Blacklisted Games - please share

I occasionally hear of Pinball leagues that have blacklisted games because they are unbalanced or have rules that are flawed / incomplete. As a fledgling tournament host and league organizer, I would like to learn more.

It would be informative and appreciated if forum members would chime in with games they don’t allow in tournaments. Even better if you wouldn’t mind listing the weakness or issue.



ps I did a quick search and didn’t see this topic already posted. Hopefully I haven’t missed it.

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Games are excluded from tournaments often because of unbalanced scoring and/or easily repeatable shots that turn into really looooooong playing games and scoring exploits.

Examples are Bride of Pinbot due to the Billion point shot that is awarded randomly. Meaning, two players can each make the shot but the Big Wheel may award one player 1 Billion points and the other player a far lesser value.

South Park is left out of tournaments due to easily repeatable shots to Cartman/Kenny.

PAPA offers great tips on tournament game setup on their site under Game Notes. Though, it’s important to make the distinction between local tournaments and bigger events. No need to make game adjustments for monthly events. Just turn off extra balls and put games into tournament mode. If you’ve got enough games, then you can just leave long playing machines out.

PAPA game notes


Getaway and T2 generally aren’t used due to software bugs.

Unless you’re hosting events with top players, I don’t think you need to worry too much.

I have a league running right now where South Park is included most nights (though my Cartman kickout speed is really inconsistent, so it is difficult to repeatedly backhand Kenny). It’s not even really hated by the players, that honor goes to Simpsons DE.

There are venues around here that will routinely exclude games that don’t have exploits…it’s just that they play too long (like Hobbit).

If you do have a league night or tournament where a game gets exploited by multiple players, then you might want to consider keeping it out in the future or making adjustments so you can include it.


For Getaway…there is Secret Mania stuff. What else?

What are the bugs in T2? I’ve seen it used in lots of local tournaments.

Sometimes the SJP is achieved but no points are given.

Yeah, if you don’t hit the lit target…


255 more hits until multiball was my favorite as a TD.


Blacklisted games fall into a few categories:

  • Buggy (Getaway, T2, etc)
  • Balancing Issues (major random scoring, like BoPB)
  • Boring (GotG, Gladiator, South Park, lots of games if not set up to prevent repetitive strategy)
  • Long, if that’s an issue with finishing on time
  • Exploitables (Ghostbusters, CSI, Firepower in Best Game qualifying, etc)

Other than the big no-no games, the blacklist is flexible based on player skill and needs of your tournament.

What’s exploitable about Ghostbusters?

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Various targets don’t validate Playfield, allowing for certain things like lighting all your Multiball locks without formally starting your ball.

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I don’t consider boring to be a good reason to blacklist a game. If you are trying to make an exciting broadcast, maybe, but generally repetitive strategy takes skill. Let that kind of skill shine as much as other types. Hitting a ramp 100 times in a row without missing is not something I can do. Taking that opportunity away from those that can seems wrong.

The other things to watch for at thing like

  • minimum game time on many Gottlieb system 3
  • Pity special for short games that gives gives massive points in freeplay or tournament mode.
  • Games where you change the other player’s score (trade score). Play it 1p if you want to play it.
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Bowen put together a really helpful list of one-shot wonders. These games aren’t necessarily blacklisted, but he recommends staying away from these in your tournaments because it is both boring to watch and play where one exploitable strategy dominates.


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To be completely honest I agree with you on repetition and a lot of “good” games can be set up as one trick/shot ponies for tournament. AC/DC with high pitched flippers turns into backhanding ramps from a cradle all day. Monster Bash with an easy bounce to the right flipper from Creature turns into Creature all day.

For a tournament you do have to worry about these games falling into the “Long” category though, especially if you can sustain control for a long period of time. Boring/repetitive isn’t generally bad, but there’s games that are panned for it so it was worth a mention on the list in my opinion.

Note that a bunch of these are fixed at and @soren ROMs (don’t know if there is an index of these)


Our league picks go to whatever player(s) are in the lowest position in the bracket - new players or whoever’s in last place. They’re allowed to pick anything they want as long as it’s pinball and are OK with any weirdness associated with the game, but we tend to discourage:

*Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Ball - 50M anniversary award is pseudorandom but biased towards later players on ball 3, score swapping and points subtraction, other nonsense. I’m pretty sure this is called out on the PAPA game guidelines.
*Gottliebs with catch-up features (Super Mario Bros, Cue Ball Wizard, others)
*Alvin G. two-player games played as a single player (AG Football and AG Soccerball). These games are time-limited.

We’ve banned Bally Harley Davidson. When you lock two balls you are served a 3rd and when you plunge it you are suppose to start multiball. Problem is it has to trigger one of the top 3 rollover lanes before anything else to start. If it is short plunged or doesn’t make it all the way it won’t start multiball and the state of the game is ruined. Maybe @soren can figure out how to make any switch validate the plunge for multiball start. It doesn’t show up often anywhere though.

We’ve definitely had other bugs we have found and blacklisted them. A bunch of system 11’a have bad score swapping or massive jackpot carryovers.

Rocky and bullwinkle has a couple double your score mystery select and super mystery select awards but only if you’re score is under certain thresholds. If you have a good score you are excluded from those.

Most any games with super repetitive shots can bid setup to play better and make players play the whole table.

Our creech has a software bug right now too. Rarely it won’t start multiball once you’ve spelt film. It will just keep awarding kiss letters on the left and endless playground awards on the right. Need to check into the revision that’s installed on it.

I stand by R&B as reasonably balanced. You get a ton of complaints about double score, but it is a super select award, and the player probably passed on something similarly valued if they make shots. Spin and win can be more valuable than double your score.

It’s a mental thing. People feel cheated if they can’t get a double your score award themselves. Say some one has 305 million. Player two has 155 million. Mystery select for double my score. Boom game over. Player one is going to be very vocal how it’s not fair because they were beating them and couldn’t get double their score because they were doing better pst a certain threshold.

Don’t get me wrong I like the game too. But if I can avoid listening to a player complain (regardless of its warranated or not) by not using that game I will.


I agree with this. Unless you have a ton of high quality players, exploitable strategies don’t really bog things down. In fact, one could argue that the ability to grind out something like left-orbit-all-day on ToM to any significant effectiveness would be a determining factor for novice vs. expert, so let the experts ply their trade and let the novices enjoy a fun machine, for example.