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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.

THE GAME

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...

RULES SHEET

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.

Bats
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.

Altar
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:
Rats
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.

Rats
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.)

Multi-Multiball
"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.

Asylum
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...