(Topic ID: 4433)

3 balls/game vs 5 balls/game for 1980s-era


By Finrod

8 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 21 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 8 years ago by ninjedi
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 8 years ago

    Some of us can remember back to the early 1980s and before when pinball machines gave you 5 balls per game by default. Then at some point in the early 1980s, 3 balls per game became the new standard.

    My question: are there any machines that default to 3 balls/game where you think the game just works better as a 5-ball game? What about the other way, a machine that defaults to 5 balls that would just work better as a 3-ball game?

    My oldest machine, Haunted House, is a 5-ball game, and so is my newest, Black Knight 2000 (Williams's idea at the time was to make the game 50 cents/play but 5 balls/game). The others, Laser Cue, Sorcerer, and Swords of Fury, all defaulted to 3 balls. The only one I change is the Laser Cue, because it's a vicious game, and so much of the game is built around running up the bonus (the bonus holds over between balls, and the multiplier will only reset down to 5x instead of 1x (maximum of 20x)), that it's much more satisfying to play as a 5-ball game. Since it was designed so close to the 5->3 switch, I wonder if it was originally designed as a 5-ball game but ended up released as a 3-ball game because that was what Williams was doing at the time.

    I know some early 90s machines have a setting that enables 5 balls but also makes other things harder to compensate; e.g. Funhouse won't light special until you reach the third multiball instead of the second, plus it starts the clock at a much earlier time (5:00 instead of 8:00?). Also alleviating the pain of having 3 balls instead of 5, some games will make it much easier to collect an extra ball on the 3rd ball if you don't do well on the first two balls (my Swords of Fury will start AVENGER at Extra Ball instead of 50K if you drain the first two balls inside of 1 minute).

    #2 8 years ago

    I might change my Paragon to 5 balls. That game is brutal.

    #3 8 years ago

    I remember HH on 3-balls when on route. I wouldn't call it a 5-ball game myself. Are you saying the factory had all HH's dip-switches set to 5-ball?

    I think all SS games should be 3-ball.

    #4 8 years ago

    Alot of operators set their machines to 3 ball play to make more money.
    Some games do get boring on 5 ball play.

    #5 8 years ago

    Does BK2K default to 5 balls? That would explain why I have such a hard time of getting more then 3-4M with any regularity. That game is BRUTAL if you lose control of the ball or miss a shot on the lower play field.

    I don't really like 5 ball games typically. Older EMs with short ball times—especially Gottliebs with the wee flippers—make sense on 5, but games where you can trap, post pass, nudge balls out of the outlanes etc. tend to seem a bit easy.

    #6 8 years ago

    I have my Bally Viking on 3 ball ... but considering going 5 it kicks my ass!

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    #7 8 years ago

    I say EM = 5 ball Solid state = 3 ball however there are a few exceptions where games just totally kick your @$$ - 5 balls just sometimes seems like forever - paragon = 3 balls, just ask bowen

    #8 8 years ago

    I have discovered that purists insist on 3-ball and home users enjoy 5-ball much of the time. Having said that, I have Mata Hari now set to three ball and Seawitch set to 3-ball. Gorgar is set to 5 and I have no plans to change it to three.

    #9 8 years ago

    Hyper, how do you like your Viking? There's one for sale near me, they want $500. Don't know condition, other than working. Is it worth it?

    #10 8 years ago

    Its a beautiful game... not the most exicitng but if you can get it for $300-400 go for it.

    #11 8 years ago

    I've seen this 3-ball or 5-ball Post on Alot of Forum's , and the majority say 5-ball and set to factory ,, Yea right !! .. Till i visited some of those member's.. The Pin's were on 5-ball . Me Personally,, I Alway's have my Pin's on 5-ball. I want to Play and have Fun,, TZ & BSD are Ass-kicker's to start with, I at least want a Chance.....

    #12 8 years ago

    I have f14 set to 5 ball. call it revenge for all the money it took from me back in the 80's.

    #13 8 years ago

    I mix it up from time to time - just to keep the crew on edge
    gorgar on 3, space mission on 5, and NOW on 3,
    after a few pints going from game to game people........

