Party Hard: The Simpsons Pinball Party Tutorial [Advanced Guide]

Party Hard: The Simpsons Pinball Party Tutorial [Advanced Guide]
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Party Hard: The Simpsons Pinball Party Tutorial [Advanced Guide]
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Party Hard: The Simpsons Pinball Party Tutorial [Advanced Guide]
Published on
June 6, 2023
Updated on
June 6, 2023
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Note: This is part 2 of our Simpsons Pinball Party rules tutorial. Read part one, The Beginners Guide to Simpsons Pinball Party, here.

The Simpsons Pinball Party’s complexity knows no bounds. It’s widely considered to be one of the most complicated rulesets out there, mostly attributed to the absurd number of modes, multiballs, and features which are scattered all over the playfield and can be run concurrently with just about everything else. But once you get past those initial features, you start getting to some major modes in the late-game, all of which feature their own complex strategies and stacking potentials which can add a whole new dimension to this game’s complexity, provided you get far enough.

This is a late-game guide for The Simpsons Pinball Party, and it assumes that you understand the main objectives available to you at the game’s outset, such as how to start modes, lock balls, and the like. If you’re new to the game, I advise you check out this beginner’s guide first, as here we’ll mainly cover the super-complex late-game stuff which you shouldn’t really expect to reach in most games, let alone games where you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Also, even though this is an “advanced guide,” there’s still a ton not covered here, namely some really obscure scoring rules, secret bonuses, and a few other things. There are a whole bunch of obscure rules, but if they don’t have much impact on play, they’re not going to be mentioned here.

A Brief Beginner's Recap

Just to go over some important strategic details from the beginner’s The Simpsons Pinball Party guide, or if you skipped it entirely and just want the summary, here’s the important strategy for early on:

  • Modes are the best thing to be focusing on if you have nothing better to do.
  • Dial yourself in on the couch so you can lock balls and progress towards multiballs there.
  • Don’t focus on finishing modes, focus on starting new ones.
  • Mystery awards (“Clean the Garage”) are extremely valuable if the game is set to competition mode.
  • The timer resets for anything that uses the timer. Keep starting things to keep your stack alive.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, then you should definitely go back and check out the beginner’s guide first. There’s no shame in it!

Detailed TV Mode Strategy

While I’d argue that you don’t really need to memorize all seven modes, it can certainly help to know what the goal of each mode is since you can select the mode you’ll play with the right flipper button. Again, starting modes is more important than finishing them. But since finishing them can pay off big time:

  • Duffman: Shoot the right ramp seven times.
  • Homer’s Day: In order: hit a pop bumper, right ramp, garage, couch. // Good first mode, easy to finish.
  • Willie’s Woes: Hit the Bully 3 bank (opposite the Kwik-E-Mart) and then the right loop. Repeat three times. // Easy to finish.
  • Wiggum vs. Snake: Shoot any right shot (right orbit, right ramp, or right loop), then a left shot (Kwik-E-Mart or Left Ramp), and then the left orbit.
  • Bart’s Day: In order: right loop, Kwik-E-Mart, left ramp, TV. // Hardest mode to finish.
  • Krusty’s Last Stand: Shoot the right orbit and spinner a whole bunch.
  • Stop the Monorail: Ride the monorail (i.e. drain out of the mini-playfield) and then any major playfield shot, repeat three times. (You can’t hit the same shot twice, though.) // Best mode to run with a multiball.

Most players tend to pick Krusty’s Last Stand first since shooting the right orbit lights more TV modes, so you’re shooting at it anyway, but I advocate for Homer’s Day instead. You can start out with a right orbit shot to feed the bumpers AND light a mode, and going Garage -> TV -> Couch should be your next sequence anyway. Plus, Homer’s Day has an interesting rule where shooting the right ramp will open the garage for you. That said, if you’re in competition mode, as long as you relight mystery, you’ll light another TV mode on your next garage shot anyway, so maybe Homer’s Day is better as a second mode in that case.

