Sigma's Guide to Whitewater
by Kevin Martin
Version of July 26, 1995

Notes and Disclaimers

This rule compilation and tips sheet is, to the extent possible (in light of the subject matter being the property of Bally/Williams), freeware. It can be modified, updated, or revised, provided only that credit to the original author(s) remains intact. It can be published or otherwise distributed, provided only that such distribution is effectively free.

This sheet is written and maintained by Kevin Martin, sigma@pinball.org - if you have any questions or comments or additions or corrections, send 'em along to me.

Whitewater is almost certainly a trademark for Williams/Bally. The author(s) disclaim all interest in any trademarks or other intellectual property referenced herein. I do not speak for my employer, my friends, my relatives, or my cat. In fact, I hardly even speak for myself.

I use the abbreviations "K" for a thousand points, "M" for a million points, "B" for a billion points, and "GC" for Grand Champion..

This version of the Guide should be considered final.

Important Things

This is a glossary of the shots and features that will be referred to during the discussion of the game. It's possible to play this game for quite a while and never actually learn the names of a few of these shots.

There are three flippers - the usual two lower ones, and an upper right flipper on a raised mini-playfield. The right flipper button can be used to control the right flippers independently, with the second stage of button action controlling the upper flipper.
This is a normal plunger. It is important that it be in good condition for the two-stage skill shot.
Upper Playfield
This is the raised mini-playfield where Bigfoot resides.
This is a small furry fellow mounted on the upper playfield. He should spin his head around on various occasions (this feature breaks easily, however), and diverts most balls which go into Bigfoot Bluff into the Whirlpool.
Bigfoot Bluff
This is a Hazard. It is the small upper ramp on the Upper Playfield. It leads to the Whirlpool or Bigfoot's Cave.
This is a plastic cup (with no scoring sensors) just below the Upper Playfield. Its center hole is ringed by six red lights.
Bigfoot's Cave
This is a simple plastic ramp which feeds to the Right Inlane. It is only reachable during Bigfoot Hotfoot.
Insanity Falls
This is a Hazard. It is the steep lower ramp on the Upper Playfield. It leads to the Left Inlane, after a long, gruesome ramp, which should send the ball into the glass after the third hump. The Insanity Falls is a loop champion shot - the Insanity Record.
Disaster Drop
This is a Hazard. It is the small ramp in the middle of the lower playfield. It loops around underneath the Upper Playfield and drops the ball on the playfield at the entrance to the Boulder Garden Hazard.
No Way Out
This is a Hazard. It is the opening between the two ramps on the lower playfield. It's a lock shot, and ejects balls onto the Upper Playfield, feeding the upper flipper.
Spine Chiller
This is a Hazard. It is the steep left ramp on the lower playfield. It leads to the Upper Playfield, feeding the upper flipper.
Boulder Garden
This is a Hazard. It is the far left loop on the lower playfield. It leads around the back of the machine and to the Jet Bumpers.
Boomerang Bend
This is a Hazard. It is the far right loop on the lower playfield. It leads around the back of the machine and comes out on the entrance to the Boulder Garden Hazard. It is the reverse of the Boulder Garden shot.
Secret Passage
This is a rollover switch leading from just past the entrance to the Boulder Garden Hazard to the entrance lane of the No Way Out Hazard.
Jet Bumpers
These are three jet bumpers in the lower right corner of the lower playfield. They are disguised as large boulders. There are six lights on the playfield in this area, indicating the currently lit and previously awarded Whirlpool Awards.
Extra Ball
This is a narrow plastic target surrounded by two plastic posts. It's almost directly above the Right Inlane, and just below the Jet Bumpers.
These are two white plastic targets above the right flipper, facing down and to the left.
Light Bounceback
These are three red plastic targets in the center of the lower playfield, facing almost directly left.
Lite Lock
These are two green plastic targets on either side of the No Way Out Hazard.
These are five blue plastic targets on the left side of the lower playfield, facing right. (On early prototypes, these targets are white.)
Lost Mine
This is a kickout above the Left Inlane. Balls come out of here after landing in the Whirlpool.
River Class
These are six lights in the lower left corner of the playfield, representing your current River Class.
Raft Number
These are nine lights in the middle of the playfield; the flashing one represents your current Raft Number, and previously visited Rafts remain lit until you complete Wet Willie's.
This is a kickback on the Left Outlane.
Outlanes and Inlanes
These four lanes have rollover switches, of which only one can be lit at any time. Change the lit lane by flipping. Either flipper moves the light to the right. The lane lights are white.
There are the usual two above the flippers.

Skill Shot

The Skill Shot is hitting Insanity Falls after gently plunging the ball onto the Upper Playfield. Plunging too softly will leave the ball in the plunger lane. Plunging too hard will send it down the Spine Chiller and screaming towards the flippers. If it doesn't hit a slingshot or roll up into an inlane, you haven't scored any points and can let the ball go. It's best to avoid this situation entirely, however. In fact, on L-4 and later ROMs, the Spine Chiller entrance sensor, tripped in either direction, scores 5K points and eliminates the kindness normally offered for a missed first stage of the Skill Shot.

The Skill Shot is worth 1M the first time, 2M the second, and so on, to a maximum of 5M. You have to watch closely to see the value awarded.

Hazards and Rafts

There are nine possible raft values: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and Wet Willie's. You begin the game on Raft #2. You advance to higher rafts by completing lit Hazards. At Raft #2, you must complete one lit Hazard to advance the Raft. At Raft #4, you must complete one or two Hazards - the sequence of number-of-Hazards-needed does not always seem to be consistent. In any case, the number of Hazards needed steadily increases for each raft. Once you have reached and completed Wet Willie's, this sequence starts over, requiring even more Hazards for each advance. All the Hazards you need to advance the Raft are lit at the same time - since there are only seven Hazards, no more than seven are ever required to advance the Raft. On normal settings, the number of Hazards required is typically:

Once you have completed Wet Willie's, you return to Raft #2, and more Hazards (typically an additional two) are needed to advance each Raft.

