Sky Jump / Free Fall (Gottlieb, 1974)

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Quickie Version

 Get as many different numbered lanes as you can and shoot lit drop targets.
 Go-To Flipper:  Bias Left until you have all of the numbers, bias Right thereafter to shoot drop targets.

Full Detail

This game starts UTAD, then switches to drops all day. The game is all about the seven drop targets - - lighting them and hitting the lit ones. But unlike most machines, these targets have three factor-of-ten values, not two levels or an add-a-value. Base target value is 50. This goes up to 500 for any target for which you’ve scored the lane number corresponding to the target number. Finally, one target is always lit for 10 times more than whichever of these applies; it changes each time you hit the bumper that says in big letters “moves 10X target lite when lit.” [Can’t get much clearer than that! I believe the “when lit” cycles on the tens digit.] The big points on this game is lighting as many targets as possible, then hitting the lit one, changing which one is lit and hitting the next one. You also get good points [5000] each time you complete the target bank, which then resets. Oh, yes, the numbered lanes collected carry over from ball to ball for the entire game. You will likely score more points on your last two balls than on your first three.

Skill shot: I prefer to go for the 4 lane first; you then have a chance to nudge the ball off the center bumper towards the upper 1-2-3 lanes and get a second number on the way down. Once you have the 4, get the 7 and 5 next in that order: the 7 gives you a chance to score the right side lanes, while the 5 just drops onto the bumper and starts going random and is thus riskier.

Try not to plunge the ball into the 6! Really. Even if it’s the last number you need. If you get it by accident, fine, but avoid getting it from above. Why? Many Sky Jumps are aligned such that the ball with go straight down the middle fairly often after falling through the top 6 lane.

How to get the 6 then? Shoot the ball _up_ the 6 from below. It’s not as hard a shot from the left flipper as you might think.

Key feeds: when the ball comes down either side, where does it go? The right side is mostly one speed, i.e. all the way from the top down, since the ball rarely goes through the gap between standup targets into it. You can probably let it dead bounce off of the left flipper onto the right flipper. You may also be able to drop catch or raise the flipper and cradle up, depending on how far up the flipper it comes. As for the left side, there will be two different exit speeds - - down the 1 [fast] and post-2 or 3 lane [slow]. Learn where the ball goes from each; nudge if necessary to avoid center drains.

Okay, let’s assume you have the ball on a flipper. If it’s the right flipper and one of the targets is lit for 5000 [both the lane has been collected and the moving light is on it], or you just have one target left to finish the bank, shoot it! Otherwise, shoot the ball up top to either try to collect another lane or move the lit target.

If the ball is on the left flipper, you can probably not hit any target left of the 5. If the 5, 6 or 7 is lit for 5K or is that last target, take it, otherwise you can shoot the ball up top, through the 6 lane if you can do it. Numbered lanes are worth 1000, so this isn’t bad point-wise, either. Depending on your flipper skills, you can also try to alley pass the ball from left to right.

One move I’ve found useful on this game is the flying backhand: when the ball is coming down the right side lanes, you can often time a backhand with the left flipper to hit the 1, 2, 3 or 4 targets. It may or may not be riskier than trying to get control via a catch or dead bounce followed by a shot from a cradle; it depends on your skills and how the rebounds from each target go when shot from each flipper.

Yes, that’s the other key to this game: watch where your rebounds off of the targets go. Any that drain too often means you need to shoot that target some other way, e.g. with the other flipper, or as the ball is moving down the return lane vs. from a cradle.

Great game for practicing your nudging and flipper accuracy skills.

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