I’d argue that Willie’s Woes and Homer’s Day are the two easiest modes to finish and that Bart’s Day is the hardest since it requires a left ramp shot. Stop the Monorail is the best mode to run with a multiball since it pays you for missing supers/couch locks, which is more likely to happen during a multiball. (Don’t deliberately try to beat Stop the Monorail unless you’re looking to put up some insane victory laps. See below.) 

Also, remember that in competition mode, Ottos are awarded across the playfield from left to right. Since you know what’s coming up next, it’s possible - and recommended - to stack modes with multipliers that benefit them: the right ramp with Duffman, the right orbit with Krusty’s Last Stand, and (to a lesser extent) the right loop with Willie’s Woes. If you’re not playing in competition mode, pay attention to the multipliers you have running. Double Duffman, in particular, is worth a ton of points since it’s super easy to loop the ramp.

In case you forget what you’re supposed to be doing, blinking arrows should indicate your next mode shots. It can get a bit muddled when everything’s flashing all at once (i.e. during a multiball), but aiming at flashing shots is always a good thing anyway. In any case, it’s not that important to memorize, unless you’re going after...

Victory Laps

the simpsons pinball party rules tutorial advanced guide

Finishing a mode begins victory laps where all major shots are worth solid value. These rules are a bit confusing, so let’s break it down a bit. Let’s say you manage to finish one mode. The timer will keep running, and as long as it’s ticking down, all major playfield shots will be worth a sweet 100,000 points. Admittedly, it’s not much. But it’s still nice, especially if you can start a multiball alongside it.

However, if you finish TWO modes on the same timer, those same victory laps will be worth 250,000. Now we’re talking. This continues to go up and up and up until the max value: completing all seven modes without the timer ever expiring will make the victory laps worth 2,500,000. This is the most lucrative scoring opportunity in the entire game, but it’s also one of the most difficult things to do.

The main reason why it’s so hard is that Victory Laps only run if you have no modes actively running. If you start a mode while in victory laps, you’ll stop victory laps until you finish all active modes. So, you have to beat all seven modes without draining or having the timer expire, and Bart’s Day is one of those modes so you’ll have to hit the left ramp at some point. Note that if you start victory laps, play a mode, and beat that mode, the new victory lap value will be updated to account for the mode. For instance, if you beat a mode, start scoring 100k laps, start another mode, and then beat that, the laps will be worth 250k since you’ve beaten two modes since the timer last started. If you time out of victory laps, getting back into a mode and beating it will only be worth 100k. Yes, it’s complicated.

In any case, if your victory laps are particularly valuable (I’d say 500,000 or more), just shoot the right ramp over and over again until the timer expires, maybe collecting an Otto to keep the timer running. It’s likely worth more than starting new modes, especially if you’ve doubled the right ramp (seven modes + 2X right ramp = 5,000,000 ramps all day). If you’re in a good groove of victory laps, it’s not a bad idea to hold off on starting another mode since there’s no reason to sacrifice solid victory laps just to have a chance at having better laps.

Treehouse of Horror

Right ramp shots collect Duffs, enough Duffs get you extra balls or Treehouse of Horrors. The Treehouse of Horror is lit on the left ramp and will provide some insane value. These include some wacky timed modes (same timer, hooray!):

  • Apu’s Giveaway: Kwik-E-Mart lights for lots of bonus multipliers.
  • Krusty’s Nightmare: Each spin of the spinner awards a random value, but the number of digits in this value changes with each spin in a sine wave pattern. It’s pretty weird. Just melt the spinner.
  • Crazy Extra Ball: The extra ball is lit on the inlanes, but the machine controls where it’s lit and moves the light away from wherever the ball is. It’s really annoying, the best way to beat it is to get a multiball going and cross your fingers. It does stay going for the entire timer, though, and repeated collects are worth 2,000,000 a piece which is really good value.
  • Nuclear Disaster: 50 pop bumper hits to “finish” the mode, then you get bonus hits of 50,000 (!!!) per pop for the rest of the timer. Combining this with 2X bumpers can be worth 10-15 million easy, but 2X bumpers are always first in competition mode and are likely to have already been completed by the time you start Nuclear Disaster.
  • Captain’s Bounty: A ramp-shooting round that awards points for shots to the left ramp, garage, or right ramp. The first shot is worth 111,000 points, with each shot to a ramp adding value depending on the ramp you shot (left ramp adds 100k, garage adds 10k, right ramp adds 1k). It’s really not worth very much unless you can hit the left ramp a couple of times, and it’s also incredibly contrived to boot!