Advancing the Raft awards 1M times the Raft number you advance to. Both reaching and starting Wet Willie's is considered to be Raft #20 for this purpose (there is no Raft #18, apparently). The Raft number also determines the base Jackpot value for Multiball. The base Jackpot value is 10M plus 1M times the Raft number (and for this purpose, reaching but not starting Wet Willie's is considered to be Raft #18, giving you a base Jackpot value of 28M). For every time you have completed Wet Willie's, the base Jackpot value is an additional 20M,. On L-4 ROMs (possibly others), the maximum base value for the Jackpot is 70M.

Reaching Wet Willie's awards 20M for advancing from Raft #16. However, you don't actually start Wet Willie's until you have completed all of the lit Hazards once more. You know you've reached this stage when Wet Willie's is flashing but not running on the display (see Wet Willie's), or when you hear the quote "Are we there yet?" You may also hear this quote when you start Wet Willie's. Actually starting Wet Willie's, unfortunately, doesn't give any Advance Raft points, although you would expect to receive 20M. (This once screwed me in a Pingolf tournament).

Hitting a lit Hazard is worth the current Hazard Value. This is 500K times the current River Class, to a maximum of 3M. Hitting an unlit Hazard is generally worth 50K (see Miscellaneous Scoring).

You can spot Hazards through Disaster Drops or relighting a lit Bounceback. Doing so behaves as if you had actually hit the Hazard, so that you can collect the Man Overboard value in this fashion (but not Jackpots, Whirlpool Awards, or the Travelling Hazard in Wet Willie's).

The same set of Hazards is lit for each Raft for each player in a multi- player game. That is, if Player 1 has to hit the Spine Chiller and No Way Out to advance to Raft #6, those same Hazards will be lit for Player 2 in the same situation.


The Bounceback is notoriously misbehaved on most Whitewater machines. It's possible for the ball to land and rest on the unfired kicker, and the Ball Search will not fire the Bounceback as part of its search. (However, the fourth Ball Search will kick any locked balls out of No Way Out.)

You can relight the Bounceback by hitting the three red plastic targets facing left in the center of the playfield. Completing these targets while the Bounceback is already lit will spot a Hazard.

The Bounceback is automatically relit at the beginning of regular 3-ball Multiball, but not for other Multiball modes (if it's already lit, this "relighting" does not spot a Hazard).

There is an operator-settable option for the Bounceback to be automatically relit at the beginning of each ball. However, this does not make it easier to spot Hazards by hitting the Lite Bounceback targets. If the Bounceback was not lit at the end of your previous ball and you complete the Lite Bounceback targets on the next ball, you will be awarded Lite Bounceback even though the Bounceback is already lit. Subsequent completions of the targets will behave normally.

Whirlpool Awards

There are six of these awards, and each is represented by a light on the playfield in the Jet Bumper area. The currently lit award is flashing. Previously awarded items remain lit and unavailable until all awards have been completed. The current award is collected by shooting Bigfoot Bluff when lit (that is, when the red light on the sign above it is lit). Light Bigfoot Bluff by shooting Insanity Falls when it is lit (that is, when the yellow light on the sign above it is lit). When the Whirlpool is available (i.e., the yellow or red lights are lit and no Multiball or Whirlpool sequence is underway), every hit on the Jet Bumpers will change the currently lit Whirlpool Award (in sequence). After collecting an award, the next available sequential award is lit. After collecting all six awards, the Whirlpool is reset and Whirlpool Challenge is lit.

Note that hitting Insanity Falls at any time, even if the Whirlpool is unavailable and the yellow light is unlit, will make the Whirlpool available once the current sequence or Multiball has ended, as if you had hit Insanity Falls with the yellow light lit.

In order (from bottom to top), the awards are:

  • Whirlpool Challenge (sequence)
  • Man Overboard (sequence)
  • Light Extra Ball
  • Advance Raft
  • Mystery Canyon
  • 5X Playfield (sequence)
Light Extra Ball is self-explanatory. More than one Extra Ball can be lit at once (one hit on the Extra Ball target is required for each lit Extra Ball). All Extra Balls lit on the target are maintained from ball to ball until collected, except on Hard or Extra Hard settings, in which case all Extra Balls must be collected on the same ball they are lit. You can continue with Whirlpool Awards before collecting the Extra Ball.

Lighting the Extra Ball by any method (Whirlpool Award, Mystery Canyon, or Disaster Drops) earns the quote "Get the extra ball!" from Wet Willie. However, there is a very small chance that he will instead say, "Get the extra ball... YA WIENER!" This never fails to amuse me.

Advance Raft behaves as if you had collected all currently lit Hazards (without awarding the Hazard Value for them). If Bigfoot Bluff is your last Hazard to advance the Raft, and you collect the Advance Raft Whirlpool Award by shooting it, you will advance two Rafts at once. Unlike the Mystery Canyon award of Advance 3 Rafts, the Whirlpool Advance Raft award does award the Raft value.

During all of the Whirlpool Awards which have associated sequences, further Whirlpool Awards are unavailable until the sequence has ended. However, Hazards are lit and can be collected as usual.

When the game begins, Whirlpool Challenge is the current award. When you complete all six awards, Whirlpool Challenge is the current award on the next set, regardless of which award you collected last.

Note that whenever you shoot the lit Whirlpool and the ball is swirling into the Whirlpool, all lights on the playfield cycle in an order corresponding to the six red lights, indicating the swirling of the Whirlpool.

Whirlpool Challenge

This is a two-ball multiball. The object of this mode is to "fill the Whirlpool" with balls. Shoot the Whirlpool by shooting Bigfoot Bluff; Bigfoot will divert the ball. Initially, the Whirlpool is lit for 5M; this increases by 2M for every time you hit it. The exceptions are every sixth hit, when you "complete" the Whirlpool (this is why there are six lights around the exit from the Whirlpool). Completing the Whirlpool is worth 20M the first time, and an additional 20M each subsequent time (that is, 20M, 40M, 60M, 80M, with a final limit of 100M). The Whirlpool Completed value replaces the currently indicated value, yet the value still increases as it would have. I believe the limit to the normal Whirlpool Value is 53M or so (this value repeats).

