Game Preserve Friday: Life starts getting back to normal


After a considerable amount of time away, I was able to make it back in front of a few pinball games on Friday night 1/15. This post has been sitting on my server in various stages of completeness since then, with most of it having been completed on Monday 1/18 and just awaiting a few final touches. Suffice it to say, life has been hectic but is slowly getting back to normal.

Highlights from the night, with photos posted below:

  • 1,459,320 on Space Shuttle (first player of a four-player game someone else had abandoned early on, I forget the player 1 score when I started but the majority of the points scored are mine over balls 2 and 3)
  • 104,955 on Q*Bert’s Qubes
  • 19-12 against the AI in Tournament Cyberball (my Flash vs. AI’s Lightning)
  • 345,100 on Firepower (5 ball game)
  • 13,059,280 on Ripley’s Believe It or Not
  • 158,320 on Evel Knievel (5 ball game)
  • 449,220 on Blue Chip (5 ball game)
  • 515,660 on Rock Encore
  • 223,250 on Roller Disco (5 ball game)
  • 3,801 on Beat Time (5 ball game)

The QBert’s Qubes game came towards the end of the night and I came quite close to my previous personal high score (I didn’t realize how close until I compared my previous photo). I still have relatively low confidence I could ever make a decent world record attempt on it, though I may post a score just for “been there, done that” purposes. Assuming the constraint of starting at L1R1 (level 1, round 1), I would like to think 100K+ is a respectable score. Then again, QBert’s Qubes is such an obscure title that even a lot of hardcore gamers are unlikely to pay it much mind…

I did get in a game of (one-player) Tournament Cyberball before the night was over; I’ve done better, but knowing I can win games that come down to the wire like this one is a great confidence booster. I don’t know how much I’m going to practice this one to try to get back to where I once was (I used to be at least decent, if not good, at this particular title). It is a fun one to play between rounds of pinball, I’ll give it that. I have, in the past, stuck to the Flash as my team of choice. Back in the day I would play a lot of games as either the Crush or the Flash, though i have given thought to switching up to a passing team as my team of choice (either Lightning or Invasion).

And the rest of the scores are the usual pinball suspects. Roller Disco finally appears to be working a lot better than it was, it no longer scores points just by flipping the flippers or nudging the machine. I consider the score I posted on this night to be a bit more “legitimate” as a result; my unofficial goal is 400K by either the end of this year or whenever this game makes its exit from The Game Preserve. The high game to date on it is in the 550K range so 400K shouldn’t be all that hard if I get the right rhythm going.

It’s the same for my eventual goal of 10K+ (score counter roll) on Beat Time, one of the few games I’ve seen at The Game Preserve since the very beginning. I have posted a 6K+ score on this game so I’m pretty sure 10K+ is doable. It would just be a question of either winning enough extra balls to keep the game going, or having at least, say, three balls in a game scoring 2,500+ each, one extra ball, and the other three balls being at least decent (900 points each). The problem is that actually getting the extra ball on this game involves a lot more luck than usual; either getting the bumpers to knock the ball through the top 3-6-9-12 lanes, or hitting the rotating target which is placed such that a hard shot makes an “insta-drain” quite the possibility.

As a parallel, I eventually rolled the score counter on Liberty Bell when we had that one available. Realistically, I didn’t expect to ever do that, having once posted a few scores in the 700K-899K range and then finally a 900K+ score. The stategy on Liberty Bell was not that dissimilar; rip lit spinners enough times (which is, by the way, much easier to do than on a game like Blue Chip), try to keep making drop targets, and make sure to have at least a couple of doubled 100K bonuses to help out. Beat Time has no spinners, but having the bumpers and bumper area targets lit increases the scoring from 1 and 10 respectively, to 10 and 100 respectively, and is usually key to getting a good score. Yes, the 3-6-9-12 lanes are key to both this and the extra ball, but in at least one game on this night, I was not able to convert a lit extra ball. That was quite painful, too…

The only other particularly noteworthy score is the Blue Chip score. As a single player game, the strategy is a lot different than it would be on a multi-player game. (In the electromechanical (EM) era, only single player games carried forward game features such as lit targets, made drop targets, etc. from ball to ball. The move to solid state (SS) or “computer” technology made this difference irrelevant; only one single-player SS game was made to my knowledge, before what could be done with the technology was fully realized by manufacturers.) Anyway, the main goal of Blue Chip is to light the numbered targets 1 through 8 to light special on the right eject hole and outlanes (though it can be set such that only 1 through 6 are required to light an outlane special). Other numbers light other features, such as 2 lighting the left spinner, 5 lighting the right spinner, etc. “Rip the lit spinner” will get you quite a few points on this game, though it’s far from the only good strategy; I would prefer to build up bonus and then make a lit “double bonus” lane.

I would be content with a personal high score of 600K on Blue Chip, though a 1M+ (score counter rollover) should be possible with enough luck, even assuming a game not set to award extra balls.

Pinball Arcade and stuff

During the past month or so, I’ve been playing a few games on Pinball Arcade on my Android tablet, mainly the free pinball table that the app comes with, Tales of the Arabian Nights. I usually don’t bother with pinball simulations, but seeing as at least one of the tables on this app is one I would almost certainly never get to play in real life (that being Goin’ Nuts, a Gottlieb table from 1983, of which only 10 engineering samples exist as the new management felt widebody tables were too expensive to mass produce), this may well become one of the few apps I wind up paying for at some point.

Interestingly, until I played it in Pinball Arcade, I had completely forgotten just how good of a table Tales of the Arabian Nights was. The settings they give you for TOTAN are: 3 balls per game, extra ball lit after 4 jewels (I’m not sure if this is operator adjustable on a real machine), extra ball for scoring 8M points. So that’s at least two extra balls one can earn on a 3 ball game.

I also put up some decent scores on the free table for December, Victory (Gottlieb, 1987). I used to own this table in real life, though I never once put up a completely legitimate high score on it due to one of the spinners continuously malfunctioning.

Then came the night I purely by chance tuned into the Buffalo Pinball stream on Twitch when they were giving away Pinball Arcade passes. As it happens, I got drawn for the Season Four pass. The games from that season are: The Addams Family, Cyclone, Earthshaker, Jack*Bot, Party Zone, The Phantom of the Opera, Red & Ted’s Road Show, Safe Cracker, Starship Troopers, and Xenon. I’ve put up some rather high scores on a few of these as well; see pictures at the end of the post.

Finally, this month (January) the free table of the month is High Speed (Williams, 1986). I remember this one from my middle school years hanging out at the bowling alley after school. It was the rightmost of three machines in a row in the corner of the arcade, the other two being Road Kings (Williams, 1986) in the center and Secret Service (Data East, 1987) on the left. I spent more time on Secret Service, since the replay score was stuck at 400,000 (pathetically low). Even back then, I noticed the unmistakeable similarities between the playfield designs of Secret Service and High Speed, and as it turns out I was not the only one. (To be fair, the rules are different enough that the games play completely differently despite this.)