Tandem Play- What it really is!
Over the years, we have seen many attempts to have two players play the same game simultaneously. Challenger, War, Joust, NBA Fastbreak, etc. In all of these games, the two players played against each other in a competitive manner. With tandem play, the two players play as a team in a co-operative manner.
They play on two separate machines, playing a single game together. (For competitive play, One team can play against another team using one pair of machines). The two games would need to be tied together electronically (Ethernet/WiFi, etc.) and the two games should have an auto launcher (most modern games do).
The easiest method is to use two of the same machine and tie the two games together in parallel. But, this isn’t the best way! That is because now you have two players completing features and cross-triggering features and scoring a lot of points, they will overwhelm the games scoring and balance. But. It would still be a lot of fun!
If we were to tailor the game rules for Tandem Play, we can set-up conditional features, where the two players must co-operate and communicate with each other. We could also make objectives a bit more difficult to complete, knowing that two players are shooting for the same feature. The other thing that can be done with creating a unique rule set is that a “Save” feature can be added. This is when one player loses their ball, the other machine could enable a “Save” feature, where if completed, the player who lost their ball would have that ball re-launched “Saving” that ball (1 save allowed per ball).
The other thing that can be done is creating “Pilot”/”Gunner” special modes where one player initiates and the other player collects. The possibilities are endless for what can be done. I can see teams of two players playing against each other in leagues or tournaments. Rules would need to be established, such as when you lose your ball, you can’t step-in for the other player.
Now the skeptics will immediately say “How often do you see two of the same model in a location?” How for the good part- The Two Machines Don’t Need to be the Same Model! Just two game with similar scoring and cross-reference-able features: Multiball 1, Multiball 2, Mode 1, Mode 2, Multiplier Advance, etc. Obviously, this would be difficult trying to implement old models, but can be done on new models by same manufacturer going forward. The feature would use a cross reference table for features.
The other way is to link two remote games via the internet by installing a camera on top of backbox that looks at playfield, which displays a live picture of the other game on its TV monitor backglass. A microphone could also be added that allows you to hear comments made by your remote partner. A smartphone app could be used to initiate remote tandem play. I will discuss a pinball smartphone app on a future blog column.
Finally, I want to mention the possibility of having teams of more than two players. Imagine having three or four (teams of 3 or 4) games linked together!