Ripley's Believe it or Not! League/Tournament Scoring Strategy


Have always wanted to formulate and possibly refine a good strategy for RBION. I know there must be a secret to getting bigger scores in something like a league or tournament setting.

One of the more unfortunate features of Ripley’s IMO is the over-emphasis on the “SPECIAL” shot… there are “SPECIAL” lights in the outlanes that seem to turn on every other shot, and another “SPECIAL” insert often awarded on the Vari-Target shot.

To this date I’m wondering why there doesn’t seem to be any Bowen K. content on Ripley’s. In my own imagination, it’s because he doesn’t like the game (and probably for a good reason!)

Anyway… what are your thoughts on this game? Here are a few of mine… please call out any mistakes or help me refine this strategy. Or in general just tell me why the game isn’t worth trying to formulate a strategy on or why the game is hopelessly flawed :slight_smile:


Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!
Scoring Strategy

Skill Shot: Right entrance to center VUK; starts at 1M; goes up 1M for each made skill shot, per ball. It pays to try to hit all skill shots. The value will go up for extra balls, up to a maximum of 5M per skill shot–similar to Addams Family.

Continents: Finishing all continents gives the All Continents jackpot and lights one of the Super Jackpot shots (innermost loop shot from upper right flipper). The Finish shot value is all of the continent values added up, so it pays to score as many jackpots as possible in the continent modes. Africa and South America can add a 1M Idol shot to the jackpot total if you hit a lit scoop during those continents. Antarctica seems to do the same; you can get the notification about the 1M idol shot, but it never awards it.

Continents don’t give much in the way of end of ball bonus. Temple Jewels collected seem to give much higher bonus value.

Each continent mode has within it a goal of a certain number of shots (or jackpots). If you hit that goal, the game will award you a R-I-P-L-E-Y-S letter. These are tough to score. If you do light all of those inserts, you will qualify an eighth continent–Atlantis–which is not shown on the playfield. This is the main wizard mode of the game.

Going after continents is a lot like going after mansion windows on Addams Family; it can feel like chopping wood. When all the inserts are finally lit there is a big payoff shot. This is a difficult way to play though.

Regular Multiball and Ripoff multiball can give good value. Both consist of a three ball multiball where the jackpot shots are on the left and right ramps and on the main upper left loop from the upper right flipper. If you hit the three shots, one of the super jackpots will light. You can hit the super and then the three main shots will relight. If you hit those, the process repeats… lighting more super jackpots.

Hitting the side scoop spots one of four letters in B-O-Z-O. When completed, the BOZO (dog) award appears. Usually useless awards (like pop bumpers at max) but can light super jackpot, extra ball, and give a R-I-P-L-E-Y-S letter.

Temple jewels are awarded according to the three digits over the left upper playfield. Column A B or C, with the row being the number. These correspond to the 3x3 matrix of lights in the center of the playfield. Complete any three in a row (like tic-tac-toe) and you’re awarded what is listed on the playfield.

2X scoring is a good one (the rightmost column) and light super jackpot is another (center horizontal row). You can also get an extra ball from one of the diagonal completions and other lesser awards for the other 3 in a row completions.

If collecting a jewel will complete more than one row, you get all the associated awards awarded at the same time.

You can change what digits are lit above the temple by hitting the innermost upper loop shot.

The main scoop (front entrance) will offer a random award when lit (if it is hit) most of the time. Sometimes, you know the exact award it will give.

I tend to avoid using the main scoop to start continents, and would rather hit the “vari-target” VUK to start continents. This keeps the scoop lit for secondary awards like the 1M Idol shot in Africa/South America, and add-a-ball in North America.

If you want to relight the main scoop, hit it three times while it’s unlit, or a combination of hitting it unlit or the innermost upper loop shot, which counts as hitting the unlit scoop one time.

When the left ramp arrow insert is lit, lanes B and C are open for jewels. If it is unlit, only lane A is open.

I’ve found it a good strategy to line up at least two of the “A” column lights in conjunction with whatever is in B and C.

The right ramp lights the next continent to be collected, and it also lights the left ramp to open the temple lanes B and C.

If you light all the super jackpots in the game, attempt to qualify one more super jackpot. If you do and score that super jackpot, you will enter the hidden wizard mode “Frog Frenzy”.

Lately I’ve found that collecting at least two to three temple jewels per continent raises my end of ball bonus significantly. Chasing continents all by themselves really feels tedious–and I’m guessing Pat Lawlor wanted it to feel that way… he probably didn’t want people just going after continents and Atlantis.

The “Road Trip” award in the temple awards seems to offer huge end of ball bonus if you complete a few ramps/orbits and then collect a few continent jackpots at the vari-vuk.

