Best games to learn skills on?

I’ve heard a lot of folks who are good players seem to like the same machines like Paragon, BSD, Frontier, etc. What are other games people like as good games to play b/c of whatever skills they teach and what are those skills?

To make it more precise, if you could only have a five game collection what would those games include and why?

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I’m not sure I really have a top 5, but certain skills certainly lend themselves better to certain classes of machines.

Modern games will be the best for drop-catching, live-catching, post transfers, and multi-ball tricks like cradle separations and such. Older games will be better for tap-passing, inlane passes, and learning how to nudge. I feel the two eras are about equal when it comes to dead bounces.

I like Creature From the Black Lagoon because it forces you to shoot all shots in the game

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I like Lawlor games (e.g. TAF, TZ, RS) for drop-catching, bounce passing, upper flipper work (including two-staging), and even Shatzing.

I think any free game is good for learning skills, because the consequences for trying new things and failing are lower.

Personally I like Paragon because 1) I’ve owned it my whole life; and 2) it teaches you patience. It forces you to not over-flip (you’re likely to drain between the two flippers).

I think Fish Tales is useful for helping you aim (the loops are identical shots on the right and left flippers, and they quickly feed back), and for managing a multiball. The multiball has very specific goals with a limited number of useful shots, so it’s easy to focus on the essentials.


+1 for free games. Not only is it super helpful, but dropping quarters is awfully discouraging to newcomers who aren’t very good. When I started playing in a league I just went to get out of the house, but the ability to just hit start again for another try got me hooked and I haven’t looked back.


One suggestion for variety of skills is WPT. The orbits/ramps/lanes are long shots, so shooting at closer ones on many games will seem relatively easy. The open playfield helps practice getting the ball under control with a little extra foresight. The drop targets let you practice accuracy across the entire playfield. The mini-pf lets you practice bouncy 2" flipper skills. Even the 3x multiplier forces you to always use lane changes, so it becomes a habit. Good practice on orbit shots with follow-up catches in both directions too.

Twilight Zone is a favorite training game of mine. You have shots that are really long (the lock shot), some near shots with the scoop, cross shots with upper flippers, combo shots, and multiballs that demand attention to both upper and lower flippers. The Addams Family is similar in that regard.

For something newer, I think Metallica trains you to handle speed and control very well. The second you lose control on that game, it’s going down the drain, but some shots just require you to take things on the fly.

EMs with a tight tilt setting are always good training wheels too. Give me a Sky Jump to warm up on and I’m ready for pretty much anything.

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I like a clean fan layout like AFM to practice my aiming but really try to mix up game play as much as possible to not get too comfortable with any one style.

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Cool thanks for all the input.

Put another way, if you could only have THREE games at home and want to become a better player what might those three be?

Oh boy… probably 1 EM, 1 early SS, 1 good speed-skill modern game.

Fast Draw, Paragon, and Indy 500.


Same reasoning as Bowen, but I’ll go for:

  • Surf Champ/Surfer because I live in California now and it has nice looong shots up the playfield
  • Meteor/Magic/Stars/Galaxy/Anything by Stern
  • Maybe Tron? Or Metallica?

AFM would be my choice. Skills critical to a good score: Drop catch from scoop. Bounce pass from scoop. Loop pass on loops. Live catch from jets. flipper passes from both ramps. Lock shot backhands. Mothership quick read and recovery skills. 3 bank lob shots.


I still think too few people understand what you mean by “lob shots”, maybe some other post or explanation of what you’re doing there. Very few people do those, and it can be super important.

is a lob shot when you carom it off the side to hit the 3-bank? NES likes that - he told me that’s how he hits the GEARS drops in Mustang and to hit Drac > Frank that same way in Monster Bash.

I think lob shot is not quite the correct term. This sounds more like a bank shot to me.

It needs a catchy nickname first. The Noel Steere maneuver!


I would also go for one from each era, trying to strike a balance between games I love and games that offer specific skill-building opportunities…probably 300 (challenging bonus collect, center spinner, all the bonus increase opportunities on the right side of the playfield), Frontier (drop targets and a spinner shot), and…something where stacking modes and multiballs in interesting combinations keeps it fresh and challenging, but also where flipper skills and ball control are crucial during multiball. Like, a Monster Bash crossed with a Fish Tales. Maybe @bkerins is right and I500 is what I’m looking for.

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I think my three would be Paragon, Creature, and Taxi. But don’t hold me to that.

I could swap Creature out for Fish Tales (or even Spider-Man - I like that game). And I could swap out Taxi for another dope system 11.

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WoF. Nice strategy, backhands, and stacking. A good game to improve nudging.