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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.
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
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
Most of those are done in clusters – done 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 lit – that 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.
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
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 before – oh, 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.”
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Pinball isn’t as random as it seems

52 Folder Collection
Samuel published on August 22, 2018
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