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Welcome to Pinball Intrigue, where I indulge my fascination with the silver ball. Here you will find posts regarding my pinball experiences, pinball machine repairs and mods, a virtual pinball build, and links to other pinball sites.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate's Pinball For Me: Pirates of the Caribbean Joins the Arcade

In the post which I described the acquisition of my Dracula pinball machine, I mentioned that pinball machine #11 had been acquired and that it would be the subject of another post. Well, this is that post! We debated greatly what that last pinball machine would be. Price was factor, with nothing over $4500, which eliminated many excellent machines. Although I would have liked Terminator 2 or Stargate, Kelly had no interest in those. He suggested Jurassic Park or  Flintstones, but I shot those down. We agreed that Congo, Black Rose, Pinball Magic, and Godzilla would be good choices, but we had trouble finding them, and when we did I felt they were overpriced. Finally the choice came down to a Tales from the Crypt and Pirates of the Caribbean, both being Craigslist ads in the Seattle area, which meant another road trip. We debated for an hour or two, but in the end POTC won and we headed up to Seattle on a sunny Saturday.

 The seller (a fellow Pinsider) was very accommodating, and he had kept up his machine very well; it was probably the nicest machine we had purchased except for the Hobbit. He had installed several LEDs, which saved us some money, and the price was great, plus he threw in a free shaker motor. After touring his nice piece of property, including his other machines and his workshop where he was repainting playfields, we departed for home with the POTC in the back of the truck. After unloading it I played a few games while it was on the cart but leveling issues made it difficult.

Still, it was enough to see that we made a good choice in picking it over TFTC- I don't think there was a right or wrong choice, because hey, it's pinball either way! But POTC is a very polarizing game. Some claim it is too easy and repetitive; others think it is a great game. A prime example of this is the difference between the ratings on the two big sites. On Pinside, POTC is ranked #53 in their top 100, while on IPDB it is ranked #157 in their top 300...polarizing indeed. According to Pinball News, POTC was the first game to feature an LED DMD, but it is so bright that it tends to wash out the single fluorescent light in the backbox, so replacing that light with a warmer light will help.

Produced by Stern in 2006, the game was designed by Dennis Nordman, who is my favorite pinball designer. I already own White Water and Scared Stiff, so POTC is my 3rd Nordman game. The artwork was done by Kevin O'Conner, who has been mentioned here in several other posts such as Frankenstein and Zombie Raid. Actual production numbers have not been released, but POTC proved to be a very popular title for Stern that sold extremely well, and it is not hard to find one in most metropolitan areas. Despite its numbers, it has held its value well. Moving on to the game itself, the most obvious feature is the ship that during parts of the game partially sinks into the playfield, and behind that is a plastic kraken. There is also a spinning disc, Dead Man's chest which features a glowing, beating heart inside, a compass in the lower playfield that indicates completed objectives 3 pop bumpers, and in true Nordman fashion, lots of ramps. There are 5(!) possibilities off the skill shot, and multiball modes include Kraken 2 ball multiball, Tortuga 3 ball multiball, Davy Jones 3 ball multiball, Heart 3 ball multiball, and Four Winds 4 ball multiball, which is also a wizard mode and includes Guantlet of Pirates multiball.

I've shared my thoughts on playing this game on location in some previous posts, and each time I have really liked it. One weekend when I stayed at the Chinook Winds Casino on the Oregon coast, I played this in the Casino's arcade while my friends were losing their asses on the slot machines. I think I got the better experience for the money. And that's a great seller feature for this game - someone who doesn't play a lot of pinball can walk up to this machine and have a lot of fun sinking the ship and spinning ball on the disc, while enjoying the pirate atmosphere. It will be a great draw for my guests during parties. And the timing of the purchase couldn't be better, as a new POTC machine is being made by Jersey Jack that has many similarities to this machine. You can find a great post on it at This Week In Pinball (cool site!).

RULES (Courtesy of Pinball News)

You have two options on where to plunge the ball. A full strength plunge will send the ball to the upper playfield whereas a weaker plunge sends it through a one way gate and onto the wireform feeding the right ramp. No award is given for the weaker plunge but you get the ball to the flippers quickly which can be useful for one of the timed or countdown features.

There are four possible exits from the upper playfield. The Parlay sink hole awards letters to complete P-A-R-L-A-Y. If you're going for your first Parlay, you are awarded two letters each time you make the sink hole. Once you've complete it, you only get one letter for subsequent shots. When you complete the P-A-R-L-A-Y letters, one of the two outlanes is lit for a ball saver. The lit lane changes with slingshot hits but if you complete Parlay again, both lanes are lit. If a ball drains down a lit lane it is saved and relaunched.

Parlay is one exit from the upper playfield. The others are the three lanes at the bottom, each of which has a corresponding green lamp on the backboard and awards a K-E-Y letter. The Rum Ramp feeds to the left flipper inlane and lights the major shots for a Rum Combo award starting at 250K. It also lights the left most green lamp on the backboard. The centre lane is Walk The Plank and seemed to be the most frequent choice on this machine. It is a simple points award of 250K which increases by 150K each time. As you might gather, this can become a significant points value before long, although it resets back to 250K at the start of each ball. This also lights the centre green lamp on the backboard. The final exit is Broadside. This sends the ball onto the right wireform and to the right flipper for a shot at the ship. If you make it and have previously knocked the sails down, the ship is sunk immediately amidst much cursing from the Captain. This is a great time saver and advances you quickly through the ships if you can make the lane and shot combo reliably. Making the Broadside lane lights the right-most green lamp on the backboard.

Completing all three green lamps scores 500K, increasing 250K for each subsequent completion. The lamps can be rotated with the flipper buttons (lane change) so even if a switch is broken or is very tricky to make, you can still complete the lanes and get the award. Whichever path you choose, the ball eventually ends up down at the flippers which is where you'll find the main game indicator - the compass. This shows you the features available, those you have completed and those you have not and thus your progress towards the wizard mode of Four Winds Multiball. The compass is divided up into four zones - North, East, South and West - corresponding to the four winds. Each zone consists of two tasks to complete and a reward for completing them both.

We'll start with North which is probably the easiest zone to complete. The two tasks are to sink a ship and to complete Sword Fight. The ship, being the main toy in the game is pretty hard to avoid, especially with the large protective plastic panels around it. You have to sink the ship to achieve the first task. You do that by shooting the ball up the lane and bashing the ship. If you do this with Broadside lit, the ship will be destroyed immediately, otherwise you will score one hit. The ball is held temporarily in the ship lane after each hit but only for the first ship. Thereafter it is not held. There are four ships to sink, each one requiring progressively more hits to sink, but for the first ship you need two hits to destroy the sails. Intermediate hits score 25K (increasing 15K per ship) while destroying the sails nets you 150K points. At that point the sails collapse and you need another two hits to sink the ship. Make the first hit and the ship starts rocking back and forth in a rather noisy way but make the second and the ship sinks into the playfield. After the final hit, the ball is held in the ship lane by a combination of a one way gate and an up post. Sinking a ship lights the Sink Ship feature lamp on the compass When the ship has finally sunk, a ball saver begins, the ball is released and another is autolaunched and the 2 ball Battle The Kraken multiball begins.

The Kraken is the multi-limbed creature hidden behind the ship highlighted below. With the ship out of the way, you are now supposed to shoot up the ship lane, under the creature and round the back of the submerged vessel to score hits on the Kraken. In fact, the sensor to register hits is the same one used for the ship, so you only really need to get the ball that far up the lane to score a hit. This game had the cutout for a second switch but it wasn't fitted and apparently neither the switch nor the cutout will not be there on most production games. Anyway, you need a minimum of three hits to defeat the Kraken. I say minimum because the display shows the creature's life bar and all the time you are not hitting it, the life bar creeps up, strengthening the Kraken and so requiring more hits to defeat it. The battle ends if you lose one or both of the balls but make the enough hits to reduce its life bar to zero and you start a 3M hurry up on the same shot, plus you light the Destroy Kraken compass task. Collect it before it counts down to 1M and Victory Jig frenzy mode starts, accompanied by a much more robust "Yo ho, Yo ho, a pirate's life for me" theme than the one at the start of the game. If you didn't complete the battle, there is a small window to collect an additional Kraken hit if you can sneak the ball up the lane while the ship is resetting. It's one of the very few grace periods in the game. As Battle The Kraken resumes after every ship sinking, if you don't defeat it the first time you've got several more attempts through the game.

Sinking one ship completes the first North task - Ship Sunk. The other is to finish the Sword Fight. The Sword Fight takes place in the pop bumpers. You need 20 hits to complete Sword Fight after which subsequent hits build up towards increasing the bonus multiplier. The bumper hits are accompanied by two swordsmen fighting it out across the display in front of the score(s) while the number of hits needed to increase the multiplier is shown underneath. There are three ways to advance the bonus multiplier. Getting the ball in the Parlay hole on the upper playfield increases the multiplier by 1. To advance the bonus multiplier from the bumpers takes 20 hits initially, increasing for each subsequent time. Completing the bumpers adds 2 to the bonus multiplier while completing all three top lanes adds 3 to the multiplier. Interestingly, the animation looks more than a little similar to the Whitewater multiball start. Sword Fight is a relatively easy task to complete and often happens without any conscious effort at all although a shot up the right lane is a good way to help it along.

So with both North tasks completed, the North arrow award is lit at the centre lane. When it's not lit for any award the centre lane saucer just increases the base jackpot value but with North completed, when you get the ball in the saucer you start the North mode and that means Collect Crew. Collect crew is a Frenzy-type mode where all switches score to add crew members. You need to collect 100 hits to gather a full crew and complete the mode. Each crew member scores points starting at 24K and increasing by 1K. Collect them all to complete and end the mode.

Moving round the compass, we'll look at West next. Destroying the Kraken is covered in the Sink Ship section above so to complete the zone you need to start Jack The Monkey. Plenty of opportunities for jokes there, but we'll ignore them and move on to the rules for this feature. Jack The Monkey is played out on the right ramp. Shooting it advances the J-A-C-K letters so you need four shots to complete. When all four letters have been collected a hurry up starts on the same ramp. The initial value is 2M points and it quickly counts down to 250K at which point there is a brief hold at that value before the hurry up times out and the feature ends. Collecting the award ends the feature while starting it gives the appropriate compass award. With both West features lit, the centre shot is lit for the zone award, an extra ball which, I should add, has a very nice animation to go with it when collected.

