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Playing Space Odyssey

Starting a Game

To turn the power on, plug the back of the machine into a three-prong power outlet, preferably using a surge protector. There is a toggle switch located on the underside of the cabinet towards the front right-side. Please take a moment to locate this switch. If the machine's lights are off, switch them on using the toggle switch. This switch turns on and off the power to the machine. 



With the machine turned on, press the red start button on the front face of the machine a bit to the left of the coin door. This will start a one-player game. If you press the start button again before the first ball ends, you will add a second player. This will be indicated by the "2" light in the bottom right of the back glass. When it is player two's turn, the "2 UP" light next to the right score reels will illuminate. While playing, please do not hold the flippers up for more than a few seconds at a time. If the end-of-stroke switch is not working properly, this may permanently damage the flipper solenoids. When you are finished playing, turn the game off using the toggle switch and unplug the machine from the outlet. Do not leave the machine in the middle of a game for long periods of time - this is unhealthy for the machine.

High Score Policy

The high score for Space Odyssey is recorded on a post-it attached to the bottom of its backglass and includes the name of the person who currently holds the high score.

If you complete a game without observing any major scoring errors in your favor (e.g the "Super Bonus Advance" gets stuck down and activates more than once when hit) and the score you have achieved is a new high score, do NOT start a new game. Instead, seek an approved moderator to serve as witness. Approved witnesses include the professors and TAs in charge of the lab, students who led the pinball restoration, and Prof. Littman. If your score is above 200,000, you must present video evidence or have witness present when the score "rolled over" from 199,990 to 200,000. Likewise, scores in the 300,000s need evidence for both score rollovers.

If the machine malfunctions in a way that gives you a significant advantage (e.g lets you play an additional ball or repeatedly scores on a target that was only hit once), your score is considered void unless an approved moderator is able to remedy the situation (e.g If the game lets you play the 3rd ball twice without having earned an extra ball, a moderator may mitigate this advantage by manually placing the ball from the plunger lane into the drain). If the machine malfunctions in a way that disadvantages you, no compensation shall be given.

If someone earns a credit (free game), even if it is because of a match, it is common courtesy to allow that player to play the additional game before taking your turn on the machine. Otherwise, the player who just finished his/her game should let someone else have a chance to play after his/her game is complete.

If you observe any errors in gameplay/scoring, please notify a moderator and/or send an email to my Princeton email address (my NetID is lloprete). We will attempt to fix errors as soon as possible.

Tips to Improve Play

The following are some tips to improve your performance. Should you want more advice, the Internet Pinball Database has a handy section for advice and is highly recommended. Likewise, PAPA (the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association) produced numerous videos teaching some common techniques.

First and foremost, don't flip both flippers at once. Doing so increases the chances that the ball will drain between them. Additionally, breaking this habit will allow you to perform more skillful techniques.

Another good thing to practice is not flipping every time the ball gets near the flipper. Try letting the ball bounce off one flipper and across the gap to the other flipper, reducing its speed. Less speed often yields better control, and ball control is critical to good pinball. One way to practice this is to play a few games using only one hand so that you must carefully choose what/when to flip.

To improve your ball control, try nudging the machine gently while playing. This is especially useful if the ball is heading down the center and you believe you might be able to get the ball to clip off the tip of one of the flippers. Likewise, forward nudging the table when the ball hits off the post by the outlanes will impart additional kinetic energy to the ball, possibly bouncing it back into play. Other times to nudge include when the ball is picking a lane at the top of the playfield to roll down or is in the pop-bumpers. Be careful not to nudge too hard, though, or else you will tilt, which ends your ball and does not award your bonus or extra ball (if earned).

If the ball is coming down the center near one of the flippers, try flipping that flipper followed shortly thereafter by the other flipper. This sequence of flips might bump the ball across the gap and then propel it up the playfield. Sometimes, this move may need to be coupled with a nudge to work properly. 

If the ball is heading towards a flipper with a lot of speed, try holding the flipper up until the ball reaches it, then immediately lower the flipper as the ball makes contact. When done correctly, the ball will come to rest on the flipper, allowing you a controlled shot.

It may seem obvious, but you should try to have a strategy and aim each shot. Know what targets award the most points and try to strike a balance between risk and reward. For example, if the swinging target is lit up green (5,000 points) and you have 18,000 in bonus and double bonus is available at the eject holes, aiming for the swinging target in the center to gain 5,000 points might not be the best move. Your chances of draining down the center or outlanes are very high, even if you do manage to hit the target. Instead, aiming for the double bonus might be a better option. Even though the eject holes are only worth 500 points (instead of 5,000), doubling your bonus is the equivalent of 18,000 points and is thus far more valuable.

Lastly, remember that playing pinball is a combination of many factors, including luck and your mentality. So, if a game is going poorly and you are having trouble controlling the ball, try to clear your mind of the frustration and acknowledge that luck does play a role in the game. Refocus and give the next ball your all!