Star Wars Pinball – Initial Thoughts

Star Wars Pinball – Initial Thoughts

Below are Five Things We Know, Five Likes and Five Dislikes on the new Star Wars pinball machine.  Thoughts are based on videos from Pintastic, along with Dead Flip’s stream last week which you can watch here.  Thanks to Jack Danger for the use of screen shots from his stream, check out his live streams at Twitch.tv/dead_flip.

Five Things We Know

1. To start, you choose a character and a path

Each player chooses either Luke, Leia, Han Solo, or R2-D2.  Within each character choice, you also choose a “path” which is basically a bonus or reward (such as light certain modes/missions or increase multipliers).

2. There are two skill shots

Hit the moving arrow on the bank of three targets to get bonus multipliers, or hit the flashing FORCE drop target for points.

Left picture – hit moving arrow target, right picture – hit FORCE drop target

3. There are 16 missions, 9 multi-balls, and a wizard mode

Nine multi-balls!?  It will be interesting to see how those are implemented throughout play.  You can also start multiple missions at the same time, similar to Game of Thrones.

4. It is a 6 ball game

At times all six balls will be in play at the same time.

5. It is running 0.83 code

No surprise here, but it is not shipping with complete code.  Tilt Forums has a rulesheet in progress which can be found here.

 Five Likes

1. It looks to play fast and smooth

With it being a Steve Ritchie design, people were expecting a game with flow, and it looks like Star Wars will not disappoint in that department.  The ramps and loops look smooth and fast, and both ramps can be backhanded.  You can also backhand the spinner/loop shot from the left flipper.

2. Lots of strategy

With all the different paths to play and all the different multipliers, there are going to be many different ways to play this game.  After some scoring tweaks and code updates this could be an interesting tournament game, as well as a lasting game in the home environment or on location.

3. The GI (general illumination) and flashers

The light show overall looked pretty great, but particularly the GI and the flash lamps.  According to Stern’s feature matrix, the game contains “dramatic zoned red, white and blue general illumination LED’s”.

4. The display

Overall the animations and clips looked fantastic.  There was also tons of information to be found on the display throughout the game to show your progress and what to shoot.

Examples of screen info

5. The theme

Star Wars is one of the most popular licenses/themes for pinball and people have been waiting for this title for a long time.  Hardcore pinheads and casual pinball players will be drawn to this game on theme alone.

Five Dislikes

1. Playfield look

The art is a bit handcuffed since everything needs to be approved for this license, and it is hard to know what all the constraints were behind the scenes.  While the lower playfield looks pretty good and the structure and look of the hot dog inserts also look good, the inserts on the upper playfield do not seem cohesive with the artwork.  The playfield artwork overall doesn’t look bad, but when combined with the upper inserts it just isn’t pleasing to the eye.

2. Complexity

Above this was called “strategy”, because there is a lot to like about a game with many different ways to play it.  That being said, the initial choices may be intimidating or confusing for the casual player.  The multipliers in particular could be very difficult to understand and utilize.  This seems like a game you could look up and have a huge score and not be quite sure what you did to earn it.

3. Tie Fighter assault video mode

The way this video mode currently plays, you have five seconds to hit the action button on the lock down bar as many times as possible to destroy the Tie Fighters on the screen.  This sounds like it would fun the first few times, but could get to be repetitive and obnoxious after a while.  On the display, this is also an animation that lacked creativity and could be improved.

4. Rules similarities to past games

Some criticize Steve Ritchie by saying that he doesn’t take chances on his designs.  Why would he?  The last games that have been released and designed by Ritchie are Spiderman VE, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and AC/DC – all games play very well.  Mr. Ritchie, don’t take chances, please keep designing games without straying too far from what makes your games so fun to shoot.  On the other hand, though the rules on this game are different, there are some aspects that feel similar to past games – particularly Game of Thrones with the initial choices and mode stacking.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there is something to say for “sticking with what works”, but with such a huge theme it seems like it should feel more unique (and maybe it will after spending time playing it).

5. Lack of “wow” factor

As just mentioned, this theme is huge and a dream theme for many pinheads, and many were hoping for the playfield to be packed with innovative toys and magnets, and it feels lacking in that area.  On the premium and LE models, we have yet to see the hyperdrive accelerator in action, or the exploding death star, and maybe those will be the features that takes this pin to the next level.  The Star Wars theme is one that should have everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it and this feels a little watered down.

Short Conclusion

Star Wars isn’t quite what I was expecting feature-wise, but looks to play fast and smooth.  I can get over the playfield look and any rule similarities to Game of Thrones, a game which I also like.  As long as this game shoots well, I’ll probably love it.
 
Disclaimer: All opinions are subject to change because I’m fickle with pinball machines the more I play them 🙂
 
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