Rules & Stratagies

NOTE: The following is based on my particular game with all adjustments set to factory defaults. Results may vary.

Space Station Diverter and Multiball: I'll start with this feature since it is the visual and operational focal point of the game. The Space Station is a rotating ball diverter located in the upper right corner of the playfield. The diverter has two entrances and two exits. Either entrance can be lined up with either exit depending on the position of the diverter. The exits lead to the two ball docks. The left ball dock is located at the middle-left side of the playfield and is connected to the diverter by way of an elevated habitrail that winds its way between the jet bumpers. The right ball dock is to the right of and below the diverter. Note: In the context of this game's sci-fi space theme, ball locks are referred to as "ball docks". A ball can enter the diverter by way of the ramp on the right side of the playfield. Or a ball can enter the diverter via a top-center ball popper accessed by way of a long left orbit shot.

If both docks are empty, a ball is directed toward either dock based on the current position of the diverter. After the first ball is docked, the diverter will align itself such that a ramp shot is directed toward the unoccupied dock. However, if the ball is shot to the top-center ball popper, the ball is held in the popper until the diverter realigns itself to connect the popper with the unoccupied dock.

After two balls are docked, any additional ramp shots will not start Multiball. Instead, a docked ball is simply ejected and replaced by the ball shot up the ramp.

Multiball will start when a third ball is shot to the top-center ball popper or the top-right ball popper (the top-right popper is accessed via a shot beneath the Space Station diverter). At this point, all three balls are ejected. The object of Multiball is to re-dock two of the three balls. Re-docking two balls awards the Rescue Jackpot. The balls are then ejected and the player may attempt additional Rescue Jackpots until two of the three balls are lost and Multiball ends.

The Rescue Jackpot starts at 200,000 points and increases by 10,000 points each time Multiball ends without a Rescue Jackpot award. After a Rescue Jackpot award, the Rescue Jackpot returns to 200,000 points. The Rescue Jackpot value is carried over from game to game. I suppose the Rescue Jackpot has some maximum value. However, attaining the Jackpot is a reasonably simple objective so the value never strays far from the initial 200,000 points.

Ball docks are lit at the beginning of a game. The top-center ball popper can be shot right away. But the ramp remains blocked until the bottom drop target is hit. Note: In fact, the ramp entrance is wide enough to sneak the ball past the drop target, but this is the luckiest of lucky shots. If the docks are not lit, any ball sent to a dock will be immediately ejected. The docks are re-lit by completing the 1-2-3 rollover lanes on the upper mini-playfield.

Docks score 20,000 points when lit or 5,000 points when unlit. The top-right ball popper always scores 20,000 points. The two diverter exit switches score 10 points.

Space Station features green general illumination on the playfield that is activated during Multiball. Unfortunately, this novel feature is not as cool as it sounds. The green bulbs are not that bright and I'm so focused on ball play that I hardly notice. If your Space Station does not turn green, check that green bulbs have been installed in every GI socket marked with a "G".

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Click for larger images of the diverter lining the ramp with the left ball dock (left image) and the right ball dock (right image).

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Click for larger images of the left ball dock exit (left image) and the right ball dock exit (right image).

Upper Mini-Playfield: The upper mini-playfield is located at the top-left of the game and comprises three rollover lanes 1-2-3. The upper mini-playfield is entered from the left by way of an elevated break-away plunger shot. This is the game's skill shot. But with lane change and slow ball speeds, the skill challenge is minimal. The upper mini-playfield is also entered from the right by way of the top-right ball popper. The top-right popper is located in the top right corner of the playfield behind the Space Station diverter. This popper is accessed by a narrow shot up between the 3-bank drop targets and the T-I-O-N stationary targets. Shooting the top-right popper is also one way to commence Multiball as noted above.

