If you ever used an older version of Windows such as Windows 95, Windows XP, Windows ME or Windows 2000, then you probably remember that there was a pinball game included for free with the operating system. The game was called 3D Pinball Space Cadet, and for the time it was a great little version of classic pinball. It was a fun way to blow through a break period at work, and many of us did just that. Unfortunately, with more recent versions of Windows, Microsoft decided to stop including games, and so 3D Pinball disappeared forever…or did it?
However, 3D Pinball Space Cadet was a customized version of a commercial release by the old gaming company Maxxis, and the executable files are still available online. If you have the urge to play 3D Pinball Space Cadet, you can still get it and run it in Windows 10.
Play 3D Pinball Space Cadet in Windows 10
The original game was dropped partly because Microsoft decided to stop including games in the operating system, but also because it wasn’t optimized for 64-bit computers. This is a dumb decision for multiple reasons, the most obvious of which is “oh no, the game written twenty years ago won’t run at top speed on my computer that is a hundred times faster than the one the game was designed for? However shall I continue to live?” There was also apparently a ‘collision detection bug’ but it doesn’t seem to be an actual problem in play. Here’s how to get 3D Pinball running on your Windows 10 machine:
- Go to this website  and download the executable.
- Extract and install the file onto your computer.
- Find the game in your Windows menu.
I downloaded the game from the source and it passed my browser’s security check and a virus scan. The game should run just fine on any version of Windows 10, whether 32- or 64-bit. No crashes, no issues and nothing that would prevent you losing more hours of your life chasing high scores.
The controls for the game are simple. Use the ‘Z’ and ‘/’ to control the flippers and hold down space to pull back the plunger to launch the ball.
As 3D Pinball Space Cadet was originally created for early computers, the resolution isn’t great. It runs in a small 640×480 window which you may have to squint at to see. You can use it full screen which might make it easier to play. Open the Options menu and select Full Screen.
You can also modify the controls from the options screen should you wish to.
3D Pinball Space Cadet cheats and codes
As usual with games of the time, mischievous coders built secret codes into their games to allow a few extra modes or features. I’m going to list some of them below so this is where you see the spoiler alert. Only continue reading if you want to know the cheat codes.
Type these codes when you first launch the game and before you launch the first ball.
- Type ‘hidden test’ to enter debug mode
- Type ‘Incredible or Imax’ to increase the field multiplier
- Type ‘hmax’ to get 1,000,000,000 score
- Type ‘omax’ to play in red
- Type ‘gmax’ to enable the gravity well
- Type ‘rmax’ to advance one rank.
- Type ‘1max’ to get an extra ball when you lose your current one
- Type ‘bmax’ to get an unlimited supply of balls
Debug mode, available through typing ‘hidden test’, allows you to dig under the hood a little. Press H to edit your high score. Press M to show how much system memory is available. Press R to increase your game rank. Press Y to display the FPS. You can also click the left mouse button on the ball and drag it wherever on the table you like. Press Space to exit debug mode.
There are a couple other hidden tricks within 3D Pinball Space Cadet.
To use the Skill Shot tunnel in 3D Pinball Space Cadet, you need you get the ball halfway up the launch chute so it rolls back down the yellow arch light. Hit those lights for bonuses.
- 1 light = 15,000 Points
- 2 lights = 30,000 Points
- 3 lights = 75,000 Points
- 4 lights = 30,000 Points
- 5 lights = 15,000 Points
- 6 lights = 7,500 Points
Knock down all three tombstones directly above the flippers and you advance one rank. Do it again within one minute to advance another rank and get a replay. Do it again before all the lights go out for another rank and another replay.
3D Pinball Space Cadet was immensely popular at the time even though most players thought it was their guilty secret. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, 3D Pinball Space Cadet delivers.
Get Other Classic Windows Games
3D Pinball was probably the most visually-exciting basic Windows game, but there were a number of other classic Windows games available in different versions of the operating system, from Solitaire to Mahjong. Luckily, versions of those games are also available online, and for free! You can download the installer here . I have tested this download for viruses and malware and it is clean.
The install is simple. Just follow these steps.
- Download the ZIP file.
- Extract it to a directory on your computer.
- Run the setup program.
- When the setup program asks, give it permission to change your computer.
- Select the game(s) you want to install from the setup program.
- Unselect the “Discover Winaero Tweaker” option on the setup screen to avoid installing their utility program.
- Hit “Finish”
- Enjoy your new games!
The new games will now appear in your Start menu and you can run them like any other Windows 10 application. Note that some users have reported that the games disappear from their Windows install after a Windows 10 update runs, so you may want to keep the original install package in your downloads directory so that you can reinstall if necessary. The games included in this package are Chess, FreeCell, Hearts, Mahjong, Minesweeper, Purble Place, Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Internet Spades, Internet Checkers, and Internet Backgammon.
Looking for more games you can play on Windows?
We’ve got a tutorial on how to play classic Nintendo games on your Windows 10 PC !
Similarly, here’s our walkthrough on playing PlayStation 2 games on your Windows 10 machine .
Remember the Game Boy Advance? Yep, you can play GBA games on your Windows desktop.
And of course you can also play Android games on your Windows 10 computer .
If you’re trying to play games on a budget PC, you’ll definitely want to read our article on enabling Game Mode on Windows 10 .