more complex.

After you’ve popped in your quarters and have been welcomed aboard the Starship Enterprise by Captain Picard, you’re faced with five different skill shot options cycling across the display. Just pull the plunger (in this case the trigger) when the option you want is on the screen (pressing the flipper buttons will cycle through them faster). Make sure not to dawdle or they’ll flash by too quickly to make an accurate selection.

Start Mission immediately activates one the game’s seven modes:  Battle Simulation, Time Rift, Q’s Challenge, Worm Hole, Asteroid Threat, Rescue, or Search the Galaxy.  These are all fun to play and of course have the potential to yield a significant amount of points.

Flipper Skill Shot gives you a limited amount of time to shoot for the Beta Quadrant (the right ramp).  A successful shot will award a random bonus – sometimes even an extra ball or special!

Launch Probe allows you to immediately utilize Star Trek’s most intriguing feature, the two plastic guns sitting on top of the slingshots. Launch Probe lights a flashing shot and sends the ball to one of the guns, which will then begin to rotate back and forth allowing you to pull the trigger and shoot the ball out onto the playfield. Hit the lit shot in time and collect a random award!

Light Lock is as straightforward as it sounds – although Light Lock lights AND locks the ball, advancing you towards multiball. This option can only be selected twice per game – the third time around Light Holodeck will appear instead, which is by no means a bad thing. Shooting the Holodeck (the Right Orbit) will allow you to access the game’s video mode Shuttle Simulation.

Warp Factor 4:  This requires a brief explanation of Warp Factors. Warp Factors are increased by hitting the Spinner (the Left Orbit) and the Delta Quadrant (the Left Ramp). Each advance in Warp Factor (from 1 to 9) yields a unique bonus of some sort (WF 8 is an Extra Ball and WF 9 starts Factor 9 Mode). So… selecting Warp Factor 4 as your skill shot gets you almost halfway there! Not bad…

As you can see, Star Trek’s skill shot possibilities are nearly as endless as the universe itself! Choose your skill shot and “Make it So.”