Each pass through a rollover scores 2,000 points. Completing the 1-2-3 rollover lanes scores 25,000 points and increases the jet bumper value in 500 point increments. The jet bumper value starts at 500 points per hit and may be increased up to up to 3,000 points per hit. The jet bumper value is retained from ball to ball. Completing the 1-2-3 rollover lanes also re-lites the ball docks. After passing through one of the 1-2-3 rollover lanes, the ball drops from the upper mini-playfield and lands between the jet bumpers and the U-S-A rollover lanes.

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Click for a larger image of the Upper Mini-Playfield.

U-S-A Rollover Lanes: Three U-S-A rollover lanes are located beneath the upper mini-playfield. Each pass through a rollover scores ___ points. Completing the three lanes will lite the top-center ball-popper for 100,000 points. Completing the three lanes will also advance the Stop 'N Score multiplier. The Stop 'N Score multiplier can be advanced up to 5x. Reaching 4x will lite the lower-right stationary target for a special. Stop 'N Score is initiated by hitting the lower drop target. Stop 'N Score is collected by shooting the ramp. Lit lanes are retained from ball to ball. But the Stop 'N Score multiplier is reset at the beginning of each ball. The U-S-A rollovers are not directly accessible to the player. Orbit shots generally pass by the rollovers and land in the top-center ball popper. The U-S-A rollovers are only accessible by way of a really wimpy orbit shot or by a random ricochet from the jet bumpers. Jet bumper action is fast and furious so quick lane change reflexes are necessary to maximize rollover opportunities.

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Click for a larger image of the USA Rollover Lanes.

Jet Bumpers: There are three jet bumpers in the upper playfield area. At the beginning of a game, each bumper hit is worth 500 points. The bumper value is increased in 500 point increments by completing 1-2-3 on the upper mini-playfield. Bumper hits can be worth a maximum of 3,000 points per hit. Bumper values are retained from ball to ball. Bumper ricochets are useful for hitting the U-S-A rollover lanes as well as the T-I-O-N stationary targets.

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Click for a larger image of the Jet Bumpers.

3-Bank Drop Targets: A bank of three drop targets is hidden to the right of the jet bumpers. The targets are nearly parallel to the player's line of sight and require highly accurate shots. The casual player may not even notice the targets are there. Completing the targets increases the end-of-ball bonus multiplier up to 7x. Extra ball is lit by completing 4x. Extra ball is collected by completing 5x. The end-of-ball bonus multiplier is reset at the beginning of each ball.

Drop targets score 1,000 points each for the first two targets hit. Knocking down the final target scores 50,000 points and resets the bank for a total score of 52,000 points per completion. If all three targets are swept by a single shot, the completion is worth 132,000 points. Given the steep angle of the target bank, a sweep is not that much more difficult than hitting individual targets.

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Click for a larger image of the Drop Targets.

Stop 'N Score and the Ramp: Space Station has one ramp at the middle-right side of the playfield. The ramp's most obvious purpose is to get the ball to the diverter. But the ramp also has an associated Stop 'N Score feature. The ramp entrance is blocked by a single drop target. Hitting the drop target starts the Stop 'N Score feature. Shooting the ramp collects the Stop 'N Score value. Stop 'N Score is a timed 25 second feature wherein an award continuously cycles between 20,000 and 99,000 points. The Stop 'N Score value is shown on the score displays.

Ideally the player should trap the ball on the left flipper, keep an eye on the score displays and time the ramp shot to score maximum points. But the player also needs to consider the position of the diverter when timing this shot. If the diverter is lined for the left dock, the Stop 'N Score value is not awarded until the ball hits the switch at the lower end of the left dock habitrail. If the diverter is lined for the right dock, the Stop 'N Score value is awarded as soon as the ball exits the diverter. As noted above, the Stop 'N Score award can be multiplied up to 5x by way of completing the U-S-A rollover lanes

After the Stop 'N Score is collected (or times out), the drop target will remain down so long as the ball docks are lit. The drop target will reset if the ball docks are not lit. The drop target also resets at the beginning of each ball. The ramp entrance is just wide enough to sneak the ball past the drop target. But this is an unlikely shot and has little strategic value.

