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  • What do you see when you look at a pinball machine?

  • I kind of see, like, a giant slot machine.

  • There's shiny things and bright lights.

  • Letters that don't mean anything that aren't linked up to anything.

  • It's just designed for beeps and boops.

  • But what happens if you do this?

  • And what if you do it again?

  • And again?

  • This is how you're meant to play pinball.

  • And while a casual player might see a bunch of blinking lights, a skilled pinball player

  • sees a map.

  • People tend to get overwhelmed by pinball because they think the game is random.

  • I never know what to look at.

  • Every time I play, I feel like the ball just goes wherever the hell it wants to go.

  • I'm just, like, hitting things aggressively and hoping it works out.

  • But just like any arcade game, you can learn how to get better.

  • Don't take it from me, though.

  • My name is Roger Sharpe, and I have been playing pinball for far too long.

  • There's so much luck here, not skill.

  • I'm breaking the bank and I don't even know what I'm doing!

  • Well, what you're doing kinetically is manipulating flippers to hit a ball, and you're going

  • in a certain line of action when the ball's down on the flipper.

  • That is skill.

  • I think the biggest hurdle for most people is that they think that the ball is not controllable.

  • And if the game is working against you, it makes sense to just jump from game to game

  • and try your luck.

  • Right?

  • Well, no, each game was different.

  • Each game had different geometry; each game had different rules.

  • Even though each game is unique, there are common elements to look for on any pinball

  • machine.

  • At the bottom, you've got a plunger to get the ball going and flippers that keep it from

  • draining and hit it toward targets.

  • Knowing how to use these is the key to the game.

  • But If you're like me, you probably use flippers like this:

  • When you're supposed to play like this:

  • If you can slow things down, it's to your advantage.

  • Just above the flippers are slingshots.

  • They add a little chaos to the ball's path.

  • The middle of the board is where you'll usually find target banks, like this one,

  • that spell out a word, and chutes, which will take your ball and kick it out somewhere else

  • on the play field.

  • And there's always these guys: jet bumpers.

  • And while it might seem like they're meant to derail your game, they're actually pretty

  • harmless.

  • Most of those are done in clustersdone in clusters for a reason.

  • It'll bounce a little bit, maybe go back up a lane. It's not necessarily going

  • to come back in your face.

  • Up top, you've the source of a lot of big points: ramps.

  • They're usually designed to drop the ball straight back onto the flipper, so you're

  • incentivized to crack shots at them again and again.

  • Those are your basic targets, and deciding which one to go for is actually pretty simple.

  • At least initially, go for whatever targets are litthat means they're activated

  • and worth points.

  • And when you hit them, the game will light something else, telling you where to go next.

  • One way to get the high score is by completing simple objectives called modes.

  • Modes feature specific targets on the play field and usually increase their value temporarily

  • you just need to figure out how to unlock them.

  • So if it is completing a target bank to light a particular mode, let me complete those targets,

  • and now suddenly, that center ramp is lit.

  • But if you want to get really good at pinball, there's one thing you'll find in almost

  • every game: multiball.

  • Multiball is a hectic, beautiful, and terrifying mode where you juggle multiple balls simultaneously

  • and try to hit specific shots called jackpots.

  • Jackpot!

  • Jackpots only light up during multiball, and they're worth a lot of points.

  • Here's how you do it: Check the game's rule card and figure out what you need to

  • complete to light the locks.

  • Once lit, these will hold on to your ball and give you a new one.

  • Lock three balls and the game spits them all back out at once.

  • It sounds simple, but hitting all the right targets is not an easy task.

  • I am building from ball to ball to get to some objective.

  • And I have to build and go through cycles of finishing target banks or whatever else

  • to get to multiball, in order to maybe get a jackpot, where my higher scoring thresholds

  • are.

  • People tend to give up easily on pinball because it sometimes seems like the game has a mind

  • of its own.

  • I mean, I give up because I literally end the game in five seconds, so.

  • Sometimes I, like, will get the multiball – I have no idea what makes multiball happen.

  • It all feels random.

  • The idea of it being totally random takes away the fact that you can actually accomplish

  • something that you've never accomplished before.

  • “I've never gotten multiball beforeoh, my god, I just got multiball.

  • I'm blinded by it; it happened so quickly.

  • But I got it.

  • Next time, I'll be ready.

  • Maybe I'll get a jackpot.”

What do you see when you look at a pinball machine?

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B1 US Vox pinball ball jackpot random flipper

Pinball isn’t as random as it seems

  • 28 1
    Samuel posted on 2018/08/22
Video vocabulary