If you lose one ball without collecting any Whirlpool values, the Whirlpool remains lit for quite a while for a Last Chance at 5M. There is no grace period otherwise. On easy settings, this Last Chance is offered regardless of the current Whirlpool value.

If you put the second ball into play and lose it before the locked ball kicks out of the Lost Mine, you will usually get it back, even though you scored points by tripping a few sensors. You can, in fact, get unlimited free R-I-V-E-R letters using this trick - simply plunge the ball gently, let it roll over the lit right inlane and drain. You'll always get the ball back. (This also applies to the Gold Rush and Multiball Restart.) This is not true with L-4 or newer ROMs, however; hitting any switch will immediately kick the other ball into play.

Starting Whirlpool Challenge is actually dependent on the ball reaching the Lost Mine sensor. If the ball does not do so (usually because the switch in the Whirlpool is flaky and closing when no ball is present), Whirlpool Challenge becomes solidly lit but does not start until the next time a ball is seen in the Lost Mine. This means you can start more than one round at a time under certain conditions!

Man Overboard

"Head for the blinking lights!"
"Head for the blinking light!" (if only one Hazard is currently lit)
This Whirlpool Award makes all currently lit Hazards worth 20M, counting down to 3M. Hitting any of these lit Hazards rescues the Man Overboard and awards the current value. There is a grace period at 3M. Letting this grace period expire or side draining the ball at any point during the sequence earns the quote "Dang, lost another one!"

The 20M initial value is adjustable by the operator.

Note that a side drain earns the quote but does not end the Man Overboard sequence. If you manage a Death Save, the timer will resume and you can still collect the Man Overboard value. You can also hear the side drain quote twice in one ball. Naughty, naughty.

Mystery Canyon

This is a random award, from the "Spirit of the River". Possible awards are:

  • 5M
  • 6M
  • 8M
  • Extra Ball Lit
  • Special
  • Advance to River Class 6
  • Advance 3 Rafts
If you have fewer than 3 Rafts remaining before reaching Wet Willie's, the last award is downgraded appropriately. In Tournament Mode, Mystery Canyon always awards 5M.

The Spirit will not award River Class 6 if you are already at River Class 6. However, it may award River Class 6 if you have already reached it on a previous ball - the Spirit is not concerned about your progress towards the Vacation Bonus.

The Advance Rafts award does not award any of the Raft values.

See also "Cows".

5X Playfield

5X Playfield makes almost all playfield values worth five times as much for a period of twenty-five seconds. There is a slight exception for Multiball Jackpots. On L-3 ROMs (possibly others), this multiplier does not apply to the Vacation Bonus. Combo Shot awards are also not displayed as multiplied, although on L-4 ROMs (possibly others), the multiplied values are awarded. All other values are multiplied by five during this time. Most values which are multiplied are displayed as the multiplied value (with the exception of Boulder Bash). There is no grace period on the 5X Playfield timer - in fact, it ends immediately after it counts to 1 second, rather than to 0 seconds. During Wet Willie's and Bigfoot Hotfoot, the 5X timer is not displayed. During Multiball (including the intro), it is rarely seen but remains active.

Hitting Bigfoot Bluff to award 5X Playfield will immediately multiply the Camera Craze or Hazard Value awarded for Bigfoot Bluff itself, but not the Raft value (if awarded).

See also "Multiball".

Spine Chiller

The only special feature of the Spine Chiller is Multi-Millions. Rolling through the Right Inlane lights Multi-Millions, which is 2M, collected on the Spine Chiller. Rolling through the Right Inlane immediately again after collecting Multi-Millions will light Multi-Millions for 3M. This sequence reaches its maximum at 5M. A relatively slow shot which is nevertheless successful will usually not award Multi-Millions, nor will it qualify as part of a Combo Shot.

During Multiball modes, if there is ball being kicked out of No Way Out when you hit the entrance sensor for the Spine Chiller, the game will logically connect this with the other ball rolling over the Upper Playfield sensor, and will award you the Spine Chiller if it is a lit Hazard. This can be a useful trick.

Note that the Spine Chiller is the only way other than No Way Out (or the plunger, of course) to get a ball to the upper playfield. It is the more difficult of the two shots.

If you hit the Spine Chiller and let the ball go through the Right Inlane immediately afterwards to light Multi-Millions, the first Multi-Millions will be worth 3M, rather than 2M.

See also "Combo Shots".

Boulder Garden

The current value of the Jet Bumpers is determined by the Boulder Garden Hazard. Initially, the Jet Bumpers are worth 50K per hit. For every time you hit the Boulder Garden Hazard over the course of a game, this value increases by 50K, to a maximum of 300K. Every three times you hit the Boulder Garden Hazard, a Boulder Bash begins. This is a twenty second sequence during which Jet Bumpers are worth 500K per hit. The sound effects for this run continuously, rather than in sync with actual Jet Bumper hits. Presumably, the Jet Bumpers award their regular value along with the Boulder Bash value. 5X Playfield does apply to the Boulder value and the Boulder Bash. This once allowed me to obtain an 83M Boulder Bash with little effort.

Disaster Drop

The number of times you hit the Disaster Drop Hazard is counted, and certain awards occur at certain intervals. The sequence is:

  • Spot Hazard at 3
  • Hold Bonus at 6
  • Advance Raft at 9
  • Spot Hazard at every 3 for a while thereafter
Extra Ball Lit is somewhere between 3 and 15 - this is a self-adjusting value. Unfortunately, the Status Report only indicates when the Extra Ball will be lit, and hitting the Disaster Drop only indicates when the next award comes. As a result, there is often some uncertainty about what will next be awarded by the Disaster Drop. There is a second Extra Ball Lit at 60 Disaster Drops; this appears to be a fixed value. On hard settings, there is no second Extra Ball from Disaster Drop.

When the Extra Ball Lit award falls on a multiple of 3, it appears that the regular award at that value is overridden. This is most unfortunate.

Past a certain number of Disaster Drops, the Spot Hazard award becomes less frequent, eventually coming at multiples of 10 Drops, with the last Spot Hazard being awarded at 100 Drops, with another promised at 255 Drops! If you actually reach 255 Drops, the game stops counting, and every subsequent Drop spots a Hazard.

