Sharkbit: Take Down Bruce the Great White and Save the Beachgoers in Stern's Latest Pinball Creation

Sharkbit: Take Down Bruce the Great White and Save the Beachgoers in Stern's Latest Pinball Creation
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Sharkbit: Take Down Bruce the Great White and Save the Beachgoers in Stern's Latest Pinball Creation
Published on
February 26, 2024
Updated on
February 26, 2024
Read time:
4
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Keith Elwin has proven himself as Stern Pinball’s “jack of all trades” with his newest release, Jaws. Every new Elwin design feels completely different from the last, while still iterating on what worked in the games that preceded it. Compared to Godzilla, a relatively long-playing machine with a wide-open playfield, Jaws tends to play far more aggressively and features many shots that can be risky but are worth mastering to maximize scores. Scoring on Jaws also tends to come in far larger chunks compared to Godzilla.

It took me a while to learn what I was doing on Jaws and what scoring features to prioritize, but I hope this guide can clarify the quickest ways to maximizing your score in the early game. From my experience, shark encounter & bounty hunt completion are the biggest contributors to large scores.

jaws pinball tutorial

About Jaws Pinball

Note: this tutorial is based on code version 0.85.

Jaws is Keith Elwin’s sixth design for Stern, released at the beginning of 2024. Summer has arrived in the bustling town of Amity, whose beaches have been infested with sharks including “Bruce”, a life-threatening Great White shark. The player is hired alongside a crew of experienced seafarers to take down Bruce, scout the beaches for sharks, and evacuate their beachgoers before it’s too late. 

Jaws Playfield Overview

 

Gating the left side of the playfield is the “harpoon shot”, a long lane that can be fed to either by shooting the left orbit (with a spinner in front of it) or directly via a shot from the mini-flipper parallel to it and feeds the left flipper. The harpoon shot raises the fin drop target when its yellow light is lit, or qualifies quickshot when its blue light is lit, and is thus an important shot to master for high scores – quickshots can add up very quickly if the player keeps shooting for the fin drop target.

Directly below the side entrance to the harpoon shot are three standup targets. These targets are used to collect fish finder awards when the ball rolls over the lane below the bumper and can be hit either from the mini-flipper or lower right flipper. Completing these targets also lights machete for a shot multiplier at either inlane, if machete isn’t already lit.

Two ramps, with a captive ball in between them, are located to the left of the left orbit entrance. The leftmost ramp is called the “wave ramp”, requiring a strong shot to complete it and feed the mini-flipper, while the center ramp does a simple U-turn and feeds the left flipper. Between the two ramps is a captive ball with a model of a chum bucket above it. This captive ball is more important than it seems, as shooting it will spawn red shots that advance the chum line and allow you to access Jaws multiball.

Bruce, the Great White shark himself, can be seen trapped in a shark cage above a second captive ball. While the shark might not eat the ball (as far as we know), the player can hit the shark cage by completing the lit targets below it using the captive ball. One shot to the shark cage will light the shark encounter modes at all main shots, and further shots will boost the value of shark encounters either by adding time or a 2x multiplier to all scoring during the next one played.

To the right of the shark cage is the most difficult shot on the game, the fishing reel spinner. Unlike most pinball spinners, the reel spinner is a disc akin to the portal on Avengers: Infinity Quest that spins as the ball passes by it – stronger shots to the reel mean more spins. Directly to the right of the fishing reel is the game’s tight right ramp shot, used to start bounty hunts when available and sending the ball to the right flipper.

The lower right of the playfield resembles the bumper area on Godzilla. Below a bumper with a buoy above it is a target that lights the life ring at the action button when shot twice in quick succession, and to the right of both the bumper and target is a lane with a mini-flipper below it. The player can trap balls using this mini-flipper to make any shot on the far left side of the playfield, including the left orbit. Generally, balls that pass by the mini-flipper will feed the right inlane, though right outlane drains are possible by doing this on some copies of Jaws.

The two outlanes are unique as far as most outlanes go. The left outlane seems standard but has a ball saver called the “life ring” that must be strategically deployed by pressing the flashing action button immediately before the ball drains there. While the timing can be tough to learn, it is crucial to master – wait until the ball approaches the left outlane before pressing the button. Meanwhile, the right outlane has a post below it that can save balls that drain if the table is given a slight nudge, or occasionally on its own. 

