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pkmn pinball techniques


i will admit i am something of a "pinball's wizards". that said, i only ever played pokemon pinball: ruby and sapphire at any great length compared to like, literally any other pinball game. the game compels me, though. it's addictive. it has me focused on figuring out the ideal velocity and angle for a given action.

but i have insane trouble finding any sort of documentation on these techniques. imagine trying to learn how to properly swing a sword but the authors of a piece won't even tell you the body posture you need! that's how it feels.

so, here, as i take up the sisyphean task of learning how to ""win"" pinball, i will write the techniques ive found most helpful.

1. smooth rolling

demonstration (motion warning)

the idea for this technique is to let the ball leave your paddle in a beautiful arc. this technique is a little difficult - if you miss the timing you might lose the ball, but that's just how pinball is in general.

in words, you try and get the ball through the inner two gutters - the ones that lead directly back to the paddles - and let it run along.... and then hit it at the last moment to sort of gently curve it into the evo or catch sections of the board.

this one takes a bit of practice but is one of the most essential. timing is important and not something you can necessarily teach without direct experience. it requires some patience.

2. stop n' swing

demonstration (motion warning)

you'll find yourself in position for this one often! after a high velocity hit, the ball will eventually come back and hit the paddle directly, near the middle of the paddle, and then bounce to the opposing paddle. this technique is great for hitting things in the middle-ish of the board, like cyndaquil on the ruby board or wailmer on the sapphire board.

sometimes, the ball lands a bit closer to the end of the paddle, which can potentially leave you in position to do an evo or catch sweep-around. you'll probably be unlucky and hit just off the mark, like the metal border between evo and money bonus on sapphire, or chikorita's bump pad on ruby. but, again, it's all about feeling for the perfect frame to hit it on.

3. take-a-breather

demonstration (motion warning)

this one's particularly different from the last. the idea here is to catch the ball and let it settle in one paddle before using it to sweep the ball out. this one's pretty versatile and probably the best one to learn when you're still getting a hang of timing. it also lets you control the velocity of the ball.

this one is also pretty useful if you're feeling like the ball's going too fast for you to properly manage its path. it's a good way to reset momentum and get back into the game.

4. bump-aside

demonstration (motion warning)

this is a maneuvering technique that is kind of niche but particularly valuable. sometimes the momentum of your ball is a little too much, and you don't feel confident in positioning it. well, that's where this comes in!

as seen here, using the table bump controls, you can bump it onto the opposing paddle.

this is also a useful tool when trying to aim for something on the other half of the board. sometimes you really want to hook into the sharpedo alley. well, if your ball's on the right paddle, you probably won't be doing that. but using this technique you can bump it on over.

other thoughts

an epiphany i had was about smooth rolls and sharp angles! if you are using the smooth roll, you're best set up for rolling the edge of the board or some of the chutes to either side, OR potentially the middle if you've got momentum and extremely good frame timing. but sometimes the ball you're working with doesn't have the roll! sometimes it's coming at you so directly and harshly that it will only go at angles, especially inward.

so, the best thing to do is to figure out what kind of path it's taking, smooth or sharp. this will help you both narrow down where you CAN go (increasing your success at doing literally anything useful when it gets to you) and figure out how you might want to handle the ball so you have control of it. faster speeds means less control and less time to calculate anything.

so, essentially, figure out the kind of angle your ball's coming back with (wide or narrow angle - flat on the paddle or down an alley) and aim for something you think you could land close to.