Moving further round we come to the South zone. Port Royal is one of the two features at the spinning disk along with Tortuga. Note that this disk pattern is due to change in later production machines. The left ramp sends the ball into the spinning disk which starts spinning as the ball enters the ramp. When the ball enters, an up post at the front of the disk raises, preventing the ball from escaping. The ball then spins round and round the disk hitting the yellow standup targets as it goes. These hits count up towards completing the Port Royal timed lock feature until a short timer expires and the up post is dropped allowing the ball to escape into the left lane. Your progress towards completion is shown on the bank of 7 red lamps on the backboard. Initially they are all turned off but they illuminate from left to right as the number of hits increases turning to blinking and then solidly lit. In earlier versions of the game this took several visits to Port Royal but from version 1.08 it has become much easier, making it just possible to complete in just one visit. When the requisite number of hits have been achieved the ball is released from the spinning disk and the timed lock feature is now available at the left ramp. This lights the Port Royal feature lamp on the compass.

Shoot the ball into the spinning disk again and it is held there for 10 seconds while another ball is launched. You now need to shoot up the left ramp so it can join its companion in the spinning disk within the 10 second time limit. You can do this once more to get up to three balls in there. If you do this, or fail to put a ball in there within the allocated 10 seconds, all the balls are released and Tortuga Multiball begins. Tortuga Multiball isn't so much a feature in its own right but more something to run alongside whatever else you're doing to boost scoring quite dramatically. You can just play it as a multiball but that's missing the point somewhat. Tortuga doesn't light the jackpots shots but instead lights the left ramp for you to shoot the balls back up onto the disk for another timed lock sequence to increase your scoring multiplier. Get one ball in there for double playfield scoring, two for triple and three for quadruple scoring while the balls are on the disk. As they hit the targets they light the red lamps on the backboard and when they are all lit the balls are released. You can run this alongside other features to really build your score. As you lose balls the multiplier possibilities reduce and Tortuga Multiball ends when you're down to one ball or fewer.

With Port Royal completed, to complete South you need to collect all the pirates. The pirates are the six green standup targets dotted around the playfield. Be careful with them as direct hits have a tendency to rebound straight down the middle and because of their relative proximity to the flippers, they send the ball back at a blistering speed. Each target equates to a specific pirate from the movie - Clanker, Oldhaddy, Kolenkio, Maccus, Patch and Crash. Shooting any of the green standups awards a pirate (if not already awarded) and lights the insert in front of the target. The aim is to collect all six to score 200K (increasing by 10K each time they are completed), light the Liar's Dice random award feature at the centre shot and the All Pirates Collected compass feature. Liar's Dice (note the missing apostrophe in the displays above) gives a range of awards such as small points, big points, bonus multiplier advance (+5x), complete Parlay and light extra ball.

With both compass features lit, the South award is given which is to maximise the jackpot value for the rest of the ball. The jackpot value starts are 350K and is built throughout the game by shooting either the left loop up kicker or the centre saucer but this award instantly maxes it out at 2M. It makes sense to try for this award early on rather than after you've sunk all your ships and played Tortuga. As it's only maxed for the duration of the current ball, when you lose the ball the jackpots return to the value you were building or 1M - whichever is the lesser value - but the lamp remains lit.

The final zone of the compass, and the hardest to complete is East. The first of these is to defeat Davy Jones. This requires you to sink all four ships as described above which starts Battle Davy Jones which is a three ball multiball. This feature is somewhat different to the ship-sinking volley of shots you usually fire up the ship lane because timing as well as direction is important. When the feature starts, the ship begins rocking but in a more exaggerated way than when you're about to sink it. It rocks so much that shots under the ship towards the Kraken are possible. Your task is to shoot the ship enough times to sink it and defeat Davy Jones. Miss the ship and hit the Kraken and you get a Kraken Jackpot instead. Like your battle with the Kraken, Davy Jones has a life bar which reduces with every hit but recovers over time. The ship inserts mirror the life bar, starting out fully lit and extinguishing one by one as Jones' life diminishes. Defeat him by reducing his life bar to zero and you get the elusive compass feature light.

The other half of the East zone is the Heart Super Jackpot and that involves the final toy in the game, the Dead Man's Chest. To open the chest you need to spell K-E-Y either by shooting under the chest to add one letter at a time, or by collecting letters from the upper playfield or from a Liar's Dice award. Once you have spelled K-E-Y and shoot the chest, it opens to reveal Davy Jones' heart on a bed of gold doubloons some of which spell out H-E-A-R-T, the first letter of which is flashing. The heart contains two pairs of LEDs which flash in time with the heartbeat sound effect for a short time but then the chest closes and the ball is ejected. You have to shoot the chest five more times to spell out H-E-A-R-T. When the ball is ejected, all the major shots are lit for jackpots. Jackpots start at 400K rising 25K each time and once lit they remain lit, even between balls. Collect all, any or none of them and shoot the chest again to add another H-E-A-R-T letter and relight all the jackpot shots. You can just keep shooting the chest but you're missing out on some valuable jackpots on the ramps and lanes. When you have completed all the H-E-A-R-T letters the chest is now lit for Heart Multiball. This is a three ball multiball, so two more balls are autolaunched.

Again all the major shots are flashing for jackpots. You need to keep shooting the chest to collect the Super Jackpot but its value is increased by collecting the lit jackpot shots. When you shoot a flashing shot it becomes solidly lit and no longer scores jackpots. When all jackpots are collected, the shots return to flashing and can be collected again. When you have shot the chest enough times to spell out H-E-A-R-T again the chest then scores the Super Jackpot. This is worth 2M points or more and relights all the shots but perhaps most importantly gives you your compass feature light for Heart Super Jackpot. You can continue scoring jackpot and super jackpot scores until you are down to only one ball or fewer and of course you can combine them with the Tortuga Multiball for multiplied scores. Completing both of the East compass awards lights special at the side lanes which is fairly easy to collect, especially in multiball and thankfully isn't one of those special awards you need to drain down an outlane to collect.

So those are all the features on the compass that you need to complete to get to the finale or wizard mode. When they are all complete you shoot the centre lane to the saucer to start the compass wizard more (or the first part of it anyway), Four Winds Multiball. This is a full blown (get it?) multiball with all four balls in play but it's no breeze to complete. One of the major shots is flashing and a hurry up jackpot value starts to count down representing one of the four winds. You need to make that shot to freeze the jackpot value before it reaches the base level, then shoot all the remaining shots to score that value. If you don't make it in time, the jackpot value hits the base level and that is your jackpot score. Once you collect all the shots, you gain your second wind. Literally, as a second shot is flashing and another countdown jackpot value begins just like the first to represent wind number two of four. You repeat this for all four winds and if you manage this while keeping two or more balls in play, you progress to the second part of the wizard mode. If you don't manage to get all the shots on all four winds, the next time you play Four Winds Multiball you'll resume on the last wind you were playing instead of having to start from scratch.

So assuming you've made all the shots on all four winds, you start part two of the wizard mode, Gauntlet of Pirates multiball. This starts at the spinning disk so shoot the ball up here and one of the major shots is lit for one gauntlet point. Any lost balls are relaunched at the start of the mode, so you start with four balls again and the aim is to build up the number of gauntlet points by shooting the spinning disk and then collecting the lit shot. Completing all six pirates during the mode adds another ball (if you've drained any) and the mode ends when you are down to one ball or fewer. There is a separate high score table for the number of gauntlet points awarded in a single game. The total of gauntlet points holds over, so if you manage to start it a second time you have your first round's points to start from.

That is the wizard mode but there are some additional features in the game not based around the compass. One of those is collecting treasure. Throughout the game, getting the ball into one of the two side lanes above the slingshots awards treasure and lights the standup target in front for bonus treasure which seemed to add 5 to the haul. By default there is an extra ball awarded at 25 and 125 and bonus held awarded at 75. As elsewhere in the game, extra balls are collected at the centre shot saucer. There is also an award on each of the inlanes. When the ball rolls down an inlane either directly or off a ramp or wireform, the lane on the opposite side is lit for Catch The Wind. So rolling down the right inlane lights the left lane and vice versa. Catch the wind starts at 450K and advances with each award collected. It's the last thing you want to see but the bonus count comes to us all. In Pirates Of The Caribbean the bonus consists of an amount of treasure collected times the bonus multiplier. At least that what the display shows but in fact there's another uncredited element added before the multiplier to make sure you still get some bonus points even if you don't collect any treasure. For ball one you get 25,000, ball two gives you 50,000 while the third ball is worth 100,000.

However, if seeing the bonus count gets you down, you still have the match sequence to look forward to. It's probably the best animation in the game making great use of the increased number of intensity levels and the accompanying sounds fit perfectly too. Interestingly, in the period immediately after the end of the game, only a small selection of the usual display frames are shown - just the scores and high scores - for about 30 seconds, after which the full range (including the title, Stern logo etc) are shown. And that concludes our look at the rules for Pirates Of The Caribbean. As we said before this wasn't a final production game but these rules should be the most up-to-date at the time of writing so if you find there's anything missing or incorrect please let us know and we'll fix it as soon as possible.

Now we come to our verdict on the game and all the individual elements that create the full pinball experience we so look forward to when we drop our coins in the slot or uncrate that new home game.
The first sight of the game give you a sense of class. The cabinet and backbox artwork is detailed, bold and well balanced giving a classy feel to contrast with the brightly lit interior. It's almost like a treasure chest itself. The playfield is certainly a game of two halves. The lower area is open with the warmly lit yellows and reds emanating a rich glow in contrast to the azure sea around the outer edge.
Up at the top though things couldn't be more different. Everything's tightly packed in and it's all about clear plastic picking up reflections from the variety of differently coloured lamps. There are blues, green, reds, a big row of white lamps at the top of the backboard and some well positioned flasher lamps at the base. The good use of spotlights brings plenty of contrast to enhance the depth of the ship and the chest and to prevent them looking tacky. Both show great detail and work very effectively in the game. They are solidly built - the chest especially so - so should hold up on site.

There's no avoiding the fact that the big "sneeze guard" around the ship looks ugly and like a cheap, rushed solution to an engineering problem. It might not be noticeable after a while but that's when the game is new. After it's been on site for some time, the plastics start picking up dirt and dust, and before long it's going to become hazy and much more noticeable. Also, the washed-out quality and the low-resolution of the printing on the playfield plastics slightly diminishes the overall look further.

Looking at the shots, there is a good variety of places to send the ball - nine in total - but only the two outer lanes and the right ramp allow the ball to continue its path. The remainder all stop the ball one way or another making this more of a shooters game than one for people who look for fast ball action.

