Rules & Strategies

NOTE: The following is based on my particular game with mostly factory adjustments. Results may vary.

Skill Shot and TOY Rollover Lanes: There's a mini arch at the top right corner of the playfield including three rollover lanes labeled TOY. The mini arch is accessed from the shooter lane. One letter is randomly lit at the beginning of each ball. Shooting the lit letter advances the outhole bonus multiplier, scores 120k points and lites the Barbecue. Lane change is unavailable during this initial skill shot. Lane change is available once the ball is in play. The outhole bonus is advanced with each subsequent completion of TOY. The outhole bonus can be advanced up to 7x and is indicated by the cat eye playfield inserts between the flippers. The mini arch can also be accessed through a one-way gate via a shot between the Fish Bone-Us linear target and the center Fishbowl Ramp. Rollover lanes may also be hit by random ricochets from the Jet Bumpers. A lit rollover scores 10k points. An unlit rollover scores 20k points. A lit inlane also spots a TOY letter. The upper right corner of the playfield is a bit cluttered and the TOY inserts are difficult to see. Accordingly, there's a duplicate set of TOY lights on the back playfield panel above the arch.


TOY rollover lanes.

Jet Bumpers and Barbecue: A trio of Jet Bumpers is located on the right side of the playfield beneath the TOY rollover lanes. Each bumper hit scores 500 points unless the Barbecue is lit. When the Barbecue is lit the bumpers score 5k points per hit. The Barbecue insert is between the bumpers and may be lit by a skill shot as noted above or by completing the Milk Bottle 3-target drop-target bank. The Barbecue scene on the backglass also lites up and causes a sizzling sound effect as well as cat and dog sounds with each bumper hit.


Jet Bumpers and Barbecue insert.


Flashing Barbecue backglass detail.

Fish Bone-Us Linear Target and Garbage Can: The Fish Bone-Us linear target is located in the upper left corner of the playfield and is the game's signature gadget. Hitting the target advances the Fish Bone-Us award from nothing up to 500k points in five incremental steps. Values are indicated in front of the target and include 25k, 50k, 75k, 100k and 500k points. The harder the target is hit the more steps lite up. Zero to three steps can be expected per hit. So it always takes multiple hits to advance the Fish Bone-Us up to 500k. The lit Fish Bone-Us value will diminish one step every 20 seconds. The value will diminish down to the 25k point step, but can be repeatedly bumped back up with more shots to the linear target. The objective is to advance the Fish Bone-Us value up to 500k and then collect the Fish Bone-Us within 20 seconds. The linear target also scores immediate points equal to a multiple of 2k depending on how hard the target is hit.

The Fish Bone-Us is collected by shooting the Garbage Can which is a kickout saucer to the left of the linear target. There's also a 10x Fish Bone-Us multiplier which is activated by rolling through the right inlane when the right inlane is lit. That means the Garbage Can shot can be worth up to 5M points. The 10X multiplier is critical! Five million points is a big chunk of points for this game. But what's even niftier is the entertaining light show and guitar riff you get before the ball is ejected back into play. An empty Garbage Can (no accumulated Fish Bone-Us) scores 10k points or 100K points if 10x is lit. The 10x multiplier when lit will remain lit from ball to ball until used. Once used, the 10x multiplier must be relit via the right inlane as above. Any accumulated Fish Bone-Us steps also remain lit from ball to ball. The Garbage Can ejects across the playfield toward the Jet Bumpers.


Garbage Can and the Fish-Bone-Us linear target.

Tiger Ramp: The Tiger Ramp entrance is located on the far left side of the playfield. The ramp circumnavigates most of the playfield and delivers the ball back to the right inlane. This sets up multiple consecutive ramp shots from the right flipper which is the objective of the feature. Consecutive ramp shots award 50k points, 100k points, 200k points and Unlimited Million. An additional 20M point step is available on the last ball. The 20M can only be collected once. Additional shots collect the Unlimited Million. Values are indicated on the left side of the back panel above the ramp. Ramps shots are not timed, but they must be made without hitting certain other playfield switches. If other playfield switches are hit, the ramp value may return to 50k and you have to start over. My game is set to mostly factory adjustments. Therefore the Tiger Ramp is always lit starting at the 50k step. The game can be adjusted such that the Tiger Ramp is unlit. In that case the ramp is lit by completing the Bird drop-target bank (I think). There's also a roll-under switch at the ramp's entrance which scores 1k points when hit from either direction. If I'm playing against someone and just want to rack up a bunch of points I focus my attention on the Tiger Ramp. It's hard to ignore the potential for a 20M point shot on the last ball.


Tiger Ramp.


Back panel award display.