Scoring on Jaws is roughly comparable to that of Avengers: Infinity Quest. A good score to aim for in a tournament setting would be over 100M or 200M, but billion+ scores are possible with extra balls turned on and enough persistence.  

Getting Started with Jaws

  • Shark Encounters: Shoot the shark cage (repeatedly to boost encounter scoring), then any flashing white shot to start a shark encounter. Shoot the flashing blue shots to light the encounter jackpot at the fin drop target.
  • Fish Finder: Complete the left standup targets to light the lane above the mini-flipper for fish finder. The next flashing target hit when the ball rolls through the lane scores the flashing award.
  • Bounty Hunts: Shoot the right ramp once to light a bounty hunt, then again to start it. Complete the shots indicated on the display to find the shark, then shoot the fishing reel spinner to reel it in.
  • Jaws Multiball: First, chum the water by shooting the chum bucket captive ball and shooting the red shots that spawn. Then, shoot any yellow shot to load the harpoon and attach a barrel to the shark at the fin drop target. Finally, make any flashing yellow shot to start Jaws multiball. Shoot red shots for awards / jackpots and the chum bucket to add a ball. Hold balls at the mini-flipper and press the action button to lock the ball there for a short time.
  • Feeding Frenzy: Complete sets of yellow targets to start feeding frenzy. For the next 30 seconds, all switch hits build a value that can be scored by shooting for the flashing yellow targets. The value is scored in end-of-ball bonus, for the rest of the game.
  • Beachgoers: Spawn at all five major shots by shooting the yellow targets surrounding them. Collect all three at a shot for a timed hurry-up – the value scored during them is added to each subsequent shot there while lit during a mode or multiball. Collect 8 beachgoers for an extra ball and 15 beachgoers for rescue multiball.
  • Machete: Complete the left standup targets to light machete at either inlane. Machete = shot multiplier applied to the next shot made once the ball has rolled through the lit inlane. The machete multiplier increases as shark encounters are completed.
  • Quickshots / Gear: Shoot the harpoon lane when lit to set up a shot to the fin drop target. The award is multiplied for further shots up the lane, but the multiplier resets when the player misses a quickshot. Extra ball is awarded at 3 quickshots, and this is also the fastest way to light gear for collection at the right ramp for various perks.


Skill Shot

There are three different stages of the skill shot – once you complete one stage, the next ball will start with the next one:

  • Level 1 – plunge into the bumper for 5M.
  • Level 2 – plunge into the lane above the mini-flipper for 10M.
  • Level 3 – plunge directly to the flippers and shoot any left standup target for 15M.

 

Machetes

You might be wondering why I listed machetes so early in the guide, when normally I’d be talking about how to get into modes or multiballs. Well, machetes can drastically increase scoring on this table if used well, and there are plenty of great times to use them throughout the game.

Machete is lit at either inlane by completing the left standup targets, if machete isn’t already lit. Once the ball rolls through the inlane, the next shot made will be multiplied in value by 2x for one time only. You can increase the machete multiplier by completing any of the shark encounters described below.

Shark Encounters

Shark encounters are the “modes” of the game, started in a similar matter to the dead features on The Walking Dead. Repeatedly shoot the captive ball (or bash boat on the Prem / LE) to light the encounters. You can score bonuses, including points and boosts to the next encounter, by shooting the captive ball before starting one, but these bonuses disappear if you drain before starting the encounter.

The five encounters are:

  • Night Swim: Started at the left orbit. Randomly lit blue shots advance you from the first phase to the second phase, where you must shoot a moving set of two blue shots five times to light encounter jackpot. The number of shots required, and strict time limit, make this a prime candidate for multiball stacking.
  • Beach Panic: Started at the “wave” ramp. Make 10 blue shots, with one shot flashing quickly for 2x value and progression, to light the wave ramp to raise the shark fin for encounter jackpot. While not as valuable as Night Swim, more shots are lit during this encounter than that one, making Beach Panic another ideal encounter to stack with multiball.
  • Scars: Started at the center ramp. This encounter is all about controlled play – the player must make eight blue shots, while avoiding the yellow targets as they decrease the value of the shots. The final shot to light the encounter jackpot is at the left standup targets. Play this mode during single-ball play and as early as possible for chum line progression.
  • Pond Attack: Started at the fishing reel spinner. Score 3 jackpots by shooting the reel spinner, which can be doubled by comboing into the harpoon lane and increased in value by making other shots prior, to light encounter jackpot. Scoring potential from this encounter is largely determined by how consistently you can shoot the fishing reel; weigh your options accordingly.
  • Raft Attack: Started at the right ramp. Raise the fin drop target by shooting either the “wave” ramp or right ramp, and combo up the center ramp to multiply its value. Make 3 fin drop target shots to light encounter jackpot. This is one of the “easier” encounters to complete (though they’re all very difficult) and can reliably be finished during single-ball play.