There are other features like “Really Big Points”, “10X Nuclear Plant”, “Max Everything”, etc. These aren’t that valuable, but they aren’t worthless either. In competition mode, the order of Treehouse awards is fixed: 10X Nuclear Plant, Nuclear Disaster, and Apu’s Giveaway are the first three. Don’t sleep on the modes, Nuclear Disaster and Krusty’s Nightmare are especially valuable, especially when combined with a shot multiplier, and Apu’s Giveaway can get you to 99X bonus pretty easily if you can keep it going for long enough.

Of course, the biggest caveat to the Treehouse is that you have to actually shoot the Treehouse to collect it. But since you’re this far in, you now know enough for the left ramp to actually become significant for scoring, especially for the later modes. My best piece of advice to “how do I hit the left ramp” is to make it as a combo off of the left orbit, aka a “Picard Maneuver” if you’re familiar with the term. I’m not really sure why, but the spin of the ball coming out of the orbit at a high speed makes the left ramp far more forgiving of a shot. Obviously, this is tough to do because the left orbit is the second hardest shot at the table. But if you’re interested in getting far, try to figure out how to hit the left orbit. Aside from giving you an easier left ramp shot, being able to hit it on command gives you access to some good hurry-ups, mode shots, and jackpots. Plus, there’s a multiball you get after you hit it a crapload of times. 

Alien Invasion

the simpsons pinball party alien invasion

Now, we get into the major endgame modes. Alien Invasion is the only one printed on the table (on the TV Mode board) and is lit at the TV after playing all seven TV modes. You don’t have to complete any modes to light it, but each mode completed will make Invasion easier by giving you more time to complete it. Invasion is unusual in that it’s the only feature in the entire game that locks you out of everything else. Invasion can only be started in single-ball play, will complete all running hurry-ups and shot multipliers when started, and locks you out of pretty much everything else. But even of the things you can do during Invasion, you shouldn’t care about them, because the other unusual thing is that it’s the only mode in the game that is worth a ton on its own. 

Alien Invasion starts out as a two-ball multiball. The goal is to lock all of the balls you have in play, which can be done at a few different places: you can always lock one ball at the right loop, one ball in the Itchy & Scratchy saucer, and two balls in the couch. The last ball can be locked at the Garage, Left Ramp, TV, Couch (even with two balls there), Right Loop (even with one ball already there), or I&S (if there aren’t any balls already there).

Once all balls have been locked, they all kick out and another ball is added. You get a brief ball saver after a ball is added, but losing a ball in play drops you down to a previous stage (e.g. draining a ball in the 3-ball stage drops you back to the 2-ball stage). You win by locking five balls. You lose when the timer expires, as cannot drain out of the mode (you just get endless two-ball play until the timer ends).

The more modes you’ve completed coming into Invasion, the more time you’ll have to finish it. You cannot increase the timer in any conventional way, but you get more time added the first time you complete each stage. I don’t recommend trying to beat modes for the sole purpose of getting more time for Invasion - you have plenty of time to finish Invasion even with no modes completed, and getting more time added does not make the couch shots easier.

Alien Invasion is absurdly hard to beat. The first two stages are easy since making two right loop shots and/or an I&S shot is pretty trivial. But with four balls in play, you need to lock at least one ball in the couch, and that can’t be the last lock you make. The five ball stage requires two locks on the couch, and failure there will require you to beat the four-ball stage all over again.

