Stern has officially announced what we've all thought for some time, that Lord Of The Rings is to be their next game.

During our recent tour of the Stern factory, there was no attempt to disguise the next game and several clues were in plain view.

and it was obvious that there were going to be a bunch of character toys on the playfield,

and indeed there are twelve of them in all, but now they've released some real details of the game.

Excitingly, the game is supposed to have deep rules. That's certainly believable as Keith Johnson is responsible for them. He created the wonderfully complex rules for The Simpsons Pinball Party - widely praised amongst pinball aficionados.

In a curious split of responsibilities, the cabinet and backglass artwork is done by Jerry Vanderstelt, a well known fantasy book cover artist, while the playfield is by our old friend Kevin O'connor. Perhaps this division of work was a condition of the licence?

Another safe pair of hands is in charge of music and sound effects, that's Chris Granner.

And get this folks. It has a mini-playfield, at least four multiball modes and a magnet. Plus there are the two towers, one of which can be destroyed.

But perhaps most interesting of all is the one detail missing. Who's the designer? It's been generally believed that George Gomez would be in charge on this one, but there's no mention of the designer in the press release at all. Hmmm.

Due to be released next month, the game should be on test very soon now and rest assured we'll bring you the pictures as soon as they're available.

Here's are all the key points from Stern's full press release:

October 20, 2003 - The greatest adventure ever told is now Stern Pinball's epic pinball machine for the ages. THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ pinball machine features exciting elements from New Line Cinema's box office hits, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING™ and THE TWO TOWERS, as well as the most anticipated installment yet, THE RETURN OF THE KING™, opening worldwide on December 17th.

Players of all levels will love THE LORD OF THE RINGS™. For those truly familiar with the movies and books, the pinball machine follows the story perfectly.

"THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ is the perfect title and theme for a pinball," Gary Stern said. "It lends itself to lots of Mechanical Action Pinball shots and toys for casual players, yet the story cries for deep rules to challenge the best players."

The goal of THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ pinball machine is to collect the Elf Rings, the Dwarf Rings, and the mortal men rings, thereby forming The One Ring™. Then destroy The One Ring™ through collecting all three movies. THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ pinball machine offers non-stop action at its best in the form of the following mechanisms:
" A Balrog toy that pivots when hit by the ball, revealing the jump ramp that leads to The One Ring™;
" A magnet in the center of The One Ring™ which pulls the ball in and then feeds another ramp shaped in the form of Aragorn's legendary Narsil sword;
" Many multi-ball modes, including one for each movie, as well as for Gollum;
" The Orthanc and Barad-dur Towers. Players can knock down Barad-dur, which also features the eye of Sauron;
" A small playfield in the upper left hand corner represents that of The Paths of the Dead;
" Twelve action figures from Play Along toys interspersed throughout the playfield.

"All those involved in the design of the pinball machine are true fans of THE LORD OF THE RINGS™, with intimate knowledge of it," Stern said. "That is why this game is so great - the designers were into this title."

The pinball features original speech from Elijah Wood (Frodo), as well as John Rhys-Davies (Gimli the Dwarf). Backglass and cabinet artwork for THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ was created by artist Jerry Vanderstelt, while playfield art was designed by Kevin O'Connor. Sounds and special effects were produced by Chris Granner. Rules are by Keith Johnson on his first outing since The Simpsons Pinball Party™.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ movie trilogy is produced and directed by Peter Jackson. Gary Stern concluded, "This pinball will have a great response from the public worldwide. With its great playfield, art package and theme, I expect THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ will have the greatest resale value for the operator ever."

THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ pinball machine will begin shipping in November, 2003.


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