Fishbowl Ramp: The Fishbowl Ramp is the center ramp that feeds the left flipper. The ramp awards 30k points, 50k points, 100k points and extra ball with each consecutive shot as indicated by four inserts under the ramp entrance. Each step is timed and you only have about seven seconds to make the next shot. Strictly speaking, consecutive shots are not required. But if you lose your rhythm you only have about seven seconds to recover. If the feature times out before an extra ball is earned, you have to start again from 30k. Only one extra ball per ball in play may be earned via the Fishbowl Ramp. Additional consecutive shots earn 30k, 50k, 100k, rinse and repeat. If the extra ball is earned, the ramp will be unlit at the beginning of every subsequent ball. The ramp may be relit by completing either drop-target bank. There's also a roll-under switch at the ramp's entrance which scores 1k points when hit from either direction. The ramp can be shot from either flipper, but is skewed a bit more favorably toward the left flipper. Obviously the left flipper is the flipper of choice if shooting for an extra ball. Earning an extra ball was easy when the game was dirty and slow. After some cleaning and waxing, earning an extra ball wasn't so easy at all.
Meow Me Meow Meow!

The Fishbowl Ramp is also shot to collect the Jackpot. The Jackpot is lit after seven completions of either drop-target bank. Shooting the ramp is easy. Getting the Jackpot lit is not. On the other hand, the Jackpot maybe lit by a lucky spin of the Seafood Table.


Fishbowl Ramp.

Dog House: The Dog House is a cellar hole on the lower right side of the playfield. The Dog House can be lit by rolling through the left inlane when the left inlane is lit. The Dog House can also be lit by shooting the Dog House itself. Shooting an unlit Dog House lites the Dog House, scores 5k points and causes Ralfie to bark at you. Once lit, the Dog House stays lit for 20 seconds. Shooting the Dog House when lit scores 10k points and spins the Seafood Table for a random award. There are no other under-playfield passages on this game. A ball shot into the Dog House is ejected back from the Dog House.


Ralfie's Dog House.

Seafood Table:The Seafood Table is a mechanical prize wheel in the center of the playfield. The Seafood Table randomly awards one of eight prizes including:
1) Spots BAD CATS Letter & 25k points,
2) 10k points
3) Special
4) 50k points
5) Lites Fishbowl Jackpot
6) Spin Again & 100k points
7) Extra Ball
8) 250k points
The percentages for the Special, Lites Jackpot and Extra Ball awards are adjustable. Aside from shooting the Dog House when lit, the Seafood Table is also spun if the last ball is lost down an outlane. This is called a Curiosity Spin. Often an extra ball will be awarded and play continues. Some awards will be unavailable. For example, it wouldn't make sense to award Lites Jackpot when the game is already over.

Sometimes I'll shoot for the Dog House just because the Seafood Table is a fun effect. But if I have the ball on the left flipper I'm more likely to shoot for the Fishbowl Ramp or the Milk Bottle targets. Those shots are easier and can be more lucrative in the long run.

What I don't like about this game is the "Lites Jackpot" award on the Seafood Table. Earning the Jackpot is a lot of work requiring seven completions of the drop-target banks. I don't like how the Seafood Table can just give it all away at random thereby circumventing what is perhaps the most significant challenge of the game. The award can be turned off. On the other hand I like to play my games as the game designers intended them be played. So instead of turning off the award all together I adjusted the award percentage (adjustment 45) from 5% down to 2% which is considered the "extra hard" setting.


Seafood Table.

Bird and Milk Bottle Drop-Targets: The Bird targets are a five-target drop-target bank on the middle left side of the playfield. The Milk Bottle targets are a three-target drop-target bank on the middle right side of the play field. I always like a game with plenty of drop-targets. Completing a drop-target bank awards a BAD CATS letter. The BAD CATS letters are indicated by seven inserts in the middle of the playfield below the Seafood Table. Lit BAD CATS letters remain lit from ball to ball. Completing the BAD CATS letters lites the Fishbowl Ramp for the Jackpot. The Jackpot is perhaps the biggest challenge of the game. The drop-targets are easy to hit. But getting seven completions in one 3-ball game isn't so easy. Each Bird target score 5k points. Completing the Bird target bank scores 105k points. Each Milk Bottle targets score 5k points. Completing the Milk Bottle target bank scores 60k points. Targets are good for bird and breaking glass sound effects.


Bird drop-targets.


Milk Bottle drop-targets.

Slingshots and Rebound Switches: The slingshots are of the usual shape and location and score 10 points per hit. The slingshots also alternately lite one or the other inlane. But this is a little different from the usual toggle method. Inlanes are only toggled when the ball hits a slingshot on the same side as the currently lit inlane. For example, if the left inlane is lit and the right inlane is unlit, a hit on the right slingshot does nothing. But a hit on the left slingshot causes the right inlane to lite and the left inlane to go out.

