Surf 'n Safari setup info wanted

Continuing the discussion from PAPA 18 Strategies Wiki:

The above appears to be everything that Tilt Forums has to say about Surf 'n Safari. (Thanks @CaptainBZarre.) I’m apparently about to get a SnS machine, and I’m wondering if anyone has any wisdom about software and hardware setup, and comments as to whether it’s a good competition game. For example, doesn’t it have some random awards that unbalance the scoring?

Any guidance* here will be appreciated. I was sort of surprised not to see anything mentioned in the PAPA Director’s Guide, but maybe that just means there isn’t much to say.

*Other than “Don’t get this game under any circumstances,” I guess.


EDIT: I’m finally looking at the online rulesheet, and I see there’s a “catch-up” award. So… maybe make this one a single-player game?

Replace flippers with Wms flippers.

Cover up hole in the back (the plunger skill shot).

Good to go. Catch Up will never be awarded. SnS was played in Pinburgh 2015 finals without incident.



I wasn’t aware that you only hit this saucer from a plunge from the shooter lane, but, yes, the name “Plunge award” should have given it away.

Actually, it’s possible to get the award from the bumpers as well, it’s just pretty unlikely.

PAPA also disables the outlane switches because of the exit award, lit by default on Grid 1 (bottom row award) at start of game. It’s basically another random award feature.

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I’ll post an alternative thought on the System 3 flippers… I think the idea is to reduce the flipper travel so you don’t get super easy steep cradles. I really like the way the system 3 flippers feel and behave, especially off a fresh rebuild. If you can fix the crazy long stroke, you’ll get a less controllable game but still have the weird pointy flippers which IMO, are part of the charm of these things. I would suggest instead, to try adding a rubber stop or bending the back end of the flipper bracket inward slightly, vs. a full mech swap.


Good to know. Thanks. I appreciate the insight.

Interesting. We’ll definitely take a look at this option rather than a full conversion.

Not certain about this, but I thought you could set the Exit Award to always give the same value. I could easily be wrong on this!

I remember exit award wonkiness on the SnS mini flipper side tournament at NWPS

I actually kind of love this game, although I am admittedly (probably) in the minority.

I also agree with a flipper swap (sys 3 is a good call!) and setting them lower is crucial for this in tournaments. I would also consider fatter outlane rubbers against not removing them altogether.


Still bitter about my 5M exit award eh? ;D muahahahaha!!! All the quarters are mine!!!


SnS does have a tournament setting (48). This setting disables the catch-up plunge award. It also resets the D-O-U-B-L-E feature at the start of each ball with D-O lit. Additionally, it sets the Go-For-The-Record shots challenge at 13; the Go-For-The-Record special award at 15; Mini Jackpot set at 5 million and Super Jackpot at 30 million.

Other settings useful for tournaments: 41 - Arcade Super Scoring, sets the scoring advance for the arcade target while SUPERSCORE is lit. Hard setting puts it at 1, 2, 3 and then 4m.

42 - Arcade Normal Scoring. at start of ball if row 2 is complete selects lit arcade value. Hard setting restarts this at 100k.
43 - Starting Rows Spot, chooses the number of complete rows lit at game start. Hard setting spots zero rows.
44 - Mystery Extra Ball, filters out EB from the random plunge award table. Very Hard setting eliminates EB completely.
45 - Drop Target Reset, affects splash target reset at end of ball. Hard setting resets targets.
46 - EB Target, selects amount of time to earn an extra ball from the Souvenir target. Hard = “minimum time”.

Can also look at putting the game into Novelty mode (adj 29). In this mode all specials simply award 1m points (collecting all the animals, completing the grid, go for the record, etc) and score replay levels and match are disabled.



I stuck a piece of magic eraser in the top saucer to remove the mystery awards - Cayle did you remove it for NW champs? I also had the outlane switches disabled to nuke the outlane awards. The gottlieb flipper mechs are fine if you rebuild them - just keep it waxed and steep with conservative outlane settings and it’ll be a short player.

Killer game!


I left the hole plugged up.

IMO its much better with the hole covered as you don’t get the random multiball awards, or multiball hurryup awards that pull the trigger on a feature when you don’t want it to, or for a player that is sucking and is behind.

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Just put a longer coil stop in. Shortens the travel equally for both sides without modifying any brackets.

Even better. Where did the part come from… older Gottlieb or something else?

Update: We’ve had Surf 'n Safari at the clubhouse for a couple weeks. We took almost all of the advice above so far, and have done the following in setting it up:

  • Added grommets to the coil stops to shorten the flipper throw. The throw is now comparable to WPC.
  • Plugged the Plunge hole with a plastic plug, shaved down in one spot to prevent ball hangs. We removed the wireform that would usually feed this VUK to the middle of the right ramp return, because it’s no longer needed. Also note that, before this hole was plugged, we got lots of pop bumper feeds back into the Plunge hole, multiplying its unbalanced effects.
  • Turned on Novelty mode. Normal EBs and specials are now points, which is what we want.
  • Disabled Catch Up.

Still to do:

  • We haven’t disabled the outlane switches yet, but we probably should.

We did disable EBs from being awarded on the outlanes via setting 44 to Extra Hard (thanks @viperrwk). Note that any EB awarded from the outlane appears to be an actual extra ball and not points, even when in Novelty Mode. Also note that the outlanes flash at the beginning of each ball for a ball save, but that ball save feature is very unfortunately referred to as “Extra Ball” on the display. Even if we could live with the variable exit awards (lit when the bottom row of the grid is filled it), having a ball save that’s called “Extra Ball” is only going to lead to chaos and confusion during our upcoming league in which extra balls are to be plunged but not played. (As far as I know, you can’t turn off this ball save feature, and it’s activated when the player misses the skill shot – aka, every time when the hole is plugged.)

A couple other thoughts:

  • The skill shot is incredibly easy on this game. This makes having it enabled even worse, because of the odds that some unbalanced thing will happen.
  • Speaking of unbalanced…the multiball Plunge award was mentioned above, but did you also know that it can award “Fill the Entire Grid”? I think it can also award all of DOUBLE or at least multiple letters for it. Yikes.
  • Speaking of DOUBLE, the settings for this normally ongoing award are to have it carry over from player to player ball to ball OR start at D-O for each player on each ball. We chose the latter, but it would be much nicer to have it accumulate separately for each player for the entire game, starting at the same point for all.
  • Because the Plunge hole is plugged, you can only ever get a 2-ball multiball. Shooting a skill shot on the plunge after a lock is what allows a 3-ball multiball. Livable, it’s but yet another compromise in the name of fairness.
  • When the Plunge hole is plugged, each plunge starts in the very unsafe pop bumper area rather than coming through the right inlane. This makes for a dramatic difference in expected ball times, and makes the decision to disable the outlane ball save that much harder. It feels like this game is able to be up for PAPA and high-level competitions and super casual play, and not much in between. I’m hoping the fun shots and straightforward rules allow my players to get into it, anyhow, even set up as it is.

Thanks again to all for this discussion.


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