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Rules & Strategies

NOTE: The following is based on my particular game set to replay mode with mostly factory recommended game adjustments. Results may vary.

General Strategy Overview: Silverball Mania is a game that might be more fun without knowledge of the rules. Unfortunately the whole game strategy can be distilled down to the center hoop shot (which is pretty easy to hit). Shooting the hoop lites the disappearing kicker, spots a letter, advances the bonus multiplier, lites extra ball and scores 5,000 points. Why shoot at anything else? Most players pan this game as fun, but far too easy to beat. Sometimes you need to forget about building your score and just enjoy the rest of the playfield.

Spell SILVERBALL MANIA: Spelling out SILVERBALL MANIA is the main objective of the game. The SILVERBALL letters are acquired via seven stationary targets. There's a target below each of the four passive bumpers. And there's a bank of three targets midway up each side of the playfield. MANIA letters are acquired via inlane and outlane rollovers and a stationary "N" target in front of the center hoop. Lit targets and rollovers score 1,000 points. Unlit targets and rollovers score 500 points. SILVERBALL MANIA progress is recorded via inserts in the middle of the playfield. Each player's SILVERBALL MANIA status is cumulative from ball to ball.

SILVERBALL MANIA letters may also be spotted via the three top rollover lanes. A lit lane spots a letter. Lit lanes are toggled by the four passive bumpers. A letter is also spotted via the center hoop. The spotted letter is always the next unlit letter. The SILVERBALL MANIA targets are generally arranged from the top of the playfield to the bottom. So spotting letters reduces the player's incentive to shoot balls back to the top of the playfield.

The SILVERBALL MANIA letters are the basis of the end-of-ball bonus. Each letter is worth 1,000 bonus points. Spelling SILVERBALL MANIA once lites the 15,000 point Wizard Bonus. Spelling SILVERBALL MANIA twice lites the 30,000 point Supreme Wizard Bonus. Spelling SILVERBALL MANIA again awards a special. Up to 44,000 bonus points may be accumulated (times any earned multipliers). Lit letters carry from ball to ball. Multipliers do not.

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Click for a larger image of the center playfield area.

Passive Bumpers and Top Rollovers: The top of the playfield comprises four passive bumpers separated by three top rollover lanes. The bumpers are always lit, score 50 points, toggle the spinners and toggle the top rollover lanes. Either the center lane is lit or the two outer lanes are lit. Lit lanes spot a SILVERBALL MANIA letter. The center lane always scores 5,000 points (despite the inset being labled "5000 WHEN LIT"). The center lane always lites the disappearing kicker. The outer lanes always score 500 points. The skillshot is the lit center rollover which is lit at the beginning of each ball. So the trick is to go down the center rollover without touching a passive bumper or to go down after touching the bumpers an even number of times. A respective "S", "I", "L" & "V" stationary target is located below each passive bumper. Also note there's an opening toward the top of the shooter lane that serves as a partial right orbit. The ball can be shot through the right spinner and back to the top arch.

Thumper Bumpers: There are three active Thumper Bumpers in the upper-center of the playfield that are always lit and score 100 points per hit. Bumper action is good for hitting the top four "S", "I", "L" & "V" stationary targets. There are also four rebound switches located below and beside the active bumper nest. These four rebound switches are wired to the same circuit as the four passive bumper switches. So all eight switches perform the same function of scoring 50 points and toggling the spinners and top rollover lanes.

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Click for a larger image of the upper playfield area.

Spinners: There's a spinner on each side of the center hoop. Spinners score 1,000 points when lit and 100 points when unlit. The spinners are lit by spelling MANIA. The spinners are unlit at the beginning of each ball. But if all MANIA lettrs are lit at the beginning of a ball, then the spinners can be relit simply by getting any other unlit SILVERBALL letter. Only the left or right spinner is lit. A lit spinner is toggled left and right by the passive bumpers, rebound switches and slingshots. Shooting the left spinner is good for getting back to the active bumpers and the "S", "I", "L" & "V" stationary targets. Shooting the right spinner is good for getting back to the top arch and the top rollover lanes.

