There’s a new bounty for Star Wars pinball players.
StarWars.com is thrilled to reveal Stern Pinball’s new line of pinball machines based on The Mandalorian, the Emmy Award-winning Disney+ Original Series. Available in Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition (LE) models, all feature original artwork on the cabinets and playfields, and are filled with references and physical props inspired by the series. (That’s right, there’s an actual, adorable Grogu in there, as well as a custom-sculpted Razor Crest.) When it comes to design and engineering, Stern promises whistling-bird-like innovation, with a gravity-changing, rotating upper mini playfield on the Premium and LE models, as well as more surprises. All editions feature authentic music and audio clips lifted straight from The Mandalorian, and exclusive custom speech performed by Greef Karga himself, Carl Weathers. So strap on your finest beskar gear and get ready to play. In the meantime, StarWars.com caught up with the artists and designers who created Stern’s The Mandalorian machines for some behind-the-flippers details.
Randy Martinez, lead game artist, on his approach for the different cabinet art seen on all editions.
“The cabinet art started out heavy in the ‘Spaghetti Western’ motif. I studied a lot of old posters and movies from that era. I’ve always loved the expressive brush strokes and bright colors. So I was already being inspired by Spaghetti Western art when the opportunity to illustrate The Mandalorian pinball came along.
“The Mandalorian series is heavily influenced by the same Spaghetti Western era, so it just seems natural to continue with that motif. However, we really wanted to exploit the Spaghetti Western style of art, so as to set this Pinball game apart from everything else The Mandalorian that is out there. Sometimes, these kinds of things fit right into place and that’s pretty much what happened here.
“Now that we had a style of art we wanted to draw from, we needed to find ways to make all of the cabinets look similar in style, but very different individually in theme. It was important each cabinet could stand alone, but they also need to tell a bigger story when all three are together.
“The Pro was decided to be an overview of The Mandalorian world of characters. I would say this has the most connection to the Spaghetti Western art style. It’s bold, it’s bright, it’s exciting! The Pro package looks as if it jumped right out of a Spaghetti Western poster. The color palette is very dramatic. The Premium theme speaks more to Friends and Foes. It’s very character driven with lots of action. The Limited Edition is very special, with a stronger focus on the Mandalorian character and culture. Beskar was the foundation of this theme.”
Randy Martinez on designing the art seen on the playfield, which is filled with references to the series.
“Yeah, it’s pretty filled up with everything, which is a challenge all in itself! How do you have all these elements and things going on, while still maintaining a clear composition that helps guide the gameplay? My first pinball machine was Star Wars comic art from 2019, but I essentially just had to illustrate what was already present on the original playfield from the original Stern Star Wars pinball machine. I didn’t have to think of the game flow aspect of the playfield since it already existed. The Mandalorian was my first experience designing the art package for a playfield. I found myself feeling a lot pressure to produce what is essentially a road map for the player on the game. If that’s not done right, that’s kind of a big deal, right? No pressure!
“The entire team was great and helped guide me through the process. It’s definitely a collaborative process, because my design had to jive with the playfield layout of lights, bumpers, and mechs while also coordinating with the gameplay story. There is a lot of throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks, but this team is awesome, and we all just worked together famously.”
Greg Freres, art director, on the intricacies of playfield design.
“Playfield art is always the biggest challenge for the illustrator because it’s more than just a rectangular layout that depends on all the basics of composition, color theory, and drawing abilities. The playfield art has to support the gameplay and rule development over the course of each game that’s played on it, and the player must be able to see the playfield at a glance and understand where they stand and what needs to be accomplished next.
“The main goals of the game were centrally located and grouped within an explosion in the center to highlight the excitement of all the conflicts throughout the series and the rest of the playfield art builds out from there. And the Mandalorian, with his signature jetpack zooming up from the landscape below, holding Grogu tightly by his side, was a perfect solution for the player control area of the game by the flippers. As the design process solidifies, rough sketches come and go, until we reach consensus on what images best illustrate an area.
“If you need to start a Hunter mode, we focus that area of targets on an assemblage of the various bounty hunters, and if another set of targets help the player by multiplying their scores, then we lean on the Mandalorian’s allies for that help. And if you need to start a mission, head towards Greef Karga for all the info you’ll need. The playfield is a visual representation of the theme, with all of the rules and direction of gameplay spelled out in a compelling and visually entertaining way.”
Brian Eddy, lead game designer, on the early decision to include a lifelike Grogu.
“I think Grogu is one of the key elements that enabled a large audience to embrace The Mandalorian. He was the driving force, no pun intended, behind the first two seasons, the ultimate reason for the Mandalorian to do what he did. He’s pretty infectious and, yes, downright cute. The character creates a great balance between the epic battles and the human touch of the relationship of Mando and Grogu. It gives them both a place to grow and evolve.
“So it was important for me to make sure he was included in a big way. It was actually the first item I put on the playfield when starting to lay out the game. I had a 3D printed Grogu about the same size as what is in the game and was moving him all over to see where he would best fit. I wanted him as a large presence, so when people walked up to the game it would evoke those same feelings from the show. He looks amazing and has a fun integration. I’m very happy with how he and the entire game turned out.”
Dwight Sullivan, lead game developer, on incorporating story and character beats into gameplay.
“The show really lends itself to some good story-based game mechanics. As Mando grows as a bounty hunter, he acquires more weapons and equipment. In our game, you are Mando. You start the game with a flamethrower that can catch shots on fire. As you play, you will be able to acquire more equipment to help you on your journey. In this pinball adventure, players will be able to use the Razor Crest to enable different multiballs, start different missions, bounty hunts, and ambushes to collect beskar to trade at the Foundry, and start several different encounters in the upper playfield battleground area. Grogu is able to assist you by activating different features and, if you’re a true pinball wizard, you can work your way to the ultimate wizard mode: This is the Way.”
Dwight Sullivan on some of the game’s hidden surprises.
“We don’t want to spoil all of the surprises, but we have added an entirely new gameplay mode and option called Impossible Play. If you enable this option before you start your game, it will instantly set your game to Very Hard and your flippers will only allow you to flip for a couple of seconds before needing to be recharged. Good luck.”
Visit SternPinball.com for more on The Mandalorian-inspired pinball machines.
Dan Brooks is a writer and the editor of StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.
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