Shuffle games (non-bowling)

Shuffle games (non-bowling)

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Shuffle alleys had been around since 1947’s appropriately-named Shuffle Alley, putting a new spin on arcade bowling that drew players in droves. Soon, every arcade manufacturer in the business was producing its own shuffle bowling game, but United decided to try something different. Taking the shuffle concept and applying it to Skee-Ball, the company produced Deluxe Shuffle Targette in 1954, kicking off a whole new style of shuffle game.

Like traditional shuffle bowling, Deluxe Shuffle Targette had players shove a small metal puck down a slick alley toward targets at the other end, but the targets themselves had changed considerably. In place of ten white pins, Deluxe Shuffle Targette featured a bulls-eye-style target lined with open holes. A lip at the end of the alley launched the puck up into the bulls-eye, earning different amounts of points depending on where the puck fell through. After a set number of pucks had been played, the points were totaled, and bragging rights were either earned or lost.

Deluxe Shuffle Targette was an instant smash, and United continued to launch shuffle targette games into arcades throughout the rest of the decade and into the 1960’s. Games like Kickapoo and Comet played much the same as Deluxe Shuffle Targette, but 1955’s 5th Inning added yet another sport to the mix: baseball. The game still featured shuffled pucks and scoring cups at the end of the alley, but these cups scored singles, doubles, triples and home runs.

Up to four players could join in a game of 5th Inning, each getting three pucks per inning. Animated base-runners kept track of the bases earned, but as in real baseball, only complete runs around all four bases were scored. The points were increased each inning, upping the pressure for shuffle baseballers up through the winner-takes-all 5th inning.

As shuffle targette games continued to score in arcades, United decided to mix up the formula a bit more. Later in the 1950’s, the company introduced a pair of “bouncing ball” shuffle games: Jupiter and Shooting Star. Chicago Coin had its own pair of “bouncing ball” alleys as well, dubbed Rocket Shuffle and Shuffle Explorer.

All four of these games played pretty much the same: Inside the machine’s backbox was a 5x5 grid of holes, reflected by a mirror up into the backglass. A handful of rubber balls were scattered randomly inside the grid, and the object of the game was to line these balls up into three, four or five in a row. As the shuffle puck hit spring targets at the end of the alley, the corresponding row of balls was popped up into play, landing wherever they may. Once the balls were lined up (or landed in the four corners), the player could either press a button and take the bonus points, or continue to press his or her luck for a better score.

The shuffle targette and “bouncing ball” shuffle game heydays were bright, but short-lived, and the games faded in popularity as the 1960’s rolled on. Aside from a few attempted comebacks (unsuccessful ones), the games died out in the 60’s, leaving nothing but their legacy. Shuffle bowling continued (and continues) to be a popular draw, and the bouncing ball grids live on in games like Coastal Amusement’s Pop-A-Ball, but the days of Deluxe Shuffle Targette and its descendants seem to be gone forever.

Arcade Machine Release History

1952 - Kickapoo
1954 - Deluxe Shuffle Targette
1955 - 5th Inning

Arcade Game Sub Categories


Machine Manufacturer

United, Chicago Coin

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