 

Every encounter you successfully complete (by scoring the encounter jackpot at the very end) increases the machete shot multiplier by +1x. There are plenty of great times to use machete throughout the game, so increase it early and often!

Fish Finder

Fish finder awards are quick ways to score points, lit after enough shots to the left standup targets. The lit award is changed by rolling through the lane above the mini-flipper while “activate fish finder” isn’t lit; once it is lit, shoot any of the three rapidly flashing standup targets from the mini-flipper to collect the lit award.

From bottom to top, the awards are:

  • Super Buoys – Alternate the slingshots for big points, approx. 200k per slingshot.
  • Super Life Ring – lucrative round involving the life ring target below the bumper. Every shot to the target scores 10M, adds 5M to the next value scored there, and slightly increases the mode timer.
  • Cast ‘n’ Catch – the center ramp and right ramp are lit to score rapidly increasing “count-up” awards. Time your shots when the score on the display reaches 20M to maximize scoring potential from this award – the award caps out and resets at 30M.
  • Light Video Mode – at the right ramp. Recreation of the “shark killer” EM game from the film. Use the flippers to fire harpoons either left, right, or center (press both buttons) while avoiding the scuba divers. There is an extra ball hidden in video mode, in the back row.
  • Night Search – 2-ball multiball. Shoot flashing shots for jackpots and left standup targets to relight them once they’ve timed out. Not too worthwhile on its own – use it to focus on beachgoers.

 

Bounty Hunts

Two shots up the right ramp (or enough fishing reel spins) will light, then start, the first bounty hunt. There are four sharks the player can select from, from easiest to most difficult: Mako < Thresher < Hammerhead < Tiger, and each shark requires sets of multiple different shots to be made first. You can only advance towards these shots during single-ball play; progress towards them is turned off during multiball modes. The “bounty” for each shark isn’t what you see on the display – it increases as you collect lit feeding frenzy shots.

Once all four sets of shots have been made, you will be able to shoot the fishing reel to start bounty hunt multiball and try to reel in the shark. Shoot the green shots and shark captive ball to reel in and weaken the shark, respectively. Once the shark has been fully weakened, shoot the fishing reel followed by the captive ball to score your bounty and start a victory multiball.

Jaws Multiball

The chum bucket captive ball is an important shot, as shooting it causes chum to spawn on the playfield (represented by the red shots). Collecting enough chum to fill out the chum line (where the shark fin roams) will allow you to load the harpoon and attach a barrel to Bruce. This is done by shooting any yellow shot, then quickly shooting the fin drop target. Look out for potentially dangerous drains from this shot – the drop target settles near the captive ball and causes balls to ricochet back to the flippers. Later on you’ll need to attach more barrels, and manually ready them by completing the left standup targets.

Once the barrel has been attached, shoot any flashing yellow shot to start Jaws multiball. There are two currently programmed multiballs, with the first multiball being a “utility multiball” best used to focus on other objectives.

  • Jaws Multiball 1 (Reel Him In!): Shoot red shots to score awards, with every three red shots lighting a yellow flashing shot for jackpot. Increase the jackpot by shooting more red shots beforehand. 
  • Jaws Multiball 2 (The Chase): Collect switch hits to light all major shots for jackpots – shooting the spinner at the left orbit is an easy way to light them quickly. This multiball is far more valuable than the first on average, even if you don’t have a mode to stack it with.

You can also play any multiball mode as a single-ball mode, if you trap a ball at the mini-flipper by holding it up, and then hold the action button (which will be flashing green). This will enable “flip-lock” and trap the ball there without you needing to worry about keeping it under control, though it will time out after about 20 seconds.

