Space Mission / Space Odyssey (Williams, 1976)

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Quickie Version

 UTAD, except that once you light the side saucers for double bonus, shoot one to score it.
 Go-To Flipper:  Right.

Full Detail

Ever see the movie War Games? “The only winning move is not to play.” Well, here, playing is okay, but a winning move is often not to flip. Skill Shot: the lit “collect swinging target value” lane; they cycle on and off with sling hits. If they’re not lit when you plunge, go for an odd number of hits on the top right sling; the left side is rubber only, no switch.

Goal: build up bonus, double it, then stay with UTAD for collect target lanes. UTAD is also the safest way to build bonus and helps progression for lighting the doubler. The doubler is another multi-step process: first, shoot or top-collect the swinging target for both lights of one of the A-B-C letters. This lights the side saucers. Get the ball into to activate the double bonus.

I’ve found that holding the flippers up and letting the ball roll into the upkickers is often a better strategy than flipping. The kickers tend to hit the center target, which often drops the ball back towards the flippers, allowing you to repeat the process. The main reason to flip is to shoot the ball up top through the left spinner and to shoot at the double bonus saucers when lit. The backstop behind the two side saucers makes them easier shots than many other saucers since rim-outs are rarer. You’ll find that the ball often goes in the doubler saucers on its own, though, so using the upkickers and left side UTAD may be all you need.

Spinner points can be huge in this game, but unfortunately are largely a matter of luck. Most people have no clue how the spinner light works; it’s driven by the status of the swinging target. The swinging target value cycles from left to right, moving one step right each time you collect it either by hitting it or by getting one of the lit top side lanes. When the target score is on the “5000” between the “A” and “B” values, and when on the 5000 to the right of the “C” values, the spinner will be lit. This means there’s a 20% chance of the spinner being lit at any time. Making matters worse, depending on your perspective, is that the current target value and spinner status are not preserved player by player, but rather from player _to_ player. If you had the the spinner lit when you drained your last ball, there’s an 80% chance it won’t be lit when you start your next ball. There is a 100% chance that it will start off lit for the player after you, though.

If you see that the spinner is lit, do whatever you can to get the ball rolling slowly down the right flipper for a shot at it. A good spinner shot can be worth 20K or more. If it’s not lit and you want to light it, advance the target value to one of those two “on” positions.

Key feeds: the kickouts from all four saucers. Side saucer kickouts may let you capture-to-upkicker or dead bounce across to flip up the left spinner.

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