How To Win At Pinball

If you play pinball the amateur way, only trying to keep the ball from falling off the board, then you might think it’s a random game that gets boring after a few plays. But if you play it how the pros play it — even if you’re really bad at it — you’ll have a lot more fun.

In the video above, Vox explains the parts of a pinball game, and how to discover the objectives hidden in all the bells and whistles. Follow these principles:

  1. Survey the board before you play.
  2. Trap and aim the ball.
  3. Point the ball at the blinking lights.
  4. Watch the digital display for objectives.
  5. Read the rule card.
  6. Go for the multiball.

Once you’re paying attention, you’ll see that a pinball game is a set of minigames, which cohere into an arc, almost a plot. Following that arc is a lot more satisfying than just keeping the ball in play.

If you aren’t very good at playing, avoid the coin-play machines, and find a pinball museum or other all-you-can-play arcade. Pinball is a lot more fun when you don’t have to worry about constantly feeding your money to the machine. Plus you can hunt around for a game that “clicks” with you.

Pinball has changed a lot over the decades; you might prefer old mechanical machines, or new ones with HD computer screens built in, such as The Hobbit. Pinball: It isn’t all the same!


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