Pinball wizard shares why the game isn't as random as it looks

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/24/pinball-wizard-shares-why-the.html

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Obligs…

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You can always tell the inexperienced players by the way they work the flippers. People who are new to pinball tend to use them both in unison, and usually whack them really fast. A really good player will do something like predict the ball’s path, hold one flipper so that the ball rolls down and off like a ramp onto the tip of the other flipper in order to line up a shot.

Anyway, the best advice I can offer is to find somewhere that has free-play so you can just get comfortable with the physics involved. Once you can start to intuit the path the ball is taking, and at what point along the flipper you need to hit the button to get a desired path, the rest will eventually fall in place. Once you get comfortable enough with that, you’ll feel less worried about fixating on the drain and instead spend more time following the ball and planning on where you want it to go. After that you’ll start to learn how to slow the game down, how to build up the speed needed to get through the ramps, stuff like that. It all kind of fills in naturally.

From there it’s just a matter of learning individual machines. Being good at pinball isn’t that different than being good at any other sort of arcade game. There’s a baseline set of skills, but every game has its differences. It also helps if you learn how to tell if a machine has been maintained or not. If it hasn’t been waxed in a long time, the ball may not even be able to get enough speed to allow you to play the entire board, for example. (Basically, it should be shiny in there. If the board looks very flat and dull, chances are it hasn’t been waxed in awhile, and the ball is going to be sluggish and harder to control.)

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I thought I was the Bally table king.

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Now, the real skill at pinball is finding a machine to play. I haven’t seen one near me in years.

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Fear not! Pinball is slowly making a comeback! Pinball and arcade halls in general are making a slow comeback, particularly as 21+ establishments. Turns out adults actually like arcades more than kids, they just don’t go because of the kids–something like that.

(♩I know all we’re doing is traveling… without moving♩ This is your fault, you know?)

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b8b

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One of the best lost games - right up theirwith bar shuffleboard- those long bowling alley like tables.

“It’s like Coke in green glass bottles; they don’t make it anymore.”

I used to be an arcade rat during the summers. The Addam’s Family pinball game in the video is hands down my favorite machine from back then. That and the four-player beat-em-ups (X-Men, TMNT, Simpsons, D&D) hold some of my fondest memories.

My office has a games room that has a bunch of video game consoles, some gaming computers with VR setups, ping pong tables, pinball machines, and some board games.

The hot thing earlier this year were the VR setups. Everybody wanted to try the Oculus, Vive, and Playstation VR games. These days I rarely see somebody with a headset on. I’m one of the people here that feels sick after a few minutes with it on.

The pinball machines though… they get constant use.

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Given we are on BB, I rather think that THIS is the obligatory one: :wink:

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Strategic use of bumping is absolutely part of high level pinball play. You see pros leaning heavily against the machine so as to be ready to bump it at any instant.

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Who’s Alec? If you’re making a “Jeopardy!” reference, that would be Alex.

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The answer is "His first name is ‘Smart’ " . Your answer, in the form of a question, is correct.

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That’s all great and all, but the important question is: Where can I find this Amelia Earhart pinball game???

If you’re a fan of pinball and can’t find any close to you to play, Pinball Arcade is available for PC and XBox One (and maybe other consoles.)

They have a plethora of real tables modeled from the 50’s right up to brand new, modern tables and the physics seem spot on to me. Next best thing to playing the real tables.

(I also like Pinball FX, but their physics don’t feel quite right compared to Pinball Arcade and they lean more towards “fantasy” tables that couldn’t be made IRL. It’s still lots of fun, just the tables aren’t authentic real tables.)

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I’m really sorry to hear about Playland closing (again).

I played a little competition pinball back in the 70s. If a machine is in good shape there is practically no randomness at all.

Check out https://pinballmap.com/, you might be surprised.

Unfortunately, Farsight Studios, the developers of Pinball Arcade, have lost the license to all of the Bally/Williams games. This leaves them with just Stern and Gottlieb. Anyone who bought the tables prior to expiration will still have access to them, but it makes it much harder to recommend the game since many of the tables that people would recognize are no longer available.

Another avenue worth looking into if you’re a PC player is Zacaria Pinball:

Chances are pretty good that you haven’t heard of these tables before, but they are well represented and offer some pretty unique experiences. The simulation plays pretty well too.

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