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March 2014 Retro Gaming Article


March 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As With AC/DC & Metallica, Stern Pinball puts it's mark on the Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang pinball machines from Stern As creators of Berzerk, Stern Electronics will always hold a special place in my heart every time Evil Otto chases me. But Stern Pinball has always been a separate entity. As other large companies in the pinball world came and went, Stern has stayed dedicated to pinball and is one of the last American manufacturers.

I've always felt they outlasted other manufacturers by finding creatively lucrative ways to insert pinball into new venues. Finding a video arcade game these days can be a challenge. Finding a pinball machine can be even more challenging. They don't go hand-in-hand with video games the way they used to. Any time I find a pinball machine, I always try to drop a quarter and relive the glory days when arcades were hopping and pinball was an integral part of their success!

Pinball hasn't been ruined

Despite all the technical evolutions in developing pinball, I love that it's physical elements live on. You still have a physical ball working with and against gravity. The electronics have improved and enabled new levels of play, but they've never taken away pinball's physical elements!

Pinball could easily have gone the digital route and all the real-time physics converted to pixels and algorithms. There's something magical about giving the flipper buttons a few pumps as the ball settles into the field. There have certainly been several home releases for game consoles with pinball themes and tables. I'm thankful that these games can be enjoyed at home without someone converting the whole genre to pixels. Their electronic intricacy, melded with the rolling balls, makes pinball a unique experience worthy of it's origins.

Stern Pinball aligns with greatness

Stern has a great record for finding powerful tie-ins for their creations. I always loved the Kiss pinball machine from Bally in 1978. An iteration of it made it's way to the PlayStation as Kiss Pinball. Stern has created both AC/DC and Metallica tables that mutually aim the spotlight on both artist and manufacturer.

AC/DC Luci pinball machine from Stern AC/DC "Luci" pinball machine from Stern.
Metallica pinball machine, by Stern Metallica pinball machine, by Stern, with James Hetfield and the table's designer.

Ford Mustang pinball machine from Stern By pairing Stern Pinball with such mega acts, its easy to see how they have forged ahead where other manufactures were unable. Interestingly, I think such relationships are beneficial to both parties. But Stern went bigger with a series of pinball machines from the Motor City. They worked out a deal to promote Ford Mustangs via a new pinball game featuring the Mustang. They created tables to commemorate the Mustang Boss 302, Boss 351 and Boss 429, and a limited-edition game paying tribute to the original Mustang and the new 2015 model.

Ford's media unit worked out this deal for the upcoming 2015 Mustang as well as tribute ames to other popular Mustang models. These models were shown at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. The cabinet and backboard artwork that pay tribute to 50 years of Mustang. Stern is one of several companies that is celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the Mustang.

Renown for their quality, Stern is continually positioning themselves with other companies that enable them to continue doing what so few companies are doing these days - making amazing pinball machines with cutting edge technology and game play!

If only they'd relinquish the rights to Berzerk... I'd love a reboot!

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