Note that Hold Bonus does absolutely nothing on any Whitewater machine I have seen or heard of. The Bonus is computed from factors which are already maintained from ball to ball, and the River Class is never held from one ball to the next, even with Hold Bonus. Also, having Bonus Held on the last ball of a game does not award the bonus twice.

See also End-of-Ball Bonus.

Secret Passage

"You found the Secret Passage!"
Rolling over this switch immediately advances the Raft value. A ball which wanders up into the Secret Passage and back down through it as well will advance two Rafts. This is true at all times, including Multiball. If Wet Willie's is running, advancing the Raft by this method yields the appropriate sound effect and quote but has no other useful effect.

The Secret Passage will also collect the Man Overboard value when that sequence is running. However, some people have told me otherwise. This very likely depends on your ROMs.

Combo Shots

The Two Way Combo is Spine Chiller to Insanity Falls, worth 2M.

There are several possible Three Way Combos, each worth 5M. One is Spine Chiller to Insanity Falls to No Way Out. Another is Spine Chiller to Insanity Falls to Disaster Drop. Spine Chiller to Insanity Falls to Boomerang Bend also qualifies.

On newer machines, there is a Four Way Combo for 8M. It is Spine Chiller to Insanity Falls to No Way Out to Insanity Falls. On older machines, the Four Way Combo awards 10M.

On newer machines, there is a Five Way Combo for 10M. It is the Four Way Combo followed by Disaster Drop or Boomerang Bend. Note that all of these Combos are built upon simpler Combos, so the values add up to more than it seems. The Five Way Combo is effectively worth at least 25M.

Note that Combos can only be obtained by hitting the actual targets in the appropriate order, with little delays and no intervening targets (except the Left Inlane switch and possibly the Lite Lock targets). You cannot get Combos by spotting Hazards. You also cannot get Combos during Multiball.

All Combos begin with the Spine Chiller.

River Class

The River Class acts as a Bonus Multiplier and the multiplier for the Hazard Value. You must also advance to a Class Six River in order to collect the Vacation Bonus. You can spot letters in R-I-V-E-R in two ways. Hitting the plastic targets on the left side of the playfield will spot any unlit letter which is hit. Rolling through any lit Inlane will also spot the first unlit letter in the word. Completing R-I-V-E-R advances the River Class. There is apparently no way to maintain your River Class from one ball to the next (Hold Bonus has no effect). However, the R-I-V-E-R letters are maintained from one ball to the next, strangely enough.

Remember, the light on the Inlanes and Outlanes is steerable with the flippers. Either flipper moves the light to the right. Flipping both flippers simultaneously moves the light twice (ie, there's no exclusion on the flipping). The Left Outlane is lit at the beginning of each ball. Outlanes are worth 250K when lit, and do not spot R-I-V-E-R letters.

The Hazard Value is 500K times the current River Class.

Wet Willie's

Once you have advanced the Raft while on Raft #16, you must complete all Hazards one more time in order to reach Wet Willie's. Effectively, you are advancing from Raft #18 to Raft #20 - it isn't clear why there is no Raft #18 light on the playfield. You can more easily reach Wet Willie's by using one of the several shortcuts to advance the Raft to #20.

When you reach Wet Willie's, he will appear on the display and call out, "Welcome to Wet Willie's!" You will then be in Stage 1 of Wet Willie's. At this point, all Hazards are lit and worth 10M when collected. Once you have collected all seven Hazards, Stage 2 of Wet Willie's begins. In Stage 2, a single Travelling Hazard is lit, moving from Hazard to Hazard. Each Hazard remains lit for approximately three seconds before the next Hazard becomes lit instead. The sequence of lit Hazards repeats. If you do not collect the lit Hazard within 25 seconds, Wet Willie's ends and you are returned to Raft #2.

Collecting the Travelling Hazard is worth a cool 100M (or 50M on very early ROMs). The Hazards are lit in the following order: Disaster Drop, No Way Out, Spine Chiller, Boulder Garden, Insanity Falls, Bigfoot Bluff, and Boomerang Bend. 25 seconds is not long enough to go through this sequence twice - Stage 2 expires after the Travelling Hazard reaches No Way Out for the second time.

Stage 1 is maintained between balls - if you drain, your next ball will resume the sequence where you left off. However, draining during Stage 2 will end Wet Willie's and return you to Raft #2.

There is no Stage 3.

Note that if you lock a ball during Stage 2 of Wet Willie's, the hazard will continue to travel and the timer will continue to count down! It is usually wise to avoid locking a ball during Stage 2.

Wet Willie's is considered a "mode" for some purposes - you cannot start the Gold Rush or spot items, and you cannot collect Whirlpool Awards. However, you can light Locks and start Multiball; Wet Willie's and Multiball are not at all mutually exclusive. You can start Multiball while in Wet Willie's (preferably Stage 1), and you can reach and start Wet Willie's while in Multiball.

There shouldn't be any grace periods on Stage 2 of Wet Willie's, but there is one (perhaps unintentional) one. If you shoot No Way Out while Disaster Drop is lit for 100M, the machine will pause. During that pause, the Hazard travels to No Way Out and awards the 100M!

Bigfoot Hotfoot

Completing the two Hotfoot targets enough times (normally 3 or 4, but it may be as high as 14 or as low as 2, depending on settings and reflexing) will start a Bigfoot Hotfoot. This sequence lasts 20 seconds and uses only the ball currently in play. During this time, Bigfoot is distracted and you can sneak into his cave. Bigfoot Bluff awards the Bigfoot Jackpot, and Bigfoot will not divert the ball into the Whirlpool. Instead, the ball will quickly be fed to the Right Inlane, from where you can shoot the ball to the upper playfield for another Bigfoot Jackpot.

The Bigfoot Jackpot awards 10M, and spots items for the Lost Mine. If all three items for the Lost Mine have already been collected (either via the Lost Mine or Bigfoot Hotfoot), the next items are a Camera and a Cow. Further Bigfoot Jackpots award only the 10M. Completing a Gold Rush resets your items.