Feeding Frenzy

Feeding frenzy is started when you complete sets of yellow standup targets, called “shark tower” targets because of their proximity to the major shots. The first feeding frenzy only requires three target sets to start, but subsequent ones require more.

Feeding frenzy is a classic-styled “fast scoring” mode where all switches increase a value scored by shooting the flashing shark tower targets. Shots to the targets in quick succession score 3x the value, meaning a hectic multiball can result in very high feeding frenzy scores.

Points from feeding frenzy are only awarded at the end of the ball, so don’t tilt!

Beachgoers / Beach Closed Hurry-Ups

The yellow “shark tower” targets also serve the secondary function of adding beachgoers to the major shots they flank, represented by the orange circles. Shooting any major shot while an orange circle is flashing adds 1 beachgoer, and if all 3 have been collected at one shot, a shark will be spotted at that beach and it can be closed by scoring a hurry-up at the shot.

A percentage of the value awarded for any beach’s hurry-up is added to every lit shot to that beach, until rescue multiball starts (after 15 beachgoers have been collected) and the value resets.

Extra ball is awarded after 8 beachgoers have been found.

Quickshots

The lane above the mini-flipper lights the harpoon lane for quickshot if it isn’t already lit. Shoot it from the mini-flipper to raise the fin drop target for a value that increases as quickshots are scored, and with strong shots up the harpoon lane. However, the multiplier for quickshots resets to 1x as soon as the player misses one, requiring precise shooting to maximize scoring from them.

Extra ball is awarded after 3 successful quickshots.

Gear

You can light gear for collection at the right ramp in various ways, most often from level 2 or 3 skill shots or by collecting quickshots as described above, but also by completing the shark captive ball targets after the timer extension has been awarded.

There are six different types of gear, all of which make the game a bit easier but can only be used one time each, and can be changed using the right flipper button before shooting the right ramp (listed from top left to bottom right):


  • Barrel hook extends the next Jaws multiball once it ends.
  • Shark cage saves the ball if it immediately drains off the fin drop target (one time only!)
  • Dart makes it easier to advance the next bounty hunt and increases its value.
  • Binoculars make it easier to collect beachgoers.
  • Oxygen tank increases mode and ball save timers.
  • Tracker makes it easier to advance the next chum line.

Noah’s Strategies

  • Prioritize going for at least the level 1 skill shot, for a quick 5M. The level 2 skill shot is quite tough and I haven’t found a consistent way to nail it, but go for it as well.
  • While there’s no “bad” time to use a machete (besides maybe using it on a yellow target or a chum bucket shot), they can lead to higher scoring than you’d think. Try using them on beach closed hurry-ups (collect all three beachgoers at a shot), when Pipit is lit (after collecting enough beachgoers), on the encounter jackpot (at the end of each shark encounter mode), or on the final shark shot at the end of each bounty hunt to really rack up the score.
  • Get equipped! Gear can be seriously important to increasing the length and scoring of the game. Aim for quickshots early and often to guarantee you can collect gear at the right ramp as you light your first bounty hunt. I like to prioritize shark cage for the fin drop target ball save, and barrel hook for the Jaws multiball extension.
  •  In order of importance (ie. how easy they are to complete / overall scoring), I would rank the shark encounters: Scars > Raft Attack > Beach Panic > Night Swim > Pond Attack. Scars takes priority due to the single-ball play focus and how you can advance towards Jaws multiball during it, and Raft Attack is similar but can be played at any time to maximize scoring rather than just during single-ball play. Beach Panic and Night Swim, I save for multiballs, especially the first Jaws multiball that I use as a utility rather than playing it out. Pond Attack I’ve yet to find value in – it’s all a matter of if you can consistently shoot the fishing reel, and so far I haven’t been able to.
  • Regarding bounty hunts: even in a tournament setting, I always start with the easiest shark first, Mako. The perk awarded for capturing the mako shark makes starting further bounty hunts easier, counting more fishing reel spins with every shot. Also make sure to light your machete (at the left standup targets) and use it before the final shot at the captive ball to capture the shark; you can collect massive bounties this way and put the hammer down on your opponents!
  • Scoring from the first Jaws multiball tends to be very low, so use it to focus on encounter modes or yellow targets for beachgoers instead – Night Swim and Beach Panic are great modes to stack with this multi