Go get 'em, Tiger! Mastering Stern's Spider-Man Pinball Machine

Go get 'em, Tiger! Mastering Stern's Spider-Man Pinball Machine
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Go get 'em, Tiger! Mastering Stern's Spider-Man Pinball Machine
Published on
August 12, 2023
Updated on
August 12, 2023
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Based on the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man films, this game hit the scene to coincide with the release of 2007’s Spider-Man 3. Spider-Man by Stern Pinball is considered one of the greatest DMD-era pinball machines of all time. I mean, not every day does a pinball machine get a complete remaster - a more recent "Vault Edition" uses a comic book design. In any case, Spider-Man uses a great theme and implements it with some classic Steve Ritchie flow, expanding upon its relatively straightforward ruleset with a lot of complex decision-making and risk/reward opportunities that come in spades.

Spider-Man Playfield Overview

For those unfamiliar with Steve Ritchie, he is known for his flow, and Spider-Man is no exception. Don't let the small ramp entrances fool you - they're much easier to shoot than you might expect and are surprisingly makeable on-the-fly, so be prepared for some serious speed!

Spiderman Playfield Overview

The table has six major playfield shots - two orbits on either side, two ramps up the middle, a side ramp accessible from an upper left flipper, and a hole beneath Doctor Octopus (aka Doc Ock) on the right side. Pretty much every shot is important since you might have to make any or all of them to light your modes.

Spiderman playfield with backhand paths

There are two backhands you should familiarize yourself with: shooting the left loop from the left flipper and shooting Doc Ock from the right flipper. These are safer shots than shooting from the opposite flipper and will make accessing those shots significantly easier. What you should NOT do, however, is attempt to backhand the ramps (i.e., the left ramp from the left flipper or the right ramp from the right flipper). Occasionally, this works - but the angles are nasty and will often send the ball right down the middle.

Speaking of right down the middle, there's (usually) a center post in Spider-Man which comes in handy quite often. Most notably, failed shots to either the left or right ramp usually send the ball right at this post, which will keep it in play. Learn to accurately trust the post - if you trust it when the post will do its job, you’ll keep the ball in play. If you don’t trust it when it would save you, you’re guaranteed to drain. Also, regarding the ramps: the game refers to these ramps as left, center, and right. I call them side, left, and right ramps since that's what makes more sense to me. So, when I say "left ramp," I mean the leftmost ramp you can access from the lower flippers.

Unusually for an upper-flipper game, Spider-Man has only one shot you can shoot at with the upper flipper, the side ramp. You absolutely want to get dialed in on that side ramp right away since it's really all that the upper flipper is good for, and the ball will end up there a lot. Any trip to the bumpers is guaranteed to feed that upper flipper, and you visit the bumpers at the start of every ball, after any non-combo shot to either loop, or after a trip to the Sandman VUK which you'll end up in a whole bunch. The upper flipper has a "spider-sense" lane beneath it, but this really doesn't do that much and is incredibly dangerous to shoot, as a ball coming out of the spider-sense lane will often bounce off of the top of the right slingshot and drop into the right outlane. It's also a tough shot, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Finally, as mentioned above, there are two versions of this game: the original Sam Raimi movie-themed version and the 2016 Vault Edition, which is themed like the comics. Both games feature identical rulesets, but the callouts, animations, and mode names are different. I'll note the names for both versions, but it's all semantics. If you know how to play the original, you know how to play the VE.

Scoring in Spider-Man tends to accelerate quickly. There are a ton of opportunities for shot multipliers, massive jackpots, and stacking, so don't get too comfortable with your lead. I'd say 30-40 million is decent, but getting over a quarter billion isn’t out of the question.