The sequence actually lasts for 20 seconds, but by the time the opening animation has completed and you realise that Hotfoot is underway, there's usually only 16 seconds left on the timer. The timer does pause for the kickout from No Way Out. You can get six or seven Bigfoot Jackpots during a single Hotfoot if you're consistent and careful.

Because the Hotfoot timer pauses, the 5X Playfield timer will also pause along with it if you have both running at once. This makes it very easy to get 50M for each Bigfoot Jackpot. This is probably a limitation of the software.

"Hey, a flashlight!"
"Hey, a map!"
"Hey, a key!"
"Hey, a camera!"
"Hey, a... COW?!"

Camera Craze

Once you have collected the Camera from the Bigfoot Hotfoot sequence, a Camera Craze is active. For the rest of the ball, all Hazards except No Way Out are worth 3M and a quick Polaroid of Bigfoot in some goofy pose. No Way Out is most likely excluded from this mode because it's too easy to shoot it repeatedly.

There is a distinctive sound effect for Camera Craze. You are awarded the 3M Camera Craze even for Multiball Jackpot shots. Note also that the value becomes 15M during 5X Playfield.

Lost Mine

Hitting the ball into the Lost Mine, except during Multiball modes and Whirlpool Award sequences, spots items needed for the Gold Rush. Once all three items (flashlight, map, and key) have been collected, either via the Lost Mine or the Bigfoot Hotfoot, hitting the Lost Mine (except during Multiball modes and Whirlpool Award sequences) starts the Gold Rush. This is a two-ball multiball, during which all switches immediately award 250K. Hazards can be collected as normally. The Gold Rush ends when one or both balls drain.

The Gold Rush can be used to get free R-I-V-E-R letters using the same trick that is described under Whirlpool Challenge (except on L-4 or newer ROMs).

Note that hitting the Lost Mine to spot the third item will do so and also immediately starts the Gold Rush, rather than requiring an additional hit. This means that collecting the third item (the key) via the Bigfoot Hotfoot is pointless unless you also collect the Camera and/or Cow (of course, the 10M or 50M is nice, too).

Depending on reflexing, your game may begin with the Flashlight spotted. If you complete the Gold Rush, it will reset to the items you began with. That is, if the machine spots the Flashlight at the beginning of the game, it will spot it towards the second Gold Rush as well.

It is possible, unfortunately, to start the Gold Rush while the game is Tilted, if the ball happens to bounce up into the Lost Mine after you Tilt. Please don't ask me how I found this out. This essentially loses all of your items.

"It's dark in here!"
"Try this flashlight!"
"Which way do we go?"
"Here's a map!"
"This door's locked!"
"Try this key!"
"It's a Gooooold Ruuuuush!!"
Worth noting: Wet Willie's dog barks sometimes during the Gold Rush. The only other time he contributes is when you press Start to add the fourth player to a game.


You must lock all three balls at No Way Out in order to start three-ball Multiball. Under most difficulty settings, lighting the Locks the first time in a game will only require hitting each green target ("Lite" and "Lock") once. The second time will require hitting each target twice. The third and later locks require hitting each target only two times, but a flashing target will time out if you do not complete the other target within a few seconds.

Specifically, the first locks go unlit to lit. The second go unlit to flashing to lit. The third go unlit to lit to flashing, but if only one is flashing, it will time out. The meaning of a flashing light is unfortunately inconsistent for different Multiballs.

Locking a third ball at No Way Out is the only way to start three-ball multiball. During Multiball, Insanity Falls is lit for the Whitewater Jackpot, which has a base value of 10M plus 1M times the current Raft number. More accurately, the base value is 10M, increased by 2M for every time you have advanced the Raft. If you have completed Wet Willie's and advanced again to Raft #6, for example, your base value is 36M.

All three balls are fed to the upper right flipper. How many of these balls successfully go through Insanity Falls determines whether you will be collecting Single, Double, or Triple Jackpots for the rest of that Multiball. If none or only one ball makes the Falls, you will be collecting regular Whitewater Jackpots. If two make it, you will be collecting Double Jackpots. If all three make it, you will be collecting Triple Jackpots. The first ball is a Single Jackpot, the second a Double, and the third a Triple, and later balls do not increase the multiplier.

On most Whitewater machines (depending on ROM revision and difficulty settings), there are exceptions for Multiball during 5X Playfield. On some machines, 5X simply does not apply to Jackpots, but 5X runs normally otherwise. On new, "normal" machines (L-3 ROMs), all Jackpots scored during the 5X Playfield timer are 5X but not Double or Triple. There is only enough time to get four or five 5X Jackpots, because the timer runs even during the Multiball animation, effectively draining 9-10 seconds from the timer. After 5X ends, Jackpots return to the Single, Double, or Triple value, depending on how many were scored initially. On some older machines, 5X does not make any such exceptions, and Jackpots can be collected at 5X, 10X, and 15X the base value. This is an abomination and should be strenuously protested.

There are booming sound effects after each collected Jackpot - one boom for regular Whitewater Jackpots, two booms for Double Jackpots, three booms for Triple Jackpots, and five booms for 5X Jackpots. These are the same sounds used in The Addams Family.

The 5X Jackpot is accompanied by a fantastic ululating scream from Wet Willie, which is also used at the end of the Vacation Bonus.

Hazards remain lit during Multiball, and you can advance the Raft in the usual fashion. Doing so will increase your Jackpot value appropriately.

The Bounceback is automatically relit at the beginning of regular Multiball, unless it was flashing to time out when you lock the third ball. There is a bug in that case - the Bounceback does not get relit, yet the game thinks it's lit, yet it will not kick balls back. Specifically, for the rest of that ball, completing the red targets to relight the Bounceback will spot a Hazard, as if the Bounceback were already lit. The Bounceback will not function, and at the beginning of the next ball, the Bounceback is lit.

When two of the three balls drain (or all of them, for that matter), Multiball ends as soon as the drained balls are detected. Although the light remains lit on Insanity Falls for a bit longer, there is actually not any useful grace period. Cruel, isn't it?

