Mars Trek (Sonic, 1977)

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Quickie Version

 UTAD to maximize bonus, then collect in saucer on right, repeat.  Go for the center target to activate double bonus if you only need the letter it’s then lit for.
 
 Go-To Flipper:  Right.


Full Detail

Frequently used in tournaments, Mars Trek is another bonus-heavy game, but one with challenging angles. Let’s get to it.


The skill shot is usually to get the top saucer for a bonus advance, but that may not be the case depending on the kickout from that saucer and where the ball goes if it instead drops through the top R or T lane. You’ll be going up top most of the time on this game, so pay close attention to these three key feeds! When the ball goes down the R or T, it travels down-and-left along the rubber below them, usually hits the back of triangular piece behind the center target, then rolls towards the MARS targets. It will either hit one of those targets or the wall or posts between them. If it then rebounds down the center, you want to avoid the lane it went through leading up to all that. Note that the ball will be moving faster when going through the T than through the R [longer fall], so it will bounce in different places for each letter. The bounce will also vary some from shot to shot. If the machine is reasonably nudgeable, you can compensate to some degree, so one or both letters may still be safe with good nudging.


The saucer kickout, meanwhile, may go between the red bumper and the R lane and somewhat towards the lower right slingshot. If it hits the slingshot or the post on top of it in a way that regularly deflects the ball to someplace you can control it, good. Ideally, whenever you send the ball up top, you want it to come down through whichever of these three routes is safest. It can also come down on either side of the red bumper without getting any of those three, but this gets really random, so you’ll just have to deal with those cases as best you can.


Bonus maxes out at 100,000. It is advanced via the top saucer [which also spots T or R], the E and K return lanes, the star rollover at the upper left, and the spinner behind the saucer on the right. Scoring both E and K doubles your end-of-ball bonus, but NOT the value of the collect bonus saucer [see below]. Besides the return lanes, E and K are shootable via the center target which alternates between them. The catch is, that center shot is risky, with rebounds often draining out the left side [the target is angled facing left]. If you’ve finished T-R-E-K, the center target is worth 10000, but I still wouldn’t shoot at it then due to that rebound angle.


Strategy is UTAD until you’ve maxed your bonus, except that if you happen to get the E or K and have the center target lit for the other one, shoot it to get your doubler. There’s a collect bonus saucer up the right side, with that spinner-in-a-horseshoe behind it. Once your bonus is maxed, you have a decision to make: to shoot the Collect Bonus saucer or not. Unlike most games with a collect bonus feature, you often don’t want to shoot at this! If you’ve made no progress on the E-K doubler, it’s an easy choice to cash in and try to rebuild your bonus. If you’re at 100K, however, it’s a tough call since the collect bonus is NOT doubled. You’re then taking a sure 200K [if you don’t tilt] and trading it for 100K plus whatever you might earn for the remainder of the ball in play [well, 110K, you’re spotted back one bonus when you collect]. You need to consider where you stand versus your opponents and what ball in play you’re on to make a wise choice.


Flipper technique: don’t flip with the third, upper right flipper except to try to deflect the ball in a safer direction than its current path. The M-A-R-S targets across from it are not worth the rebound risk to hit, and a missed shot may drain out the left side. [You do get 10000 if you finish all four MARS targets].



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