The key to winning Invasion is to play conservatively and to set up your locks early. First off, get your easy locks right away: plug the right loop and I&S saucer ASAP. Not only does this keep you from dropping down to earlier stages, it also gets those balls out of play, making the game much easier to control. When going to the four or five ball stage, make sure you get the final lock to the Garage, or better yet, the TV. This makes taking a shot at the Couch easier since you’ll have a ball save to do so, and getting the lock right away likewise preserves your stage and keeps balls out of play.

Obviously, that’s easier said than done. You’re going to need to make couch shots during multiball play, which is very difficult to do. This is the method that I find to be the most foolproof as far as preparing a couch shot during two-ball play. It’s complicated, I know - but I have it down to a science! (Just a heads-up - this also works for making couch supers!)

  1. Trap one ball on each lower flipper.
  2. Make a shot to the garage with the right flipper.
  3. Before the ball kicks out up top, post pass the left ball over to the right flipper.
  4. On the mini-playfield, shoot the TV with the left flipper.
  5. On the main playfield, pass the ball back over before the TV ejects.
  6. Make the Couch shot.

With a third ball in play, things become more complicated, but I recommend “distracting” the ball by shooting the right ramp or right loop to give you some time to pass the ball around or make shots on the mini-playfield. I’m getting a little carried away. The point is, do whatever you can to gain or maintain control, and focus on those couch shots.

Invasion is worth a lot. As long as you at least get to the four-ball phase, you’re likely to score 10-15,000,000 points, which is a nice chunk of change. Beating it is worth an extra 5,000,000, but again, it’s pretty hard to do. Keep locking balls even if you have no chance of beating it. Also, if you accidentally lock two balls in Itchy & Scratchy, hold the start button. It’ll kick out all locked balls. The game tells you this anyway, but it’s important to remember if the adrenaline is getting to you.

One other thing to keep in mind: Alien Invasion has a tendency to bring a boatload of auto-launches alongside it. The autoplunger on most TSPPs I’ve seen will usually kick the ball through the Kwik-E-Mart. Your bonus is based on how many switches you hit, so if your bonus value and/or bonus X are particularly large, you should consider taking skill shots to the Kwik-E-Mart instead of Comic Book Guy to keep building that up.

Mystery Spot

Lit at the right loop after collecting all ten Ottos. Mystery Spot is a four-ball multiball during which all playfield scoring is doubled and the flippers are reversed. Yes, the left flipper button will control the right flippers and vice-versa. The best way to beat this is to cross your arms so your left hand is pressing the right flipper button and vice-versa, tricking your hands into flipping the right buttons. Pretty fun, huh?

During Mystery Spot, the goal is to shoot all ten jackpots, indicated by the Otto lights. Easier said than done, as this includes a shot to the left ramp, which is insanely hard in single-ball play, let alone four-ball backwards-flipper play. If you manage to hit all ten, then you can collect a super jackpot at the garage. One hit to the garage will open up the door, which will stay open for about two seconds, at which point you have to shoot the ball into the garage to collect the super. So, you have to basically have two balls trapped up, one on each flipper. Hit the door with one, and then immediately shoot it with the other.

Mystery Spot is surprisingly not that valuable on its own; it’ll be worth about 4,000,000 if you fail to collect a super. However, as a stack ingredient, it’s the most powerful catalyst in the entire game. Anything combined with Mystery Spot will be worth an absurd number of points, so make sure you have something else to run in conjunction with it. This is especially true for any of the following major modes, as well as for any I&S multiball since the jackpots just go on endlessly. Couch is fine, but caps out since the relights require supers.

The biggest caveat to Mystery Spot stacks is that Mystery Spot doesn’t light until after all of the active shot multipliers are completed, meaning the timer has to expire for Mystery Spot to light. So, you’ll have to start any timed modes you want to bring into Mystery Spot while it’s lit, making it very difficult to bring large stacks of TV modes or victory laps in. Sure, you can start the modes during Mystery Spot, but that’s tough to do because of the reversed flippers. Plus, the best timed mode to bring into Mystery Spot is Nuclear Disaster, which can’t be started during any multiball, and you can’t even use the right loop to feed the upper flipper for a left ramp shot. If Nuclear Disaster is ready (i.e. the second treehouse award in competition), seriously consider starting it off of a left orbit -> left ramp combo - it’s worth ~25,000,000 points if you run it with Mystery Spot, so definitely try to make that stack happen. Otherwise, you can just rely on multiballs and modes started during Mystery Spot - good things will still happen.