Abridged Spider-Man Pinball Tutorial

Image of the key points to score well in Spiderman pinball

  • Shooting all flashing white arrows lights a mode (started at either orbit), and also lights a shot multiplier - whatever major shot you hit next will be doubled for the rest of the ball.
  • The best shots to multiply are the left orbit/spinner, side ramp, and Doc Ock. They’re all good regardless of what else you have going on.
  • Finishing a mode lights a shot tripler which should be put on whatever of those three isn’t already doubled.
  • Four villains are around the table. Hit them a bunch to start “villain modes,” where you just wail on them for solid points. You can start villain modes anytime, which are worth considerable value.
  • Black Suit multiball has locks lit by hitting the “Light Lock” target next to the spinner, with locks collected on the loops. Black Suit is not worth very much; shoot for villains instead.
  • Doc Ock’s villain modes are all multiballs. Shoot him a bunch to start a multiball, which is likely more valuable than Black Suit.
  • Multiball prevents you from lighting modes/multipliers. Try to light those before you start a multiball since having a multiplied shot is more important than playing any multiball. Keep in mind what shots you’re missing - be careful you don’t accidentally force yourself into a multiball when you just want to light a mode.
  • Beating every villain twice lights Battle Royale, a lucrative multiball where you need to hit the villains for points and collect a super jackpot at the right ramp. Make sure you have the right ramp multiplied if you’re close!

Getting Started

There are a couple of things you can go for right away.

Spiderman pinball skill shot images

First off, there are two skill shots you can make. One is a conventional top-lane skill shot that awards +5X to bonus and doubles the value of the bumpers. The second is a soft plunge, so the ball lands just above the upper right flipper, firing it immediately into the side ramp. This is worth immediate points and dramatically increases the Venom value, which we'll cover more later, but it is significantly harder to do and much less valuable.

So, take the top lanes every time. On the last ball, making the skill shot also doubles your bonus for that ball (after all multipliers are applied), and getting the side ramp skill shot triples it. So, maybe you feel that a triple bonus is more valuable on the last ball, but I say a borderline guaranteed double bonus beats out a chance at a triple bonus, so I still advise against it. All in all, the bonus in Spider-Man can be pretty valuable, as bonus X is increased by completing either the W-E-B lanes up top or the H-E-R-O lanes at the bottom.

With the ball under control, you can work on a few different objectives immediately. There's a multiball which starts after just two shots to Doc Ock, and another multiball which has its locks lit by hitting the target immediately to the right of the spinner (collecting the locks on either loop). Doc Ock, in particular, is a good idea for an opening play, since it’ll establish a decent score right away, but that’s only if you want quick points with limited potential. 

Instead, you should focus on lighting a mode. At the start of the game, some of the major shots will have white lights pointing at them. Shooting a light will turn it off. Collecting all white lights will light a mode that is started at either orbit, but more importantly, it also lights...

Shot Multipliers

Lighting a mode is kind of tangential to the shot multipliers. Whenever you light a mode, all six white lights will start pulsing, and whatever shot you hit next will be doubled for the remainder of the ball. A doubled shot is indicated by a solidly lit white light, although any other light pattern will override the solid light, so pay careful attention to what you have doubled. Setting up your shot multipliers is crucial, and not always doable - you cannot progress towards or light a mode during any multiball, so you also can't progress towards or light your shot multipliers. Obviously, shot multipliers aren't worth anything if you don't make any shots on them, but you should really consider delaying multiballs until you have a shot multiplier and/or mode going.

As far as which shot you should multiply, the strategy there is actually pretty simple. Unlike some games where you want to stack multipliers with the modes or multiballs you want to play, the good shots to multiply are always good, and the bad shots are always bad. There is one notable exception to this which we’ll cover later, but the general idea is that it doesn’t matter when or where you put a shot multiplier down long as it’s a good shot.

Spiderman pinball with overlay for good and bad shot multipliers

The good shots to put your doublers on are the left orbit, side ramp, and Doc Ock. Personally, I like the left orbit/spinner best just because it’s shot the most frequently, but that’s pretty subjective. The other two are great, though Doc Ock will progress you towards multiballs (read: make it harder to get more shot multipliers) and the side ramp is the toughest shot in the game, but those are super minor complaints. Any of those will be a good pick.

The bad shots to multiply are the left ramp and the right orbit. While there’s okay value at the left ramp, the side ramp is usually worth double whatever the left ramp is worth anyway, so double the side ramp instead. The right orbit is completely pointless (no mode ever wants or needs you to shoot it), so don’t ever double it. That leaves the right ramp. This one is the most complex - at most points, it’s not a good idea to multiply it since those three good shots will be much better. Late-game, however, there’s a mini-wizard mode called “Battle Royale,” which has the right ramp as the super jackpot. We’ll go into that more later, but the idea is that multiplying the right ramp is bad unless you’re close to Battle Royale, at which point it’s crucial.

