If you know pinball, you know the name Stern Pinball. With the world of gaming ever expanding and evolving into something new and more complex, it may be surprising to find that pinball has seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. Of course, pinball creators aren’t ones to sit back and let these classic machines just fade into obscurity.
Gary Stern, the founder and president of Stern Pinball told us how pinball isn’t just some old game that sits in the corner of your local dive bar or man cave, broken, dusty, and unloved. No, pinball has a passionate fanbase. And it’s even gone digital, available on everything from your home computer to your big name consoles to your smart phone. It’s also moved into virtual reality. That’s right. You can now slap on some clunky goggles and play just about any machine made available in the virtual environment without leaving your home or buying a big noisy machine that would likely annoy your wife.
Of course, you can give me those big noisy machines, with the blinking lights, sticky flippers, and springy plungers any day. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of pinball games on my tablet, but I do prefer the real thing. Gary and I agree, but he’s not above innovating to reach a new audience who might be tired of the same old shooters available on their consoles.
But what really drew me to the Stern booth was the debut of the brand new Star Wars pinball machine, complete with sounds and video sequences and all the action of the original trilogy. Consider me hooked. I even joined a competition to win some big prizes playing the brand new Star Wars machine in the official Comic-Con Pinball Lounge over in the newly added Marriott Marina convention expansion area. I couldn’t get near the top score we had to beat (in the billions, set by Twitch Pinball Partner Jack Danger), but I was the closest until the final moments when someone knocked me off the top rung. But, hey, I got to play Star Wars pinball over and over again for free, so I can’t complain.
Here’s a few pics from that day chatting with Gary Stern, watching Jack Danger in action, and my own paltry score in comparison to his.