No Good Gofers was a pinball machine manufactured by the Williams company in 1997. It's sales figures were marginal with approximately 3,500 units produced. The machine is quite fun to play and is themed around two gophers who want to upset the golf games of golfers on a golf course. Of course, Caddyshack comes to mind.

As any pinball nerd would tell you Williams was the king of pinball machine manufacturers in the 1990's, but due to profitability concerns stopped pinball production around 1999 to focus exclusively on other gaming machines such as slots.

Most of the late 1990's are some of the most desirable to own and or play and have some really great designs for the era. Unfortunately, No Good Gofers wasn't that popular and since the company was on the verge of getting out of pinball, the game wasn't finished.


Again, the game was really fun as is, but here are some of the existing nagging complaints about it:

  • The game has 6 balls installed but there are no 6-ball multiball modes. In fact, there aren't any 5-ball multiball modes. Clearly the designer had ideas that would have used these balls or else they would have added them.
  • During the putt out animation sequence, several modes are listed on the screen that in reality do not exist. Clearly they either ran out of time or for some other reason did not finish creating thes modes.
  • A few bugs exist that were never fixed. For example, the existing code does a poor job of detecting gophers out of position. This can really be irritating when you need to shoot at the open gopher hole, but the hole is shut. The game doesn't fix this, nor does it credit the player properly for shooting the ramp.
  • The scoring is severely imbalanced and slanted toward Gofer Multiball to the point that if you want to win in a tournament, there is no other strategy. What happens at this point is the player doesn't play any other aspect of the game except this one thing - shoot for the multiball - shoot for jackpots. Rinse, repeat.
  • With all of that, I decided to write new rules for the game.

    The end result was No Good Gophers 2.0 or NGG2.0.


    The No Good Gophers: Battle For The Green manual can be downloaded here.

    Click here to contact me about ordering a No Good Gophers: Battle For The Green (NGG2.0) kit

    Click here to download the lateset software updates for No Good Gophers: Battle For The Green (NGG2.0)


    NGG2.0 is written 100% from scratch and not one line of existing code from the original game is in my code. In the case of NGG, no intellectual property of Planetary Pinball or Williams is involved here. I not only wrote the new code but also replaced all of the sounds and animations with new custom work that I either did myself or hired professionals to create.


    I definitely wanted to say the above right upfront to assuage the original copyright holders and also stop people from asking me to just 'slightly tweak' the original game or to include a dual boot with the original game. None of those things are legally possible as the original code is owned by Planetary Pinball and I did not license its use. My code has none of the original but is something new and, hopefully, better.

    In the case of this new code, I am the sole copyright holder of the intellectual property that I created. Additionally, the music created by professionals was either donated through the creative commons license process or a full license was purchased by me for its use in this project.



    NGG2.0 has a (hopefully) balanced scoring system divided into two different main objectives: completing holes, that is to say 'golfing', and mini-games (mini-modes). Additionally, there are two wizard modes. One is obtained after completing 18 holes of golfing and the other after completing all of the mini-modes. So then, each main objective has its own wizard mode.

    For golfing, the player hits strokes which advance the ball to the green. Once on the green the player putts out and receives an award based on how far under or over par the player is for that particular hole.

    There are eight mini-modes and two wizard modes. One wizard mode is lit after completing 18 holes. The second wizard mode is lit after completing all eight mini-modes. To complete a mini-mode, the player must not only start the mode but shoot the required mode shots enough times to complete it. Each mode is explained in detail below.


    The golfing and mini-mode goals can be worked on independently or simultaneously in that progress toward the individual goals are separate. However, once a mode is started you do not accumulate strokes, for example, until the mode is finished. Additionally, modes cannot be stacked, that is, you cannot run several modes simultaneously.


    As for balanced scoring between mini-modes, I saw pretty early that making all of the mini-modes have balanced scoring when weighed against each other would be a futile effort. My solution was to have the modes chosen randomly, that is, when mode start is achieved the player does not choose which mode is played. Once the mode is completed by hitting all the required strokes, gophers, flashing lights, etc., the completed mode will not be available to play again until after all modes are completed and the final sorcerer mode is played (more on that later).

    The exception to the above is the ripoff mode since it is started by captive ball hits.

    Also unlike the original game, there are no progressive shots. In the original game, a completed jackpot, for example, was worth more each time it was hit –thus, progressive. This was the main culprit, I believe, in making the game imbalanced. In my code, jackpot shots do not increase in value. In fact, no shots increase in value just because it was hit more than once.


    There are other ways to increase a shots value such as lighting super jets or earning 2X by completing several cart path loops. Again, more on that later.