So, to reiterate: get all the white lights, light a multiplier. Left orbit, side ramp, and Doc Ock are all good. Left ramp and right orbit are not. Right ramp is good if you're close to Battle Royale. You can have multiple shot multipliers running, but you lose all shot multipliers at the end of the ball. You also can't stack multipliers on the same shot - once a shot is doubled, hitting that shot won't double it again (but it doesn’t use up your multiplier). Finally, draining without assigning a shot multiplier means you lose the chance to assign one. So, don't do that, but if you drain immediately after assigning one, it's not really that much better anyway.

We're not done with shot multiplier strategy just yet. Seriously, it’s a huge part of this game. But we haven’t talked about scoring anything with those multipliers we’ve just been setting up, so let’s talk about some of those opportunities first.

Black Suit Multiball

Spiderman pinball image of spinner and standup

This is the main multiball of the game. Locks are lit by hitting the standup next to the spinner a few times (it requires more hits with each multiball), and are collected on either orbit. Three locks starts multiball. During Black Suit, the goal is to shoot each of the six major shots twice. Each shot has two inserts pointing to it - a red one and a white one - which indicate the two lit jackpots you can pick off at a shot. The jackpot value is increased by hits to the pop bumpers at all times (even outside of multiball), though usually will be worth a couple hundred thousand. Once you've collected both jackpots at a shot, subsequent shots to that shot will be worth "jackpots," but they’re worth half value, so don’t think you’re scoring a lot by looping the same shot over and over despite the callouts implying otherwise. Collecting all twelve jackpots lights two super jackpots at the left ramp and two double super jackpots at the side ramp. Collect all four, and you’re back to the twelve jackpots again.

All that said, Black Suit Multiball is not worth very much. The biggest upside is that you have multiple balls in play, so you can focus on dangerous shots. Most notably, there are the Sandman targets up the middle - it's not a terrible idea to just wail on these when you're in Black Suit since they're extremely valuable and very dangerous without multiple balls rolling around. We'll discuss Sandman in more detail later, but it's worth more than the jackpots. I usually don't go after Black Suit intentionally because it's really not worth that much and can be very dangerous to light. That Light Lock target throws the ball sideways, often right toward the right outlane or off the three-bank of targets on the right, then into the left outlane.

But it's definitely something to be aware of. You're likely to light a Black Suit just by random bounces, which can interfere with your shot multipliers. Remember: you can't progress towards shot multipliers during multiballs! Most notably, if you need orbit shots to light your multipliers, you won’t be able to collect them if it’d start a multiball instead. So, when going after your shot multipliers, prioritize collecting orbits first so you’re not forced to play multiball before lighting a multiplier. A similar principle applies to the side ramp - the three shots which feed the upper flipper (the two orbits and Doc Ock) all can start multiballs. So, if you need the side ramp, but all of those shots would start multiballs, you’re kinda stuck. Get the side ramp when you can.

Shot multipliers are always more important than multiball. If a multiball is ready, and you can still light a shot multiplier on the way, you should always try to light your shot multiplier first. Aside from also lighting a mode, you seriously want to have as many shots multiplied as possible - a doubled spinner will likely be worth more than a decent Black Suit.

Doc Ock

Spiderman pinball image of Doc Ock toy

Black Suit is the “main” multiball, but Doc Ock also has multiballs, which are usually easier and more lucrative. Shooting the Doc Ock hole enough times will cause him to lower down, blocking off the hole and lighting a multiball. Hitting the shot again will begin the multiball. There are three of them, each one with its own rules and scoring opportunities available. They always progress in the following order:

  • Fusion Malfunction (VE: Lend Me a Hand) is a two-ball multiball during which all shots are always lit for jackpots. Collecting five jackpots lights a super jackpot at Doc Ock, with each super requiring one more jackpot than the last. When a super is lit, the regular jackpots will disable until you collect the super.
  • Bank Bust (VE: Ock’s Oscorp Outing) starts out with Doc Ock trapping a ball on the magnet in front of him. You need to hit this ball into Doc Ock with a second ball that kicks out to score a hurry-up value, which also establishes the jackpot value. From there, each shot will be lit for one jackpot, collecting all of them lights a super at Doc Ock. Unlike Fusion Malfunction/Lend Me a Hand, you can’t repeatedly score the same jackpots, it’s just one jackpot per shot.
  • Armed at the Dock (VE: Battle on the Bridge) is a four-ball multiball, which is pretty much the same as Fusion Malfunction/Lend Me a Hand, except the first super is lit after one jackpot instead of five, and the value of the super is the sum of all jackpots scored thus far. It sounds nice to have easily-lit supers, but it also means that fewer regular jackpots are available. I usually struggle with this one.