One big criticism of the game has to be the lack of information given to the player about what to shoot and what the various features do. The problem crops up rights from the very start. What's the skill shot? Is there one? There's a short plunge option but what's that for? Is that the skill shot? In time of uncertainty we look for guidance and that means the instruction card, but in this instance the brevity makes it largely useless. It tells you to collect treasure but doesn't tell you how, and it doesn't even mention the key aim of completing the compass point tasks to get to Four Winds Multiball. And nothing about a skill shot. So what about the dot matrix display? Well, again it's not a huge help in understanding what's going on through the game, what to shoot for or why. For instance, the Collect Crew mode just says "collect 100 crew" but doesn't say how - all switches score - or why. What's the payoff I should expect for achieving it?

Actually, there are some very nice dot matrix animations in the game - some of which we've shown you here - which are starting to make better use of the wider range of shades available in the new hardware. Smoke and flames are ideal to demonstrate this and it is the cannon fire and flaming torches which shine here. There are very few "standard" display frames. All large type is rendered in a custom font with individual backgrounds or foregrounds which shows the amount of effort put in, although there is a slight feeling that different people designed the different sections. They're all good, but just lacking that totally cohesive feel to the overall display package you might hope for.

Down on the playfield, the inserts and text help guide the player through many of the major game features and there's plenty of text to read, especially around the Dead Man's Chest which ironically is one of the better explained dot matrix displays. The playfield is unusual in not making the jackpot inserts the most prominent. That award goes to the feature inserts - the skull and crossed swords arrows - which can also be confusing at times. At the start of the game, for instance, the left ramp and ship lane arrows are solidly lit. What does that tell you as the player? That they are already completed? If you are meant to shoot for them, shouldn't they be flashing? I don't want to overstress the confusion factor because home owners and seasoned players will want to discover all these features and shots for themselves but for the novice or casual player they need a little hand-holding and it's not there yet.

The fact that help is needed demonstrates that this is a fairly complex game. It's not fantastically deep - certainly not to the extent of The Simpsons Pinball Party or The Lord Of The Rings - but it is what I would call a "broad" game. There is a good spread of features, many of which can run simultaneously or at least be set up in parallel and then interact with each other. So starting Heart Multiball doesn't stop you advancing and completing other features. Light the Timed Lock and get a ball or two in there and you can still destroy ships if you're feeling lucky. It requires good software to keep track of everything going on and happily it all worked perfectly with no undetected shots or bugs noticed. Good work.

The sound is more of a mixed bag though. It begins well with the eerie strains of "Yo Ho, Yo Ho..." leading into the main theme - a pleasing ditty which never becomes tedious or repetitive no matter how many times you hear it. In fact, the music is another highlight of the game for me. It always seems to set the right tone for the current state of play. It's not pushy or overly forward but does just what you'd want at the time. But despite some amusing quotes (mainly when you lose the ball or sink a ship), the voices are lacking in variety, expression and information. For a game which is based so strongly on Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow character, it's surprising how little you hear from him and when you do, how irrelevant the quotes are. You want to hear Depp cajoling you, teasing you, urging you on and celebrating your achievements but he's just not there. And often, nobody else is either. There's nobody to scream "JACKPOT!" at you, alert you that lock is lit or to count down the timer on any of the features. All the great custom effects you enjoy so much on The Lord Of The Rings - Gimli's booming announcements of "Double Jackpot One" and Frodo's imploring voice as he counts down the time left, they're all lacking here.

So what about the game play and is it any fun? Well, the layout is a nice departure from a regular fan. The two side lanes are especially interesting, harking back to an earlier era when these types of short lane were a much more common sight and vital to get that all important Special. The lack of any long loop shot is a slight disappointment but that's not what this game is about. It's about making tight, accurate shots and planning your progress through the features, choosing what to combine with what else. For a quick, fairly mindless knockabout game you can shoot at the ship and destroy it fairly easily for a Kraken two ball multiball, and stick a ball or two in the spinning disk and perhaps unlock the chest. That means you get to see all three toys in action and light a couple of compass insert lamps even if you're new to the game. You may not have much of a clue what's going on, but you can still have fun. Taking it to the next level is when you need to start thinking about the shots - to get those harder compass lamps and the bigger payoffs that come with them.

Pirates Of The Caribbean is going to appeal to those players who like the stop-and-go approach of machines like The Simpsons Pinball Party but perhaps don't want the same level of commitment a game on that entails. If you only like a game with lots of flow where the ball is almost constantly in motion, you might find the play style frustratingly disjointed though. That's always going to be a matter of personal preference. The layout's good, the toys all work well and have a certain wow factor, the cabinet art and backglass image are excellent as is the music and the dot matrix effects are consistently good. The voice work is definitely lacking, relying on sound effects instead of quotes, and the guidance given to the play is also below par. But, if you like the game play style and can live with the few negatives detailed in this review, you'll find Pirates Of The Caribbean is a classy and stylish game which should please home owners and operators alike.

Finally, here's an added bonus for Pinball News readers. The game contains a secret credits sequence accessed by a special flipper button combination. You can activate it during attract mode with the following flipper button code where 7L means hit the left flipper button 7 times, 1R means hit the right flipper button once and B means hit both flipper buttons together:

B, 7L, 1R, 1L, 1R, 13L, 1R, 1R

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Pinball "Bucket List"

In some of my posts about places I visited I talk about pinball machines that I played for the first time. I thought it might be a good idea for a post to look at machines I still haven't played, sort of a "bucket list" of machines to go out and find and play them.

In creating the list, I decided to put in some limiting factors. First, no EM machines because there are way too many that I have never played, and I'm more attracted to solid state machines, the machines of my youth. Second, focus on the big manufacturers...Sega, Stern, Bally, Williams, Gottlieb, Capcom, Data East...no obscure, hard to find manufacturers like Alvin G or Zaccaria. Finally, no games released before 1988...30 years is enough time to accumulate several titles.

So here is the bucket list of games I'd like to play for the first time:

America's Most Haunted
Back to the Future
Barb Wire
Batman (Data East)
Batman Forever
Big Bang Bar
Bone Busters
Dialed In
Dirty Harry
Full Throttle
Heavy Metal Meltdown
High Roller Casino
Independence Day
Lethal Weapon 3
Lost In Space
Monday Night Football
Operation: Thunder
Phantom of the Opera
Pinball Magic
Police Force
Rescue 911
Riverboat Gambler
Secret Service
Sharkey's Shootout
Space Jam
Star Wars (Stern)
Street Fight 2
The Big Lebowski
The Pabst Can Crusher
Time Machine
Truck Stop
Wipe Out
WWF Royal Rumble

Next step will be to come up with a plan to find and play as many of these as possible...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Visit To Quarterworld

Quarterworld is an arcade in southeast Portland that I mentioned in a previous post about Portland Pinball Map. Per Quarterworld's website: "QuarterWorld is a retro arcade museum, pinball arcade, and bar serving pizza, bao buns, and carnival inspired delights. With over 34 different pinball games and 63 classic and new arcade games there is something for everyone! Split up into 2 sides, Q Lab and Q Lounge, you can bring the whole family to have fun. We have a full bar and allow minors and adults in the same area. The establishment is clean and comfortable with nice lighting. There is Tap Tv Trivia on multiple screens to entertain the brain that can be played from any smartphone. Games take actual quarters, dollar bills and credit cards using our Pay-range app. We have a photo booth, new games and restored old school games."

Quarterworld actually has been around since 1996, when they started as a regional game supplier for bars and restaurants. They opened their arcade a little over a year ago in the old Alahambra Theater. Slotting in alongside nearby institutions like Zach’s Shack and East Side Deli, Quarterworld seems to be aiming to carve a Coney Island-esque area out of Hawthorne's famed Barmuda Triangle. Quarterworld's owners have decided to preserve the theater’s old stage area, where shows and events are hosted. Quarterworld also features Tessie, an 8-foot-tall solid-state Tesla coil with dual breakout rods tuned to emit 90-decibel tones in time with jagged bolts of electricity. "Tessie" ranks among the largest of its kind anywhere in the United States - and appears to be the only singing Tesla coil expressly built for permanent residency in a video game hall. The sound resembles an 8 bit video game interpretation of popular songs. I was unable to hear Tessie sing...since performances are only on Tuesdays and Sundays, and Quarterworld was closed on Tuesday for the 4th of July, I ended up going on a Wednesday when there was no show. That means I will need to make a return trip in the future!

Parking was a pain in the ass. I circled around the nearby neighborhoods and finally found a spot in the street in front of a nice home. Sorry, Mr. Homeowner! It was only a couple minutes walk from there to the entrance of Quarterworld. The movie theater marquee still displays prominently up front (see photo to right). Entering through the doors reveals a long hallway lined with classic arcade machines, and the old theater ticket booth is where you now pay for entry. I hit the place during happy hour, which means the entry fee was only $3. You are gifted with a bracelet that allows for re-entry if you leave the premises. I walked past the arcade machines, and discovered that the first open doorway, to the right is the Q-Lab, which holds several pinball machines around the outer walls and arcade machines in the middle. Tessie, in her Faraday cage, and also a performance stage, were on the opposite end of the room, while a bar with a TV was at the far left. Only a couple of pinball machines were in use, so I turned to my immediate left to begin playing. Prices on the machines range from $.50 - $1, with newer machines costing more, although there were a couple of exceptions. There is a Pay-range app you can get for your phone that allows paying electronically, but I preferred to use quarters for my game play. As in my previous journeys, what follows are "quick hits", or my impressions that are formed during limited play, with games I have never played before in red and those I have previously played being green.

The new Sterns sure are colorful and pretty to look at. I'm not sure I agree with the decision to use Dirty Donnie's artwork on this one...although the cartoonish caricatures are amusing, it gives the game a childish look. After a couple of plays I found myself losing interest. If I understood the rules and could hear the music better, I'm sure it would be more fun. However, I was really annoyed by the brutal side drains - every ball I lost drained down the side. My initial impression was not favorable, although I would need more plays on it and as I said before, a greater understanding of the rules, to help me form a better opinion.

Bally Game Show
Game Show is okay, I don't mind a game or two on it, but it doesn't hold my interest much longer than that. There's way too much cheese, the callouts get old, and there's not a whole heck of a lot to do. It does look nice with LEDs in it.

