Skateball (Bally, 1980)
Shoot the S-K-A-T-E drop targets until the right side saucer value reaches 100K, then shoot the saucer. Go-To Flipper: Right until saucer value built up, then Left to collect it.
Skateball is one of the best solid state games ever made, with a nice mix of useful shots and a unique playfield design. It’s mostly about bonus and the saucer on the right side.
The S-K-A-T-E drop targets on the left are your top priority from the lower right flipper. Each set advances the value of the saucer on the right, from 20K to 50K, then 100K. They also give you bonus advances. But only complete them twice! A third set finishes “B-A-L-L” at the right saucer for an Extra Ball when shot, but EB’s are usually turned off, and the saucer value resets when shot at that stage. You’ll then have to start your saucer value over from scratch.
Bonus multiplier is advanced two ways: completing the top three lanes [which have flipper-button lane change in the reverse of the usual direction] or completing the three arrow drop targets at the upper left when the green “X” light below them is on. Base bonus is also advanced by the top lanes. Bonus goes up to 60k, and the multiplier goes up to 5X. Your bonus multiplier is held from ball to ball, so getting it up high early is important. Base bonus is held at 20,000 increments, e.g. if you have at least 20k bonus but less than 40k, 20k is held to the next ball.
Bonus can be collected during the ball at the saucer and, most importantly, is not reset when collected. You can enable the collect by getting the three upper left drop targets when flashing. [A successful shot will be indicated by the light under that target being lit steady.] The need to complete the upper flashing drops to enable the bonus collect means that it’s often wise not to shooting at those targets with the lower flippers until your bonus is significant; just use the upper left flipper, since there’s not much else to do with it. Likewise, don’t shoot the saucer when collect is lit if you haven’t built up much bonus or your multiplier yet - - save it for when it’s worth more.
Key feed: the kickout from the right saucer. You have several choices of what to do with it: let it roll uninterrupted, hold the upper flipper up, have that flipper up but drop it as the ball gets to it, or flip away at either the Skate targets to to the top above the upper left flipper. You’ll need to experiment to find which is best, since each game is set slightly different. Usually either the hold up or hold-and-drop is best. On many units, letting it roll risks a right side drain or an uncontrolled bounce towards the center. Flipping away risks missing your shot and draining but may be necessary if neither hold option is reliably safe.
Tournament Skateballs will have the wire in the right return lane snipped to make the lane one-way-down only. This is to prevent players from cradling the ball on the right flipper and just quick-flipping to make the ball roll up and down that lane to score two bonus advances with almost no risk. Shot management: with the ball on the right flipper, it’s almost always best to shoot the Skate targets until the saucer is worth 100K or you have a large bonus value ready to collect there. At that point, try to transfer the ball to the left flipper to shoot the saucer [unless you can backhand it from the right flipper safely]. With the ball on the left flipper, you have several choices: if the saucer is worth either 100K or a large collect bonus value, shoot the saucer. If not, you can still shoot the saucer, or go up top through the spinner for spin points and to get a lane towards advancing your bonus multiplier. Sometimes, you can use a saucer shot as dual-purpose for both points and a flipper transfer if the kickout can be directed so that the ball ends up on the right flipper. Regardless, learn to make the saucer shot with the left flipper or both.
If you haven’t played Skateball before, or not often, remember that the left side return lane and outlane are reversed. Also note the unusual layout of the right side outlane and return lanes. Lastly, avoid the center drop target 3-bank.