You can light and start Doc Ock multiballs during Black Suit and vice-versa, which I recommend doing since it makes both last longer and pays off more. Plus, it gets the multiballs out of the way since getting more shot multipliers is easier to do when there are fewer multiballs within reach. Again, Doc Ock prevents you from getting to more shot multipliers - so be careful! If he’s the last shot you need, and he’d start a multiball, get him last so multiball starts with a multiplier lit.

As far as multiplying him is concerned, those supers can become very valuable (usually a few million) if you’ve multiplied Doc Ock. I wouldn’t say you should delay Doc Ock multiballs until you have him multiplied, though if you’re close to a Doc Ock multiball, you should probably consider multiplying him over the spinner or side ramp. Then again, he’s worth a lot when multiplied even in single-ball play, so if he is multiplied, consider backhanding him repeatedly until your next multiball. You are skipping more shot multipliers this way, but you’ll get some great score out of it.

Spider-Man Game Modes

Image of Spiderman pinball mode inserts

Spider-Man has five modes, each one requiring about 5 shots to complete. Again, modes are lit by clearing all of the white lights, and are started at either orbit. Like the shot multipliers, you can start a mode with the same shot that starts a multiball, but you cannot start a mode outside of single-ball play. You also can’t light another mode or shot doubler until after a lit mode ends. Each mode runs on a timer and ends when the timer expires, you finish the mode, or you drain. The flashing mode is the one you'll play; this usually starts on Bonesaw/Electro and is changed with hits to the bumpers or slings. The modes are as follows:

  • Bonesaw (Vault Edition: Electro) is a switch frenzy. 100 switches finishes the mode. The best way to do this is to rip the spinner, which feeds the bumpers. This might be a bit obtuse, but whatever: a little animation plays when the mode is starting up. Skip this animation while flipping the flippers if you started the mode through the spinner - if the spinner was spinning, the spins will count if the animation isn’t playing!
  • Rescue MJ (VE: Tell MJ) requires you to make eight shots to one of three lit playfield shots. Making a shot moves it somewhere else, but they also just move around on their own. This mode is by far the hardest of the five since it requires so many shots and the shots always move around. Plus, during a multiball, the inserts don’t indicate what you need, and the game doesn’t tell you if you’re making shots for the mode, so you end up playing this mode completely blind.
  • New Goblin (VE: Jack O’ Lantern) requires five shots to the left and right ramps. In rapid succession, these have to be alternated, so you can't just loop the same ramp over and over again. Alternating the ramps makes them more valuable anyway.
  • Daily Bugle (same in VE) requires hitting the three-bank on the right side, then making any major playfield shot, repeating three times. It’s often possible to backhand the three-bank and bounce it into Doc Ock, which makes this mode almost trivial to complete.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (same in VE) requires you to shoot every major shot once. The value increases with each shot you make, so if you have multipliers out, try to hit the multiplied shots last.

Modes are really not worth very much, usually 5-8 million or so, but you should absolutely try to finish them. Not because they’re valuable, but because completing a mode lights a shot tripler. That’s right - while lighting a mode lets you double the value of a shot for the ball, completing a mode lets you triple one.

The same principles for shot doublers apply to shot triplers - left orbit, side ramp, and Doc Ock are the best picks, left ramp, and right orbit are the worst, and the right ramp is good for Battle Royale. Now, if you triple a shot that’s already doubled, that shot will “just” be tripled for the rest of the ball. I really advise against doing this - even if you have a shot that you really, really love, it’s better to have a great doubled shot and a good tripled shot than it is to just have a great tripled shot.

