Trough Or Modified Rom Issue?

Recently, I’ve seen an issue on a couple older games in 2 recent tournies. At BPO, I was in a group with Becker, DJ, and Greg Wpprelli on Tommy. Tommy has a modified rom that makes multiball not a gimme on ball 3, increases scoring on some modes, makes smash the mirror a 6 ball instead of 2, and makes the blinders come out on Cousin Kevin. Greg got Cousin Kevin and hits the targets for add a balls. It gives him an add a ball but not for all the different targets he hits. So basically it short changed him one add a ball. After playing the mode with multiple balls, he gets down to one ball and is still in the mode. He ends up draining, Cousin Kevin ends, game goes thru a ball search and kicks out another ball. Ruling is to play on since game didn’t give the proper amount of balls to him in the mode which is fine. Over the weekend there was a tourney in Canada that was streamed where there was a finals tiebreaker on Star Ship Troopers. This game also has a modified rom where multiball isn’t a gimme on ball 3. Not sure what other changes are on that rom. Player one gets Orb multiball and hits a couple loops for add a ball. Again, game doesn’t kick out the proper amount of add a balls. After draining all the balls, game kicks out another ball and plays on. Player 2 gets a regular multiball and gets down to 2 balls and no jackpots are lit. Basically he was in regular play with 2 balls. Drained one of the balls and game went to bonus. So player 2 got to play a fresh ball on a new game. I don’t ever remember these games acting this way in the past on factory roms. I think it’s a bug in the code update. Which brings up another question. How much testing has these new rom updates had? Are they being tested in multiplayer situations? If they’re debuting at a tourney, maybe that’s a bad idea. While playing Tommy at BPO in qualifying I was seeing some random shit going on with the visor which is bad. Does anyone know if theses 2 games were modified by the same person?

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I don’t know the answer. But the Tommy had a lot of trouble during the flipper frenzy tournament with not registering drains. The Techs did replace at least one of the trough rollovers and it was better after. But their may have still been some gremlins in the machine.

I also didn’t realize the SST was modified.

Here is the website of the Tommy mod author:

Did not see details anywhere on SST’s modifications. There was some discussion on pinside about a rom 2.01 but it is not a new one as I have a collection of roms and 2.01 is from 2002 so that one is most likely a factory one; any more details on the SST one? I would suspect that they would both be the same person only because they are both Data East or evolution from Data East (Sega) games.

Probably best to email the author at pinball code and see, if for nothing else to let him know about a possible bug in Tommy. Whoever owns the SST would hopefully know the history of the rom as well.

With all due respect to the fine folks who produce custom game ROMs… I think you’re playing with fire if you install modified ROMs for a tournament. That hacked game code probably does not have nearly the level of testing as the original code, even if intentions are good. While the concepts behind the changed code might be really good ideas, there’s a big jump between “code verified by a machine manufacturer” and “hacked code released by an enthused hobbyist”. The latter isn’t necessarily bad, but you should not assume that it will work as well as production code for the game.


Stop putting mystery-box roms in tournaments. problem solved.


Isn’t this a common problem with the DE trough of that era? I had a Tommy with original code where this would happen all the time due to the trough kicker switch not registering there was a ball ready to be served.

Worth it, IMO. These roms make the games much better for competition, encourage more varied play styles, etc. Bugs with them aren’t common and the authors are quite responsive


Maybe, maybe not.

In this case, I looked at the changelist (which they helpfully disclosed) and I absolutely would not put that in an average tournament. There are simply too many changes here, and many of them just don’t seem worth it for the risk. There’s also the issue of the general population not knowing all of these new rules. It’s like putting brand new games in tournaments, maybe worse.

I’m all for fixing really bad bugs though. We just need to agree on the definition of “really bad”.


That’s the best! If everyone knows the game that removes half the fun. Shouldn’t rules knowledge be part of it?

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There was no sign on Tommy indicating a custom rom. I came in on day 2 of qualifying and noticed the bizarre blinder actions. Maybe Adam Becker knows more about the SST rom change since he was there. I only know cause it was mentioned on some of the stream I watched.

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Agreed, and I’d extend that to most all players.

I mean, I don’t know half these modified rules when I end up playing on them, and most of the time the changes and and modification are not listed on the tournament machine.

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Adapt…or die! Maybe lets not try this with new games because of crazy things that may crop up in tourney play, but definitely custom ROMs should be okay. That Tommy was a bit of a enjoyable curveball.