    #14 8 years ago

    Generally I'd perfer.

    Competition: 3 balls, no extra balls.

    Public coin-op: 5 balls, extra balls (with a limit of 1 extra ball or maybe 2).

    Adjust playing times by the difficulty. On individual features if necessary. As well as tilt sensitivity and steepness.

    Reason being, that a payed game is much more appealing, when you feel a certain progress through the game, with modes, mb etc. Hence a 5 baller is more fun than two 3 ball games. Especially for machines you don't know. The limit on extra balls is a fair trade if necessary.

    #15 8 years ago

    There was another thread on here recently about this same topic:

    http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/how-many-balls-do-you-play-with

    Here's what I typed in that thread:

    I'm old enough to remember when the standard was 5 balls. When they started to switch to 3 balls PLUS charging $0.50 instead of $.0.25 - well I thought that was highway robbery. So I'm old-school and play with 5. I'm also unusual in that I don't have my games on free play - it costs $0.25 to play. ...but I always keep a stack of quarters close by. Keep in mind, I have two machines from '79, one from '80 and one from '86....I think these older machines were intended to play as 5 ball games.

    #16 8 years ago
    Quoted from Finrod:

    My oldest machine, Haunted House, is a 5-ball game, and so is my newest,

    I know most live and die by the 3-ball rule for SS games. I don't know if HH does the same thing that Black Hole does because I can't say I've played it enough, but from a scoring perspective, I think Black Hole is almost harder on 5-ball. Some agree, some don't.

    Why? You might ask? Look on the score card. Targets that are 3,000 pts in a 3 ball game are 1,000 in a five ball. They do this across a lot of the game, and if you do the math you aren't getting your return on a 5 ball game. So higher scores seem to show up in 3 ball matches.

    Another difference on BH is the "can-I-possibly-get-this-damn-multiball" mode. The captive ball lock on the lower playfield is always lit when you start BH. You have to light the one on the upper playfield, how isn't important, but in a 3-ball game locked balls stay in their scoops and can be stolen by other players. So I can get you do to do the work for me, or if my turn comes around again before some else gets multiball, they are still locked. lol

    In a 5-ball game....the locked balls are all kicked out of the scoops at the end of the ball before the next player shoots. So basically every player starts from square one and must lock both balls and return to the lower playfield to start multiball. It makes achieving it a lot harder.

    I guess you could say that makes the game more boring, although it does turn multiball pretty much into the wizard mode, and the scores drop...To become a better player, I like the challenge so I leave it on 5 most of the time, but the high score is a 3 ball game...lol

    Re-entry attempt has failed....lol

    #17 8 years ago
    Quoted from SunKing:

    I'm old enough to remember when the standard was 5 balls. When they started to switch to 3 balls PLUS charging $0.50 instead of $.0.25

    Sunking, I think Black Hole was one of the first to go to 50 cents. There's a Gottlieb letter on ipdb.org claiming how much cash they made the first week or month the game was on location. I'd have to check but it was like $700 in a week.

    #18 8 years ago

    I looked at my Haunted House manual, and it doesn't really say whether 3 balls or 5 balls is the default. Since the settings are via dip switches in the backbox, there's nothing to reset to. Looking at the scoring, the only differences I see are that pop bumpers are 1000 pts in 3-ball mode and 100 in 5-ball mode, and the drop target bank on the upper playfield resets when the ball drains from the upper to lower playfield in 5-ball mode, but not in 3-ball. That's not a whole lot of differences.

    Personally, every Haunted House I've played (which granted I can count on one hand) has been set to 5 balls per game, so I would assume that's the default.

    #19 8 years ago

    80s era - 3 ball. 70s era - generally 5 ball.

    #20 8 years ago

    I have my FishTales set to 5 balls only because I am rubbish at it. With 3 balls.... game over in under two minutes

    #21 8 years ago

    I only have my Gottlieb Joker Poker on 5 ball.
    Seems to make sense with 1 ball per type of card (9, 10, J, Q, K) allowing each to be the bonus cards.

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