The triplers aren’t indicated any differently than the doublers, just by solidly lit white lights. You also can’t overwrite a tripler with a doubler - once a shot is tripled, you can’t add another shot multiplier to it. When a mode times out or is completed, you go back into the “shoot white lights to light modes/multipliers” phase again, which is another reason to get through more modes. You should prioritize mode shots over jackpots if you’re playing a mode during a multiball, since getting those shot triplers is very important. Just be careful - with more balls in play, you might accidentally triple a shot that you didn’t intend to.

Playing through all five modes, whether you completed them or not, is one of the two requirements for reaching the final wizard mode, Super Hero. You cannot play any more modes until you’ve played through Super Hero, which sounds bad, but having all five modes played lets you endlessly complete white lights for shot doublers. (The same “single ball only” restriction applies.)

Other Spider-Man Villains

Spiderman playfield Villain toys

There are four villains around the table. We’ve already talked about Doc Ock, but the other three are Green Goblin (on the left side), Venom (top left corner), and Sandman (right up the middle). Just as Doc Ock has three multiballs, each of the other villains also have three modes associated with them. Unlike Doc Ock, the other nine villain modes can be started at any time (usually by bashing the villain enough times), are not multiballs, and (with the exception of the first Venom mode), run until they’re completed, even if you drain. However, for all intents and purposes, each Doc Ock multiball is considered a “villain mode.” So, going forward, if I talk about “beating a villain mode gets you such and such” or “you have to beat so many villain modes,” that includes Doc Ock multiballs.

Broadly speaking, each villain mode is just “hit the villain shots until you win.” There’s a teeny bit of nuance to it, but not much. Let’s start off with Sandman - his three modes all have different names (the lights for them are on the backdrop), but they all work the same. It’s a lot like Attack From Mars: you need to clear the three-bank in the middle (or hit one flashing target if you haven’t already hit the bank) to lower it into the table. Then, just wail on Sandman until he rises into the air, exposing a hole to finish him off and end the mode. It’s valuable, but shooting at targets in the center of the table is obviously pretty dangerous.

Spiderman pinball image of Green Goblin standup targets

Green Goblin is very similar. Completing the 5-bank of standups on the right will light a Goblin mode, which is started with one more hit to the standups. During any Goblin mode, the goal is to just hit the targets repeatedly until the mode ends. The modes gradually get harder - the first lets you just hit any target in the bank, whereas the second and third have a light that moves up and down, only counting hits to the lit target. Starting later Goblins is harder, too, since the game is less generous with valid hits. (Earlier modes don’t require you to hit all five targets, later modes do.)

Spiderman pinball Venom toy and modes

Venom is a bit weirder, as the value is a fixed “Venom Value” which is increased at the spinner. Venom is started after enough shots to the side ramp - which, by the way, is always worth the Venom Value, hence why multiplying the side ramp is good - and requires you to shoot the left ramp and/or side ramp to score hits on Venom. Generally, during a Venom mode, the left ramp is worth the Venom value, and the side ramp is worth double the Venom value.

These modes are a bit strange, though - the first one, Goo on You, uses a hurry-up instead of the traditional Venom value (the side ramp is still worth double, though). If the hurry-up times out, you still “beat” the mode, so don’t panic with Goo on You. It is worth solid value, however. Later Venom rounds require more shots, with the third round only counting shots to the side ramp as hits.

Completing any Villain Mode will also light all of the red inserts around the playfield for Spiders. (For Goo on You, this requires at least one successful shot.) Each Spider is worth pretty solid value (usually comparable to a Black Suit jackpot), so pick them off when you can, especially if there’s one on a doubled or tripled shot. They’re also worth considerable points in bonus, so if you happen to have a lot of Bonus X, they become that much more worthwhile.

That said, the most important reason to complete villains is to get to the game’s two main wizard modes. The first of which is...

Battle Royale Mini-Wizard Mode

Completing one villain mode from each villain is pretty easy to do, and lights an extra ball, which doesn’t matter in competition, but is nice if you’re just playing for fun. Beating each villain twice is tougher to do, mainly because the second Venom doesn’t finish itself like the first does, but doing so lights a mini-wizard mode called Battle Royale.

When lit, Battle Royale can be started at either orbit. A neat little perk of Battle Royale being lit is that if it’s the last ball, you get a “Last Chance” outlane save on each outlane. So, draining down one outlane will kick that ball back into play. You get two of these outlane saves - when one’s used up, you can change the outlane which will save you with the flippers. (Center drains cannot be saved, womp womp.) 

