Spanish Eyes (Williams 1972)

From Bob Matthews EM Encyclopedia 2018
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Quickie Version

 Center horseshoe all day if the return from it is safe; if not, up top until you have most of the numbers 1-6, then center saucer all day.
 Go-To Flipper:  Balanced.

Full Detail

This game is lots of fun - if the bumpers and flippers are strong. It’s also got a rare layout, with a center-bottom bumper between and below the flippers, making ball control more challenging than most games. It’s best played with extra balls on [note to TDs!] to make the top A-B-C-D-E lanes meaningful; players won’t earn so many as to make the game play unduly long, so go ahead and leave EBs on as the designers intended.

Strategy is two-fold, one for points, one for EBs. For points, you want to shoot the center horseshoe [5000] and center saucer [1000 for each of the number 1-6 you’ve collected]. For the saucer, you obviously need to do some up top work first to get your numbers lit. The real question is how are the feeds from shots around the horseshoe and kickouts from the saucer? With enough numbers collected, the two are similar in value, so it becomes a matter of which one you can best survive the return from. Of course, if you’re way more accurate at hitting one than the other, that enters the equation as well. The center saucer usually kicks out towards the right flipper, but not necessarily so that you can drop catch it. Dead bouncing isn’t likely to work since the ball rarely goes across to the other flipper, falling onto the bottom bumper instead. Can you get control after the kickout? As for the horseshoe shot, it’s likely to come out so that it lands on top of that bottom bumper. What happens next depends a lot on how strong that bumper is. If it’s weak, the ball will rattle around a bit and then weakly dribble-drain down the center. If it’s strong but the ball tends to come out of the horseshoe at an unfortunate angle, it may do a quick double- or triple-bank shot center drain. What you need is a strong bumper and for the horseshoe feed to hit close enough to the top of the bumper for the bump to kick the ball up where you can flip at it or cradle it.

As for extra balls, getting the five A-E letters will immediately add a ball. The other way to earn one is to complete the numbers 1-6 and then shoot the center horseshoe. In each case, the numbers or letters will then reset. That means the number way to EB presents an interesting strategic quandary: when you have 1-6 lit, the center saucer is worth 6000. If you shoot the horsehoe, you get an extra ball, but now the saucer value drops back to 500 points until you hit the numbers again. Which is worth more, continuing to shoot 6000-point saucers or another ball? Note also, finishing 1-6 also lights the outlanes for 5000; these stay lit even if you collect the extra ball, but reset for the next ball in play.

The skill shot is a two-part one: the first part is to roll over the “on bumpers” button above the center C lane to make the two side bumpers worth 100 points. Part two is the letter choice: plunge for the C on the first ball and then for whichever letters you still need thereafter. I go for the C first: the ball will then hit the 100 bumper directly below the C, which can bump it back up through the C. This may cause the ball to hit that “on bumpers” disk, in case I missed it on the plunge. I might also be able to nudge the ball into one of the other letters as it falls back.

Overall, this means that your shot choice depends on lots of things for an EM: are EBs on? Up top becomes more important, especially if the upper bumpers are active enough to pop the ball up through the A-E letter lanes. Do you need numbers to light the saucer? Up top again. Does the horseshoe give you a good feed? Shoot it often. Is the saucer value high and provide a good ball return? Go for it.

And there’s still the nudging skill for when the ball goes into that bottom bumper zone. As long as the ball is still bumping around, you may survive. You’ll find your nerves get edgy when the ball goes in there for more than a fraction of a second.

Ah, yes, I should warn you that you can lose a ball under either flipper. There’s no wall or rail there, just empty space hidden by the playfield plastics. Mis-time your flip and it’s under-and-out to your ball!

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