Center Hoop: The center hoop is a horseshoe-shaped lane in the middle of the playfield. As noted above, the center hoop does just about everything. Shooting the hoop scores 5,000 points and lites the disappearing kicker. Shooting the hoop also spots a SILVERBALL MANIA letter and advances the bonus multiplier. Bonus multiplier progression is 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X & lite extra ball. Extra ball may be lit with or after 5X depending on game settings. The stationary "N" target is between the hoop openings. Hit the "N" target to collect the lit extra ball. There are two star rollover switches within the hoop lane, but only one need be hit to collect the center hoop awards. In other words, the ball need not travel all the way around the hoop to collect the awards.

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Click for a larger image of the center playfield area.

Slingshots: The slingshots are of the usual shape and location and score 20 points. The slingshots also toggle lit spinners and top rollover lanes.

Inlanes: The inlanes score 1,000 points when lit and award the "A" and "I" letters. The inlanes score 500 points when unlit.

Outlanes: The outlanes score 1,000 points when lit and award the "M" and "A" letters. The outlanes score 500 points when unlit. Silverball Mania features a novel split outlane arrangement. The upper outlanes feed the disappearing kicker. The lower outlanes lead to the drain. Thanks to a small nail along each siderail, it's easy to nudge balls to the upper outlanes and back to the kicker.

Flippers: There are two flippers of the usual arrangement, but located slightly higher up on the playfield to accommodate the disappearing kicker.

Disappearing Kicker: Silverball Mania's signature gadget is the disappearing kicker. A single rollover lane is located between the flippers and the outhole. The lane conceals a rollover switch and the kicker itself. When unlit the kicker remains below the playfield. A ball headed toward the rollover lane simply passes through and drains. When lit the kicker arm protrudes above the playfield. A ball headed toward the rollover lane is caught. The kicker arm then propels the ball up between the flippers and back into play. The kicker will catch a ball headed SDTM and may also catch balls headed down the outlanes. Note that the outlanes help spell MANIA. So if the kicker is lit it may be desirable to get the ball down the outlanes. The kicker is lit via the top center rollover or the center hoop. The kicker drops below the playfield after each use and must be relit for another use. The kicker scores 5,000 points when lit and 500 points when unlit. Landing in the kicker earns a special when lit. The kicker special is lit with or after the SILVERBALL MANIA special depending on game settings.

The disappearing kicker is a neat gadget, but contributes to the game's easy-to-beat reputation. The center hoop is a pretty easy shot so the kicker stays lit more often than not.

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Click for a larger image of the lower playfield area.

Multiball: None.

Extra Balls: Extra balls are earned by way of the center hoop and "N" stationary target. Hit the center hoop four or five times (depending on game settings) to lite the "N" target for extra ball. Hit the lit "N" target to collect the extra ball. Only one extra ball may be earned per ball in play.

End-of-Ball Bonus: The end-of-ball bonus is accumulated by spelling SILVERBALL MANIA as noted above. The bonus multiplier is advanced by shooting the center hoop as noted above. Up to 44,000 bonus points may be accumulated (times any earned multipliers). Lit SILVERBALL MANIA letters carry from ball to ball. Multipliers do not. The end-of-ball bonus is lost if the game is tilted.

Specials: There are two ways to earn Specials. The SILVERBALL MANIA special is awarded after spelling SILVERBALL MANIA a third time and each time thereafter. The Disappearing Kicker special is lit with or after the SILVERBALL MANIA special depending on game settings.

Carry-Over Special: Silverball Mania has a carry-over feature as indicated by the SILVERBALL letters in the lower left corner of the backglass. One SILVERBALL backglass letter is lit each time a SILVERBALL MANIA special is awarded. The feature is carried from game to game. The player who completes the SILVERBALL backglass letters earns a triple-credit special! The knocker actually fires fours times (1 replay for the SILVEBALL MANIA special plus 3 replays for the SILVERBALL carry-over special). The SILVERBALL letters strobe for the remainder of the game. The "S" letter is lit at the beginning of the next game.

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SILVERBALL letters appear in the lower left corner of the backglass.

Sounds: Silverball Mania slightly predates Bally's implementation of speech. However, it is one of the earlier games to feature continuous background sound which increases in frequency and intensity as play progresses.