My first time playing a Congo! This was one of the machines I was really looking forward to playing when I planned the trip. There are lots of cool toys and ramps on the playfield - I loved the volcano - and a very forgiving ball save feature made this game fun to play, even though I didn't know what to shoot for. In fact, I won 2 extra games and 3 extra balls, so it really provided a lot of bang for the buck. The only feature I didn't like, and found myself surprised by this, was the gorilla under the playfield...I felt like this feature wasn't utilized well. I actually preferred the Creature From the Black Lagoon's hologram or MikePinballD's mod (which use the same window in the playfield) much better, which is the reverse of my previous position. I really enjoyed this game.

The Walking Dead
I thought this game was good but not great. Theme-wise, it's kind of gross. I remember bashing the big, bloated zombie toy and the church doors, but not too much more, which tells me it wasn't a very memorable experience.

Indiana Jones (Stern)
I played about 3 or 4 games to try to get to Ark multiball like I did at the Pinball Museum in Las Vegas, but I had no success. What a bummer. I still like the game but not as much as I did before.

Why oh why did I play this game? I played it hundreds of times in my youth, and it showed as I won free game after free game after free game. I finally walked away after 6 free games, leaving a credit on the machine, because I wanted to play some other games!

The Simpsons Pinball Party
I didn't do so well on my only play, so I decided to move on to some other machines. Besides, I've played this game a lot in the past.

Revenge from Mars
The was the first of three highlights of my trip. I had previously been critical of Pinball 2000 mostly due to my experiences with Star Wars Episode 1. I may have played Revenge From Mars in the past, but if I did I don't really remember it and formed a bad opinion, so I'm counting this as my first play. Well I'd like to retract my previous statements bashing Pinball 2000 because Revenge From Mars WAS A BLAST! I managed to complete Saucer Mode and Martian Attack, which earned me Martian Multiball and Saucer Multiball. In Saucer Multiball I moved on to Mothership Multiball, which freaked me out because during the start of the mode the flippers went dead and all of the balls drained. "What did I do wrong?!" I wondered, until Mothership Multiball started. After the game ended, I thought I must have done well, because I had high score #1 at 189 million, and missed grand champion by a measly 9 million. Although I only played that single game and did not go back for the rest of the day, it had changed my opinion of Pinball 2000 completely...well, almost...I think SWE1 still sucks. Revenge From Mars, however, is a great game! I entered my initials as BLG, because I recently changed my last name and I'm not BLT anymore.

That's me, BLG

Leaving the Q-Lab, I headed out into the hallway and down to the open door on the left side where the hallway ended. Through this door is the Q-Lounge, with the bar itself to the left, a giant TV screen straight ahead with a row of pinball machines directly underneath it, large blacklight tapestries on the walls, and more arcade machines. In what would become a constant issue in this room, the noise level made it almost impossible to hear the games.

Black Rose
This was my first time playing a Black Rose and I was not disappointed. It's a beautiful machine with a great pirate theme, cool ramps and an awesome cannon shot up the middle. I couldn't hear it very well, which was a shame. I've heard parts are hard to find for this one but the game offers a lot of bang for the buck. It was fun, but probably even more fun if you know the rules. I like Pirates of the Caribbean a little better for the pirate theme, but I think this one makes it a close call.

Rob Zombie's Spook Show
I really, really liked this game, and it became the second highlight of the trip. I had no idea what to shoot for so I just blasted away and did really well. Unfortunately a ball was lost during multiball and the software didn't handle this well...every ball that drained after that prompted a ball search. When the game didn't find the missing ball, it popped one into the shooter lane and the game continued. This lasted for about 10 minutes until I realized that the game was never going to end. I let a tech know and he put the game down. But despite the flaw, I thought the game was awesome: great graphics and sound, cool toys and multiball action. I especially like the way the colors changed in the backglass during the game - or maybe I just imagined that.

Game of Thrones
I really liked Game of Thrones, a lot more than some other recent Stern releases like The Walking Dead and Aerosmith. The dragon shot that rockets the ball back at you (like the shot in F-14) was awesome. I did earn multiball and won 2 free games and walked away impressed. It doesn't hurt that I am a big fan of the show. The Starks and Lannisters on the backglass are a little uninspired, and the cabinet would have benefited greatly from an LED screen showing clips from the show instead of a static blackglass, similar to The Hobbit's approach. I'd really like to get more plays on it in the future.

Guns N' Roses
This version felt a little more clunky than the one I played at the Las Vegas PHOF, and I think there was a loose ramp or gate that affected ball movement. I also couldn't hear it very well. I won a free game but it was not as fun of an experience this time around.

Like Guns N' Roses, I could not hear the music at all, and I think takes some of the enjoyment away. I love the big bomber toy in the playfield, it's really cool.

Medieval Madness
I played this game a ton in the 90s in bars and pizza parlors after it was released, and for awhile it was my third favorite game behind White Water and Twilight Zone and just ahead of Attack From Mars. But after many games back then, I felt it was too shallow and repetitive. Would that impression change here, years later? Although I did not post a high score, I won 6 free games and I was on the machine for close to 40 minutes. By the last game I was more than ready to move on, with my previous feeling about it confirmed. And with the game hard to hear, that certainly reduces the fun factor because the callouts are so funny. For some reason, it was the only game I forgot to snap a photo of.

I returned to the Q-Lab, which was now a bit more crowded, to play some machines I hadn't gotten to yet.

The X Files
When I walked up to the machine, there were 10 credits on it. When I left the machine, after about 6 games, it had 8 left. Free games were way too easy to obtain. I liked the playfield layout and the way the file cabinet would rise up from the playfield and capture balls for multiball. I was never a fan of the show, but if this game was a little more challenging it would be a lot more fun.Still, it was better than I expected.

This game wasn't bad at all. With an understanding of the rules, I would probably really like it. The Hulk toy is a great feature. I need more plays on it for a better opinion.

Batman '66
This game is taking a lot of heat on Pinside, and I think much of that is due to the price point. I absolutely loved this game and it became the third highlight of the trip. I'm not really a fan of the goofy TV show - I remember watching it as a kid - but the theme is so well done here. The crane toy was a blast, and I loved the batphone, mini LCD on the TV in the playfield, and the LCD screen under the backglass instead of a DMD. The color and lighting is absolutely beautiful, right up there with Ghostbusters. I even like the the topper. Like all machines that I play for the first time, I couldn't figure out what to shoot for, but I had some great games and enjoyed it immensely. I don't think I'd ever own it due to theme, but I wouldn't have any trouble playing it on route or in someone else's collection, and look forward to playing it again at some point0.

Demolition Man
I had never played this before and wasn't impressed. I think there was something mechanically wrong with it but I don't think that was the sole contributing factor to my issues with it. True to a Nordman game, it had a lot of ramps, but it just felt like something was missing (perhaps the theme itself is uninspiring). However I'll keep an open mind and play one again and the next opportunity. For now I can check another game off of my bucket list.

I played this a lot in the 80s and 90s and gave it a spin for old times' sake. It's pinball, so it's fun, it just feels really dated and clunky compared to other machines. Between this, Bride of Pinbot, and Jackbot, Jackbot is definitely my favorite of the series.

Theatre of Magic
I was surprised to see this was $1 to play despite its age, putting it on par with new releases like Batman '66 and Aerosmith. The card says $.75, but it said $1 on the coin door. The price is totally unjustified and seems like gouging based on the tables ratings position on Pinside and IPDB, which are unfathomably high on both of those sites. I will admit I liked playing it here much more than I did at other venues and had a fun game, but I still didn't feel like it was worth $1 per play.

Tales of the Arabian Nights
I played a couple of games on this but I just couldn't get anything going. This has to be one of the most frustrating machines when I play, as I go back and forth between good and bad games. It's so beautiful, though, and I just love that theme.

Ghostbusters was being played frequently the entire time I was at Quarterworld. When it became available I jumped on it. It looked as good as I remembered it from my previous play at the Seattle Pinball Museum, but I was instantly reminded of my dislike for the wide gap between the flippers. After one game that was over pretty quick I decided to move on since it was getting late and my supply of quarters was by now considerably lighter.

Lord of the Rings
I had a bad game and moved on.

Party Zone
This game is really terrible and greatly suffers from the lack of a ball save, which was apparent when my plunge shot drained straight down the middle. I played one game that was probably over more quickly than any other game that night. Yuck, moving on!

The Flintstones
I played this again even though I don't like the theme. I still don't like the gameplay, but love the playfield, which is like a small diorama similar to White Water. So it was one and done.

About this time I stopped to have a hard cider and Bae Mihn pulled pork sandwich because I was really hungry and thirsty. The cider was pretty good, but the sandwich was outstanding, bursting with what seemed like 100 different flavors. Man it was good!

Circus Voltaire
I played one game, did terrible (never even got to the Ringmaster).

After sensing a pattern of terrible games, I figured I was getting tired. I decided to head out. When I got out on the street a noticed a small bar next store called . I stuck my head in and noticed two "overflow" pinball machines from Quarterworld were in the back. I walked back to see what they were and got sucked in.

The Sopranos
This is not an interesting theme to me, but I still enjoyed it. I do not understand the talking fish but maybe it's in the TV show? It was moderately fun and since I won an extra game I was able to give it an extended look. Not bad.

Attack From Mars Remake
Attack From Mars is one of my favorite games of all time and the remake did not disappoint. It felt very heavy and solid, similar in feel to The Hobbit, and the lighting was spectacular. I played about 3 games (one of them being a free game) and loved every minute of it. The shaker motor was a nice addition. I wish I could afford to add this to the collection but it just is not a possibility. Still one of my favorites for sure, and I was very impressed with the quality of the remake. 

Lots of games to choose from
Little to no leveling & maintenance issues
Prices are mostly pretty reasonable
A few hard-to-find games and new releases
More games in nearby bars
Great hours - open 7 days a week and until 1 AM for adults over 21

Tessie performances only 2 days a week
Hard to hear games in the Q-Lounge
Finding parking is a challenge 

Final Thoughts
Quarterworld is a great place for pinheads to visit, with a variety of new and old games, most in excellent condition and with no leveling issues that I experienced at other venues. The food and drink was awesome, the temperature is well controlled, the lighting is perfect, and the prices are reasonable. I'm disappointed that I missed Tessie but that gives me another reason to go back in the near future.

