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View Full Version : How Can I Not Suck at Pinball?



GarrickGreathouse
08-08-10, 08:48
So my wife and I just got Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection for the 360 in the mail (we do Gamefly, it's like Netflix for videogames!).

I'm having a VERY hard time with outlanes across all tables. I just played a 45 second game of Pinbot where all three balls immediately shot down the left outlane the very second they entered the play field.

I've looked online, but all the strategies I've seen have more to do with knocking the table after the ball drains, but I've also noticed that most tables have a rail under the flippers to prevent knocking the ball back into the play field from underneath.

I have also had no luck just knocking the table around when I think the ball's going to drain, it always ends up there anyway.

My wife and I are considering buying a real table, but crap like that makes me want to give up pinball tables altogether.

Duke.Togo
08-08-10, 09:23
Try to learn the slap save for the center drain, and bumping the table. I think bumping on a video game is more difficult than a real table. Picking up your own table is a great way to get better.

SubaruBrat
08-08-10, 09:27
First off I would suggest downloading one of our earlier shows where we did pinball 101, I am not sure off the top of my head which one it is but it was early on. Pinball played poorly is just flipping the flippers trying to prevent a drain. My suggestion is to start by reading the table before you play, something easier on a physical table unfortunately. Find out what the game wants you to do, take Bad Cats for example, you use a plunger target that ratchets up bonus (the Fish-bone-us) which is the cats stacking up the fish bones on the trash can, you then knock the trash can over to collect the bonus. So learn what makes points. The second thing is your save methods. The geometry of pinball is such that hitting both flippers makes things worse. Learning just the slap save can improve your game. I am a very inconsistent player myself, sometimes I do well and sometimes I do not, but I enjoy the games allot more knowing the proper techniques, games last longer and are not just a few seconds of trying to prevent a drain, you are actually playing the game.

Read the novice and intermediate skills in this link and try to apply them, fair warning it works easier on a physical table. http://www.ipdb.org/playing/skills.html

(sorry to repeat some of Togo's points, I was still typing this while he was posting it seems.

GarrickGreathouse
09-08-10, 02:46
Sorry, I should have clarified. I read the instructions, I know the flipper tricks, and use only one flipper at a time. I'm really good at making skill shots, hitting targets and ramps and the like. I understand that you need to keep the ball slow and in control.

It's just those damn outlanes. Should I just start shaking the hell out of the table when it looks like I might drain, or is there a deeper strategy to that specific element?

Duke.Togo
09-08-10, 03:00
Sounds good. First, I would use the term bump, not shake since it is a strategic nudge. I think of it as moving the table under the ball to get the ball where you want it to be. I have that same game on 360, but bumping it in the video game just isn't the same as with a real table. Bumping is something you do with your body, and using an analog stick just doesn't translate well to me at all.

If you are truly considering buying a table, go blow $10 at a truckstop somewhere and get a feel for the real deal. Don't worry about scoring so much, just try your hand at your techniques and see if it is something for you. I think you'll find the real thing is so much more rewarding.

SubaruBrat
09-08-10, 03:14
I say buy a pin, use oversize rubbers, and extend your posts and narrow down those lane entries, why not you own it..

JoeJet
09-08-10, 03:40
I say buy a pin, use oversize rubbers, and extend your posts and narrow down those lane entries, why not you own it..


I would consider that (oversize rubbers) "cheating" IMHO.. like a cheatcode on a video game. Sure, you can do it - but it spoils the fun and you will never improve as a player. I read a post where a guy drilled his OWN posts! bringing in the posts to an easier setting is fine though, but still, closing them all the way can take the fun out of it.

For the OP, i would say first off - forget video game pinball. Its not fair to compare to the real thing. You really need to go to the REAL Pinball Hall of fame in Las Vegas, or, play at a friends house or somewhere locally you can practice. There are strategy guides for individual games "rulesets" but sounds like you are tying to figure out how to deal with outlanes generally. Once again, its not fair to compare video to real thing, but in the real thing, the shots you take come with risks... some naturally (by design) will feed the outlanes depending on the pin you are playing. As you play, you will see what shots are risky and which are safe and play accordingly. Nudging the game has a great impact. Contrary to the natural tendency, if the ball is heading toward the left outlane, you nudge RIGHT.. using the post to bump the ball out of there.... it comes with practice, but nudging is key to bouncing out the ball from those outlanes.

SubaruBrat
09-08-10, 03:49
Joe, I agree that physical is better than vid, but you have to create gateways to the hobby, making a pin livable for a newbie by narrowing outlanes is a way to keep them hooked until they have changed a few bulbs, polished the play field and fallen in love with the machine and figured out the right way to go. The line between purist and growing the hobby is a huge gulf..

GarrickGreathouse
09-08-10, 05:43
Thanks for the help. My wife and I played the game for about an hour tonight. I was much more liberal with the table nudging and I noticed a vast improvement. I still can't get anywhere with Pinbot, but I was able to destroy Taxi and Space Shuttle. On those tables, it seems like the more control you have over the ball (slowing it down and picking your shots), the less likely it is to drain out the sides.

My wife and I both noticed that ramp happy tables like Medievil Madness are designed to send the ball straight into the center or side crap holes.