This is a four-ball multiball which cannot be stacked with any other multiballs. You cannot progress towards any villains during Battle Royale, and any villain modes that were running will be paused for its duration. Although it’s started at the orbits, it’ll supersede starting and/or locking balls for Black Suit, but a lit mode will be started and run concurrently (as will a mode that was already running).

Battle Royale is a bit complex. The goal is to shoot each villain once, with each villain being worth one high-value jackpot, then infinite low-value jackpots. Every non-villain shot has one low-value jackpot available. Hitting each villain once (i.e. all high-value jackpots) lights the Royale Jackpot at the right ramp, which relights all jackpots and scores the sum of the jackpots scored since the last Royale Jackpot. Additionally, the first two Royale Jackpots add another ball into play, giving you a brief ball save.

So, shoot the villains, then shoot the right ramp. The low-value jackpots are nice but not that important - it’s all about that Royale Jackpot. The game gets a little tougher when you score two Royale Jackpots, as the first two count shots to the left ramp or side ramp for Venom, but each Royale Jackpot after that only counts the side ramp as Venom.

Battle Royale has a lot of potential, but most of that comes from whether or not you’ve multiplied the right ramp going into it. A great Battle Royale without a ramp multiplier will be worth around 20-30 million, but one Royale Jackpot with a tripled right ramp will be worth that much, too. So, you definitely want to try and line the two of them up. If you only need one or two villain modes, you need to start thinking about setting up that multiplier and putting it onto the right ramp. It’s a pretty tough balancing act, though! If you’re too far from Battle Royale, you might drain and lose your multiplier on the way there. If you’re too close, you might get locked out due to needing both orbits to light your multiplier when shooting either begins Battle Royale.

And that’s not even factoring in going after a shot tripler. If you’re close to Battle Royale, you can go to triple the right ramp, but that means you have to beat a mode and light Battle Royale, which is not an easy feat. It’s worth a ton of points if it works - but if it doesn’t work, you might find yourself stuck without being able to even light a doubler before Battle Royale. This is what makes Spider-Man so great - there are so many opportunities where the game effectively says “Okay, do you want to be greedy and get a monster jackpot, or play it safe and miss out big time?” If you’re not constantly second-guessing yourself, you’re playing Spider-Man wrong.

Personally, once I’m one or two villain modes away, I’ll try and get that right ramp tripled as soon as possible. So long as I have a mode that I can play during or before Battle Royale, I’ll plan on tripling the ramp. But I like to take risks like that - if you’d rather play it safe, doubling the ramp will absolutely suffice. I’ll leave the choice up to you, just make sure you multiply the ramp!

A Few Other Small Things

Spiderman Spidersense lane and standup targets

I mentioned the spider-sense lane earlier and how it’s not worth going for. Well, it can be useful from time to time, but I still feel it’s too risky. Completing the three-bank on the right will light the spider-sense lane for some bonus award. This is based on whatever is currently running when you hit down the three-bank:

  • During multiballs, will add-a-ball
  • During modes, will add time
  • If a villain mode is running, lights a “bonus” based on the value of the villain mode (though it only lights the bonus for one mode)
  • Otherwise is just worth points, potentially a Collect Bonus

This value is added to the spider-sense and is awarded the next time you hit it. You can stack multiple spider-sense awards, and the shot to the spider-sense will collect all of them. They go away at the end of the ball - but if you have a few villain modes running, clearing those targets a few times can make the spider-sense worth a considerable number of points. Again, I don’t recommend going for it. After all, you often just lose the ball to the right outlane.

Spiderman pinball lanes

I already mentioned the HERO and WEB lanes above, which you should absolutely be changing to keep your bonus advancing, but it’s worth mentioning them again. Complete the lanes to build up your bonus X. Your bonus value is increased primarily by collecting spiders and combo shots (indicated by flashing red lights), though just random switch hits also add to the bonus. Bonus is usually not worth that much, although if your ball goes on for a while, it can be pretty substantial, especially if it’s ball 3 and you’ve gotten that double bonus off of the skill shot.

