Sea Ray (Bally, 1971)

From Bob Matthews EM Encyclopedia 2018
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Quickie version

 Shoot the center yellow mushroom bumper to raise the center post.  Keep hitting that bumper so long as its value is at least 3000.  If it is less than that, shoot up top.  When up top, try to get the ball to enter either side chute.
 Go-To Flipper:  Balanced.

Full Detail

An interesting game despite its rather basic optimal strategy. There’s a bonus to build up, but it can only be collected during your ball - - no end of ball bonus. There are three ways to collect it: the top saucer, the right side chute entered from the top by the bumpers, and that same chute entered by a narrow channel near its lower end. Bonus is built up by hitting either of the two green mushroom bumpers, either top white rollover button, and either indicated standup target.

The Skill Shot is to plunge hard enough for the ball to go back and forth over the top white rollers to add a bonus or two, then drop into the top center saucer to collect it. Bonus resets to 1000 when collected and maxes out at 10,000.

When the ball is in the top bumper area. You want to nudge to try to get it to enter either the left hand feature award chute or the right hand collect bonus chute. The left one exits to a fairly safe feed to the flipper, and the right one is kicked back to the top.

The left chute has four possible awards, those available at any given moment are indicated by lights. “Up post” raises the center post between the flippers. “Open gate” opens the gate at the right outlane to return the ball to the plunger lane. “Light blue bumpers” raises their value from 10 to 100 points. “Light extra ball” lights the standup target for it on the right outside the lower end of the chute. The awards cycle on and off with 10 point switches, but the pattern is non-linear.

The center yellow up post bumper is the safest route to a good score, but it’s tricky. Even if you hit it, the rebound may go over one of the two “down post” rollovers above the bottom slingshots, reopening the center drain. It’s worth a value from 1K to 5K as indicated by the lights below it; the value also cycles on 10 point switches, but like the left chute, the pattern is non-linear, although portions of it go in sequence. If it’s worth 5k when you first hit it but the rebound hits one of the bottom slings before you can cradle up, the value may have dropped to 1k. This is different than Time Zone, where the value holds.

You want to nudge your way to a controlled shot to raise the post, then try to cradle up again. The best way to do this is to make the shot, then so long as the ball doesn’t hit a down post button or drain on the rebound, let it settle between the center post and a flipper. Use microflips to get the ball to just enough height above the opposite flipper to raise that flipper to cradle it. Now, you can shoot the center post again or go up top. I tend to shoot the post when it’s worth 3k or more, and to go up top when it’s only 1k or 2k. The other thing to consider is how much bonus you’ve built up. At 10K in bonus, I may go up top at 3k or 4k to try get the ball into the right-side chute to cash in. After all, there’s no guarantee that a shot at the center post won’t drain on the rebound.

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