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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 11, November 2011, Posted On: 10/20/2011

Stern Puts Transformers Pinball Machine Into Production

Nick Montano
pinball, pinball machine, Stern Pinball, Gary Stern, George Gomez, Transformers, Transformers pinball machine, coin machine, coin-op news, amusement machine, Hasbro, home recreation product, arcade game, pinball machine factory

Stern Pinball Transformers

Robot rivals Optimus Prime and Megatron are the big toys; players pick sides in new flipper game experience by George Gomez

MELROSE PARK, IL -- Now available from Stern Pinball Inc. is a coin-op game based on the entertainment franchise that began as a Hasbro toy. Transformers first appeared in 1984 as toy models whose parts shifted from vehicles and animals to robot action figures (and back). The premise inspired by the toys migrated to comic books, animated TV shows, blockbuster movies and now pinball machines.

Stern's new Transformers, authorized by Hasbro, takes the battle between the Autobots, good robots led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, controlled by the evil Megatron, to the pinball playfield.

"The story behind the Transformers makes for a perfect translation into pinball," said Stern Pinball founder and chief executive Gary Stern. "We’re confident that this long-anticipated machine will please the eyes, ears and the hands of even the most die-hard Transformers fans."

Stern's latest game, designed by George Gomez, uses clever programming and lots of artwork to build a compelling Transformers story told on a pinball machine. Four "translights" are used for standard and pro versions of the game. High-definition cabinet artwork and decals, with Autobot and Decepticon art on the right and left side panels, respectively, complement the pinball package.

On the playfield, Optimus Prime, Megatron and other Transformers are put into service to deliver some action-packed fun. Mechanical playfield devices include a Megatron vehicle that changes form during rapid multi-ball play and an Optimus Prime target on which the letters M-T-M-T-E (more than meets the eye) can be hit at the top of an elevated ramp.

A Bumblebee Camaro captive target, Decepticon and Ironhide ramps, and Devastator pop bumpers, along with a spinning target, "All Spark Cube” eject hole and "Cybertron Zenith" orbit shot with electronically controlled gate, are among the other main features. There's also a transforming mini playfield, among other surprises.

Before launching the ball, players choose to be an Autobot or Decepticon, and the devices on the pinball associated with a side will work with the player -- and the boss will either be Optimus or Megatron. The result is a pinball machine that offers two play experiences. Crimson is the color of Autobots and violet is linked to the Decepticons.

"Are you an Autobot or a Decepticon?" was the design mantra of Gomez, who attempted to make a Transformers pinball game that was more about the robots and not so much the movies.

The challenge in creating the rules of a dual-experience game, Gomez said, was to match Transformers fiction to the physical realities of pinball. What if a player is an Autobot and he or she is bashing Optimus? Solution: program the game to interpret that action as a training session or shooting evaluation by Optimus, rather than an attack by a foe.

"Transformers" made its big screen debut as an American science fiction action film in 2007. It was a box office success, the 45th most successful release (the fifth most successful of 2007) and grossed approximately $709 million worldwide. The film won four awards from the Visual Effects Society and was nominated for three Academy Awards for best sound, sound editing and visual effects.

A sequel, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," was released in June 2009. Despite the film's being panned by critics, it was a commercial success and grossed more than its predecessor. A third film, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," was released in 3D on June 29, 2011, and went on to gross over $1 billion, despite mixed and negative reviews.

Before Transformers production started, Stern released news of its forthcoming flipper game in a teaser video that began running on YouTube in late August. | SEE STORY

Stern Pinball Transformers Playfield

Transformers Instruction Card

Are You an Autobot or a Decepticon? - Use flipper buttons to select then plunge the ball.
Skill Shot - Plunge the ball into the illuminated top lanes.
Optimus Prime Multiball - Shoot the TF ramp multiple times to elevate attack ramp to strike the Optimus Prime target.
Megatron Multiball - Lock balls into the Megatron cannon to activate Megatron Multiball.
Transformers Modes - Shoot the lit Autobot Triangles to advance/start Autobot modes. Shoot the lit Decepticon Triangles to advance/start Decepticon modes.
"X" Cyber Multiplier - Collect 4 Autobot/Decepticon icons via the Top/Lateral Rollover Lanes to illuminate the "X" Cyber Multiplier Triangles. Shoot a lit "X" Cyber Multiplier Triangle to lock in the Multiplier for that shot.
Bumblebee Captive Camaro - Shoot the captive Camaro to complete B-U-M-B-L-E-B-E-E and commence a 2x Scoring sequence.
Add-A-Ball - Strike the Mudflap & Skids targets to qualify and start an Add-A-Ball Event.
All Spark! - Complete the Blue Energon Targets. Exploit the potential energy of the Left Eject Device to collect the Mysteries of the Allspark award.
Cybertron - Collect all game features (Transformers Modes, Megatron, Megatron Multiball, and Optimus Prime Multiball) to take part in the battle of Cybertron.

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