Hours played: 5
Credits played: 54
Drinks consumed: 1
Total Cost: $38 (including entry fee and food and drink)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Welcome To My Home! - Bram Stoker's Dracula joins the Barcade

My roommate Kelly had convinced me that we could fit 11 machines across one side of the Barcade, and we were currently sitting at 9 machines plus the virtual machine, leaving room for one more. He wanted an odd number of machines due to the pin layout...he planned to put a huge Elvira slot machine topper over Scared Stiff, and "Grave Crawlers" over the monster-themed machines. He has 4 of the huge, life-sized Grave Crawlers that are based on Universal Monster characters. Since there is no Wolfman pinball machine, a Monster Bash or Tales from the Crypt would be a logical choice for the Wolfman Crawler, but Monster Bash is too expensive and Tales from the Crypt is hard to find (and the price has been steadily rising). We decided to hang Wolfman over Ripley's instead, due to this photo of a bust in Ripley's London Odditorium featuring a man with hypertrichosis (see photo to right). That left him with two Crawlers (Creature & Frankenstein) on one side of Stared Stiff and 1 Crawler (Wolfman) on the other side, which would look "unbalanced", and would leave 1 Crawler unused (Dracula). Naturally this gravitated us towards acquiring a Dracula pinball machine. I mentioned in the Rocky & Bullwinkle post that Bram Stoker's Dracula (BSD) was one pin that we had considered earlier, but we had turned away from it due to price (typical asking price has risen to $3500-$4000) and the fact that I had mixed feelings about it when I played it at Ground Kontrol back in 2013. So how were we going to acquire one with no local options? And from a gamplay standpoint, would we even want it?

The last question was the easier to answer. Although it had been rotated out at Ground Kontrol and was no longer available to play, a quick search on Pinball Map showed a game about 30 minutes away from us, at a bar called Alleyway near Concordia University (my alma matter) in Northeast Portland. The bar was open until 2 am, so although it was already 9 pm, we had plenty of time to check it out. We made the drive and entered the bar. We were instantly met with noisy heavy metal music, a pool table, and a TV, which was disappointing since we wouldn't be able to hear the game. The people, including the bartender who gave me change, weren't very friendly. Nice. Stuffed in the back, at the edge of the hallway that led to the bathrooms, BSD sat next to a Walking Dead and a Stern Star Trek. Although we couldn't hear the game, we got a good look at the playfield, and loved all the sculpted pieces - the Village, graveyard and castle. My games were brutal and ended quickly - this is a game that seemed designed to suck down quarters - but by the time we left we were convinced that it would be a great addition to the Barcade. The theme was perfect for Kelly, and my hope was that it would make me a better pinball player.

I watched Craigslist, Mr. Pinball Classifieds and also Pinside hoping that we might get lucky. And we did indeed get lucky when we found a Pinside machine that was going for a very affordable price due to a software problem. Although the machine would have to be shipped, which can create logistical headaches and increases the cost, the first 5 machines in the collection had been shipped to us and I wasn't too worried about it. The price even with shipping was still less than I had expected to pay for one locally. I was pretty confident I could fix the software issue, and the seller thought he might have already fixed it by replacing the coin door switch, so I made the deal. The seller was great, but the shipper had a few hiccups with arranging the pickup and I was charged a surcharge because the machine could only be picked up after 3pm. However, 10 days later it arrived at Kelly's house perfectly intact, and I was the proud owner of machine #10, Bram Stoker's Dracula.


Bram Stoker's Dracula was a movie made in 1992 by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It starred Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker. Dracula grossed $215 million on a $40 million budget, a commercial success, and featured lush visuals and sound effects for its time. The pinball machine is based on the movie, with many quotes and sound effects lifted right from the film. Supposedly Gary Oldman added his voice to some pinball-specific dialog, such as "Twenty Million!"

My BSD is in excellent condition, with no damage to the playfield, plastics, ramps, and other features. The cabinet has a few scratches but overall looks better than most of my other games. Some LEDs have been placed under inserts, saving me a little money, and it even came with leg protectors. I have had one lost ball, but otherwise I have not had any trouble with the software to date.

Dracula features 2 short lightning flippers, 2 ramps, 3 pop bumpers, 3 multiball modes, and an autoplunger. It was designed by Barry Oursler and Mark Sprenger. I can, without reservation, state that Mr. Oursler is a Class A asshole when it comes to pinball design. His Junk Yard pinball machine is the only machine I've ever gotten rid of, and I don't miss it. In BSD, every angle is designed to take the ball down the outlanes and drain. When you look at a game like Frankenstein, the inlane and outlane guides almost line up evenly. A study of Dracula shows the outlane guides are much farther down than the inline guides. Once the ball bounces towards the sides of the machine, there's very little to stop it from draining. There's no kickback on the left side like you see in other games, either. The ball save time after launch is very short, and weak shots to the ramps or any shot to the center target bank drain SDTM, thanks in part to the shorter lightning flippers.

Neither Kelly nor I were happy with the short ball times and "difficulty". It's kind of ridiculous...I've read statements about BSD like "you have to be able to aim and make your shots" or "I enjoy the challenge of this game." With the game set to 3 balls, I can recall multiple games where 2 of the 3 balls never even touched the flippers; they would eject out of the bumper area and head SDTM, or the ball would bounce off of rubber bumpers or slings and drain down the side, with not a single flip able to be attempted. That is not making the game difficult, it is making it unplayable - no amount of skill with the flippers can overcome the ball never touching them. Designing a pinball to be this hard and then routing it guarantees that the casual player will quickly lose interest when the game lasts only a couple of minutes, taking their money elsewhere to a game less punishing. Since Kelly and I are using this only at home, I immediately changed the number of balls to 5 per game, and will probably switch out the short lightning flippers for standard ones and figure out a solution for the outlane drains. This game needs to be fun, or else it's never going to get played by anyone but me.

Also, I immediately ordered a mod for the replacement of Dracula's coffin. The figure in the coffin is jokingly referred to as "Ron Jeremy", the notorious porn star, due to the appearance of the sculpting (see previous photo). The mod changes "Ron Jeremy" to a bat-like vampire creature that allows the light beneath it to backlight it, creating an awesome red glow, and the overall effect looks amazing (see photo to right). Kelly plans to repaint the castle, graveyard and village pieces found in the game. From the moment I fired up the game and played it, I loved the creepy sounds (which I couldn't hear in the bar) but I didn't love the quality of that sound. Remembering that I had bought an extra Pinsound board when I had purchased one for the Creature, I knew that some re-sampled sound bites and music, combined with an updated sound system, will make the atmosphere of this pin incredible.

So is this the end of machine acquisitions? Not quite...we decided to pull the virtual pinball out of lineup and replaced it with real machine, #11, which we just acquired and will be the subject of another post. I'd like to stop the acquisitions there, as I don't want to spend too much more money that will be needed for repairs, parts and mods. So why did I buy machines #10 and #11? Because you only live once, so I might as well buy something I love and will have fun with, because who knows what the future holds...


Sigma's Guide to Bram Stoker's Dracula (courtesy of IPDB)

by Kevin Martin <sigma@mcs.com>
Version of July 13, 1995
Notes and Disclaimers

This rule compilation and tips sheet is, to the extent possible (in light of the subject matter being the property of Bally/Williams), freeware. It can be modified, updated, or revised, provided only that credit to the original author(s) remains intact. It can be published or otherwise distributed, provided only that such distribution is effectively free.
This sheet is written and maintained by Kevin Martin, sigma@mcs.com - if you have any questions or comments or additions or corrections, send 'em along to me.

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a trademark of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. The author(s) disclaim all interest in any trademarks or other intellectual property referenced herein. I do not speak for my employer, my friends, my relatives, or my cat. In fact, I hardly even speak for myself.

I use the abbreviations "K" for a thousand points, "M" for a million points, "B" for a billion points, and "GC" for Grand Champion.

The term "newer ROMs" generally refers to the production ROMs, which were labelled L-1. The term "older ROMs" generally refers to pre-production ROMs such as P-0. Because the principal programmer (Bill Pfutzenreuter) left Williams to join Capcom as production of Dracula was set to begin, no further revisions were ever released.

This version of the Guide should be considered final.

Object of the Game

Destroy Dracula. Destroy Dracula's Concubines (the Three Sisters). Destroy Dracula's Werewolves (Children of the Night). Destroy Dracula's Rats. Scare Dracula's Bats. Wash Dracula's Car.
Important Things

