Gameplay Description

This machine has very simple rules in comparison to modern games, but there are still a few things going on.

Scoring is three-tiered. You can advance your score in points, runs, and innings. As hits are registered, the animated baserunners run the bases until they finally come home. Free games can be earned through points or runs, but not through innings, with the exception of hitting a ninth-inning home run.


Points is one of the two principal scoring types in Big League. According to the scorecard, a player earns credits by scoring at least 65,000 points. Points are gained through hitting any playfield switch or bumper. Each hit on any bumper scores 1000 points. Three rollover lane switches are also available, each of which score 1000 points each. There are also three saucers in the game (kick-out holes), one each for a double, triple, and home run. The score awarded for these is 1000 points per base, so a double scores 2000, a triple 3000, and a home run 4000. The saucers are worth double on odd-numbered innings, however. The point display on the backglass goes up to 89,000 points, and a decent game (for me) is anything over about 50,000.


Runs Display
Home Run Saucer
The second scoring type is runs. Runs can actually be a more lucrative way to earn credits overall. Obviously, runs are scored by getting hits and bringing baserunners home. There are three red bumpers that score singles any time they are hit, and there are saucer holes that score doubles, triples, and home runs. Light-animated baserunners round the bases whenever hits are registered. During the 4th and 8th innings, all bumpers hit score as singles. If it'd done right, the player can really rack up the runs during these innings. According to the scorecard, a credit will be earned for odd-numbered runs from 17 through 21, and one for each run above 21. The display on the backglass counts to 29, and no more runs than that may be earned.



Innings is the final scoring type. Innings don't directly earn credits, but they can greatly influence the scoring of runs. Innings are advanced by hitting the green numbered bumpers in order, from 1 through 9. As mentioned above, during the 4th and 8th innings, all of the bumpers (both green and red) score as singles, until the 5th or 9th inning is reached. It is not required to ever advance inning during a game, and the game will end after 5 balls regardless of the inning attained. If you are paying nickles for play, there is an incentive to advance to 9th inning though: Any 9th inning home run awards the player 20 free games! It's not a common occurance, but I've done it a couple of times. My strategy is usually to get just to the 4th inning and try to rack up the runs without advancing to the 5th.

Timed Play
The play of Big League is timed. When the coin slide is pushed in, the balls drop through the hole in the playfield and are fed to the ball lift. A timer is also set by the coin slide. It is a mechanical timer, similar to the old-style egg timers. The player has approximately seven minutes to complete the game. So there's not a lot of time to talk or take bathroom breaks in the middle of a game! When the timer runs out, a switch is opened, and power is cut to the entire machine. I have not yet run out of time during a game, but I have been in the final minute.

Strategy in this game is obviously quite limited, due to the lack of flippers. The only method of control is from judicious nudging of the machine. Slight bumps forward or left or right can affect the ball considerably if the timing of the bump is just right.
It is a good idea to try to get to the 4th inning, so that you can take advantage of all the extra baserunners during that inning. If done right, you can get to the 4th inning by the second ball. The real trick is to avoid advancing to the 5th, where the green bumpers score only points and advance innings again.
As mentioned above, the saucers are worth double points on odd-numbered inning. I will typically try to get doubles and triples when they are lit; but otherwise I'm not overly concerned about the saucers. The upside of the saucers is that you get a hit with extra bases (potentially driving in more runs), but the downside is that they kick the ball about a quarter of the way down the field. With no other mechanism to add any upward energy to the ball, it just draws the ball closer to the end.