Crime Scene Investigation (CSI)



CSI was released in 2009, designed by Pat Lawler with a rich art package by John Youssi and Margaret Hudson. The Lawlar/Youssi combination has worked its magic on top games from the past such as Adams Family and Twilight Zone. David Thiel worked on the sounds and the software is by Lonnie Ropp, Lyman Sheats and Keith P. Johnson. Between them this is a team with many excellent games behind them.

CSI has a very original playfield layout and very deep and complicated multiballs. It is not a mode based and is lots of fun!

Playfield Description

The CSI playfield is packed full of goodies. It has a saucer just above the flippers with toys, lanes and targets spread all over the place. It also seems less 3 dimensional than most recent games, due to only having one short ramp, the skull ramp at the top of the field.

As the game itself says "this is a game of 3's". 3 flippers, 3 bumpers, 3 multiballs, 3 drop targets and 3 interactive toys all on one playfield! No wonder the field looks full. Fitting all this in is where Pat Lawlor's design talent really shines. An example is the looping Suspect Shakedown loop, which contains a spinner, 2 up- posts (to control balls travelling in different directions), a non return gate and an exit gate and that is all in just one lane. It may look crowded it plays nice and smooth.

Playfield tour, starting from the bottom and moving around clockwise:

The usual two flipper, sling and out-lane arrangement but with three in-lanes that are used to spell CSI, two left and one on the right. As a result the flipper alignment is slightly off set to the right of centre.

Important indicator lights are above and between the flippers. There are 3 different coloured rows of 5 Evidence lights that tell you how much evidence you have collected. There is also a column of 3 award lights below the saucer and 3 lamps and between the flippers that indicate when you have completed the 3 multiballs. See "playing the game" to find out why these are important.

Note: Collecting Evidence is achieved by completing major game shots when indicated by their own sets of 3 coloured indicator lights.

Above the left flipper and 1/3 of the way up the play field is the Lab Saucer; beside it on its left is the first of 5 Bullet Targets. Moving further left on the side of the game is a set of 3 DNA drop targets. Already this is an unusual layout but it gets stranger as above the saucer is a mini flipper that can shoot balls diagonally across the playfield to the top right area.

The "Suspect Shakedown" spinner lane loops up and around the left and back of the mini flipper and in front of a Skull, which is a dominant feature on the playfield. When the lane is hit it feeds the ball though a gate into a small self contained bumper area, which in turn feeds the ball to the mini-flipper. The Skull above locks balls in its eyes and when these balls are released they travel down the same path, through a gate and the bumpers to eventually reach the small flipper.

The Skull rises up during play to lock balls in its eye sockets for Skull Multiball and is fed by the only ramp in the game.

To the right of the bumpers is the Centrifuge spinning disk which can be hit by a shot from either of the lower flippers. This is used for-you guessed it, for Centrifuge Multiball! The centrifuge spins the all or occasionally balls round pretty quickly and can at times acts like a shaker motor.

To the left of the entrance of the Centrifuge is a 2nd Bullet Target. By shooting past the right of the centrifuge you can make a long smooth ramp shot, which then either feeds balls for Skull Locks when lit or back to the right flipper by rails when not lit. Lamps at the entrance to the ramp indicate when locks are lit.

The Finger Print Spinner is to the right of the ramp entrance and is another long shot from the lower flippers. It turns the ball sharply left into the right hand entrance of the Suspect Shakedown lane, which feeds the bumpers and small flipper.

Top right is the Morgue sink hole that is used for the skill shot. The ball entrance and skill shot lane lane is up the right hand side of the table. If you plunge it to hard the ball loops around to the shakedown lane and the bumpers.

The same sink hole and VUK can be accessed from the right, from where it becomes the AV Lab. It can be accessed either by shots from the small flipper or lucky bounces in that area. Below that are the two more Bullet Targets that face left for small flipper shots.

Directly below the sink hole is the model Microscope and below that an associated horseshoe lane, which can be hit from both directions. It contains a magnet that holds the ball for examination and it registers locks for Microscope Multiball. In between the entrances is the last Bullet Target.

Below that is a very wide right loop shot and finally the manual and auto plungers that sends balls into play up the right of the playfield when appropriate.

