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500 When Lit | Pinball Profile: Josh Sharpe pushes buttons.

Josh is back to discuss stuff and things including Pinball Expo, the Heads Up Tournament in Las Vegas Stern Pro Circuit and more. Stay tuned for the quick debate on whether using action buttons is not pinball.

Lets talk about “Action Buttons” and whether or not they take away from this game called “pinball”. I was tagged in a Facebook thread regarding Star Wars Pinball because I had described the game as “Stern Pinball’s Game of Thrones … IN SPACE”. Part of the discussion was whether the use of the action button and the multipliers means the player is not playing pinball anymore.

Given what I have heard on this podcast, my contribution to the thread puts me on Josh’s side of the debate. My contribution is between the PAC-MAN and ghosts. I’ve copied and pasted it here. Also, if you don’t like stacking modes, then don’t stack them, the game allows it. If you don’t care about multipliers or score, then don’t use them, don’t move them and don’t worry about them. The game allows it.

What is your definition of pinball? Is it averse to any changes?

The player doesn’t have to use the button to activate the multiplier feature on the game if they don’t want. Just as the player doesn’t have to use the action buttons on Pinball 2000, or the Phurba buttons on The Shadow, or the manual kickback on Devil’s Dare. If they choose not to utilize these features, they will most likely lose to someone who does.

INB4 “that’s a false equivalence”. I’ll present it pre-emptively. It works in favor of Stern Pinball Star Wars. Refusing to use the multipliers doesn’t prevent the player from accessing any part of the game (at this point in the code). It punishes them with less score potential than someone who does. If the player doesn’t mind that, and just wants to play through the game, then this doesn’t affect them. The other examples I’ve mentioned punish the player for their stubbornness with lack of progress or death. Stern Pinball Star Wars will continue to let them play the entire game without using the multiplier feature.

What if I said having retina-searing painful lights shine in my eyes during multiball is not pinball? However, that is the hand that Ghostbusters deals to me, so I will be prepared from now on with sunglasses.

How about if my stance was that using magnets to manipulate the ball is not pinball? A host of pinball games would beg to differ with me there. (Speaking of magnets, why is there not a Force magnet on Star Wars? It just makes sense to have one.)

Anyway, what if I believed that having all of the lights turn on or off during jackpot celebrations (even crucial lights like the ball saver) to distract the player was not pinball? Looking at you, Mustang, Game Of Thrones, Ghostbusters, and others. However, that is the hand that these games have dealt to me, so I will adjust or die.

I do think that Star Wars Pinball’s multiplier and button action threaten to cause a shark jump on the use of this feature in future games (But, it feels really fun when I do it correctly.) However, casually dismissing it as “not pinball” is not a step I am willing to take. I would need a stronger argument presented for me to make that logical leap.

Innovate or stagnate.

(Because this is the Internet, here is where I will state that I am not simply defending Stern Pinball’s Star Wars for the sake of being a Stern fanboy. I trust that my attempt at analysis here indicates that. Besides, the game doesn’t even have a reliable loop in the gameplay yet.)*

*Note that at this point, the “Battle with the Emperor” was not available to me, and there were spots in the game where the player would be stuck with nowhere to progress forward. Soon after, I had seen and completed this mode, which allows the player to pick another character and keep going.


Fun With Bonus is the home of the semi-coherent, misguided ramblings of professional and amateur pinball players.

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Author: SSB

You will find me at a pinball tournament, especially if it's near the east coast, USA. Have more fun! Play more pinball! Support the hobby on twitter by using #pinball. Currently: Attacking Mars. BAO!

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