If you do poorly in Multiball - specifically, if you do not score any Jackpots and Multiball lasts only a short while (this appears to be a reflexing feature), No Way Out will be lit to restart the Multiball. While the Restart is lit (for 20 seconds), the Whirlpool Awards will still be unavailable. Hitting No Way Out for the restart (no, you cannot spot No Way Out to collect the restart) will start a two-ball regular Multiball, during which all Jackpots will be regular Jackpots - you cannot get Double Jackpots by shooting both balls up Insanity Falls immediately.

By the way, I think the coolest music in Whitewater is when you hit No Way Out to restart Multiball and you have the second ball in the plunger lane. You get to clearly hear the most frantic Multiball music.

Vacation Bonus

The Vacation Bonus, or Vacation Jackpot, is possibly the coolest award ever in pinball history. In order to collect it, you must complete the Vacation Planner, which is displayed on three occasions: in the Status Report, when you hit the unlit Whirlpool, and when you hit No Way Out when any one of the first three sections of the Planner have been completed. There are four sections to the Vacation Planner.

(Note - older machines almost never display the Vacation Planner. It is a big secret in these machines. I actually prefer it that way. It was certainly more amusing to discover it by accident.)

The first section is River Class. You must reach River Class Six at some point during the game, either through a Mystery Canyon award or by completing R-I-V-E-R five times on a single ball.

The second section is Wet Willie's. You must start (but not necessarily complete) Wet Willie's at some point during the game.

The third section is the Boulder Garden. You must collect all six Whirlpool Awards at some point during the game.

The fourth section is the Locks. You must light all three Locks and lock all three balls in order to collect the Vacation Bonus. Contrary to my earlier statements, locking the balls does not necessarily require the maximum difficulty method of lighting the Locks. Locks can be lit in the usual fashion - if you manage to reach the Vacation Bonus without ever starting Multiball, the Locks will be especially easy. However, this is highly unlikely. At best, you can hope to collect the Vacation Bonus with the second Multiball.

Once you have completed the first three sections of the planner, locked two balls, and have the third Lock lit, just lock the ball in No Way Out. The machine will go dead, pause, sound a fire alarm, and display several frames from many animations in the game, along with quick rap-style cuts from all the quotes, ending with a display of the value awarded and the long yell from the 5X Jackpot. Next, the game quietly displays the current number of credits, and increases it by one (that is, it awards Special along with the Vacation Bonus). Next, Multiball starts, and your base Jackpot value will be at least 30M (because you have reached Wet Willie's).

The machine will also sometimes display the "TESTING..." power-on message before and/or after displaying the Credits value when awarding the Special at the end of the Vacation Bonus animation.

Note that if you are at Wet Willie's or at River Class Six when you collect the Vacation Bonus, those sections will be marked as complete on the Vacation Planner for the next Vacation Bonus. However, when Wet Willie's ends, it will disappear from the next Vacation Planner, although River Class Six will not. This makes it possible to collect more than one Vacation Bonus on a single ball, which I have verified :)

The Vacation Bonus base value is 200M. It is increased by 10K at the end of every game played. The only time you can see the Vacation Bonus value is as part of the attract mode on newer machines. On L-3 ROMs, it is not possible to apply the 5X Playfield to the Vacation Bonus - the game merely awards the 200M+change value.

Note: there seems to be some sort of unusual bug which very rarely sets the Vacation Bonus value to exactly 799M. I have actually collected this value (sweet!), and have heard that it's been seen on at least one other machine as well. It seems unlikely that exactly 59,900 consecutive non-Vacation games had been played on two different machines...

End-of-Ball Bonus

The bonus collected at the end of every ball is:

[(50K * Lit Hazards Collected) +
(75K * Rafts Advanced) +
(100K * Whirlpool Awards Collected)] *
River Class
One problem with this award is that the calculations the game displays are almost always INCORRECT! Very often, you'll see something like:
13 Hazards * 50K = 750K
The most reasonable explanation I have seen offered for this is that the counts used in the computation are totals between all players, not just the current player. This does not, however, explain scoring errors in single- player games.

There are other problems in which parts of the Bonus Total are mysteriously doubled, and the Bonus as reported in the Status Report often has nothing at all to do with reality. It all gets even worse in multiplayer games.

Miscellaneous Scoring

Lit outlanes are worth 250K. Unlit outlanes are worth 75K. Most other plastic targets are worth 50K or thereabouts. Unlit Hazards are worth 50K (I think). Slingshots are worth 110 points, in order to affect the tens digit for matching. The entrance sensor to the Insanity Falls ramp is worth 50K. The entrance sensor to the Bigfoot Bluff ramp is worth 5K. The entrance sensor to the Spine Chiller is worth 5K. Unlit Inlanes are worth 50K. Lit Inlanes are worth 150K, or 500K if you complete R-I-V-E-R with that Inlane.

Some of these are approximate, some are guesses. A few may be correct. Does it really matter?


There are three occurrences of Cows in Whitewater. The first is the fifth item found in Bigfoot's Cave during Bigfoot Hotfoot. Once you have collected that Cow, collecting the Mystery Canyon as a Whirlpool Award the next time during that game will replace the usual Whirlpool animation with a picture of the Spirit pulling a string on the legless Cow, which "MOO"s rather loudly. The picture is labeled "The Secret of the Cow". This picture also appears briefly in the Vacation Bonus award.

The Secret of the Cow is not worth any special points, despite my earlier claim that it was worth 10M.

The third cow in Whitewater is the famous Dueling Cows display, which can be obtained during attract mode. Make sure there are no credits on the machine. It may be necessary to power-cycle first on some machines. Then, press the flipper buttons and start button in the following sequence:

3L 1S 15R 1S 23L 1S
That spells COW. Try it.

Tips, Tricks, Strategies

It's commonly said that all one has to do to get high scores on Whitewater is shoot whatever is lit or flashing at the time. Although this is true to a certain extent, some planning and strategy will invariably yield more consistent and higher scores.