This is a glossary of the shots and features that will be referred to during the discussion of the game. Some of the shots have names which are less than obvious; I'll try to provide and use more obvious names instead.
Plunger: This is an automatic plunger. It is used not only to launch balls into play, but also to automatically relock balls as the game sees fit, which it does by lifting the Plunger Lane ramp and firing balls into the channel beneath.
Right Orbit: This is a half-orbit in the upper right corner of the playfield. Balls are launched into play along this path. There are five lights here, each for a letter in V-I-D-E-O.
Drop Target: This is placed at the end of the Right Orbit, in the upper left corner of the playfield, just past the Rollover Lanes.
Top Sinkhole: This Sinkhole is hidden behind the Drop Target. When Video Mode is lit, the Drop Target is lowered and the ball can enter the Sinkhole to start Video Mode. Afterwards, the ball is kicked out of the Asylum.
Rollover Lanes: These three lanes can have their lights steered by the flippers, with the object being to light all three lanes. The right flipper steers right, and the left flipper steers left. Unlit lanes are flashing at the beginning of each ball, after shooting the Right Orbit, and a few other times at random, just to mess with your head.
Jet Bumpers: These are three Jet Bumpers directly beneath the Rollover Lanes. They are arranged in the usual triangular fashion.
Coffin Ramp: This is a short-entrance ramp between the Jet Bumpers and the Right Orbit; it returns to the Left Inlane. This Ramp has a long shallow section before its trigger, but usually, getting past the entrance and the first turn is sufficient to send the ball all the way around.
Coffin: When the Coffin Ramp is raised, balls can enter a sinkhole in the Coffin beneath it. Balls "locked" here are released through a habitrail onto the playfield right in the middle of the Jet Bumpers.
Plastic Coffin: This is a molded plastic coffin atop the Coffin Ramp, which contains what is probably supposed to be Dracula. At least they didn't put a plastic fish atop the backglass. Note that there are two lights atop the coffin, indicating how many balls have been "locked" here.
Altar: This is an eject hole above the Right Inlane, aimed towards the right flipper. This is also known as the Dungeon or the Rat Hole.
Tunnel: This is a sinkhole above and to the left of the Jet Bumpers. It returns the ball to the Left Inlane. There are four lights here: Mystery Award, Mist Multiball, Extra Ball, and Castle Jackpot.
Bank Targets: These are two banks of three targets each. The center target is red, and the others are yellow. One bank is directly below the Jet Bumpers, facing down and slightly to the right. The other is at the far left side of the playfield, facing right. There is a light in front of each target, indicating its status: flashing for available, lit for spotted, or unlit for unavailable (only applies to center target, which must be hit last).
Asylum: This is a small catch lane just above the left set of Bank Targets. You can't really shoot for it, but there's little reason to do so.
Castle Ramp: This is also known as the Left Ramp, the Main Ramp, or the Cemetery Ramp. It's a long ramp which begins in the upper left corner of the playfield, just above the Asylum, and doesn't really peak until the back right corner of the machine. It can lock balls by diverting them into the Castle Lane; otherwise, it returns balls to the Right Inlane. The light at the entrance to the Left Ramp indicates that a Castle Lock is available. The green light on the backplane of the cabinet indicates that the diverter is active (for a Castle Lock or Bats).
Castle Lane: This is the habitrail running above the playfield from the center of the Castle Ramp to the Plunger Lane. It usually only holds one ball, but during Castle Multiball, may hold as many as three.
Mist Lane: This is the path that a ball takes at the beginning of Mist Multiball. It runs from a gate at the lower left side of the playfield, above the Left Slingshot, across the playfield and upwards to a gate just above the Altar. There is a motorized magnet beneath the playfield to carry the ball along this path, and small lights to illuminate its travel. A modulated 40Khz infrared beam is transmitted along this path, in order to determine if the ball is still on the magnet. The ball may travel in either direction, depending on where it happens to be when the mode starts. It will be at the right end of the Lane unless the last attempt at Mist Multiball failed.
Outlanes: The Right Outlane has an orange light for Special, and the Left Outlane a red light for Extra Ball. The colors are contrary to tradition, which demands that Specials be red and Extra Balls orange.
Inlanes: The Right Inlane temporarily lights the Tunnel for Mystery Award, and the Left Inlane lights the Coffin or Coffin Ramp for 2X. The posts dividing the Inlanes and Outlanes have rubber.
Slingshots: These are the usual.
Flippers: These are two Fliptronic II (ie, Williams-style Solid State) flippers in the usual locations. These are typically the new lightning bolt shorter flippers in production machines.
D-R-A-C-U-L-A: These seven yellow lights are lightning bolts in the middle of the playfield. They represent progress towards Coffin Jackpots.
Multiball Lights: These three lights (typically purple) indicate which Multiball modes are active: Coffin, Castle, and Mist.
2X and 3X Lights: These lights (typically green) indicate the current Jackpot multiplier, which is determined by how many Multiball modes are running.
Shoot Again: This orange light indicates that you have an Extra Ball.
Love Never Dies: This yellow light represents the "ball saver" feature. While it is lit (or during the grace period), a side or center drain will relaunch the ball into play with no penalty. It is normally lit for a short while at the beginning of each ball. It is also active for a while at the beginning of each Multiball mode, and for the Left Outlane briefly after an Altar kickout (although the light will not come on).
Playfield: Hardcoat. Develops a nice divot where the ball lands after being fired from the autoplunger.
Balls: Four steel balls should be installed in Dracula.
Skill Shot: The Skill Shot is purely a matter of timing. The display will show a three-faced gargoyle, with each face flashing in turn. When the ball hits the Drop Target after being launched, the Skill Shot award depends on the face which is lit. The left face awards 100K, and the right face awards 500K. The center face awards 1M the first time, increasing by 1M each subsequent time to a maximum of 5M. The center face also spots a V-I-D-E-O letter (see Video Mode) and advances the Coffin Ramp if the Coffin is not already open. After a successful Skill Shot, subsequent Skill Shots are slightly faster. The game favours the center face slightly, awarding it if the face has just changed to 100K or was just about to change from 500K. If the ball misses the Drop Target, the faces continue flashing, and the first sensor hit will award the lit face. Unfortunately, this is little more than blind luck.

If you press the autoplunger button while a ball is not in the lane (the game is still trying to kick it out), the game may then launch the ball as soon as it does get the ball into the lane, effectively ruining your Skill Shot. It may also decide that it wants to lock a ball, and you have no way of knowing this until you wait to make sure it doesn't raise the Plunger Ramp.

If you start a game and there are somehow no balls in the trough, none will be supplied to the plunger lane, only one ball search will be performed, and nothing except power cycling the machine (and thereby losing your credit) will get the balls in the correct locations. Check the trough before starting a game!

Due to the way the ball goes up the lane and jumps onto the playfield, the timing of the Skill Shot may be inconsistent.

Rollover Lanes
The lights on these lanes are steered in both directions by the flippers. Exactly how the machine behaves when you light all three lanes depends on the ROM revision. Newer ROMs advance the Bonus Multiplier by one factor each time you complete the lanes, to a maximum of 10X, and the Bonus Multiplier is automatically held from ball to ball. On older ROMs, the Bonus Multiplier proceeds 2X, 4X, 6X, 8X, and 10X, and it is not held over to subsequent balls. Completing the lanes after reaching 10X always awards 5M, although it looks like 6M because of the blood-dripping font (this may have been different on early ROMs).
Mystery Award

On Extra Easy settings, the Tunnel is lit for a Mystery Award at the beginning of each ball. On Extra Hard settings, the Tunnel is only lit by rolling through the Right Inlane. Otherwise, the Tunnel is lit once at the beginning of the game. The Tunnel can be lit for a Mystery Award by rolling through the Right Inlane (almost any time); however, it will time out (8-10 seconds on Easy and Extra Easy, 5 seconds otherwise).

Mystery Awards are:
Light Castle Lock
Light Coffin Lock
Light Video Mode (completes V-I-D-E-O)
Advance Bonus X
Extra Ball
Mystery Score (100K to 5M or 20M)

The first four awards are based on operator-adjustable percentages, and the Extra Ball award is used as part of the Extra Ball percentage reflexing. No other awards are possible.

The Castle Lock that is lit by the Mystery Award does not time out, unlike regular Castle Locks. Light Coffin Lock will not be awarded if the Coffin is already open, but Light Castle Lock may be awarded if a Castle Lock is already lit. This can actually be helpful.

On newer ROMs, the Mystery Score can be 10M, 15M, or 20M, but otherwise, the awards are in the 100K to 5M range, including such options as 750K, 1M, 4M, etc. The Mystery Score can not be disabled, even in Tournament Mode.

Castle Ramp
This is a rather difficult ramp. The number of times you hit it over the course of your game is counted, and certain awards occur at certain intervals. The game also tracks this value for Loop Champion, much like Dr. Who. In fact, shots on this Ramp are called Loops. Unlike Dr. Who, however, the machine does not become confused at 100 Loops. It will properly recognize and remember Loop counts and Champions in excess of 100 Loops. In fact, it will properly handle Loop counts in excess of 255!
Loops are worth 1M, but consecutive Loops are worth 5M. Whoopee.

The typical sequence of awards from the Castle Ramp is:

Bats at 3
Mist Multiball Lit at 5
Bonus at 6
Extra Ball Lit at reflexed intervals
These awards are repeated at certain operator-settable intervals, and those intervals are usually an additional 10 for each award. Detailed information on how many Castle Ramp shots are required for each of the next awards is available in the Status Report (catch the ball and wait), and the next award is indicated when you shoot the Castle Ramp, unless that shot awards something, in which case that is displayed instead. The Bonus award comes more frequently, usually at multiples of 6 Loops.
The Extra Ball is lit at various intervals, which are adjusted according to the desired and actual Extra Ball percentages. These adjustments are not always by small amounts.

The Bonus alternates between lighting the Castle Lock (subject to the usual time-out) and advancing the Coffin Ramp by one step. The first Bonus is to light the Castle Lock. If the Coffin is already open or Coffin Multiball is running when the Bonus would advance the Coffin, a Castle Lock will be lit instead. If a Castle Lock is already lit when the Bonus would light a Castle Lock, the Coffin will be advanced instead. If neither is possible when you reach the Bonus, nothing is awarded. Regardless of whether or not the Coffin is open, if the next Loop would award a Bonus of Light Castle Lock and you have a Castle Lock already lit when you shoot that Loop, the game will not light another Castle Lock for you, even though the shot you made used up the currently lit Castle Lock.

When an Extra Ball is lit, shoot the Tunnel to collect it. Extra Balls can be stacked on the Tunnel with no apparent limit. Factory settings probably limit you to actually having 4 Extra Balls at any one time, however. Since it's very difficult to get more than six or seven Extra Balls on Dracula, this doesn't really matter.

A weak shot up the Castle Ramp which falls into the Castle Lane even though the Castle Lock is not lit will trigger an animation and award an additional 5M for the Secret Passage. This also counts as a Loop. The ball will then be fed to the Plunger Lane and autolaunched.

See also Mist Multiball and Castle Multiball.

The Bats sequence is triggered by the appropriate number of Castle Ramp shots. When started, the ball will be diverted to the Castle Lane, then fed to the Plunger Lane and autolaunched back into play. In Bats mode, you have a certain amount of time (typically 15 seconds) to scare away a certain number of bats (typically 15 of them). The faster you do this, the higher your awarded Bats Bonus will be. The Bonus begins at 50M and counts down towards 2M, which is the minimum possible award if you do in fact complete the sequence. Every switch you trip scares away one bat. The value stays at 50M for a while before counting down. The value does not appear to count down at an even rate. It counts down faster and faster as time progresses, which is a bit unreasonable. On the bright side, hitting the Drop Target after the plunger launch scares away a bat, but does not start the timer.
Shooting the Right Orbit during Bats will suspend the countdown until the ball hits another target, except the Drop Target, which will scare away a bat but not restart the countdown.

The Bats Bonus is subject to the Multi-Multiball Jackpot Multiplier that is in effect when the Bats mode begins. A single Bats Bonus can therefore be as high as 150M.

If you do not manage to scare away all of the bats, you get no Bats Bonus.

If you scare away all the bats almost immediately - for example, if you start Castle Multiball by hitting the Castle Ramp with Bats lit - you will sometimes receive a Bats Bonus of slightly more than the initial 50M countdown. And I do mean slightly. Values I have seen are 50,000,240 and 50,007,140.

The outlane switches scare away three bats at once. This is one of the few times Dracula is kind to you.

If you make a Death Save or Bang Back, the timer will be suspended until the ball trips a switch.

The Bats Bonus is carried over between balls, and awarded at the end of every ball. This can add up quite nicely if you get Bats during Multiball on your first ball. Otherwise, the minimum 2M is a joke.

The number of times you shoot this kickout hole over the course of your game is counted, and certain awards occur at certain intervals. There are only two such awards:
Outlanes Lit

The Rats sequence typically starts at the 3rd Altar, and each 5th Altar thereafter (these values are operator adjustable). Outlanes are usually lit at 15 Altars (10 on Extra Easy, 20-25 on Hard and Extra Hard), and never again thereafter.

