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Back to Space Station info page

Review: Dave Roberts on ??/09/1988

From Pinball Player Volume 12 #7

'PREPARE FOR LIFT OFF' Williams Space Station

Space Station - the successor to Space Shuttle, by the same designer, Barry Oursler (also with Comet and Pinbot to his credit) enlarges and improves upon many features of the original.

The U-S-A rollover lanes, Stop 'n Score ramp and Shuttle value selection have been borrowed from the original, and are joined by variable value jet bumpers (re- Pinbot), a re-entry kickback on the left outlane, a multiplier on the Stop 'n Score ramp and a mini, plastic upper level playfield. Also, a Bonus Ball feature as on the late Black Knight is now available to all players, rather than just the victor, at the end of normal multi-player games.

The plunger shot - lite the 1-2-3...

The plunger shot carries the ball to the mini upper playfield. Here the number 1-2-3 must be completed to lite the locks and increase the jet bumper value by 500 points each time. The ball drops to the main playfield between the bumpers and the U-S-A lanes. Completing these lanes advances the Stop 'n Score multiplier, up to a maximum of 5X, and lites the 'Change Value' target for special scoring. Both the U-S-A and 1-2-3 rollovers have the usual Lane Change feature, controlled by either flipper button.


The words SHUTTLE and STATION are spelled out on spot targets. The SHUTTLE targets are on the left hand sidel S,T and A in front of the jet bumpers and T,I,O and N alongside the ramp. The centre playfield lights indicate what SHUTTLE and STATION score when completed, although they are operated individually and are rarely, if ever the same. A new pair of values are randomly selected at the start of each new ball or when striking the 'Change Value' target low down on the right hand side.

Stop, and Score...

Between the T-I-O-N targets and the 'Change Value' target is the Stop 'n Score ramp. Guarding the entry to the ramp is a single drop target which starts the Stop 'n Score timer when knocked down. Shooting up the ramp before the target resets scores the rotating value indicated on the backglass displays, times the Stop 'n Score multiplier. The ramp leads up to the rotating 'Ball Diverter' or Mothership.

Capture, and lock...

The mothership diverts the ball to either two capture points, via metal tubes - left to behind the SHUTTLE targets, or right, where it drops out of sight to re-emerge at high speed from just above the T-I-O-N targets. The mothership may also be reached by a shot from the right flipper, around a loop to behind the U-S-A lanes and into a ball popper. This shot lights for 100K after the U-S-A lanes have been completed. Both methods of reaching the mothership lite for 'docking' when the 1-2-3 sequence has been completed.

The Sweep Shot...

The bonus multiplier is advanced to a maximum of 7X and then to Extra Ball by a bank of three drop targets, just right of the jet bumpers. The bank is ideally placed for a 'Sweep Shot', (knocking all targets down together) which scores 100K.

"Docking complete..."

Making a release shot brings the speech exchange "Docking Complete ... Negative - you must redock" followed by "Condition green". I took a while to notice the green illumination all over the playfield turned on at this point. Making two docking shots during multiball play awards the rescue jackpot (minimum 200K) and provokes the comment "Mission accomplished" and displays "Well Done" on the score displays.

Bonus Ball...

If a player collects the Bonus Ball award off the SHUTTLE or STATION targets and achieves multiball, each second of multiball play is added to the initial bonus time of 20 seconds, up to a limit of 45 seconds. Bonus balls are played after each players last regular ball.


My verdict is that Space Station definitely is worthy of the Williams badge, and it successfully combines the old-fashioned format of having no flipper return lanes with modern features. Not perhaps in the same class as F14 Tomcat or High Speed, but certainly better than average. A couple of hints may be of use to players:
  • The right hand lock eject kicker may put so much spin on the ball that it comes off the left flipper, rolls up the right slingshot and down the right outlane. Check position of the mothership before shooting for it - unless docking.
  • I feel that the SHUTTLE/STATION values are something of a red herring. Decide which values you are going to go for - Special, Extra Ball, Bonus Ball etc. Check which values are selected for each new ball, and use the 'Change Target' when necessary.
Space Stations tested on site at:
  • Royal Arcade, Mestyn Street, Llandudno - 20p, 3 Balls.
  • Rhyl Promenade, Rhyl - 20p, 5 Balls.