Note that the Jackpot Value in Multiball is based on your current Raft number, and that later Multiballs are harder to start (because Locks become more difficult to light). Therefore, you should probably avoid Multiball for a while, and concentrate instead on Whirlpool Awards and collecting lit Hazards. Since Whirlpool Challenge is the first Whirlpool Award, you should start there.

There are two strategies for maximum points in Whirlpool Challenge, and they are dependent on proper behavior of the Lost Mine kickout. You should be able to either dead-catch the ball on the right flipper, or hold the right flipper up and let the ball roll up into the Right Inlane (in which case you should adjust the lit lane accordingly in order to collect one or two free R-I-V-E-R letters). One strategy is to keep both balls in play, constantly hitting No Way Out and then the Whirlpool, paying attention to the sound effects in order to know where the next ball will be coming. The sound effect for a ball being fed from No Way Out to the Upper Playfield is a shrill sound taken directly from Comet. The other strategy requires catching one ball on the left flipper at some point. You can then hold that ball while repeatedly hitting No Way Out and the Whirlpool, then catching the ball from the Lost Mine and repeating the sequence until you slip up. I have seen as much as 880M collected from the Whirlpool Challenge alone. (Note: there are also strobe lights which go along with the sound warnings.)

It may help to nudge the machine forward as the ball is being kicked out of the Lost Mine in order to make it land fairly. If the kickout is irregular or too powerful, advise your operator (good luck).

It is somewhat dangerous to shoot the Lost Mine for Gold Rush or the Hotfoot targets for Bigfoot Hotfoot, but with enough play time, you will eventually start these sequences more or less by accident. Hotfoot is especially nice during 5X Playfield, so keep an eye on how close you are to getting it.

The Extra Ball target is extremely difficult to hit, and dangerous besides. One degree of insurance when going for this target is to start any Multiball (regular, Whirlpool Challenge, or Gold Rush) and risk draining one ball by shooting for it. The hardest part is regaining control of the ball after shooting this target.

There are at least seven strategies for actually attempting to hit the Extra Ball target (as opposed to hoping the ball will wander up there):

  1. You can straight shoot it from the left flipper.
  2. You can backhand it from the right flipper as the ball is kicked out from the Lost Mine (I don't like this technique; it's fast and dangerous).
  3. You can hold the right flipper up as the ball is fed from the Upper Playfield to the Right Inlane, letting it roll over to the tip of the left flipper, where it may (should) be in the perfect position for straight shooting the target.
  4. You can nudge the machine forward as the ball is bouncing at the top of the right slingshot; this can often push the ball right up into the Extra Ball target.
  5. You can nudge the machine as the ball is hit by the left slingshot, which may kick the ball across to the target.
  6. You can catch the ball on the right flipper, twitch the flipper so that the ball rolls up the inlane slightly and then down to the middle of the flipper, from where you can neatly backhand the target (this is my favorite method right now; it looks really cool).
  7. You can also shoot the ball from the very tip of the left flipper, up the Right Inlane and into the Extra Ball target. This is tricky and rarely works, but it sure does look cool.
At the beginning of Multiball, ignore balls that have already successfully come down Insanity Falls. Concentrate on getting the second and third balls up Insanity Falls to earn Double and Triple Jackpots. You'll be very sorry if you settle for regular Jackpots, and end up hitting thirty of them during that Multiball. You will almost certainly lose the first ball if you concentrate on getting the Triple Jackpot. It may help to hold the left flipper up - the lower right flipper will be active because you're shooting Insanity Falls, and this may knock the first two balls up into play. The number of balls currently in play (two or three) does not affect your Jackpot value in any way.

If you miss the first or second shot at Insanity Falls, let that ball go. You have almost no chance of getting it up Insanity Falls, and it will be in the way of the second and/or third balls coming from No Way Out. Also, if you let the first ball go and shoot it immediately into No Way Out, the game may decide that one of its No Way Out kickouts failed, and you will get a fourth attempt at increasing the Jackpot Value. This also means that if No Way Out is a lit Hazard and you hit it from below when the game is kicking a ball out above, it may decide that it was merely a failed kickout, and you will not be awarded that Hazard.

Hitting Insanity Falls or Bigfoot Bluff is best done with a solid slap on the flipper. Without that extra bit of force, the sweet spot, especially for Insanity Falls, is extremely narrow. If you get warnings from shooting Insanity Falls (assuming you aren't actually moving the machine), your machine is set too sensitively. Complain.

Keep an eye on how many Disaster Drops you have collected. There is an Extra Ball between 3 and 15, and it's also useful for spotting the more difficult Hazards such as the Spine Chiller and Boomerang Bend, and for advancing one of the last (difficult) Rafts.

Note that Man Overboard applies to the Hazards which are already lit. Therefore, it's best to collect this when relatively easy Hazards are lit. You can also spot a Hazard and this will award the Man Overboard value.

Beware that a solid shot at No Way Out, particularly backhanded from the left flipper, may rattle around and slowly drift back out. Wait for the sound effects or graphics before you back off from the machine after locking a ball. If the ball does rattle around and drop back down, it should come to the tip of the left flipper. A careful shot will put it gently back into No Way Out as originally intended.

Beware that a very fast shot at Disaster Drop may jam against the Hazard sensor and come back around the loop, usually right towards the center drain. This baffles me, but it does happen occasionally. It usually helps to shake the machine a bit from side to side if you know the ball is coming back down Disaster Drop, so you can avoid the center drain. A small side to side or forward nudge also helps as the ball comes out of Disaster Drop after completing it successfully - this helps keep the ball off of the left slingshot, so you can maintain control and shoot Disaster Drop again if you wish.

You can also shoot Disaster Drop from either flipper. A careful shot from the right flipper has the added advantage that the ball may brush one or more of the Lite Bounceback targets.

There are certain situations where the game will kick out a locked ball from No Way Out even though there is a ball available for the plunger lane. Specifically, if you lock a ball and there is already one more locked from another player than you have locked, it will kick out a locked ball in order to bring your Locks in line with the other players' Locks. For Whirlpool Challenge, you will always receive the ball at the plunger lane if one is available. Otherwise, the Lost Mine kickout usually fires first, before the No Way Out kickout (rather unfair).

