Nine Ball (Stern, 1980)

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Quickie Version

 Not really!  Loops, bonus, the spinner and the number sequence all can add good value.  “Hit what’s lit for its highest value” is a viable strategy.
 
 Go-To Flipper:  Balanced.


Full Detail

Skill Shot: hit the stand-up target above the center flipper; doing so on the plunge raises the spinner value immediately to its maximum value of 2500. Current base bonus value is shown as the sum of all lit lights above the flippers; the 1-9 add up to 45K. Complete both drop target 3-banks [top right and top center] to advance your bonus multiplier. Bonus goes up to 7X; the 1X, 2x and 4X lights show cumulatively when needed just like the base does. The top right bumper will also spot you a drop target towards your bonus X when it’s lit. Regular bonus max is 315K.


Making the upper left horseshoe shot raises the value of the stand-up target in the center of it. The value has a weird max – it goes 10K, 20K, 30K, 40K, 173K. The huge jump for the fifth value makes it most important to try to avoid cashing in early. The lower half of the lane behind the number targets also advances the loop target value. Hitting the standup to collect the current loop target value resets it to 10K.


Speaking of atypical numbers, the right spinner values go up as perfect squares – 100, 400, 900, 1600 and 2500. This spinner is unlike most others, though; once spun, the value immediately resets to the 100 point minimum. You raise its value by hitting either the top right-facing standup target above the center 3-bank or a lit drop target in either 3-bank. If you have the spinner lit for 1600 or 2500 and the ball on the left flipper, try to get as perfect a spinner shot as you can right away. Since the spinner value resets when spun, a ball bouncing randomly into it, from the bumpers or targets above for instance, might just spin it once but would still reset its value; your effort to build the value up would have been wasted.


The eight numbered drop targets light one at a time in order; you can either hit the target or score a return lane to collect a number. When you have all eight numbers, one [random] numbered target will flash; hit that for #9. If you score #9, you get the 77K super bonus lit for your next ball. This is separate from your regular bonus. While the numbered sequence is not quite as valuable as the bonus or loop target can be, shots at the numbered targets often rebound into the center 3-bank, and this is often easier than shooting at that 3-bank directly when the ball isn’t cradled.


Getting a ball in the left chute behind the number targets both spots numbers and raises the loop target value. Valuable, but impossible to shoot directly.


Okay, time for how to lock a ball. You need to have the #5 ball in the bonus diamond lit. This will happen when your bonus is 5K, 14K [9+5], 22K [9+8+5], 29K [9+8+7+5], 35K [9+8+7+6+5] and from then on through 45K. As for getting it locked, that’s largely luck, since you have no shot angle on the entry to the lock chute.


Multiball starts one of two ways: lock all three balls; or have at least one ball locked when you complete the 9th [flashing] target. If you have two balls locked, it’s a three-ball multiball; only one locked and it’s a two-ball multiball. If no balls are locked, play continues normally. Draining out the side is valuable if the “collect and reset loop” light is on; it scores that target value.


Key feeds: the return from horseshoe shots in either direction, and the rollout from the chute behind the numbered drop targets. If either horseshoe shot drains, shoot it in the opposite direction only.


Part of why I really enjoy Nine Ball is that there’s no quickie strategy; everything is worth doing, yet each shot has a “best time” to take it.



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