Gator (Bally, 1969)

From Bob Matthews EM Encyclopedia 2018
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Quickie Version

  Hit bumper #2 [blue] to close the flippers, then shoot lane 6 to open the top gate and go through it.  If flippers are too weak for lane 6 shot, hit bumpers #1-5, then shoot the “gator run” gate and repeat.
 Go-To Flipper:  Balanced.

Full Detail

Skill shot – lit top lane for 100; either the center lane or both side lanes will be lit.

There are two keys to this game: zipping up the flippers and opening the three gates. The blue mushroom bumper in the center of the game, #2, closes flippers; red mushroom bumpers #1 and #3 open the flippers.

The gates are opened through various combinations of numbers. Open the top “Gator Lake” gate for 500 via either hitting rollover lane #6 or getting both yellow mushroom bumpers #4 and #5. Completing bumpers #1-#5 opens the middle “Gator Run” gate for 500. Completing bumpers 1-3 opens the lower “Gator Swamp” gate, worth just 50 points.

All six numbers, i.e. lane 6 and bumpers 1-5, are worth 100 points the first time you hit them, then drop to 10 points until relit. They relight when the ball goes through any open gate back to the plunger lane. Numbers reset when ball goes through gate.

Strategy: first things first, hit #2 to zip the flippers, then try to get the ball to settle onto the tips of the closed flippers. Use microflips to get the ball on the face of either flipper to set up your shots. Note that backhand flips are often stronger than forehand flips on this game.

There are two schools of thought on how to proceed next. Flipper power, bumper and slingshot action and your accuracy may determine which is better on an individual Gator unit. One idea is to go ahead and shoot the #’s 1 and 3, reclosing the flippers by shooting #2 after each hit to #1 or #3, with the goal to complete all of 1 through 5, then shoot the middle gate. The other idea is to ignore 1 and 3 and that middle gate unless you hit them accidentally and go for 4, 5 and 6 and the top gate and bumpers, trying to leave the flippers closed the whole time. If at any point using the 4-5-6 strategy you do get the middle gate open, shoot through it. But remember that whenever the balls hits 1 or 3 to reopen the flippers, your top priority is to re-close them.

The stronger and livelier the game, the more the up top 4-5-6 scheme is the way to go. With weaker action, the 1-5 middle gate is often the better of the two. Another way machine power impacts you play style is whether or not to let the ball come to rest on zipped flippers. While a settled-then-microflipped ball is under more control, if the flippers are weak, you may want to flip when the ball is first rolling or falling onto the flipper to get a little extra energy in the shot.

This page is one of many in the The Players Guide to Classic Pinball by written by Bob Matthews