Secret Stash

Lit after collecting all six Hurry-Ups, hit Comic Book Guy to start. During secret stash, all six hurry-ups will be lit for 500,000 points, collecting any one of them will reset the value back to 500,000 and disable that hurry-up from the six. You can relight hurry-ups by either hitting Comic Book Guy (which relights all of them) or by collecting all six hurry-ups (which comes with a 2,000,000 point bonus). That’s tougher to do since it involves hitting the left ramp. Collecting 10 hurry-ups wins the mode and awards you an extra million.

Secret Stash can be valuable if you play it fast, ideally done by comboing it with a multiball. For some reason, Secret Stash can be started during Alien Invasion, which is the only bad stack in the game. Invasion and Secret Stash have pretty much no overlap in the shots required, so don’t stack them. Other than that, it’s good to get going at any time there are a lot of balls in play since relighting the hurry-ups will be pretty easy.

Also, I said it before but it’s worth mentioning again - starting Invasion will collect all actively-running Hurry-Ups. So, if you can’t collect that left ramp hurry up, start it before starting Invasion.

Scratchy's Revenge

Lit at the Saucer after playing all four Itchy & Scratchy Multiballs. You don’t need to clear the bank to start Scratchy’s Revenge: the next time the ball goes into the hole, it’ll start. It has the same rules as all other I&S multiballs, where all major shots are jackpots, the difference is that the super doesn’t light until you’ve scored ten jackpots, the bank auto-clears for access to the super, and it’s worth a lot more than the other ones are. A decent Revenge will still be worth 10-15 million.

While lucrative, it is just a two-ball affair, and running it on its own comes with the risk of draining out quickly and missing out on the points. Adding in Mystery Spot is probably the most lucrative stack in the game: aside from effectively guaranteeing completion of Revenge, the supers will invariably be worth 15,000,000 points, and you’re likely to collect several of them. When I manage to stack the two, Revenge usually ends up being worth 80,000,000 or so.

The catch with Scratchy’s Revenge is, of all “major” modes, I find it to be the hardest to get back around to. So, make it count!

Daredevil Mania

Lit at the captive ball after completing all four daredevil modes. Daredevil Mania is basically just the other daredevil modes all combined together with a maximum payday of 5,000,000 points. It’s untimed, scored in bonus, and not that lucrative. However, it practically finishes itself during any major multiball (especially Invasion), so when lit then, it’s basically a 5,000,000 point jackpot. Like the daredevil modes, there’s no real strategy. Just get it going when ready. I also feel it’s the easiest major mode to restart, so don’t beat yourself up over failing it.

Pretzel Multiball

Lit after making twenty-six shots - yes, twenty-six shots - to the left orbit. This is basically just a super lucrative switch frenzy/three-ball multiball, where all shots are jackpots, and hitting enough switches lights a super jackpot at the right ramp. Pretzel Multiball is very valuable but hard to get to since it requires a lot of shots to the second-hardest shot at the table. That said, you can find yourself getting a ton of them by accident from balls dribbling out of the garage, especially after a wild multiball. If you’re close, it can be good to go for it, especially if you’re going to combine it with Mystery Spot, Scratchy’s Revenge, or Secret Stash.

However, it’s not needed for...

Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode

simpsons pinball party tspp super duper mega extreme wizard mode

This is what it’s all about, the absurdly difficult final mode of the game. If you want to reach it, you need to do the following in any order:

  • Score 5 Super Jackpots in Couch Multiball (not necessarily in one multiball)
  • Win Secret Stash
  • Win Alien Invasion
  • Score a Super Jackpot in Mystery Spot
  • Score a Super Jackpot in Scratchy’s Revenge
  • Win Daredevil Mania

With all six objectives complete, Wizard Mode will light at the right loop. The display details the rules when the mode starts, but the gist of it is that everything’s worth a ton of points and that you’re bound to put up a whole pile of points on top of what’s likely to be an already gargantuan score. I don’t know much about the strategy here, but honestly, Wizard Mode is more like a trophy than it is a scoring opportunity, so the actual strategy isn’t that significant anyway.