I've never purposely shot for the Boulder Bash. It tends to happen a few times over the course of the game. It can be nice during 5X Playfield.

Note that, depending on your difficulty settings and the skill of the average player on your machine, the Bigfoot's Cave sensor, which is only reachable during Bigfoot Hotfoot, may often remain untriggered for 90 balls, which causes the machine to assume that the sensor may be faulty. This is the most common cause of a "." being displayed after "CREDITS" or "FREE PLAY" on Whitewater machines, and it can obscure anything else that might be wrong with the machine.

If the Bigfoot's Cave sensor has been judged out-of-order by the machine, the rules are adjusted, and you are awarded a Bigfoot Jackpot for shooting Bigfoot Bluff during Hotfoot, before the ball reaches the Bigfoot's Cave sensor. This means that if the sensor is in fact working, you will receive credit for two Bigfoot Jackpots the first time you hit it. The game will then re-adjust its rules to normal.

The most important shot in the game is No Way Out. You need to be able to hit this shot from either flipper at almost any time, and often you will benefit from hitting it without even looking at the ball (ie, during Multiball when you're concentrating on shooting Jackpots on the Upper Playfield). The next most important shot would be Insanity Falls. The Bigfoot Bluff shot is actually rather easy.

Note that the value of the Vacation Bonus is easily overshadowed by the Double and Triple Jackpots in the ensuing Multiball, which will be at least 60M and 90M, respectively. But you definitely shouldn't pass up the Vacation Bonus - it's too cool to be missed.

5X Playfield may actually be somewhat wasted on Multiball under the correct scoring rules. It's especially nice to have 5X Playfield during Wet Willie's. Otherwise, try to collect it when you have only one Hazard remaining to advance to a high Raft number. This can be worth as much as 100M (for reaching, but not for starting, Wet Willie's).

If you want to attempt to get a 5X Vacation Bonus, you must reach and complete Wet Willie's, the entire Boulder Garden, and reach River Class Six. Your best chance comes when you have Bigfoot Bluff lit for the 5X Playfield Whirlpool Award, two balls locked, and the third Lock already lit for the Vacation Bonus. At this point, you have two ways of getting the ball to the Upper Playfield to start 5X Playfield. One is to shoot the Spine Chiller - this is a bit risky, since it is a difficult shot and in your attempt to regain control of a missed shot, you may accidentally collect the Vacation Bonus by hitting No Way Out. The other alternative is to let the current ball drain! On the next ball (assuming you have one ;), plunge the ball to the Upper Playfield and collect 5X Playfield. Catch the kickout from the Lost Mine... and shoot for a 5X Vacation Bonus. Note that this does NOT award 1B on L-3 ROMs, but on older ROMs, anything is possible.

There is an Insanity Record maintained, representing the person who hit Insanity Falls (lit or unlit) the most times over the course of a single game. It isn't worth anything remarkable except to have your initials there. The only way to know how many "Waterfalls" you've collected is to hit the unlit Insanity Falls and see it as part of the graphics. When I say "unlit", I mean as a Hazard, not the yellow light.


Most of these have been provided by Dan Farris, farris@cig.mot.com, and some of them have been noted elsewhere in the rulesheet.

Bonus and Hold Bonus are thoroughly messed up.

Second Whirlpool challenge on the same ball starts with balls already whirling in the animation, and with whirlpool lights lit. Shoot whirlpool, and these are corrected, showing one in both places.

Start Multiball during Bounceback timeout. The bounceback light goes out and never relights. At this point, the three red standups will always award a hazard instead of relighting the bounceback.

5X combos don't display correct values, but seem to award 5X.

What is the algorithm for determining which Lost Mine items are "given" when starting a game? Seems that installing new ROMs randomly changes this. Perhaps memory is not initialized properly. Factory reset also seems to affect this.

Kickback memory adjustment is documented wrong. Kickback memory=YES, actually turns it on at the start of every ball. Kickback memory=NO, means remember the state from ball to ball. This adjustment would be better called "Kickback Relight".

When entering initials, after doing a backspace, the cursor moves back to the previous letter, as indicated by blinking that letter. Pressing the flipper buttons changes the letter to either the backspace or "A". It should continue up or down the alphabet from where it initially was. Same thing applies when entering Insanity Record. Default is typically the same initials as already entered on high score list, but when moving, the cursor goes back to "A".

Sound & Music test doesn't play raft 1 music, plays plunger music. Take Picture sound effect is also incorrect. (Plays bounceback sound)

Tilt during Bigfoot Hotfoot doesn't stop the bigfoot head from continually rotating. It also leaves "HOTFOOT IN 0" in the status display and causes "HOTFOOT IN 255" when both hotfoot targets are again hit. This causes an interesting strategy. If bigfoot hotfoot is running, the player could tilt, then easily restart hotfoot on the next ball. It might be worth it if 5X were available at the boulder garden.

Tilt during last ball stops the waterfall lights and they do not start up again for the attract mode.

Hitting Disaster Drop to start Wet Willie's also awards the first shot toward completing Wet Willie's. None of the other shots do that.

Letting the "Enter Initials" mode time out when achieving the high score table causes the high score table to reset to the default values! Doing this during a 4 player game can allow other players to also get credits awarded, if their scores were high enough to beat the default values.

After entering initials after achieving a high score, the display shows "Grand Champion", even though this was not the highest score ever achieved. It should show "Best Rafter" or "River Master" in order to be consistent with the terminology used in the game.

When setting replay or extra ball thresholds, the maximum value is only 500M. This is too low.

Dan also once described a situation in which he shot the Advance Raft Whirlpool Award to start Wet Willie's, but Bigfoot failed to divert the ball. He drained, and at the start of the next ball, the Rafts were all reset and he hadn't received credit for Wet Willie's. No Vacation Jackpot that time...


My own Insanity Record is 31. My own River Master score is 2,323,313,000. Without Tilt, my records are 58 and 4802M, with 163 lit Hazards collected.

Thanks to everyone who has sent notes and information which has contributed to this Guide.

And don't forget to visit the Pinball Archive.

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