Asia, Australia, North America, Africa, and Antarctica seem like the friendliest continents for R-I-P-L-E-Y-S letters (in order)… Africa and Antarctica seem about equal in difficulty.

South America is a dangerous shot (to the shrunken head magnet, or the target just to the right of it). You can stack a two-ball continent with South America which can make it safer.

I usually like to stack Europe with one of the two-ball continents and then go after the targets while ball-save is active and finish Europe as soon as possible.

These can be stacked:

Europe, Asia, Australia, South America (with any)
North America, Africa, Antarctica (with Europe/Asia/Australia/South America)

Asia, Australia, and South America seem to give the best value per total shots… but if you build the jackpots in North America and Africa by hitting the pops or the Vari-Vuk, they can get up there too.

Europe can be raised as well, but it’s tougher to do. Antarctica is the lowest value per shot.

Summary–always go for the skill shot (of course).


Target temple jewels and multiball in a tournament/league setting, as the jewels give better bonus value and multiball gives faster access to the super jackpots. RIPOFF Multiball can be started by hitting the vari-target 5 times and then the right ramp.

There can be good value in the continents, but I wouldn’t focus on them in tournament or league play.


When on the right flipper, prefer shooting the Vari-VUK or backhanding the right ramp or right loop. When on the left flipper, prefer the scoop or left ramp shots. The outlane/inlane guides (on a stock machine) have no posts on them, which is generally very unfriendly to incoming pinballs. You can nudge off the right wall on the outside above the right outlane to guide the ball back between the slingshots.

Bounce-over from scoop feed is generally safe.

Passing from one side to the other is simple (works well).

Good places to park balls during multiball play: the shrunken head (magnet), either ramp, right loop, main scoop (unless you would be collecting an award that you want to save for later), vari-target (though it is a difficult shot to hit on the fly (on purpose anyway))


Regular skill shot can be dangerous, especially if there’s no ball save and hitting the tombstone standups validates playfield. PAPA machine has no soft plunge anyways which should send the ball up to the bonus X rollovers.

Scoop can also be dangerous. I tend to go for continents through the vari-target.

My favorite strats…

-start africa before main multiball to raise jackpot values (two balls on left flipper to backhand the idol).

-always be aware of your temple awards, agree that light super JP and 2x playfield are the best. Double check to see if you’re near 2x playfield before hitting a continent jp.

-If super jackpot is lit in single ball play, I tend to go out of my way to make sure that the value is 4-6 million before collecting. Pops change super JP value. Both right orbit and varitarget feed the upper flipper nicely when super JP is lit.



Good point about the skill shot at PAPA. My machine has no ball save to start the game, either. Usually I won’t plunge the traditional way, and prefer to “palm plunge” so that if I hit it too hard it goes into the upper loop. But then again my machine is set to have the shooter lane more or less line up with either that scoop, the tombstones, or the upper loop (if plunged super hard). A soft plunge would never make it across the playfield (IMO) and the ball would drop between the flippers… not a bad strategy if you don’t validate the playfield.

Nice point about raising the jackpot values and also about changing which super jackpot is lit via the pops. The upper pops are safest (of course).

Thanks for the additions!


This is K. Elwin’s video, correct? He’s good :slight_smile:


As much as I like Ripleys I do not think it should be used in any major tournament due to lack of a real tournament setting. I am guessing Bowen agrees which is why he has never done a PAPA tutorial on one. For best results start 2x playfield then get the random TAF factiod for a quick 4.2 mil :slight_smile:


this reminds me to PAPA12 and my (one and only until now) qualifying entry in A division:
KME was playing right before me and tried for about 2-3 minutes to get one ball down the outlane (while Antarctica) to get the Special for 2M - his score ended with about 17M after 10 minutes.
My turn - first two balls ended quickly with some 100ks, third ball light lock, locked two balls, started unlimited millions on the matrix (on purpose), started multiball and let all ball drains - then hard plunge a couple of times and ended my game after less than 3 minutes with 18M.


So painful to get beat by the TAF factoid, especially when it’s one of like 5 shots your opponent randomly makes the whole game. Have had the same fun experience with the Sad Cats “lites jackpot” mystery award.


Ditto… unfortunately, wish someone could straighten out the code for all those random award and SP value :frowning:


So can code be tweaked on these kind of machines? I like how folks are making new ROMS for older games and even SW and JP. So I assume it can be done but is it technically something that has be to requested from Stern to adjust those things? Feel like since there’s a finite # of machines out there with quirks in code, eventually we could fix all of these leveraging the community (as has already been done?)


Interesting that you would ask that, as I was just thinking tonight about running the current game ROM through a debugger and seeing if I could work out something of a tournament mode… or even something to award points instead of “SPECIAL” as an operator setting. Those kinds of changes. I’ve debugged the LOTR ROM a bit, and think this would be reasonably straightforward. Will let you know how it goes.