Lost in the Zone…

Last night, I finally beat my Twilight Zone, and got into "Lost in the Zone" multiball. I made good progress the first couple of weeks, but recently I'd been hampered by the current location of the machine (due to remodelling), which leaves it slightly off-level and with a light reflection right above the flippers. But, I'm lazy, so I didn't try to fix it.

To get to "Lost in the Zone", you have to collect a whole bunch of door panels. You are rewarded with a 6-ball timed multiball in which all the high-score jackpots are enabled. The hard part is actually making any shots (you really can't aim) without hitting the other balls on the table. So, you get about a minute of this frenzy (which is plenty), then the machine goes dead, all the balls get reset, and you start trying to do it again. My score ended up being about 1.4B points.

Next up are some mods for the machine. There are enough enthusiasts that there are lots of options. Here's what I'm thinking of:

  • Plastic gumballs to improve the look of the gumball machine
  • A backboard decal (strange that there isn't one on the machine)
  • Door flasher lights (cut to keep costs down from the original design)
  • Speakers. The stock speakers aren't very good, but this mod is fairly pricey, so I'm not sure if I'll do it. I may just homebrew it with some car speakers.
  • Bridge diverter magnets. One of the ramps has a diverter, and balls bounce off of it pretty badly. This prevents it.
  • Battery clip replacement. Pins have AA batteries on the CPU board to keep their settings when they're turned off. If the batteries leak, however, **bad** things happen to the board. The puts the batteries in a remote location.
  • Trough ball proximity sensor. One of the key features of the Twilight Zone is the "powerball", a ceramic ball that is lighter than a pinball and therefore faster. One game mode depends on the powerball, and for it to work, the game has to sense that it has the powerball. One sensor works well, but the trough one (where the balls are stored at the bottom) is known for getting bumped and going out. Mine worked fine when I got the machine, but has already gone out of adjustment. I'll try to fix it, but this replacement is a permanent fix.

I've considered getting a "topper", which is something that goes on the top of the machine and is hooked into the lights, but that seems hard to justify right now.

Comments (4)

  1. I think that all the mods are ok, with the exception of the bridge diverter magnets. This would affect the gameplay, and the dynamics of the game, which I don’t think should be altered. How else will you compare yourself to other players of the same game if the playing field isn’t level?

    From what I can tell, the other mods wouldn’t affect gameplay, so I would actually adovcate them =)

  2. Eric says:

    Well, the magnets change the gameplay to be the way that the designers intended the game to play. Some games have the issues, and other games don’t, so it’s already not a fair playing field.

    Not to mention that playfield angle and condition of the game has a big effect on the playing field.

  3. John Morales says:

    i’ve been playing TZ using vpinmame and just recently scored my first "in the zone", total for the game was 1.87B, more than 3x my next highest score. it’s a very cool game. i would love to have a physical version of the game, but maintenance on a pinball machine is part of owning it, so mine would become an expensive shelf.

    also play Bride of Pinbot, what a cool game, but the version i have is a bit buggy and the face panels get messed up.

  4. Jeff Atwood says:

    vpinmame? I assume that’s a 2D bitmap table? Pure Pinball 2.0 Redux has fully 3D rendered pinball tables which look INCREDIBLE and have the kind of physics that only 3D sims can deliver:

    (demo link)


    I’m thinking something like Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set, but in 3D, would create a renaissance in the "vpin" community– you could create perfect versions of almost any real pinball machine, and the great thing is most of the components (bumpers, flippers etc) could come from stock 3D models with a few tweaks.

    It sure beats paying $5k for a Medieval Madness table on eBay, anyway..

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