Written by robin, published February 7th, 2008. 8 comment(s).
Doctor Who may be one of the harder pins to play for any newcomer to the game of pinball. It can at times be very frustrating due to its greedy outlanes and, unlike many other pins from the early nineties, the machine seems hard to grasp at first. "What the heck should I shoot for?" is something I often hear people wondering while playing the game in my gameroom. Fact of the matter is that underneath an obvious and shallow rules set (lock balls - start multiball - make jackpots) lies a game full of hidden strategies and a hard to reach wizard mode.
When the game starts, the player is immediately challenged by the question which doctor to select from the row of seven doctors underneath the dot matrix display. Don't take this question too lightly, these doctors can really help you reach some of the games goals faster, as you can read in this story or (even better) in the rulesheet!
What's better than shooting a jackpot of, say, 50 million? Shooting that jackpot and score it times 4 for 200 million! This can be done by increasing your playfield multiplier via the rather difficult upper right ramp (only shootable from the upper left flipper). Each shot increases your multiplier by 0.5x (or by 1x when doctor 6 is active) to a maximum of x4. Be careful though, the bonus multiplier decreaes over time. A good strategy is to increase the multiplier up to 4x just before starting your multiball!
Getting an extra ball is fairly easy in this game. There's two ways of doing this and the first is making two W-H-O loops. A W-H-O loop involves hitting the lower right ramp (marked W), then shoot the 'cave' (marked H) halfway left on the playfield, and last hit the upper right ramp (marked O). Not the easiest sequence, but once you get the hang of it it's fairly easy to do. After having made two W-H-O loops, an extra ball is lit in your inlanes.
The second way to get an extra ball is by completing two waves of the game's vide mode. To lite the video mode, you must complete the escape targets. This goes a lot faster when doctor 1 is lit. The videomode involves the doctor running away from the Daleks and you having to make jumps over the objects in his path. You can make a short jump (one flipper button) or a big jump (two flipper buttons). After some jumps you reach the time machine and are rewarded by a fun quote. in the second wave of the video mode, there's an extra ball. You will see it when you get there. Just don't forget to jump for it! What's really unfortunate and certainly one of my points of critique is the fact that the four videomode waves are always the same. So once you know these, the videomode gets a bit dull.
Knowing about the bonus multipliers and the video mode already increases the fun factor of the game considerably. But there's more hidden gems in the rules. What about the sonic boom? You can reach it by making 10 shots on the upper right ramp (the one that can only be shot with the upper left flipper). When the 10th shot is made, a flap goes down and the ball rolls all the way down to the lower left flipper. Then you must really concentrate and try to make a W-H-O loop. Each shot of this sequence is awarded by one of the coolest sounds in pinball: The Sonic Boom! This is a real cool feature which, in my gameroom, I hardly see (or hear) people doing, just because they don't know it is there!
I hope my story here entices you to give this machine some extra play next time you see it. It may not be a beginners game, but once you know all the hidden features, master the game's ball flow and reach the cool stuff like 'Sonic Boom' or even the 'Davros multiball waves' you'll be glad you did!