Erik's Pro Pinball Page
Pinball is my passion. Particularly computer pinball games, but I also own a real machine. Two excellent sites with PC pinball resources are Sam Gabrielsson's The Tower of Pin and Martin Mathis' pinball simulation reviews. Of course, by far and away the best pinball simulators are the Pro Pinball series, by Cunning Developments and published by Empire Interactive. There are four games in the series.
Pro Pinball: The Web is the first game in the series, released around early 1996 in Europe and October 1996 in the USA. For me, the gameplay is still more fun and less frustrating than the other two games, though it is of course simpler. I have written an advanced strategy guide for it, available here. Dave M. Smith has also written an excellent rulesheet with some strategy, which is available here. My high score is 8,032,894,312,270, second in the world on Empire's worldwide high score lists. Maybe someday I'll have the 17 hours I'll need to top the 8.6 trillion of that other guy who's on top of the scoreboard.
Timeshock! is the second game. With improved physics, a deeper ruleset, and a nice storyline, it's the all-around best Pro Pinball game. I haven't done any guides for this table, but Sam's got some at The Tower of Pin. My high score here is 80,582,604,780, ranked first in the world. I was on the playtesting team for Timeshock! - my name is mentioned in the manual. Among other suggestions, I'm the one responsible for the fact that the upper flipper doesn't reverse during Reverse Frenzy, to screw you up. :)
IMPORTANT note for Voodoo3 users: When you install your Voodoo3, the ball will likely skip and jump around in Timeshock!. The fix for this is to go into the graphics options for Timeshock and disable screen flipping. This is due to a known glitch that's present on all 3dfx cards: they are very slow on page-flips, because they do a blit of the screen buffer instead of just exchanging addresses.
The next installment is Big Race USA, for which I was also on the beta testing team. Despite having even more table features, flippers, customizability, and rules than Timeshock!, I don't like it quite as much - the "spin-n-slide" physics are more realistic but significantly less smooth and harder to control, and the game can get quite frustrating at times ("dammit, no! I didn't want to go to Phoenix!"). It's still a great game, despite that and the fact that the ruleset is insanely complex. After seeing many many requests, I put together a "just the facts" (no strategy) rulesheet for it. It's updated to version 1.6 (all maneuvers found!) as of 2 Dec 2000. Thanks to one Thilo Herrmann, there's a German version of it now available. Another German version (better) is available, from Michael Weigert. It's in .RTF format.
Update 22 Oct 1999: English and German versions of Head to Head BRUSA rulesheet available, thanks to Andreas Grabher.
On normal difficulty, my high score is 52,254,694,795, good for, surprise, second place behind that Oberdieck robot. On easy difficulty, I reached a world GC of 100,134,028,811 on May 5-6 1999, which was the first 100B score on the charts.
IMPORTANT note for Voodoo3 users again: BRUSA does not suffer from the page-flip bug, but both it and Timeshock! have another incompatibility with the current Voodoo3 drivers: In Windows, if you alt-tab away from the pinball, the game will crash when you return to it. The workaround is to make sure your Windows desktop is in exactly the same video mode as the game uses (both resolution and color depth must match); in this case the game won't crash. Note that the game will also crash if you change desktop video modes while away from the game.
The latest and quite possibly last game is Fantastic Journey. High score list is here. I hold most of the second-place scores behind Tarek, as usual.
The Pro Pinball games have turned up in various collections and packages. I don't know of any reliable sources to buy them, but look around and you should be able to find them somewhere.
There is a Pro Pinball Collection supposedly coming out for the Dreamcast game console, in Europe only; if you have any further news on this I'd like to know.
In the dark ages before Pro Pinball, I whiled away many hours playing Epic Pinball and Pinball Fantasies. I have indeed written a rulesheet and guide for Pinball Fantasies: it's right here. When I revised this website on 4/8/99, I updated that guide with info about the Billion point shot on the third table.
Feel free to mail me at erik @ dos486.com about these games, particularly if you have questions, additions, or corrections for any of my rulesheets. However, please understand that I cannot provide technical support for these games! If a Pro Pinball game doesn't work, behaves strangely, won't recognize your joystick/sound card/power supply, or runs slowly on your computer, I am not the person to ask for help. Go to Empire's site and follow the links through to tech support. One thing I can say is don't waste your time trying to run Pinball Fantasies under Windows ME or 2000; you'll need a good old DOS boot disk.
In February 1998, PC Games and Empire Interactive held a contest using a demo version of Timeshock!. The demo was limited to five minutes of play. I scored 1,218,378,180 on that to win the grand prize: an arcade Terminator 2 pinball machine. Took a good three months to actually get it shipped to me, but Arnold is happily sitting in my living room now. My high score there is 1728M, which included one multiball with a massive ten 50M Super Jackpots. Eventually, I'll get a more modern machine like a No Fear or Theatre of Magic, but that'll have to wait till after I graduate.