2 pinball questions. How much do ya know?

I’m talking the modern, electronic pinball games.
First, when you win a free game, what in hell is that loud CRACK! sound many machines make? It almost sounds like something inside is being damaged.

Second, on some games after you lose a ball down the sucker hole, and the machine is tallying your score before loading the next ball, the display will read “BONUS HELD”. What is that all about?

Okay. The loud sound is made by a solenoid hitting the bottom of the playfield. I have no idea what it is. Tradition, I guess.

Bonus Held is like this: You have two types of points, Regular, which you get right away, and bonus points.

Bonus points are neat because you can cause them to multiply. There’s usually a set of channels WAY at the top of a playfield. Each time the ball goes down a channel, it lights up the channel.

You can move the light, usually by pressing the right flipper. Obviously, you want to move the lights away from the channel the ball is about to fall down. Light them all, they reset and the BONUS MULTIPLIER goes to 2X, then 3X to 5X.

So… Get a lot of Bonus Points, get some multipliers to spice it up.

Oh. Bonus Held. Well, at the end of a ball, the bonus is reset to zero. Get a Bonus Held, and it stays.

Funny thing about Pinball: All the pinball companies have stopped making them, except STERN. Bally/MIDWAY, Williams, Premier/Centauri/Gottlieb, have all shut down.

So pinball prices have been creeping up.

PS: A lot of Williams games have a “Midnight Madness.” mode. Play 'em at Midnight.



Tough to find a Pinball in good repair, tho.

I believe thr Crack comes from an actual solenoid inside the machine that smacks the sice of the chassis. It’s a brilliant sound - there’s something uniquely satisfying about that sound and feel that new bleeps and bloops just don’t have.

The first question also applies to older pinball games as well; the free game sound has been around for a long time. It’s called a ‘knocker’ or a ‘thwacker’. It’s a solenoid that physically bangs the side of the cabinet, making the sound. Modern pinball games may make this sound artifically; I don’t know.

Tidbit: did you ever play the old video game Q*bert? When you fell off pyramid, the machine made this same sound, using the same system.

Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your second question.

Eep. I’ve been beaten. But I still got the Q*bert trivia in!

Well, as a younger guy I played pinball all the time, and I used to be fascinated when the repair guy would be working on a machine at the arcade, partly because it was interesting, partly because I usually wanted to make sure the wimpy flippers or broken drop-down targets were fixed, and definitely because he’d usually lay four or five free credits on the thing when he finished. The loud bang you hear when you win a game is actually a small metal hammer striking the wooden housing of the machine. Well, at least it used to be, and I doubt it’s changed since the last time I saw a table with its innards exposed.

As far as “Bonus Held” goes, that’s when the bonus points on the ball you are playing are counted, then carried over to the next ball. So if after ball one you’ve racked up 150,000 bonus points and you trigger the “Bonus Held” special, you begin ball two with 150,000 bonus points already on the counter. If you get the “Bonus Held” message on your last ball, it usually counts the bonus points twice.

A friend of my Dads owned the 79 Bally Table “Paragon”. I was invited over many times, and often got to play all I wanted. I know the exact sound you refer to, and I thought the ball had hopped up and cracked the glass. It happened so often I was more or less scared to play the table any more. Not to mention, that I didn’t know what triggered it, it made me ‘jump’ a few times.

It wasn’t until I downloaded the great program “Visual Pinball” and then downloaded Paragon did I learn that a free game was capable, after spelling “Paragon”. I always played the physical table under “free play” or some situation like that, so I never knew that a ‘free’ game was capable. Its kinda like adding one to the concept of inifinity.

What ever the reason for the noise, why on earth did it have to sound soooooooo bad?

I’d imagine the idea of making the replay noise so loud was to attract attention around the premises in which the machine was located.

I have seen a solenoid driven striker that hits a hollow sphere thingy, something like what you see on drummers kits, and makes for a loud clonk noise.

How cool do you feel when you are racking up the replays, the loud crack, and then others come over to see what’s going on ?

Very cool indeed, especially when you look completely unsurprised, as if it were an every game ocurrance, even cooler is to then leave half a dozen replays on the table for anyone else, and leave making your excuses that you were getting a tad bored with such an easy game.

As for the bonus held, as you play and hit certain targets and your bonus builds up, and maybe you also hit a couple of multipliers such as 4x or 5x, these are added to your score once you lose the current ball.
If you are lucky, or skillful, you can either make a series of targets, or you land in a mystery award hole and this holds the bonus when you start your next ball (although the multipliers often (but not always) drop to 1x
(the mystery award can also give out extra balls or even replays or mulitball plays dependant upon its mood)

I remember when you used to get five balls instead of the lousy three you get nowadays.
Some of them rely too much on running the ball up just two channels to build up for the multiballs and the replays, and are just too easy.

The advantage of having the bonus held is that your post ball bonus on the next ball is increased by the amount you got on the last ball.

I remember when it was TWO games of five balls each for a lousy quarter.

To be fair, the games are more expensive and complex than they were back in the day.

Play your pinball now, while they are still around. They are a dying breed.

I remember back in the very early 70’s some pinball games were 5 balls for a dime, which equals 2 games for 20 cents. 'Course, those games may have already been 10-20 years old at the time.

I don’t know about the dying breed thing. I see quite a few around, including somewhat newer titles like the Simpsons and South Park. My favorite is one called JOKERZ But damn if I’ve seen it around lately.

Anyway, thanks for all the answers, guys.:slight_smile:

PK: They are a Dying Breed. Many Coin Op Operators are moving to Electronic Jukeboxes (No CD’s to buy), those damn Trak Ball Golf games (#1 in Bars) and Countertops with touch screens.

Pinballs are EXPENSIVE and expensive to maintain. Also, as mentioned, Bally/Midway, Premier/Gottlieb have stopped making 'em.


Only Stern is left.

Play 'em while you can.


The dirty rags and the smell of Wildcat, if I never experience it again, it will be way too soon.

Drach who has cleaned and repaired many a malfunctioning pinball machine.

Wildcat? Are you talking about that beer, or something else?

And it’s really hard to get someone to repair them as well. After unsuccessfully “repairing” a flipper 7 years ago, and after off and on searching, I finally found someone to fix and recondition my Williams “Flash.” They were working on it as I left for work last night. I can’t wait to play again. Not as complex and fancy as the newer machines but loads of fun. This guy recons and sells the machines and gets almost all of his stock from Europe, particularly Spain. Guess the game has stayed more popular over there.