How do I change among the three levels of play in Space Cadet Pinball?

Many many years ago, a customer presumably was taking advantage of the unlimited support part of their support contract when they asked

In the documentation for Space Cadet Pinball, it says...

The game is divided into three levels of play: basic, intermediate, and advanced. The objective of all levels is to achieve the highest point total. The more advanced the level of play, the greater the point reward.

How does one advance to the next level of play? The documentation doesn't explain.

The level of play being described in the documentation refers not to any particular in-game option or accomplishment. It's describing three different styles of playing the same game.

  • Basic level: You try not to lose the ball.
  • Intermediate level: You earn more points by hitting the targets in the right order.
  • Advanced level: You earn even more points by completing missions.

It's like how you can play tennis on multiple levels.

  • Basic level: Chase the ball when it is hit to you, and return it over the net.
  • Intermediate level: Anticipate where the ball will be hit, and return it to where your opponent will have difficulty reaching it.
  • Advanced level: Plan multiple-stroke attacks. Identify your opponent's weakness and adjust your style of play to take advantage of it.

In other words, the answer is not in the game. The answer is inside you.

Comments (19)
  1. pc says:

    You have to admit that the documentation could have been clearer, particularly as "level" tends to have a specific meaning in a video game context. Although perhaps the rest of the documentation page was clearer than that paragraph was.

    [I agree that the documentation should not have used the word "level". "Style" would have been better. -Raymond]
  2. Joshua says:

    I never would have thought Windows support really covered game strategy.

  3. Dave says:


    Probably why they pulled pinball out of Windows.

  4. David T says:

    @Dave No, that question has already been answered:…/10378851.aspx

  5. Matt says:

    "In other words, the answer is not in the game. The answer is inside you."

    Very Zen. Do not try to avoid losing the ball, realize that you must first lose yourself, only then will you be at one with the ball.

  6. "a customer presumably was taking advantage of the unlimited support part of their support contract"

    I'm glad he did. The documentation could certainly have been clearer. Regardless, the sentence reminds me of an English mistranslation of a Japanese sentence in a hotel: It said "you are more than welcome to take advantage of the chambermaid." The insinuations are the same.

  7. John says:

    That Pinball story reminded me of SkiFree which also suffered from the 100% CPU Usage Bug. The original author found the original source code (after it being lost for a number of years), fixed that bug, and also compiled it as a 32bit application! Yay! Now to get him to do a 64bit version when they finally decide to kill WOW64…

  8. foo says:

    Excellent answer, considering the question.

  9. Dino says:

    I am more puzzled with how they arrived at exactly three "levels" of play. Why not five, or ten, or 99?

  10. James says:

    Since this game has been abandoned and is generally outdated, why not release the source (for fun) as part of Microsoft's open code program?

    [That question has already been asked. -Raymond]
  11. SomeGuyOnTheInternet says:

    How long did Microsoft staff spend "researching" the solution?

  12. Neil says:

    In theory I played advanced level – but although I new what I needed to do, I rarely had the skill to complete missions, even with replays. In fact, my play felt more like basic level, which probably explains why I found it so hard to score ten million or more.

  13. 12BitSlab says:

    The company I work for sells support for products that we create/sell.  We have some customers who overuse support.  Asking for help on a throw-in game?  That is truly abuse of support — paid or not.

  14. Felix says:


    If Microsoft is a company who only make "serious" software, then maybe it is not right to ask question about a game. However, since Microsoft has published a number of games titles, there is nothing wrong about asking question about a game, and it is not an abuse of support (provided that the support was paid). If such a simple question would make the customer support department to become overworked, it is highly doubtful if the support department have sufficient resource to deal with more complex/real questions. And who should determine if a feature is a "throw-in" one? If there is a bug found in the calculator accessory in Windows, does that means Microsoft can ignore it, by claiming that the calculator is "throw-in"?

  15. Engywuck says:

    In my opinion, when a game is installed by a default installation of the OS it's under support. Microsoft could have made some sort of "Plus Pack" for, say, XP and delivered all "throw-ins" with it – and explicitely stated when installing (or in the support contract) that the addons are not under support. Surely Pinball from the Win8 App Store is not under the OS support contract?

  16. morlamweb says:

    @Engywuck: in my business, the terms of the support contract determine the bits of software that fall under the contract.  Obviously I don't have any details of the "unlimited" support contract in Raymond's story.  Perhaps their contract includes all software provided by Microsoft?  Also note that some government and non-government organizations have paid for an extra year of Win XP support, despite official support for the normal client versions having ended back in April.  I have a couple of support contracts with customers who have several-versions-old copies of my software (and they paid handsomely for the privilege).  So it's not out of the question for a support contract to cover software in the OS Plus Packs or other "throw-ins".

    Whether or not a support question about Pinball, Hover, whatever is a good use of a support contract is another question entirely (Hint: it isn't).

  17. 12BitSlab says:

    @ Engywuck.

    When I made my post, I made a couple of assumptions that may or may not be accurate.  The biggest assumption is that someone calling in on an unlimited support contract would be a business customer as opposed to a home user/consumer.

    As for the calculator, I would expect MSFT to support that because there is a valid business use.  As for a game, if I were supervisor/manager of the person who made the call, I would be very angry.  Clearly, that person is wasting MSFT's time as well as company time.  In my mind, that is abuse of support.

    Of course, I could be wrong.  Maybe it wasn't a business contract.

  18. Destroyer says:

    @12BitSlab – Hardly the biggest employee misconduct out there… Everyone is entitled to perks of the job! If they used that excessively perhaps so, but I think we can forgive a question about a game that perhaps the employee really likes (and probably wants it clarified for when he plays it at home)

    There would be several valid arguments to ask that question, i.e., A large OEM selling computers to home users, etc.

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