What are some good 'training' EM games?


#1

Hi all. I’ve been playing in a league and a small number of tournaments over the last several years and have decided to add an EM to my small collection of 5-6 games, both because I enjoy them and to act as a trainer game for my competitive play/skills.

Since I only have room for one EM, I’d like something that exemplies the essence of EMs (has many of the typical features and play mechanics), looks pretty, and is a good machine for practicing typical EM-heavy or specific skills (gentle nudging, flipper techniques, etc.) Something relatively widely available and inexpensive is also a plus.

Suggestions?


#2

Argosy, Jacks Open, Jungle Queen, Little Chief and Volley come to mind. I’d say Argosy and Jungle Queen are the prettier ones, with Jungle Queen being the easiest to find. While I really like Grand Prix and Hokus Pokus, they’re a bit too one-dimensional to be ideal learner games. Sinbad’s great for skill development, too, but it’s double flippers are rare enough that I’d choose a standard flipper game to learn on. For learning on games with short and zip-able flippers, Fireball can’t be beat.


#3

Argosy has most later EM stuff (but is missing a lot of earlier / 2 inch flipper stuff like zipper flippers, no inlanes, roto-targets, etc).

I’d vote Far Out over Jungle Queen. No weird secondary flippers and the rules require good accuracy and reward controlled play. Or maybe Fast Draw for the nudging in the upper playfield.

There’s way too much range to EMs to cover even half of it with one machine, but I guess I’d err on the side of newer 3" flipper games from the 70s, since they tend to appear at tournaments more. I’d almost think to purposely choose a game that’s very weird and unique layout wise, just to get more used to some of the weird stuff EMs do, but with only one you risk just getting used to that specific one instead


#4

For learning on games with short and zip-able flippers, Fireball can’t be beat.

I like that game, but pretty $ isn’t it? Also I have a Medusa so I get some zipper-flipper action there. :slight_smile:

There’s way too much range to EMs to cover even half of it with one machine, but I guess I’d err on the side of newer 3" flipper games from the 70s, since they tend to appear at tournaments more. I’d almost think to purposely choose a game that’s very weird and unique layout wise, just to get more used to some of the weird stuff EMs do, but with only one you risk just getting used to that specific one instead

Yeah, they do seem to be all over the map. I have a borrowed Abra Ca Dabra right now, but don’t really feel like it provides a typical EM experience with fairly wide open symmetrical playfield and numerous drop targets. What about a Strange World? There is a nice one for sale fairly close to me. Looking at the PF there, my main observation is that lack of normal outlanes might prevent practicing shatzing. I also have a Star Gazer with a similar setup for the flipper lanes, so maybe something else would be better?


#5

Some other options that haven’t been mentioned but might be what you’re looking for:

Mars Trek
Surf Champ/Surfer
Orbit
Vulcan
Captain Fantastic
Old Chicago is great but has a similar lack of inlanes to what you’re talking about with Strange World and Stargazer

Note these all have normal sized flippers and inlane/outlane setups.


#6

Doodle Bug.

I kid. Never Doodle Bug.


#7

Consider Sky Jump. Great nudging / plunging practice. I love the rules with the lite drop target. Left side feed can be tough to handle on a lot of them. Great game.

Also maybe 300. Spinner, right side waterfall, good game.


#8

I second Sky Jump. It has a lot of precise shooting, but also tons of nudging. It’s also one of the first EMs I really appreciated and noticed how different the skill set is for that type of pinball from modern pinball.


#9

I’ll have to research these suggestions, thanks (keep them coming)!

I should have mentioned I also really dig vari-targets, roto-targets, and mushroom bumpers. :slight_smile:


#10

Yes, I’ll also recommend Sky Jump [or the extra ball version, Free Fall]. Just remember, don’t plunge the “6”! And yes, it’ll be in my revised EMcyclopedia when I have time to get to it.


#11

Joker Poker? There isn’t much unusual about it, though the objectives change with each ball so it makes you shoot all over. (And it has a 2 inch flipper up top).

Wizard gets played a lot at my local spot. Tap passing is essential…as is slapping the side of the machine as it comes down the chute on the right…as is getting it to land in the saucer up top. Also has valuable targets with dangerous returns (3k standup in the center and 5k dead-end standup on the right). The outlanes are really difficult - I’m not sure I’ve learned any skills from them other than knowing when to give up on a ball. :slight_smile:


#12

I think it’s best to get one Williams one gottlieb and one Bally. They all play so different.

But if it has to be only one, why not something like hang glider? That seems to have a lot packed in to make you shoot everywhere and get all the nudging and saving down.

I think the biggest thing with EMs is don’t be too cute. Just keep the ball alive and take advantage of the one to two times per ball you’ll get a clean feed to the flipper.

This should be a pretty cheap game too


#13

Jet Spin. Has roto and vary targets. Good plunge practice, simple layout.


#14

My dad liked Sky Jump so much it was his inspiration for his Sharpshooter design.


#15

Bob beat me to my suggestions, so I’ll just second Jungle Queen/Princess, Volley, Little Chief.

I’ll also throw out - Target Alpha/Gold Strike/El Dorado.

If you only want to add a single EM I would choose a Gottlieb 3" flipper game.


#16

Agree with this… while lots of other games are awesome and worthy, Gottlieb’s are just more common out in the wild so chances of playing one at a league or tournament is probably higher.


#17

I also agree, unless you already have a system 1 or system 80. The flipper feel on the early Gottlieb SS are very similar. Williams EM flippers on the other hand are a completely different beast from system 6-9


#18

This is partly true - up till Firepower Williams Digitals use the same crappy flipper mechs as the Williams EMs.

As far as the best EM games to get to “train,” I’d just avoid novelty games like the dozens of roullette wheel EMs (they are all terrible) or double sets of flippers like Big Casino or suspense (I wouldn’t include Jungle Queen in this category as it just substitutes flippers for slings). EMs are so cheap that you can just buy one that looks fun, play it for a few months, and sell it for what you paid. There’s so many different EM layouts features it’s impossible to cover them all in one game.

You can learn a lot by getting a game with no inlanes like Space Time, or a 2 inch flipper game WITH inlanes like 2001, or a more standard/familiar feel game like Argosy. Just buy an EM or two, and rotate them out. At $500-1000 for these games you really don’t have much to lose - just make sure you get one that’s already working as it’s a bad idea for a newbie to dive head first into an EM project.


#19

I’ve researched most of the suggestions and they all look pretty good. I really like Jet Spin due to the vari-roto targets. :smiley:

Maybe another way to approach this is more meta. What EM-specific skills are useful to develop/practice? And what is a good way to do so?

So for example, I have a few SS games, 90’s Williams DMD, and access to modern Sterns to practice on. What I am wondering is what skills are so EM specific that you really need an EM to practice on to develop them?


#20

Thinking skill specific, it’s pretty important to get comfortable Shatzing on EMs. The feel definitely varies depending on the flipper style.

Bally (more rounded flipper edge) - Wizard / Bow and Arrow
Williams (more pointy flipper edge) - Hot Tip / Argosy