Which again is the same as on new machines. That there’s a custom rom should definitely be noted, but then again newer machines don’t list their code revision and no one complains, even though that can drastically change how you play them, even more than some of these modded roms.

Part of being a tournament player is knowing the rules. Cards to tell you what ruleset they’re using are great, but at the end of the day another part is being able to tell what code version a game is on. There’s always tells of some type, and games like this Tommy are no different. As soon as I walked up to it at the BPSO I thought "is this on original (and what version) or the modded code? And then I paid attention as I played and figured it out, then used that to my advantage


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I mean, sure. But it’s a huge disservice to not at least post that there’s modified code running on the machine. Wasting tickets otherwise, not to mention making a world of hell for TDs. In the event that some crazy scoring happens, a TD may have to invoke the incredibly gray @cayle rule because they’re taking advantage of something they may/may not know about a broken part of the custom code… among several other ruling issues.

It seems like some had knowledge of this change, but not all, so I feel it’s even more important that all know about it. Any blanket change that’s made that affects all players in a way that isn’t immediately discernible (such as a code change) needs to be posted. Sure you can ask a TD, and the info will slowly make its way through the competitors, but how many new players know what code is and that it can be modified. It’s not one of those power of observation kind of things like we saw posted at Pinburgh on games with “lightning flippers”. I don’t think it’s any less important than posting “tilt ends game” signs in appropriate machines, ala Pinburgh. There are likely far more important reasons for this, but these are my pre-coffee-baby-is-crying-I-should-go-help-my-fiancé thoughts.

TL;DR leave the code alone.

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Should code be posted. Yes. Does anyone post code version or setting. No. The only tournament I have been to that posts things like this is INDISC.

Tournament are running custom ROMs for SS all the time without telling people. Dip switch setting that change strategy are not posted.

I fully support using the DE ROMs. I have not played them all, but star wars is great. Tommy seemed much improved based on BPSO. Hook fixes a lot of bugs. They also have very detailed documentation, making them more clear than the originals.


There should always be a notice with modified code, either on the machine itself, on the instruction card, or within the tournament informational materials/website, although, really, this would depend on WHAT has been changed. If randomness of mystery type awards is removed, probably doesn’t need to be posted as it will be obvious. (Anyone that depends on Dracula mystery awarding them something progressive probably needs to rethink their strategy, for instance…)

The changes in Tommy seem pretty extensive though, and while I (obviously) am a proponent of fixing bugs in code, and leveling off randomness for tournament use, I’m not a huge fan of completely gutting the modes in a game or radical changes - more like refinements to tweak something a little better, or to remove an obviously one-sided strategy (like Billion club in Bride of pinbot…).

Some games just weren’t suited for tournament as shipped because they have a bunch of auto adjustments occurring which would make it unfair in a (long) tournament - for instance Bally Atlantis has a bunch of auto adjustments to multiball difficulty, and no way to turn off the extra ball. There’s a rom in beta test right now to correct this. Would you need a sign on the machine that says “no longer adjusts every 10 or 50 games, difficulty of lock lighting no longer automatic”? (You’d probably want to add a sign for a couple of the other options in the new settings, like “no million shot,”, or “jackpot individual per player”.). The rest of the option changes are individual settings for the various things that are timed on the playfield, like how long you have to shoot the million shot, the spot locks shot, the drop bank, the spinner, etc. - and they can all be left as ‘stock’ if desired.

Basically, settings that were all canned before are now tuneable by the TD. Granted, Atlantis isn’t by any means a must-have tournament game, but was it because it previously had a bunch of auto adjust undesirable options in it, or for some other reason? (relative rarity?). How many players previously knew that the locks auto adjusted? (It’s in the manual for game but not on the rules cards). First player could have gotten 2-3 multiballs on their first ball and driven the multiball percentage up, and player 2 could have been screwed by having to earn all the locks if the percentage happened to go up (or one game to the next)

I agree with earlier comments that the code should be completely well tested before being used in the tournament, to make sure it is solid and doesn’t have new bugs in it. From the description of what happened in Tommy it almost sounded like some kind of ball timer watchdog timed out and the game went into a ball search when it shouldn’t… is that game in the Buffalo pinball open stream at all so we can see the modified stuff or even the bug?

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Would you mind pointing me in the direction of the source of the modified code and this documentation? I’ve never seen it, I don’t know who makes it, and I’m genuinely curious to look it over.

I am assuming it was running this.

There are a bunch of other ROMs on that site as well.

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Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been playing for as long as I have and never knew about this site. Thanks a lot!

interesting modification for sure, a few place in town have the SW code on.