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Click for a larger image of the Drop Target.

Stationary Targets: Space Station features fifteen stationary targets. Seven targets line the middle-left side of the playfield spelling S-H-U-T-T-L-E. Three targets near the middle of the playfield spell S-T-A. And another four targets toward the upper-right of the playfield spell T-I-O-N. Shuttle awards and Station awards are indicated in the middle of the playfield. Completing the Shuttle targets earns the lit Shuttle award. Likewise, completing the Station targets earns the lit Station award. Possible awards include...

Special
Extra Ball
50,000 points and re-lite outlanes
50,000 points and a bonus ball
150,000 points and hold bonus
75,000 points
25,000 points

A random award is assigned to each set of seven targets at the beginning of each ball. The fifteenth target is located at the lower-right side of the playfield just above the right outlane. This target is used to select another random award. The target only alters one award at a time. However, the player may toggle the target by simultaneously pressing both flipper buttons. For example, if the Shuttle targets are lit for special, the player should toggle the bottom-right target to Station. This will ensure that the Shuttle award is not inadvertently altered by a misguided shot. Conversely, if the Shuttle targets are lit for 25,000 points, the player should toggle the lower-right target to Shuttle and try altering the award to something more valuable.

The lower-right target scores 5,000 points per hit. The lower-right target is also lit for special after four completions of the U-S-A rollover lanes as described above. The other fourteen stationary targets score 20,000 points when unlit and 10,000 when lit.

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Click for a larger image of the.

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Click for larger images of the.

Slingshots: The slingshots are of the usual shape, but are located lower on the playfield because this game has no inlanes. Slingshots score 10 points per hit. Other 10 point switches include the two diverter exit switches and two rebound switches located above and below the T-I-O-N targets.

Inlanes: None.

Outlanes: The left outlane has a "re-entry" kickback and is lit at the beginning of each ball. Right outlane scores 100,000 points when lit and is re-lit at the beginning of each ball. Both outlanes additionally score 10,000 points and can be re-lit via the stationary target awards.

Flippers: There are two flippers in the usual location. But due to the lack of inlanes, ball control is challenging and trapping can be down right dangerous. Trapped balls are likely to roll up the face of the slingshots and be launched out of control or right down the opposing outlane.

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Click for a larger image of the lower playfield.

Extra Balls: Extra balls are available by way of the 3-bank drop targets and by way of the stationary target awards. Both of these features are described above.

End-of-Ball Bonus: The end-of-ball bonus increases by 1k points for each of the following:

Specials: Two specials are available by way of the U-S-A rollover lanes and by way of the stationary target awards. Both of these features are described above.

Bonus Ball: A bonus ball can be earned by way of the stationary target awards described above. A player who earned a bonus ball will play his bonus ball in turn after all regular balls have been played. Bonus ball status is indicated by playfield lights in front of the left slingshot. Bonus balls last for 25 seconds. Play time is increased to 45 seconds if the player achieved Multiball during regular play. All lost bonus balls are immediately returned to the shooter lane until time expires. There is no Multiball during a bonus ball so the player should focus on other scoring features (Stop 'N Score is always a good goal).

Space Station Vocabulary; (M) = Male Voice; (F) = Female Voice:
"We have ignition"(M) - Game Start
"Bay doors are open"(F) - Bottom drop target; begin Stop & Score
"You're back on course"(M) - Left outlane return kicker
"You're looking good"(M) - Left outlane return kicker
"Defender docked"(M) - Left dock
"Liberty docked"(M) - Right dock
"Docking complete; negative, you must re-dock"(M) - Begin Mutiball
"Re-dock now"(F) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"Condition Green"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"Roger, Liberty"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"You're back on course"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"You're looking good"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"Do you copy?"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"Prepare for liftoff"(M) - Random line spoken during Multiball
"Mission Accomplished"(M) - Complete Multiball (Rescue Jackpot)
"10, 9, 8, ... 2, 1"(F) - Count down to end of bonus ball