A topic I always find interesting, as a keen competitive pinball player, is which skills are important to master, and which games are ideal for practicing them.
While flipper skills can be practiced on all games, some games are definitely more suited to practicing certain skills than others. Below are some of some my game picks for mastering some of the most important skills in pinball.
Drop catching is a vital skill, which is utilized constantly by the best players in the world. There is a great Lyman Sheats quote while commentating during a PAPA broadcast, where he simply said, “everything changed when I learned how to drop catch.” In my opinion the best games to master drop catching are those with nice open playfields, where you often get balls angling diagonally towards the inside (thicker part) of the flipper. A few of my game picks for practicing drop catches are:
- Metallica (perfect returns from Sparky for this)
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Medieval Madness
Having a good live catch in your artillery gives so much more control to your game. It is something that you see guys like Bowen Kerins (multiple world champion) and Jorian Engelbrektsson (current number 1 in the world) use all the time. Unlike drop catching, live catching is effective when the ball is angling towards the centre. Some of my picks for practicing live catching are:
- Creature from the Black Lagoon (feeds from sides)
- Attack From Mars
- Iron Man
One skill, in which you see most of the top players in the world apply, is trapping up during multi-ball, cradle-separating, etc. I was talking to Richard Rhodes (AUS rank 2nd) at Coogee about this and it was his view that this skill is under-used by Australian players. I think the best games for practicing multi-ball control are Williams games, particularly Pat Lawlor games, where there is a very specific shot to make in multi-ball, and you can’t get away with flailing. My picks are:
- Addams Family
- Fish Tales
- Creature from the Black lagoon
Furthermore, accuracy, dead-bouncing, and nudging (probably the three most important skills) can be practiced on just about anything, . There are also more specialised skills such as tap passing (pick - any 80’s Bally games - particularly Paragon), loop passing (pick - Attack From Mars), post-catching (pick - Spiderman), but these skills probably aren’t quite as important to master as the previous ones noted.
For some great player resources and info on different skills, check out PAPA’s website http://papa.org.
These are just some of my picks of games to practice specific skills - we’d love to hear some of yours in the comments below.
Author: Jack Hutchinson