From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
The Ball Upgrade (Japanese: ボールアップグレード Ball Upgrade; ボールのアップグレード Ball's Upgrade) is the act of changing a Poké Ball to the next level in Pokémon Pinball and Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire. In both games, there are four balls available: Poké Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball.
There is also an item named Ball Upgrade (Japanese: アップグレード・アイテム Upgrade Item) in the Ruby Field of Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire.
The term "Ball Upgrade" is mentioned in the English manuals of both Pokémon Pinball and Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire. However, the Japanese "ボールアップグレード" (Ball Upgrade; lacking the の between words) is mentioned only in the Japanese manual of the first game, and "ボールのアップグレード" (Ball's Upgrade; with the の between words) only in the Japanese manual of the second game. The "Ball Upgrade" item in the Ruby Field is named in the English manual of Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire, but it has a different name in the Japanese manual: "アップグレード・アイテム" (Upgrade Item).
The Pokémon Pinball manual refers to this act as "evolving" (Japanese: 進化します evolve) the ball. It also calls each ball an "evolutionary state", "Evolution Stage", or "Evolution stage" (the capitalization and use of "stage" or "state" varies as shown here). According to the manual, there are specifically three Evolution Stages, which implies that the Poké Ball is not considered one of them. The English manual does not assign numbers to each stage, but the Japanese manual calls the Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball, respectively, 進化1 (Evolution 1), 進化2 (Evolution 2), and 進化3 (Evolution 3).
The Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire manual refers to this act as "upgrading" (Japanese: アップグレード upgrade) the ball; the act of returning to the previous level is referred to as "downgrading" (グレードはさがります lose a grade) the ball. Unlike for the previous game, all four types of Poké Ball are numbered in both the English and Japanese manuals: Grade 1 (Japanese: プグレード1 Grade 1), Grade 2 (Japanese: プグレード2 Grade 2), Grade 3 (Japanese: プグレード3 Grade 3), and Grade 4 (Japanese: プグレード4 Grade 4) are the Poké Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball, respectively.
The Poké Ball is the normal ball used in the pinball tables since the beginning of the game. The other balls are available via upgrades, which replace the current ball by the next improved ball. If a minute passes without new upgrades, the ball returns to the previous state. If the player loses the current ball, the next ball is a Poké Ball.
There are various ways to upgrade the ball in both Pokémon Pinball and Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire:
- Turning on the three lights found in each of the three Field Multiplier Lanes at the top of any table from both games.
- Getting the "Upgrade" award from the Slots. (the Slots start by turning on the four lights found in the Out Lanes and Return Lanes at the bottom of any table from both games, then entering the Bonus Cave or Center Hole at the middle)
Some new ways are introduced in Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire:
- Getting the "Max Up" award from the Slots, which upgrades the ball directly into a Master Ball.
- Buying the "Upgrade" for 40 coins at the Poké Mart.
- In the Ruby Field, using the Makuhita to throw the ball into the Nuzleaf until he falls down and makes a bridge, then getting the ball upgrade on the other side of the bridge.
If the player "upgrades" a Master Ball, it won't change its appearance or effect because this is the highest-ranking ball, but it won't revert to the previous state until one minute passes as usual.
Aside from the Poké Ball, each kind of ball has a field multiplier. For instance, if an action normally awards 1,000 points (such as turning on any of the "CAVE" or "HOLE" lights in both games), it will award 2,000 points with a Great Ball, and so on for each kind of ball.
In Pokémon Pinball, the bonus stages (such as the Seel Stage or the Mewtwo Stage) are always played with the regular Poké Ball and don't award any field multipliers. When the bonus stage ends, the normal gameplay resumes with the kind of ball the player was using when they entered the bonus stage.
In Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire, the bonus stages (such as the Duskull Stage or the Groudon Stage) start with the same kind of ball that the player was using when they entered the bonus stage, and the field multiplier bonus applies as usual. For instance, hitting a Duskull in the Duskull Stage awards 100,000 points with a Poké Ball or 200,000 points with a Great Ball. Unlike in the normal gameplay, having a certain kind of ball for one minute does not cause the ball to downgrade in a bonus stage. However, each time the player loses a ball during a bonus stage, the next ball will be downgraded; for instance, if the player loses an Ultra Ball during any bonus stage, the next ball will be a Great Ball. When the bonus stage ends, the normal gameplay resumes with the kind of ball the player was using when they left the bonus stage.
Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
- Poké Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball and Master Ball (the four Poké Balls available in both Pinball games) are the four obtainable kinds of Poké Ball in the Generation I core series games.
- The "Upgrade" prize in the Slot has three different artworks because it always displays the next kind of ball available to the user.