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 2 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.
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). You can straight shoot it from the left flipper. You can backhand it from the right flipper as the ball is kicked out from the Lost Mine. 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. 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. You can nudge the machine as the ball is hit by the left slingshot, which may kick the ball across to the target. 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. 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 succesfully - 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).
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.