This game is amazing! It has an interactive backglass, where you try to get the space ship to dock with the space station. It has an extra ball feature, where the extra ball gets launched back into play from between the flippers. And it has stacking extra balls! In a 1969 EM!!!
The focus of the game is to get the space ship to dock at the space station. When you do this, the center target lights red for special, which on this machine is actually an extra ball.
The space station is stationary. It only moves when you collect an extra ball or go through an outlane.
The space ship can only dock with the space station if the ship is on the same beam.
You change the ship’s beam by making an upper rollover or hitting a mushroom. The lit rollover or mushroom moves the ship to the beam that the space station is at (and is worth 1000 points). The saucer and the inlanes move the space ship three beams (I think it is consistently three).
The space ship moves every time a slingshot, the center target, or the space ship lit pop bumper is hit (rollovers and mushrooms light the associated pop bumper). Space ship moves only matter when the ship and station are on the same beam.
When the space ship is on the same beam as the space station and the ship is moved to the station, the center target will immediately be lit for an extra ball. Collect the extra ball and a neat little star light will turn on in the bottom left part of the backglass! The space ship will then move to a new beam and you can try for more extra balls.
Until the extra ball is collected, station and ship placement and movement don’t matter (though you still collect points).
The Bonus: If the last space ship movement to reach the space station was a center target hit, you automatically are awarded an extra ball and the center target lights for an extra ball
I don’t focus on the upper rollovers (other than for the 1k points) because the ball almost always hits a mushroom (changing the space ship beam) on the way down the playfield.
I focus on hitting the lit mushroom to get the ship and station on the same beam.
When they are on the same beam, I hit the center target. This is 1k points and moves the ship, but it also puts the ball in play near the sling shots that also move the ship every hit. I hope that the ship can dock to the station before the ball hits a different mushroom and changes the ship’s beam. If I am lucky the center shot will give me the bonus extra ball.
I have gotten to three extra ball stars. I don’t know what the maximum is.
Strangely this is the rare EM that there are times where you don’t want to hit the ball high up in the playfield.
2 thoughts on “On Beam”
Thanks for writing mini-guides on EMs! On Beam is one of those games that seems inscrutable at first but is really fun when you get into it.
It is definitely the benefit of living by the Pacific Pinball Museum! Sadly not right now with COVID, but hopefully they will open again soon! Being able to sit on an EM and play game after game really helps to figure out the nuances of the rules!