What the Flashing Lights in a Pinball Game Actually Mean

Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images
Mira Oberman, AFP/Getty Images

To the casual player, pinball may feel overwhelming. Lights seem to flash for no reason, extra balls pop up out of nowhere, and you can rack up millions of points without realizing it. But pinball experts know the game is about a lot more than flicking their flippers at random. As Vox lays out in their video below, each element of a pinball machine serves a purpose.

Pinball star Roger Sharpe explains to Vox that pinball is a game of skill, despite the way many novices play it. In 1976, a time when pinball machines were outlawed in New York City for being a form of gambling, Sharpe was able to convince the New York City Council that a player could control the outcome of the game if they knew what they were doing. After watching his demonstration, the city agreed to reverse the ban.

So what do pinball champions know that beginners don't? One of the most important things to remember is that the flashing lights aren't there to confuse you—they're telling you where to shoot. Some moves are worth more points at different times in the game, and paths with lit-up arrows indicate where to shoot to win big.

Like other arcade games, pinball has players work toward mini-goals, such as hitting letters on the field to spell out a word. Meet these goals and you can unlock special modes, like multiball (a.k.a. that slightly terrifying part of the game when there are multiple balls on the board at once).

Once you know the object of the game, the hard part is getting the ball to go where you want it. Sharpe suggests giving your fingers a break and slowing down your game play—instead of hitting the buttons frantically every time the ball rolls your way, practice cradling the ball in your flipper and hitting it deliberately. Now all you need to do is learn the right lingo and you're on your way to becoming a pinball wizard.

[h/t Vox]

18 Disney Characters Just Got the LEGO Treatment

LEGO
LEGO

If you’ve ever wondered what one of Disney's princesses might look like standing next to Batman or Harry Potter, now's your chance to find out. LEGO has created minifigures of 18 characters from beloved Disney movies, and they’re a pretty diverse bunch.

There are Disney princesses and heroes, like Jasmine, Elsa, and Hercules. There are offbeat favorites, like Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. A couple villains were thrown into the mix for good measure, and classic characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse are also represented.

It has been a big week for both LEGO and Disney. The toy company announced the impending release of a 751-piece set that recreates the boat from Steamboat Willie, the 1928 short film that launched Mickey to stardom. The timing is also fitting, considering that Mickey recently celebrated his 90th birthday (not too bad for a mouse).

The S.S. Willie set will be available on April 1, but fans will have to wait a little longer for the Disney minifigures. Those will be available on the LEGO Store website and in stores nationwide starting May 1. Each minifigure costs $3.99.

Until then, check out some of the figures below, or browse LEGO’s selection of Disney-themed sets.

A Disney minifigure
LEGO

A Disney minifigure
LEGO

A Disney minifigure
LEGO

A Disney minifigure
LEGO

Disney’s Steamboat Willie Has Been Immortalized in LEGO

LEGO
LEGO

Mickey Mouse recently turned 90 years old, and soon, you’ll be able to celebrate with LEGO. Steamboat Willie, the classic Disney short film that introduced Mickey Mouse to the world in 1928, has now been recreated in a LEGO set that will be released on April 1.

The 751-piece LEGO version of the S.S. Willie features grayscale bricks that recreate the original black-and-white aesthetic of the original film. The 10-inch-long LEGO boat features moving steam pipes and paddle wheels and comes with new Mickey and Minnie minifigures. It’s also equipped with a ship’s wheel, a life buoy, a buildable bell, and a working crane that can lift the vessel’s potato-bin cargo.

LEGO's Steamboat Willie set
LEGO

The Steamboat Willie set was born out of the company’s fan-generated LEGO Ideas initiative several years ago. Creator Máté Szabó submitted the idea to LEGO in June 2016, then LEGO designers John Ho and Crystal Marie Fontan worked to adapt the set for retail sale, creating decorative elements and the new Mickey and Minnie Mouse minifigures.

LEGO's Steamboat Willie set
LEGO

Buy the kit on the LEGO Store website for $90 starting April 1. If you can't wait to get your LEGO fix, check out the company's other Mickey Mouse-themed products here.

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