After the ball is kicked out of the Altar, Love Never Dies is active only for the Left Outlane, briefly. Unfortunately, a bad bounce can still cause a center drain. The ball should move past the right Slingshot without being hit by it, to land safely on the right flipper.

The Rats sequence is started by the appropriate number of Altar shots. In this sequence, you have a certain amount of time (typically 15 seconds) to destroy a certain number of rats (typically 15 of them). Every switch tripped destroys one rat. The value of each rat is something like 500K, plus 50K for each subsequent Rat. Unfortunately, this formula gives a total that is 500K short of the usual 13,250,000. The only explanation I can come up with is that there may be a 500K bonus for completing Rats.

What happens when you have destroyed all rats depends on your current mode and your ROM revision. On prototype ROMs, you can (as best I could figure) always continue to destroy Rats for more points (a reasonably valuable frenzy mode). On newer ROMs (L-1), this does not happen. However, if you are in Multi-Multiball, the Rats are worth considerably more, because the value of each rat is subject to the current Multi-Multiball Jackpot Multiplier, and the value of the next rat is increased by some other factor than 50K. I have had a 100M Rats Bonus on P-11 ROMs, without Multiball. If you do not have this additional frenzy, 15 rats are always worth exactly 13,250,000 in Rats Bonus. Rats Bonuses during Multiball on newer ROMs are usually at least 100M.

If you do not manage to destroy all of the rats, you get no Rats Bonus.

The outlane switches destroy three rats at once. This is one of the few times Dracula is kind to you.

If you make a Death Save or Bang Back, the timer will be suspended until the ball trips a switch.

The Rats Bonus is carried over between balls, and awarded at the end of every ball. This can add up nicely if you get Rats during a Multi-Multiball on your first ball.

Castle Multiball
Castle Locks are lit by the appropriate number of Castle Ramp shots, by completing one of the sets of Bank Targets, or by a random award from the Mystery Tunnel. A set of Bank Targets is completed by hitting the two outer targets (in any order) and then hitting the center target. The Castle Lock is on the Castle Ramp, and it times out (in 13 seconds on normal settings, 20 on Extra Easy, 10 on Extra Hard).
You must lock three balls in order to start Castle Multiball. When you do so, three balls are launched into play. If you already have other Multiball modes running, all four balls should be launched into play.

During Castle Multiball, relocking one ball on the Castle Ramp will light the Castle Jackpot on the Tunnel. The Castle Jackpot value starts at 20M, and is increased by 100K for each Jet Bumper hit for a while after completing the Rollover Lanes in normal play, or by slightly more for each Jet Bumper hit while the Castle Jackpot itself is lit during Castle Multiball. On prototype machines, the Castle Jackpot values are fixed at 20M, 40M, etc, and I am not sure how the value is changed. When the Castle Jackpot is lit, shoot the Tunnel to collect it. The Castle Jackpot times out after 20 seconds.

If there are three or more balls in play, you can relock a second ball on the Castle Ramp to light the Double Castle Jackpot, although the Castle Lock light may not be lit to indicate this. Relocking the second ball effectively doubles the Castle Jackpot value, keeps two balls safely out of play, and restarts the Castle Jackpot timer at 20 seconds.

The timer on the Jackpot or Double Jackpot does not start until a target is hit. This is important when there is a ball stuck somewhere. The Ball Searches will begin even before the timer starts to count down.

When you collect a Castle Jackpot, its base value resets to the next higher multiple of 20M, to a maximum of 80M (although the manual says it can reach 100M, it does not do so on L-1 ROMs and newer). This allows for a maximum Castle Jackpot of 480M plus change (3X Multi-Multiball, Double Jackpot).

When the Castle Jackpot times out or you collect it, the locked ball(s) are released by autolaunching from the plunger lane. Note that you cannot lock a second ball for the Double Jackpot if there are only two balls in play.

During Castle Multiball, completing the Bank Targets again will award some sort of Carriage Bonus (with its own animation and cool sound), which is usually in the 1-5M range, by multiples of 500K. I do not know what advances this, and I don't recommend shooting for it anyhow. The Carriage Bonus is subject to the Multi-Multiball Jackpot Multiplier, for a maximum value of 15M.

During Castle Multiball, the Castle Jackpot light on the Tunnel will flicker faintly all the time, even when the Castle Jackpot is not lit. It should actually strobe brightly when the Castle Jackpot is lit.

Castle Multiball should be a three-ball multiball, although the machine will sometimes only deliver two balls, or will sometimes deliver three and end Multiball when any one ball drains.

When Castle Multiball begins, Love Never Dies is active briefly.

Mist Multiball
"Here's a killer feature!" - promotional flyer
Mist Multiball is lit by the appropriate number of Castle Ramp shots. Trigger Mist Multiball by shooting the Tunnel when it is lit. A ball will slowly cross the playfield along the Mist Lane. Another ball will be fed to the Left Inlane. To actually start Mist Multiball, use this ball to knock the other ball free of the magnet's control (be careful not to just swap your ball for the Mist Lane ball). Normally, the ball will start at the right end of the Mist Lane and proceed to the left. However, if Mist Multiball has been recently attempted and missed, the ball will still be sitting in the left gate, and will proceed in reverse (note that this is much easier to hit, in my opinion).

During Mist Multiball, all significant shots in the game are worth a Mist Jackpot of 10M, and the game tries to call out all of your awards, although it sometimes lags behind. These awards are subject to the Multi-Multiball Jackpot Multiplier, so that you can actually be receiving 20M or 30M for every significant shot in the game.

The Mist Jackpot shots are: Castle Ramp, Coffin Ramp, Coffin, Tunnel, Right Orbit, Asylum, Top Sinkhole (if the Drop Target is malfunctioning, autolaunched balls will land here and be credited as a Right Orbit shot), and the Altar. Completing the Rollover Lanes or a set of Bank Targets does not count as a Mist Jackpot.

On normal settings, if you have not lit Mist Multiball by the beginning of your third ball (not counting Extra Balls), it will be lit for you automatically (except on Hard settings).

Lighting Mist Multiball twice does not stack it at the Tunnel. Mist Multiball can be lit while Mist Multiball is running, although it will not actually be awarded if Mist Multiball is currently running (thankfully). This may vary according to machine and ROM revision, of course.

Mist Multiball is a two-ball multiball. If the motorized magnet has been disabled on your machine, hitting Mist Multiball will immediately start it, without carrying a ball across the Mist Lane. Also, if you have two balls in play because of a Ball Search, Mist Multiball will start immediately, and draining one of those balls will end it, as if you had started it normally.

When Mist Multiball begins, Love Never Dies is active briefly.

Coffin Ramp
The initial value of the Coffin Ramp is 500K (except on Extra Easy settings, in which case two values are spotted for free). Hitting the Coffin Ramp increases this value (500K, 1M, 1.5M, 2M, 2.5M) and returns the ball to the Left Inlane, which lights the Coffin Ramp 2X. Hitting the Coffin Ramp with 2X lit awards twice the Coffin Ramp value, but does not change the number of ramp hits needed (this may have been different on prototype rules).

When the 2.5M or 5M value is collected, the Coffin Ramp is raised and you can "lock" balls in the Coffin underneath (it does not appear that these locks are worth 2.5M or 5M, but if you somehow manage to trigger the Coffin Ramp sensor while the Coffin is open, you are given these points, along with credit for locking the ball in the Coffin). Balls are not actually kept in the coffin; they are dropped amongst the Jet Bumpers, but you are given credit for the successful locks (watch the two lights on the top of the Coffin).

When you lock the third ball, Coffin Multiball begins. Be sure to check out the morphing animation for the third lock. Also watch for "DO HO" written on a brick to the left of the Coffin in the animations.

On normal settings, the Coffin Ramp is advanced one stage for a successful Skill Shot, regardless of how many times you have started Coffin Multiball already. This will go as far as opening the Coffin, but will not give you credit for locking balls unless you actually hit the Coffin.

If the Coffin Ramp gets stuck in the raised position, the game compensates by advancing the Coffin Ramp for an open Coffin shot, but does not attempt to re-lower the ramp when this happens. Similarly, if the Ramp is stuck in the lowered position, the Ramp sensor behaves as the Lock sensor should.

Coffin Multiball
"Players will be 'coffin up' quarters to lock three balls for Coffin Multiball!" - promotional flyer
During Coffin Multiball, the Coffin remains open. Coffin Jackpots are collected by spelling D-R-A-C-U-L-A, and every ball shot into the Coffin spots a letter in D-R-A-C-U-L-A. If 2X is lit, every ball spots two D-R-A-C-U-L-A letters. When Coffin Multiball starts, 2X is lit, and it is lit for a while after every successful Coffin shot on which 2X was not lit or after every pass through the Left Inlane. Every letter represents a stake in Dracula's heart, and completing the sequence destroys Dracula. The animations and sound effects for attacking and destroying Dracula are not to be missed, unless your machine is in Family Mode, in which case you are denied their gruesome beauty.
The Coffin Jackpot value is 20M, 30M, 40M, maximum 50M. If three or more balls are still in play when the Jackpot is collected, its value is doubled. The Coffin Jackpot appears to start at 40M on some machines. The game manual implies that the Coffin Jackpot value may be increased by Jet Bumper hits, but it appears that it is merely increased to the next base value when it is collected.

When you collect a Coffin Jackpot, you immediately begin work on spelling D-R-A-C-U-L-A again, for the next higher Jackpot value.

D-R-A-C-U-L-A letters are carried over between Coffin Multiballs. When the game begins, no D-R-A-C-U-L-A letters are spotted. Therefore, the first Coffin Jackpot will require a minimum of four Coffin shots, although every second one may require only three.

Coffin Multiball should be a three-ball multiball, although the machine will sometimes only deliver two balls, or will sometimes deliver three and end Multiball when any one ball drains.

When Coffin Multiball begins, Love Never Dies is active briefly.

(Note that in the movie, the scenes corresponding to Coffin Multiball did not involve Dracula; rather, they were attempts to kill Lucy.)

"This will really slay the pinball pro!" - promotional flyer
Multiball modes are non-exclusive in Dracula. This means that you can light Locks and start other Multiballs while one or two Multiballs are already in progress. If two Multiballs are in progress, all Jackpots are doubled. If all three Multiballs are in progress, all Jackpots are tripled. This Multiplier also applies to Bats mode, Rats mode, and the Carriage Bonus. This allows for maximum Coffin Jackpots of 300M, Castle Jackpots of 480M, and makes all shots worth an additional 30M (because of Mist Multiball).