On a somewhat related note a guy in Grand Rapids Michigan (my town) has a great looking, totally restored Pinbot for sale, but $1,150 is something we can't afford. If/when we buy one, we'll have to settle for something cheaper.

Duke.Togo
09-08-10, 11:30
If you're in MI, have you ever been to Pinball at the 'Zoo in Kalamazoo? If not you should check it out next spring. They have tables for sale there and an auction, so you might be able to find a cheaper table to your liking there. www.pinballatthezoo.com

I'd also recommend checking to see if there is a pinball league for MI on Google Groups or something similar. There you can get with fellow enthusiasts and also check out games they are selling.

JoeJet
09-08-10, 03:54
My wife and I both noticed that ramp happy tables like Medievil Madness are designed to send the ball straight into the center or side crap holes.


Yea, that is the risk/reward type of thing i was talking about. In Medieval Madness, i really dont notice that - but anyway, if there is a specific shot that tends to drain SDTM (Straight Down The Middle) or to either outlane - then what you do is nudge the pin as the ball exits the ramp - experimenting on how a particular type of nudge affects the ball on exit to avoid losing the ball.

Leathco
09-08-10, 05:17
I wish there was a closer Pinball machine to me than 40 miles out. I've tried to buy my own machine a few times but keep getting outbid. However, I'm getting tons of practice in Visual Pinball, as well as all the retro pinball games I've picked up. I'm not too bad now, able to go around 20 or 25 minutes on a single credit on a real table.

My biggest problem seems to be when the ball is going straight for the middle drain on any table. I usually hit the flipper a second too soon and drain out, whereas if I would have waited a half second I would have hit the ball on the very edge of the flipper.

As everyone else said, mindlessy hammering the flippers is a great way to drain out. Don't use the flippers until you need to, watch the ball, not the flippers, and learn to work the whole table with a good knock on the side when you have too. Just not too hard, don't tilt.

JoeJet
09-08-10, 07:16
I'm getting tons of practice in Visual Pinball, as well as all the retro pinball games I've picked up. I'm not too bad now, able to go around 20 or 25 minutes on a single credit on a real table.

That is actually a loooooooooooong time on a pin. On an older elecectro mechanical pin, 5 min or less is the norm, and actually that is the future for newer Pins from Stern. Iron man has an average of 3 min games (1 min per ball) and even veterans can be hard pressed to keep a game going more than 10 min. It can be argued that 20 min+ games are a factor in what killed pinball - operators hate them as they "lose money" and many players hate them also. There is a point where a game stops being "fun" and becomes a chore - The Simpsons Pinball Party for example - you can play the game an hour and not even get to the wizard mode. On Iron Man - you can have a great INTENSE game that is very satisfying in 7 min - and even reach the wizard mode.

That is why it is so important to play a game before you buy one. I dont necessary HATE long ball times (I have a Lord of the Rings which also has long ball times) but when i got a Simpsons... i couldnt wait to unload it. I had it for 2 weeks and hated it... sold it in 2 months.

And one more thing on Video Pinball... its great fun, can teach you how to play, can also get you hooked on the real thing - but dont buy a game based on what you like in video pinball - they are different animals. I played space shuttle on the Wii - LOVE it...and could play for like 30 min and get a HUGE score... but in real life, i lasted 6 min - its a tough game. And you could say the opposite can be true - a tough game in video pinball could be artificially tough.

That is what is so great about Pinball - each game is unique, and there is more than enough of them to satisfy anyone's particular tastes!

Leathco
09-08-10, 08:17
I didn't realize it was that long. Usually if a game gives me 3 balls, I screw up on two of them but play a long time on one.

GarrickGreathouse
09-08-10, 11:50
If you're in MI, have you ever been to Pinball at the 'Zoo in Kalamazoo? If not you should check it out next spring. They have tables for sale there and an auction, so you might be able to find a cheaper table to your liking there. www.pinballatthezoo.com

I'd also recommend checking to see if there is a pinball league for MI on Google Groups or something similar. There you can get with fellow enthusiasts and also check out games they are selling.

Why do I always miss this stuff?!

Thanks for the info. If it's on for 2011, I'll be sure to go!

Duke.Togo
10-08-10, 01:53
Why do I always miss this stuff?!

Thanks for the info. If it's on for 2011, I'll be sure to go!

It's an annual thing. Maybe I'll see you there next year!

SubaruBrat
10-08-10, 02:51
RGRUP is planning for Pinball expo as a regular event along with CGE, we are dead serious about upping the pinball content.

Leathco
10-08-10, 10:49
Hmm, Michigan isn't too far away from me....I might be able to go to that one.

If any of the RGR crew show up to this one, I'll be there.

teknohed
10-08-10, 06:47
So Cal had an interesting "Trap the Ball" move that he did EVERY time. He did pretty good with that. Should have grabbed some video of the "So Cal Freeze"

Duke.Togo
10-08-10, 11:04
I'd like to try to get to the Expo in Chicago. If you guys decide to go I might drag myself up there.

SubaruBrat
11-08-10, 02:18
As of now, it looks like I will go to this year's expo and Socal and I will go to next years. I plan to get some interviews for HWFB and general coverage. Next year Socal and I will hit it hard and do the broader interviews.