Rules (software revision 2.4):

Skill shot, Morgue and AV lab sink hole: Skill shot and Morgue scores start at 500K and when lit subsequent shots increase by 100k each time they are scored though out the game. AV Lab awards are also collected here in single ball play and include: 250K, light special (in the out lane), light extra ball (at the saucer) and point awards that start at 325k and increase by 25k thereafter.

Skull multiball: Progress towards Skull MB is indicated by lights at the entrance of the skull ramp. First time around, this is done by hitting the ramp once to light a lock rising up the skull in the playfield and then hitting it again to lock the ball. Once both balls are locked in the skull eye sockets, the balls are released for multiball. This becomes progressively more difficult to do through out the game as it takes more ramp shots to light the lock each time.

Skull MB has 4 levels to complete:

  • Level 1: you need to shoot 6 shots that are indicated by yellow arrows for 250K each.
  • Level 2: lights 6 bullet targets for 500k each
  • Level 3 you need to shoot the skull for 750K and repeat within 5 seconds with the 2nd ball for another 750K.
  • Level 4: the Morgue and right loop are lit for a 1m and the completion of Skill MB.
You then go back to level 1 and continue cycling through the levels until for as long as you can keep more than one ball in play.

Centrifuge multiball: Hitting the ball into the centrifuge allows it to spin the ball around for a short time on a spinning disk. Each spin scores 100 points count down the number of spins required to start multiball. First time around it takes about 100 spins to reach zero and the number of spins necessary increases progressively each time you start MB though out the game. Once the spins count reaches zero, the ball is released and the centrifuge becomes a ball lock. Hitting it again triggers an up-post in the entrance that locks the ball. A 2nd ball is auto-plunged into play to start MB.

With one ball in the Centrifuge you can now build up the jackpot for 20 seconds in 3 ways. You can add 250 points for each switch hit with the ball in play, you can also spin the ball trapped in the centrifuge by pumping the flipper buttons to increase the bonus by 100 points per spin (see Big Wow) or the 3rd option is to hit the centrifuge up post to release the captive ball to start multiball immediately. If you loose the live ball while one is trapped in the centrifuge, then multiball fails to start and you have to do this all again but lets assume you don't.

With two balls now in play it is time to start collecting your jackpots at whatever value you have managed to set. If you collect a jackpot another shot is lit for a short time for a double jackpot and if that is collected a triple jackpot is briefly lit. If you don't collect them quick enough they revert back to single Jackpots. A triple award counts as completing the MB.

During Centrifuge MB it is also possible to score "Super Spins" by shooting the Centrifuge. Once the ball is inside it awards 15k per spin. This increases by 1,250 subsequently each time you hit the Centrifuge for Super Spin. There is also a multiplier that increases to match you highest jackpot since your last Super Spin e.g. if it's a single jackpot it in 1x and if a triple would give 3x. It always returns to 1x once Super Spin is collected.

Big Wow: Pump the flipper buttons to make the ball in the centrifuge fly around and the jackpot values increase. You can do this until the whole machine shakes. It's awesome to do this while running stacked multiballs and trying to keep the live balls in play.

Microscope multiball: This is "the mother of all multiball modes" and to complete it you need to complete 6 distinct stages and make at least 23 shots with more than one ball in play.

Before you can start MB you need to collect enough "Evidence". Shooting the Microscope loop will light evidence at all the major shots of the game. There are 3 colours of evidence to collect and you need to collect 5 pieces of evidence of one colour. The first piece awards 600k, the 2nd 700K and so on, up to the 100K for the 5th. Once collected the Microscope area will flash and you start Microscope MB by hitting the microscope loop. The ball is then held by a magnet and "studied" while another ball is auto plunged into play and you get 100k award.

Note: When evidence is collected from a shot the lit evidence at that shot changes colour. For the first MB all evidence is lit in one colour but in subsequent multiballs it doesn't all re-set to the same colour. This encourages players to shoot all around the playfield to collect the colour you need. In addition you may have to hit shots up to 3 times to cycle though red and green and blue to collect the specific colour you want.

Now we can start on the 6 stages of the Microscope Multiball:

  • Stage 1: 5 major shots are lit for jackpots of 275K
  • Stage 2: Hit the lit Microscope loop twice in either direction for double Jackpots of 550K
  • Stage 3: Hit the Microscope loop in opposite directions for triple jackpots of 875K
  • Stage 4: Collect quadruple jackpots by hitting the right orbit or Morgue, as indicated by large arrows for 1,375K.
  • Stage 5: Collect shots to light the 15 lamp grid in the centre of the game. That is 3 different coloured rows of 5 and a minimum of 15 shots while keeping more than one ball in play. Each successful shot scores a double jackpot of 550K (7.5m in total).
  • Stage 6: hit the Morgue for a "mega jackpot" of 5.5m and this completes microscope MB.

