About the Powerball

Finally fixed my Twilight Zone so I’ve been playing a lot of four player games against myself. I started with 3 balls in the gumball machine, and eventually switched to 2 because I know that’s what is often used in tournaments.

But I found the strategy changed a lot, and I don’t enjoy it as much. For reference, in tournament mode, it only takes 3 total shots to light your first two Gumball awards (in any order: left ramp, right ramp, scoop (first lit Slot Machine awards “Lite Gumball”). This makes it relatively easy for everyone to go for the Powerball on Ball 1.

However, if you have 3 balls in the gumball machine, you are now playing chicken with your opponents on getting a third lit Gumball award, which takes at least 3 more shots, and forces you to play your standard multiball (and probably take one extra shot getting there to raise the jackpot value).

I do understand why tournaments use 2 balls in the gumball machine…but I’m having more fun with 3. (However, since I’m just playing against myself for no stakes, I suppose that makes it less far less painful to stack three lit gumballs, hit your first two, brick the third, giving it to your opponent and then being far away by the time it gets back to you).

Anyway…two questions:

  1. Is 2 balls in the gumball machine really the bees knees, or just something that we do because we like to overthink things?

  2. I’ve been thinking crazy thoughts: intentionally disable the Powerball sensor in the trough. You know how it sucks when you drop the Powerball, and essentially give a freebie to one of your opponents? Well, now they wouldn’t be able to cash in a free multiball without first putting Powerball into the Piano or the Camera. Thoughts? Is there some downside I’m not thinking of that would cause the game to end up in a confused state?

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What probably happens here is the powerball gets spit out from the trough frequently as players are forced to play with the powerball in a steel ball state and then drain trying to light the gumball machine or find a scoop. I might even try not to put the powerball in a scoop if I think I’m better at controlling the powerball than my opponents. It could be better to leave them stuck with it vs. locking it up. It sounds like a fine way to set up the game if that’s the challenge you want to give players but it doesn’t sound like a fun way to play the game and my personal opinion is that anytime other players get an easier game to play through chance or luck, it’s not the best setup for competitive play.

Having never owned a pin myself - what happens if instead of removing the sensor, you remove the powerball and replace it with a steel one? Can you still achieve powerball multiball? (Is there a software setting)

Feeding the gumball machine does not help you. The gumball machine itself doesn’t know which type of ball it receives…it only assumes it’s the powerball if the game happens to be in the state where it knows the powerball is on the playfield.

Also, the slot machine scoop won’t register the powerball either. Has to be the piano or camera.

I totally understand your points but it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that someone would pass up a valuable one shot multiball and intentionally drain their ball just to stick another player with the powerball. :slight_smile:

I just did some testing. I removed the Powerball, and put in a 6th steel ball. Then I changed adjustment A.2 26 (“No Powerball”) to “Yes”. The manual says “The game will simulate the powerball with every 2nd ball delivered from the gumball machine”.

This wasn’t entirely true, but it was close. The first time you load the gumball machine, it puts out a “Powerball”, meaning you can put it back and start multiball. After that first time, every second ball you are fed from the gumball machine is a “Powerball”. If you drop the “Powerball” into the trough, it starts you over next ball, meaning you’ll need to feed the gumball machine twice to get back into that state.

This seems to work fine in multiplayer games…a “Powerball” is given to each player as the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc ball ejected from the gumball machine, regardless of what other players do…so there is no stealing.

I guess if we’re all concerned about the luck of the powerball, this seems like a great solution that is deterministic for everyone, regardless of what happens with your opponents.

I should add that software was in Tournament Mode during all this testing. Not sure if that impacted anything.


It is indisputably the “most fair” setting with the powerball installed for the exact reasons you mentioned (no more than 5 shots to access Powerball).

With people freaking the fuck out about plundering in JJPOTC and the unfairness of non-virtual locks, I’m honestly surprised to see someone claim a game of chicken in a tournament setting is fun (not saying you were necessarily one of the aforementioned group).

It’s an interesting idea. Obviously you lose non-cheated double jackpots, the general stress of dealing with the powerball, and other powerball-only features (not much). The compensation, I believe, is every 2nd ball that comes out is a “powerball” regardless of player, so there’s still some chicken going on.


Is this a bad switch compensation you refer to?

If the game has bad switch compensation for Power ball sence (twice of them), I say Ryan’s idea goes out the door. Great as it was though.

BTW. Double jackpot must relay on the subway sence one, right. And not the trough one.

It’s more specifically “no powerball” compensation, whatever the reason (it’s not there, sensors don’t work, etc.)

Yes, that’s why you can cheat it without the poweball actually being there.

I realise now, you refer to the Gumball machine. Initially thought you ment the trough would simulate power ball every 2nd time.

Yes, sorry for the confusion. There’s no compensation at all if just the trough is bad, just if the game hasn’t seen the powerball one way or another for x number of balls, and it only affects gumball exits.

@ryanwanger (or any other TD’s)… did you try using this in any tourney or competition situations? How did it go? And what was the feedback from the players?
In the end, are you going this route as your go-to setting for TZ in tourneys – particularly 4-player matches?

The accidental solution we found at Yegpin was to leave the powerball in, but disable the trough eddy sensor. So if someone gets served the powerball at least they have to put it underground first

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But if P2 leaves the Powerball as “next up” in the gumball machine, P3 can still get served the Powerball with only one gumball shot, correct? The accidental solution you reference only addresses the Powerball served from the trough – and forces the player to shoot the piano, camera, slot machine or dead end… correct?

Generally speaking, disabling switches is illadviced. I might work fine and to consistent result on some games (including TZ). Others may instate compensation rules after x games played.

My TZ has been out with reset issues for a year or two, and I had completely forgotten about all of this. Coincidentally, I happened to be working on it today, and may have finally fixed it.

If this goes back on location soon, not sure what I’d do for tournaments. I think my regular players aren’t serious enough to care about powerball fairness…but if my eddy sensor in the trough was being flaky, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with 6 steel balls and turn off the powerball in the settings.

I tested out this “Virtual Powerball” setting (replaced powerball with a steel ball, and turned adjustment A.2 26 to YES) on TZ, setting it up for Bat City Open. It works flawlessly.

I’m going to use it for BCO – I think the Pros outweigh the Cons on this one. Each player of a 4-player group gets the identical consistent treatment of how often they can earn a Powerball game state to attempt to start Powerball Mania.


The “Virtual Powerball” setting worked quite well in terms of fairness for 4-player group match play. But we did end up with a situation where as soon as the Virtual Powerball kicked out, it immediately started Powerball Mania (instead of requiring the player to re-shoot the R orbit to put the Virtual Powerball back in the gumball), but was the same for all players until it could get fixed. I believe it was due to the Geneva switch being stuck.

I highly recommend using the Virtual Powerball setting for competitive play when you have access to the keys to switch out the Powerball and change adjustment A.2 26. Particularly for 4-player games. Unless you’re a purist who wants to give the 1% of players their chance to use the Powerball in regular multiball for double jacks.

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Seeing this written out makes me think that it might actually be a better strategy to intentionally drop the powerball in this situation so it’s the next ball to come out of the trough. Or is that a bad idea?

What I’ve done over the last couple years for more serious tournaments is remove 1 steel ball from the gumball machine. There is a adj. setting for number of balls in the gumball machine. I like it because the powerball is still a factor but it’s much easier to get out of the gumball machine.

Someone should make a rom where powerball mania is worth like… 1/5 of the points

I prefer the idea of the powerball payout = jackpot value. Therefore there is risk/reward in building your payout before actually starting the multiball.