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.

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

Basic Pinball Arsenal

by Uglúk

So, you love pinball but can’t seem to get awesome scores on your favorite game? I can tell what you’re doing wrong, flailer. First of all, stop pounding on the flippers all the damn time! UNLESS you’re attempting a…

  • SLAP SAVE  – This desperation technique is reserved for when the ball appears to be careening straight down the middle (SDTFM). Slap the nearest flipper first and then the other flipper immediately next. Hopefully that slap will help graze the ball enough for the second flipper to shoot the ball safely away from the center drain. A little side nudge could help. Don’t flip the flippers at the same time and don’t tilt.
  • BOUNCE PASS/DEAD FLIPPER  – Pretty self explanatory here. Rather than flipping away at every ball, lay off the button and let the incoming ball bounce off one flipper across to the other flipper. This move requires a lot of experimentation until you figure out the angles that work but the middle of the flipper is usually safe for bounce passes. A little nudge can help here as well. Once it bounces over to the other flipper you should have a nice controlled shot or for ultimate control, you can trap the ball (umm… that’s holding the ball with the flipper up).


-Watch other pinball players, especially the good ones. You might learn something.

-Keep your freakin’ hands on the machine.

-Keep your fingers light, don’t hold in the buttons so long.