How to play pinball

How to play pinball

Pinball is a classic arcade game that can seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice and guidance, anyone can learn how to play. Here are the basics to get you started:

Starting a New Game

All of the games at TazPin are set to “Free Play”; meaning that you don’t need to drop any coins into the machines to get started. To start a new game, press the start button usually located on the front of the machine at the top left.

How to Tell How Many People Are Playing

Did you know pinball can be played multiplayer? Some pinball machines allow multiple players to compete against each other. To start a multiplayer game, before you begin, press the start button once per the number of players. To determine how many players are in the game, look for a counter on the backglass or scoreboard. This will display the number of players currently playing, as well as their current score and other relevant information.

How to Flip the Flippers

Yes, this may seem very basic, but some people have never seen a pinball machine in the wild and may not realise there are buttons on the side of the machine.

The flippers are the most important tool you have in pinball. They’re used to hit the ball and keep it in play. To flip the flippers, press the corresponding button usually located on the left and right side of the front of the machine. The left flipper is typically controlled by the left button, and the right flipper is controlled by the right button. Timing is crucial when flipping the flippers, as you’ll need to hit the ball at just the right moment to keep it in play.


The primary objective of pinball is to score as many points as possible to become the “Grand Champion” on the score-board. Points are earned by hitting targets and completing specific objectives within the game. Some common targets include bumpers, rollover lanes, drop targets, and ramps. Each machine has its own unique layout and set of objectives, so it’s important to study the machine and learn the specific rule-sets to maximize your score.

Tip: Most machines have a rule-set card on the front left of the apron (the bottom left under the glass). These rule-sets will give you some basic goals to and objects to help start multiball or score high points.

Apart from scoring points, many games, especially modern ones, offer a story-based progression system linked to the theme of the machine. Advancing through this system unlocks a special “wizard mode,” indicating that the game has been completed. Deciding to pursue progress entails balancing the risk and reward of going for points, but it is possible to achieve both goals simultaneously.

Lit-Shots and Guidance

As you play the game, you’ll notice that certain targets and shots on the playfield will light up. These are called “lit-shots” and hitting them will often award extra points, activate a feature, or progress towards a larger objective. The game will often guide you through these lit-shots with flashing lights, arrows, and other visual cues. It’s important to pay attention to these cues and aim for the lit-shots to maximize your score.

In addition there are other ways to keep the ball in play and prolong your game. For example, hitting certain targets or ramps may activate multi-ball, which means you’ll have multiple balls in play at once. This can be both exciting and challenging, as you’ll need to keep track of multiple balls at the same time.

Other common information

Ball-save is a feature that gives players a second chance when they lose their ball too quickly. When a ball is launched, there’s often a short period of time during which the ball-save feature is active. This is often denoted by a light on the playfield set between the flippers. If the ball drains (goes down the middle) during this time, the game will automatically launch another ball to keep the game going. This feature is designed to help new players get used to the game and is also useful for more experienced players who are trying to achieve a specific objective.

Want to learn some advanced skills?

Abe Flips has produced a fantastic in-depth look at some common and advanced control techniques. The below video is the beginning of a playlist – please use the playlist toggle in the top right to browse all the tutorials or watch them all in sequence!