Speaking of combos, collecting enough combos will light extra balls, but more importantly, for competition, will also light “Super Modes” which are similar to the super modes in AC/DC. To my knowledge, there are Super Combos which make combo shots worth more, and Super Loops which makes the orbits more valuable and causes them to feed the whole way around every time. Super modes are worth okay value, and are worth being aware of, but they’re not exactly priority features.

Finally, I do just want to make one quick note about the villains. Unlike the regular modes, which stop you from continuing after playing five, after playing each villain three times, you (usually) are allowed to continue playing through the villains, which cycle back to the first mode available. The second time you play a villain mode will be worth more than the first, the difficulty will be the same, and the difficulty starting it will only increase relative to the last time you started that mode. In other words, the fourth Villain mode is often easier to start and complete than the third one is. For instance, the second Fusion Malfunction you play will be harder than the first, but it’ll likely be easier to start than the first Armed at the Dock.

Super Hero Wizard Mode

The final wizard mode of the game. This requires you to complete all villains three times apiece (which also lights a special at the Light Lock target), as well as playing all five modes. Super Hero is started at either orbit and is a multi-stage mode which, despite starting as a multiball, will continue through single ball play. There’s no timer attached, either - it goes until you win or you drain.

Like Battle Royale, Super Hero is started at either orbit and also has the “Last Chance” outlane saves with it on the last ball of the game, but these are shared with Battle Royale’s outlane saves. So, if you used one or both already, you’ll only have what you left over. As mentioned, when Super Hero starts, three more balls will kick out, and the mode will run until you finish it or you drain everything - it won’t time out or end in single-ball play. Also, even if you’re on your last ball, those “Last Chance” saves come back into play during single-ball Super Hero just to give you a fighting chance.

You have to complete the following phases in order to progress. Completing a phase will add another ball into play. The phases are as follows:

  1. Make all six major playfield shots once a piece.
  2. Hit each villain once. During this mode, Sandman and Doc Ock will rise up and down, and you have to hit their respective holes in order for it to count, so you have to time it well. Once you’ve hit one, he’ll leave the hole open, which is especially nice for Sandman since he’ll get out of the way for an incredibly helpful bailout shot.
  3. Make all six playfield shots again. The white lights will all turn on, and hitting one will switch it to red. Hitting a red light will switch it back to white. You need to get all of the lights red - so don’t hit anything you’ve already shot!
  4. Shoot Sandman a whole bunch of times.
  5. Shoot the Spider-Sense.

One aspect of this that I’m not super clear on is that Phase 2 needs to be repeated several times. I’m not sure why, or how many times it needs to be repeated, but on my Spider-Man, I usually have to beat it like six times. The add-a-ball that comes along with it only counts the first time you beat the phase, so when you repeat the phase over and over, it doesn’t give more balls.

Anyway, like Battle Royale, you’re locked out of everything else, so the strategy is pretty much just focusing on the objectives at hand. Super Hero is worth a pretty ridiculous amount of points regardless of how far you get, but that final shot is worth a quarter billion.

Let me repeat that - if you make it all the way through, and collect the final shot, you’re awarded 250,000,000 points. And that’s not all - for the rest of that ball, all scoring will be doubled. So, if for some reason you still need more points after finishing Super Hero, you have some double scoring to capitalize on. (Note that this means a doubled shot will be worth 4X, and a tripled shot will be worth 6X.)

Super Hero is still crazy valuable even if you don’t get that final shot. Every shot made during the mode is worth several million points, so if you manage to get around to it, don’t waste the opportunity. Of course, the challenge is getting there - beating each villain three times is no easy feat. For me, I usually find myself missing the third Venom and/or third Green Goblin. The last Venom requires eight shots to the side ramp, the last Goblin requires twelve shots to a very rapidly moving target. It’s not impossible by any means, but those two just tend to go the slowest. Don’t go after them with conviction just because they’re the hardest, though - if they’re all that’s left, just get some multiballs going so you can try and finish them off with a safety net in place

As far as shot multipliers go into Super Hero, I’d say just take whatever you already had. The big jackpot is that 250,000,000, and that can’t be multiplied. So don’t get greedy and put yourself at risk multiplying shots for Super Hero, especially considering that you’re gonna get at most one multiplier because you’ll inevitably need an orbit shot to light another multiplier, which will also just start Super Hero. Good luck!