    THEME


    Most people described NGG as an unlicensed knock off of the movie 'Caddyshack' and I didn't really want to go in the 'Caddyshack' direction as licensed assets would need to be paid for. Instead, I stuck with an unlicensed theme and story-line which I created. The story behind NGG2.0 goes like this:


    A bear wanders onto a golf course and loses his memory when hit by an errant ball. Buzz, a gopher that hates all golfers, discovers the bear, names him Bud, and convinces him that he's really a gopher too. With Bud's raw strength, Buzz hatches a plan to take the golfers out and reclaim the course as his own.

    The music, animations, voice work, and sound effects follow this comical and cartoon-ish vein and were made to be accessible to all. There is no profanity or anything vulgar here. Just like the original though, Buzz tends to be critical and confrontational of the player's shots and says things like "miss it," "hey hotshot," "get off our turf," or "you're holding your putter wrong," and will most certainly laugh when the player drains.

    Bud, on the other hand, is the comic relief of the team. He's a bear that thinks he's really an oversized gopher. Let's just say he's a little slow on the uptake.



    COMPLETING HOLES


    One facet of NGG2.0 is completing holes, that is to say golfing. In the real-world game of golf, the lowest stroke count is best.


    In the original pinball game of NGG this idea was turned on its head; the player started with 7 or so strokes and each shot lowered the stroke count. So then, in the original game the more shots that were made improved the stroke count and scored more points. This never felt right to me and I wanted to make golfing on NGG2.0 more like real-world golfing.

    So in NGG2.0, instead of counting down strokes from 7 by hitting drives as in the original code, drives are more like real golf in that the stroke count goes up instead of down. Each hole has a 'par value' and 'distance to the hole' and thus require a certain number of shots to make it to the putting green. The par value and distance to hole value along with the player's current stroke count are listed clearly at the top of the display screen.

    If a combination of drive shots is made the ball will go farther thus allowing the player to be "under par" for that hole. Being under par will yield higher bonus points at putt out (and end of ball bonus). Thus, combo shots are key.


    Each drive shot counts as a single stroke and moves the ball 100 yards closer to the green. A combo shot will move the ball 100 yards without taking a stroke. So for example, 3 combo shots in a row will move the ball 300 yards but only count as a single stroke. As you can imagine hitting enough combo shots in a row could put the ball all the way to the green but only cost a single stroke. Putting out also counts as a stroke, obviously, so without hitting a hole-in-one the best possible stroke count is a two.


    Also, the end of hole bonus is based on the player's under-or-over-par value in my code, not the number of strokes as in the original. In order to make the game more rewarding, earlier holes have a lower par value and later holes have a higher par value. In this way, later holes will allow for higher scores because a good player will be able to complete the hole being further under par. Here is a listing of the shots for completing holes:



    Shots that do not count:

  • unlit drive shots do not add to stroke count or advance the ball.
  • Hitting gophers do not add to stroke count or advance the ball.

  • Good shots:

  • lit drive shots hit once count as a single stroke and advances the ball 100 yards.
  • lit drive shots hit more than once in series (combo) count as a single stroke and advances the ball 100 yards multiplied by the number of shots made in a row. For example, if 3 drives shots were made in succession, it would count as a single stroke and advance the ball 300 yards.
  • Putting out counts as a single stroke and ends the hole.

  • Bad shots:

  • If the ball is on the putting green (putt out lit) and the player hits a drive instead of putting out then that adds one to stroke count, but the ball stays on the green.
  • Hitting the putting green before putt out is lit is considered a water hazard shot and adds one stroke but does not advance the ball.
  • Ball landing in the sand trap adds one stroke but does not advance the ball.
  • Hitting the golf cart does not add a stroke or advance the ball. Golf cart hits advance the mini-mode permissive. (more later)

  • Kind-of bad shots:

  • If a slam ramp shot misses the cart and hole-in-1, but still makes it to left ramp then score as a "slice" drive. If it goes to the right, it is a "hook". Forward the ball 100 yards, and increase shot count by 1, but do not allow a combo for next drive shot. (this used to be the shot which showed the squirrel)

  • One of the key differences in making a good score during the golfing phase of the game as opposed to mini-modes is that the end of ball bonus reviews the player's scorecard and awards a hole bonus at the end of each ball.

    For example, let's say the player scores a few combos such that he or she is under par on a hole for ball one and receives an under par bonus of 500,000.

    The player would receive an additional 500,000 at the end of ball bonus for ball one. Then again at end of ball bonus for ball two and again for ball three, for a total of 2 million for the entire game just for completing that one hole. So then, the player receives the bonus four times (assuming a 3-ball game).

    If the same circumstances occurred on ball three, only the ball three bonus would credit an additional score and thus only 1 million points. Some smart players might want to focus, then, on completing holes earlier, rather than later in the game.