Frenzies: There are two timed frenzies that you can start at any time during a game.

Fingerprint Frenzy is started from the right spinner. Each spin earns 3K and takes you towards the start of the frenzy, as indicated in the dot display. Once started the music moves up a gear and all switches score 10K for 25 seconds. Shooting either spinner is worthwhile as that also leads the ball to the bumpers and decent points.

Suspect Shakedown is a 25 sec timed mode. It is started from the left spinner where initially each spin scores 3K and helps build up a picture of the suspect in the display. After 50 spins the face is complete and the Shakedown begins. This earns you 500K and the 6 major game shots are lit by yellow arrows. You need to shoot them to find the suspects at one of those shots. Finding the suspect collects 1m, while the others begin scoring at 300K, increasing by 100k for each shot made.

Ballistics: To start Ballistics you need to collect 6 bullets. Hitting the 5 bullet targets scores 75K/per target, or 250K for the 5th and the 6th bullet is collected at the saucer. This is a 40 second timed mode in which you have to hit all 6 of the flashing bullet shots. The first time this is achieved all are lit but subsequently it becomes more difficult as only one is lit at a time. Awards start at 500k for the first bullet and increase at 50k per shot until it maxes at 750K. Collecting all the bullets ends the mode.

DNA targets and Lab awards: Knocking down each DNA targets scores 25K and knocking down all 3 lights a Lab award, which is collected at the saucer. In single ball play awards include extra ball, 4x bumper values and lighting special/extra ball at the out lanes. In multiball modes it often adds another ball, with up to a maximum of 4 balls on the table at any one time. Lab awards can't be stacked.

Pop Bumpers: Bumper values begin at 3k per hit at the start of each ball. Shooting the right orbit adds 1k to their value.

Photo-award: When the ball exits the bumper area it briefly lights a small flipper shot for the Morgue and a Photo-award. The award is equal to the points scored in by the bumpers in the last visit.

Bonus multipliers: The bonus in CSI can form a significant proportion of your overall score.

Spell CSI by hitting the 3 in-lane/rollover switches for 1x bonus and 100k. 1x bonus. This also lights the Lab award, for collection at the saucer for another 1x bonus. When the Lab award is collected it lights the right orbit stop briefly for a further 3x bonus.

Lane changing CSI letters is possible by using the flipper buttons and the CSI bonus must be collected at the saucer, as it does not carry over from ball to ball.

Wizard mode: It doesn't have one but If you are successful in all three multiballs, as indicated by lighting 3 indicator lamps between the flippers, then the game offers up a wizard shot for 50m. I have yet to see this but live in hope.

Stacking multiballs: This gives you both longer multiball times and bigger jackpots by stacking awards. It also by default gives an increased chance of starting frenzies etc. Skull and Centrifuge MB stack well, as do Centrifuge and Microscope but Skull and Microscope MB don't stack. This is because it isn't possible to continue collecting evidence during Skull MB.

Game Tactics

CSI does a superb job of telling you what to shoot for but even so there are a few strategies that are worth bearing in mind.

Light the "Evidence" at the microscope as soon as possible so that subsequent shots count towards Microscope multiball. Use the lane change to light the in lanes for the CSI bonus and shoot the saucer regularly when lit as there are some good awards there.

I usually try and start Skull MB just before Centrifuge and try to stack them if I can. Big points can be achieved through stacking features, such as frenzies and Ballistics with multiballs and then collecting as many goodies as possible.

It sounds simple but it isn't as the multiballs are very deep and challenging. Don't be too picky as this game is a drain monster if set up correctly. As the game says "Our victim isn't the only one who's taken a beating".


CSI is a fair machine with balanced scoring. The rules are refreshingly easy to understand and the game is good at indicating what to shoot for next. During a game it encourages you to shoot all around the playfield. Accurate shooting and success in multiballs is the key to the game and it is satisfying and smooth to play when you get it right.

There you have it. An entertaining game, that isn't on rails and doesn't have long ball times,

Thanks to Pinball News for their game review, which I consulted regularly while writing this rule sheet.

Eddie Mole 2011-03-01

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