Space Invaders (Bally, 1980)

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Quickie Version

 Center horseshoe all day, if you can hit it; UTAD if you can’t.  Once your bonus is high, shoot the right side drop target, then shoot through the gap where it was.
 Go-To Flipper:  Mild bias Left.

Full Detail

Yes, a pinball machine based on a video game. It was 1980, video games and Space Invaders in particular were the Big New Thing, so it was inevitable. While the machine does have the “bump-bump-bump” sound effects of the video game programmed in, the backglass art owes more to the movie Alien than to the video game.

Skill Shot: make the center lane at the top; this lights the spinner on the right and scores 10K for the captive ball chamber.

This game is mostly about bonus, although a long enough ball will net you tons of points with spinner shots and various targets around the game.

Space Invaders has two separate bonuses to build up. The normal bonus is advanced by lanes, targets and the horseshoe shot, and goes up to 39K. If you get it to 20K or more, the 20K portion is held to future balls, if any. The horseshoe shot is used to advance the bonus multiplier, up to 5X. Total normal maximum bonus is therefore 195K. The upper miniflippers have a better angle on the horseshoe shot, but they’re a bit harder to be precise with. If you can hit the shot with them, fine, if not, use them for ball control, i.e. to deflect, roll or transfer the ball safely to a lower flipper and shoot with that. Once your bonus is at 5X, the horseshoe shot is still worth making since it’s then worth 25K.

Bonus two is built up by completing the five red invaders standup targets, four below the top lanes and one at the game center. Each set earns 20K up to 60K max and is held for future balls. The multiplier applies to this, too, for another potential 300K in bonus.

The captive ball scores 10K for the first hit, then goes up 10K per hit, topping out at 50K. Decent points, but a risky shot. Getting all three top lane blue invaders lights the top center lane to score the “Clone Chamber Value,” i.e. the current captive ball award.

Getting all five blue invaders [three top lanes plus two upper flipper return lanes] lights EBs in the main flipper return lanes and lights the center standup for 5K and 3 bonus advances.

The drop target with a pass-through behind it on the right side halfway up the game is important. When it’s blinking and beeping, it’s worth 50K bonus or for the targets, as indicated. Shots through the gap behind it will roll over a collect bonus switch and then return to the plunger. Your collected bonus is not reset, so this can be very valuable; once your bonus multiplier is maxed, shooting the drop target and then the gap is the highest-scoring strategy.

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