Super Duper Mega Extreme Wizard Mode is widely considered to be the most difficult wizard mode in all of pinball. Reaching these modes is the easy part: if you’re playing for an extended period of time, odds are you’ll get to all of them sooner or later. Beating them is a different story. One small mistake means you’re gonna have to backtrack an absurd amount just to get another shot at something you missed. Didn’t get the Mystery Spot super? Well, you’ll have to collect all ten Ottos again just to give it another shot. Failed Invasion? You’re seven modes away from another attempt.

From my point of view, Daredevil Mania is the easiest to complete. Secret Stash is a distant second because it’s not that hard to get around to it twice and is easy enough to do with a multiball. Scratchy’s Revenge is next: provided you can keep it running, it’s very doable, but failure dooms you. The other three are incredibly hard: Mystery Spot for requiring a left ramp shot and a tricky super, Invasion for requiring three couch shots, and Couch for requiring five. Accomplishing one of those three is impressive, let alone all of them.

Like most wizard modes, going after TSPP’s wizard mode isn’t a good tournament strategy. To get to wizard mode, reaching and beating the major features becomes more important than capitalizing on their value. This means that you need to ignore basically everything that doesn’t get you closer to a major feature - time out modes and multipliers, forget about victory laps, and don’t worry about big points. It also means you should avoid stacking major features so that you can focus on beating the objectives you need, rather than scoring big from those stacks.

Admittedly, I’ve never made it to this Wizard Mode. I have, however, completed all six objectives in separate games. If you are actually trying for Wizard Mode, here’s my advice. Just remember this isn’t a great idea in competition since there are better scoring opportunities elsewhere. Good luck!

  • Trap up and time out your TV modes and Ottos when all remaining modes are running. If your goal is wizard mode, then the major modes are all that matter.
  • The best thing to focus on right away is starting all of the modes and multipliers you can. Mystery Spot and Invasion are two of the most difficult objectives, so getting to those first makes it easier to get to them a second or third time if necessary.
  • Don’t worry about beating your modes to increase your invasion timer. A second attempt is much more helpful than additional time.
  • To beat Mystery Spot, your focus needs to be almost entirely on that left ramp. You’ll get everything else just by messing around, and when you only have one or two jackpots left, focus on them. Trap up, stay in control, and be patient. To get the Super, trap up one on each flipper, open it with one hit, and cash it in with the second.
  • To beat Secret Stash, you need to run it with a multiball. Don’t worry about the 2,000,000 point bonus - just focus on relighting and collecting all the hurry-ups you can. And don’t forget to cheese that last one by starting Invasion, but again, don’t run Secret Stash with Invasion. They don’t stack well.
  • To beat Daredevil Mania, just be sure to start it during or before a multiball, and you’ll basically just win it for free. Again, Invasion is the best thing to combine it with.
  • To beat Scratchy’s Revenge, just be sure you’re close to - or playing - a couple of other multiballs at the same time. You’re basically guaranteed to beat it as long as you have three or more balls in play, but also make sure you’re comfy at plugging the saucer when it opens up.
  • Finally, for the couch supers, take your time and figure out where the couch is. Try to get your jackpots to relight the super on the way up top, like the Garage and TV. Couch supers should take precedence over any other objective you have running, barring a more difficult-to-reach mode running at the same time.
  • Be careful you don’t split up your focus too much, especially if it means you’re using up a major mode for the sake of making another major mode easier. So, while Daredevil Mania and Scratchy’s Revenge basically beat themselves in adequate stacks, combining Couch with Mystery Spot when you still need supers from both might split your attention up too much. Of course, this depends on how comfortable you are with multitasking.