If two or three Multiballs are in progress, four balls should be put into play. At a minimum, starting another Multiball will place at least one more ball into play, unless you already have all four. You only need to keep two balls in play in order to maintain all of your current Multiball modes. The machine usually keeps excellent track of the number of balls in play, although it may occasionally become confused when all three Multiball modes are running ("confused" means it ends Multiball when two balls are left, and ends your entire ball when one of those drains, or that it ends both Multi- Multiball and your entire ball when one of the last two balls drains).

Note that once you have started all three Multiball modes simultaneously and Love Never Dies has expired, there is no longer any way to put additional balls into play.

The lamps just above the flippers indicate which Multiball modes are in progress, and what the current Jackpot multiplier is.

Video Mode
Shooting the Right Orbit or making a successful Skill Shot spots a letter in V-I-D-E-O. Spotted in reverse order, the letters award 100K, 500K, 1M, 3M, and 5M, with the last letter (V) awarding Video Mode. Video Mode can also be lit by a Mystery Award from the Tunnel. Start Video Mode by shooting the Right Orbit; the ball should pass the lowered Drop Target and enter the Sinkhole (if the ball fails to enter the Sinkhole, you are merely awarded 5M, and V-I-D-E-O remains fully lit). On some machines and ROM revisions, it doesn't matter if the V letter is spotted or not; Video Mode will start when the V is flashing or already lit. On others, 5M is awarded for lighting Video Mode, but the Drop Target does not lower until the next Right Orbit shot. Or the behavior may be unpredictable.

If Video Mode is lit when a ball is launched into play and no Multiball modes are active, sometimes the Drop Target will be lowered and Video Mode will begin, sometimes not.

During Video Mode, use the flipper buttons to fire your handgun left and right at incoming werewolves (Children of the Night). You have five more bullets than there are werewolves. Merely completing Video Mode is worth a base value of 5M, and you are awarded 10M, 5M, 1M, 500K, 100K, or nothing additional, depending on how many bullets you have remaining. Shooting werewolves that are very close to you can be worth up to 1.5M, whereas shooting distant werewolves is worth as little as a measly 50 points.

If you are too slow to shoot a werewolf (this is unavoidable if you have run out of bullets), it will eat you, ending Video Mode for no additional bonus. The next Video Mode you begin will be the same as the one you failed to complete.

Typically, an Extra Ball is awarded for successfully completing the second wave of Video Mode. Otherwise, it is not especially point-rich. Get more points out of it by shooting werewolves late, or have more fun by shooting them early (quick draw).

On Extra Easy settings, three letters in V-I-D-E-O are lit at the beginning of the game, and completing the Video Mode leaves the next Video Mode lit! You are also given twenty bullets to shoot ten werewolves in the first wave.

At the end of Video Mode (successful or not), the ball is kicked out of the Asylum, and V-I-D-E-O is unlit.

Note that you can Tilt during Video Mode.

This catch area is almost completely worthless. Renfield is kept in the Asylum, and dropping a ball in here (which is always by accident; it is not actually shootable from either flipper as far as I can tell) shows a brief animation and awards 5M. You can get a different ending to the animation by flipping, for which you are awarded an additional 5M.

If a ball wanders into the Asylum during any Multiball mode, you will see a brief animation of a hand grabbing or chasing some sort of scorpion or other nasty little creature (a reference to Renfield), which awards 1M the first time, 2M the second, and so on. There are also quotes for this. During Mist Multiball, this does not (or should not) count as a Mist Jackpot, I believe.

End-Of-Ball Bonus
I'm not sure how the End-Of-Ball Bonus is computed, but the graphics for it are beautifully gross. Most likely, targets such as Jet Bumpers and Slingshots contribute to the End-Of-Ball Bonus. The main part of the Bonus is not held over, but all other parts (Rats, Bats, and Bonus Multiplier) are. The game next shows the Rats and Bats bonuses, which are not subject to the Bonus Multiplier, thank goodness. The graphics for the Bonus have been changed slightly between prototype and L-1 releases.

Note that in newer ROMs, there is a bug concerning the End-Of-Ball Bonus. If you get a Tilt warning just as the ball crosses the Outlane sensor or lands in the trough (I'm not sure exactly which, possibly both), the game will pause and then proceed to the next ball without awarding ANY of your Bonus! The game is not Tilting, but simply cheating you. This is verified as a bug, not intentional behavior. (I have seen the same behavior, albeit very rarely, from Dr. Who.)

Miscellaneous Scoring
Jet Bumpers are 10,010 points. Slingshots are 10. Yes, that's right, 10.

Easter Eggs
During the game, a close-up of Dracula's eyes appears on the display at random intervals. When his eyes are crossed (typically during idle periods early in a game), press the Start button for a picture of Fluffy the Vampire (he looks suspiciously like one of the Doctors from Dr. Who!) and 20 points. This may or may not work if you have credits in the machine (the Start button may start another game instead).

You can also consider the Asylum behavior described previously as an Easter Egg. Flipping during the Renfield animation awards an additional 5M.

Cows: As far as I am aware, there are none. Please tell me if you know otherwise. I'd like to see a Cow in Video Mode somewhere. :-)

Tips, Tricks, Strategies
Multi-Multiball is the real key to super-high scores on Dracula. Starting more than one Multiball mode gives you nice things to shoot for from both flippers, and provides some insurance against quick drains. I tend to avoid starting any Multiball until I am very close to starting at least two of them. This means not shooting the Tunnel for Mist Multiball until there is only one Coffin Lock left, or starting Castle Multiball while the others are lit. Multi-Multiball also multiplies your Jackpots. If one of your running Multiballs is Mist, everything will be worth at least 20M. If you are really good at looping a ramp, catch the balls on one flipper and loop that ramp with one ball on the other. Note that the game will not call out the Mist values awarded while you are looping, or it may make the loop sound twice, then call out the value twice, on alternate loops.
Mist Multiball is easier if the ball starts at the left end of the Mist Lane, but this will only be true immediately after triggering Mist Multiball but not knocking the ball free. If you are not already in a Multiball mode and you miss the travelling ball, it's quite difficult to get a clean second shot at it, if any. You may want to hold up the left flipper and try to bump the ball over for an easier shot at it from the right flipper.

Bats mode is usually nothing but frustration. Both Bats and Rats are best when run during a Multiball mode; this can build both bonuses into the hundreds of millions! I think that having the Bats and Rats bonuses carry over between balls is a terrible idea which places far too much value on getting good Bats and Rats bonuses in early balls.

Always keep track of which Multiball will be advanced by the next Bonus from Loops, and of how many Loops you have and what is awarded when. Be careful not to waste Bonus awards which light Castle Locks, or to light Mist Multiball when it is already lit. It's better to start the current Mist Multiball and use it up, if you're about to light another anyhow, as you can safely light a second Mist Multiball during that Mist Multiball.

You can shoot the open Coffin from a ball trapped on the right flipper. Release and flip as soon as the ball will clear the slingshot, and the ball should go up, hit the inside left side of the Coffin, and land in the sinkhole. Of course, this may be somewhat machine dependent.

You can shoot the Tunnel from a ball trapped on the left flipper. Release and flip as soon as the ball will clear the slingshot, and the ball should go straight up, just missing the post at the right edge of the Castle Ramp, and straight into the Tunnel. If you miss, it will rattle around and may get knocked in by the Jet Bumpers. This is actually (in my opinion) an easier and safer shot than from the right flipper.

To pass the ball from the left flipper to right, shoot the Coffin Ramp if it is lowered, then hold the left flipper up and bump the ball over. To pass from the right to left, shoot the Tunnel. Normal flipper passes are a bit trickier than usual because of the short flippers.

Find out if you can catch balls ejected from the Altar on your machine. This can be very useful. The ejected balls should come past the right slingshot and neatly to the right flipper, if the kickout is properly adjusted.

Death Saves don't seem especially difficult on this machine, even with a sensitive Tilt. In general, Dracula is very good about keeping track of the number of balls in play. If you manage to shake a ball loose from a lock (the lower left end of the Mist Lane is a very good example), it will promptly put a ball in the Plunger Lane, raise the lane ramp, and relock a ball to make up for it. It can get confused with all three Multiballs running at once, though. ("Confused" is bad, remember?)

Bang Backs can also be achieved from either side, although the right side is of course somewhat prone to a Slam Tilt.

If there is a ball sitting behind the gate at the left end of the Mist Lane, you can easily shake it free at any time (the gate is not held down by anything but gravity), and the machine will understand what has happened. This can be a free Extra Ball if you're quick enough.

If the Tilt is especially liberal on your machine, you can get Mist Multiball by simply shaking the machine front to back to get the travelling ball to fall from the Mist Lane.

The center set of Bank Targets are extremely dangerous to shoot for; they tend to direct the ball towards the center drain. Unfortunately, the left set is very difficult to hit at all. This, combined with the fact that Castle Locks time out, makes starting Castle Multiball a bit more difficult and unpredictable than it should be.

The diverter on the Castle Ramp is only active when the game sees a ball go up that ramp. It may come down too slowly on some machines, which will tend to knock the ball into the return lane of the Coffin Ramp. The worst possibility is that the ball will completely miss the scoring sensors for both ramps, awarding you nothing. Otherwise, you will get credit for hitting the Coffin Ramp or the Coffin itself, if it is open. This makes it possible to get quite a few Coffin shots from the Castle Ramp by making a fast shot when the diverter is active, and then holding the left flipper up and repeating the process until the diverter functions properly. If you manage to start Coffin Multiball and/or score Coffin Jackpots this way, shame on you.

Dracula very much feels like a Bally game, specifically Dr. Who. It has DotMation and the same Status Report. The Castle Ramp instantly reminded me of the Cliffhanger ramp on Dr. Who. The yellow flippers with black rubber are just like Dr. Who. Having Jackpot values be somewhat dependent on the number of balls in play is also reminiscent of Dr. Who. Since Barry Oursler is the principal designer here as well as on Dr. Who, this isn't much of a surprise.

In layout, however, Dracula strongly resembles Bad Cats, of all things. Since Barry Oursler is the principal designer here as well as on Bad Cats, this isn't much of a surprise.

Note: flipping will abort almost any animation which is delaying gameplay while the ball is being held somewhere. Unfortunately, this means you may not see what your Mystery Award was. This feature is best for skipping the rather lengthy but repetitive Replay animation (nice music and graphics, though).

In general, Dracula is a much simpler (but not necessarily easier) game than many other recent releases. It has great graphics and sound...