There are three rebound switches. One is to the right of the Tiger Ramp entrance and scores 50 points. One is to the left of the Fishbowl Ramp and scores 10 points. Balls bouncing between these two make for some good cat and dog sound effects. A third rebound switch scores 50 points and is located above a passage under the Fishbowl Ramp leading to the Jet Bumpers. All rebound switches trigger a cat or dog sound effect and toggle the lit inlane in the usual manner.

Inlanes: One of the two inlanes is always lit. Rolling through a lit left inlane lites the Dog House. Rolling through a lit right inlane lites the 10X Fish Bone-Us multiplier. A lit inlane also awards a TOY letter. A lit inlane scores 50k points. An unlit inlane scores 20k points. The inlanes are alternately lit by way of the slingshots and rebound switches as noted above. Lane Change is unavailable for altering the state of the inlanes.

Outlanes: The outlanes score 100k points and activate the backglass animation. Bad kitty! The outlanes also award a Curiosity Spin on the last ball. Note that the outlane switches trigger the Curiosity Spin light and sound effects, but the Seafood Table won't actually spin until the outhole switch is closed.

Flippers: There are two flippers in the usual location. There's also a fixed center post. Balls headed straight down the middle will often bounce back into play on their own.


Lower playfield.

Multiball: None. This is one of the last pinball machines produced that did not include a multiball feature.

Extra Balls: An extra ball is awarded by way of the Fishbowl Ramp or the Seafood Table as described above. The outlanes are always lit for a Curiosity Spin of the Seafood Table on the last ball. There's the potential here for a consolation extra ball. If the player's game time was less than two thirds of the average game time, the Curiosity Spin automatically awards an extra ball. Otherwise the Curiosity Spin awards points or maybe a Special.

Jackpot: The Jackpot is a carryover feature meaning the value grows and carries over from one game to the next until the value is collected. An estimate of the Jackpot's value is shown by a ladder display on the backglass. But the ladder only goes up to eight million whereas the actual Jackpot value can go up to 20 million. The Jackpot may go higher than 20 million by some fractional amount, but won't reach 21 million. Once collected the Jackpot value returns to one million. The Jackpot grows by aproximately ten percent of each player's final score. I'm not exactly sure how the Jackpot is calculated. The ten percent theory is in the ballpark, but not quite.


Jackpot ladder on the backglass.

Outhole Bonus: The outhole bonus accumulates in the usual way by hitting various playfield features during play. The outhole bonus is collected when the ball drains, but is forfeited if the game is tilted. The outhole bonus may be multiplied by up to 7x by completing the TOY letters as noted above. The outhole bonus accumulates as follows:

1k - Ball serve
1k - Fish Bone-Us linear target**
1k - Either ramp entrance switch
2k - Dog House when lit
2k - Each drop-target
2k - Each TOY rollover lane
2k - Inlane
5k - Tiger Ramp
10k - Bird drop-target completion
10k - Trash Can
15k - Fishbowl Ramp
20k - Milk Bottle drop-target completion
30k - Outlane

**The linear target awards a bonus equal to a multiple of 1k points depending on how hard the target is hit

Specials: There is no skill opportunity to earn a special. Specials are randomly awarded via the Seafood Table as described above.

Cat Scan: The Cat Scan is the status report. Hold both flipper buttons to see the current Jackpot value followed by the current outhole bonus value.

Music and Sounds: Bad Cats has what might be my favorite System-11 music package. I especially like the post-jackpot tune, the high score tune and the Fish Bone-Us five million point guitar riff. Sound effects include meowing, barking, tweeting, smashing glass and other havoc.

Bad Cats Vocabulary: Vocabulary is kinda thin. But there are a lot of other sound effects that make up for it.
(F)=Female; (M)=Male; (G)=Group

"Bad Cats" (M) - Start Game
"Nice toy" (F) - Advance Bonus Multiplier
"Oh Meee-ow" (F) - Advance Bonus Multiplier
"Meow Me Meow Meow" (G) - Fishbowl Ramp Shot
"What's all the racket?" (M) - Empty Garbage Can Shot
"Bad kitty" (F) - Non-Empty Garbage Can Shot
"Seafood Yeah!" (G/M) - Lit Dog House Shot
"One more time" (M) - Spin Again Seafood Table Award
"Bad Cats" (M) - Drop-Target Bank Completion
"Bad kitty" (F) - Drain
"Nice toy" (F) - Random Attract
"Oh Meee-ow" (F) - Random Attract
"One more time" (M) - Random Attract