The first details of Stern's latest game have just emerged and as expected it's based on the Nascar theme.
Pictures courtesy of Jack Guarnieri of Pinball Sales
The game is designed by Pat Lawlor but it is an unusual design for him with the main feature of the game being a variant on an old Steve Ritchie device - an overgrown super charger.
Running around the outer edge of the playfield is a racetrack. The ball can enter this loop and is propelled (Getaway-style) by a couple of magnets mounted on the bottom left of the playfield.
Presumably in the finished version there will be a cover over these magnets but their positioning does produce a problem for the outhole. If the track runs around the outer edge, the outhole has to be moved forward to just behind the flippers and infront of the track loop.
The layout of this game is quite unusual for a Pat Lawlor design with it appearing to be a fan of eight possible shots and no cross-playfield shots from an upper flipper. There look to be ten features to complete, circling the car on the playfield and the ramps are clear plastic rather than the steel used recently.
The backglass and cabinet feature three themed teams from the Nascar series -
the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford driven by Ricky Rudd of Wood Brothers Racing,
the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing and
the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace of Penske Racing South.
Inclusion of specific teams is always dangerous ground and never more so than in Nascar where team loyalty approaches fanaticism and a game featuring opposing teams could be an instant turn-off.
When the Nascar theme was first announced, there was much concern from non-US sellers about the relative obscurity of the brand outside North America, where Formula 1 is the dominant motor sport. In an attempt to address this, the game will be sold under the "Grand Prix" name in these markets. This is the first time Stern has taken this step and follows previous themes such as Ripleys Believe It Or Not which underperformed due to lack of brand recognition - one of the key benefits of licensed themes.
The Grand Prix name is close enough to associate the theme with Formaula 1 racing but is not a copyrighted name, nor is it a license of the FIA, making Grand Prix Stern's first non-licensed game since High Roller Casino in January 2001.
No images of the Grand Prix model are currently available but the layout will be unchanged from the Nascar model but there will obviously be changes to the speech package and the artwork across the game. Interestingly, Kevin O'Connor will do the Grand Prix artwork, while John Youssi does the Nascar version.
Stern's press releases for the two games are shown below.
Merging the speed of the race track with the
speed of the silver ball, Stern Pinball, Inc., has introduced a new NASCAR
licensed product NASCAR Pinball.
Designed by Pat Lawlor and his team at
Pat Lawlor Design, NASCAR Pinball features the high energy of NASCAR racing
along with the fascination of high-tech gaming.
The new NASCAR Pinball game features cars from three race teams; the No. 2
Miller Lite Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace of Penske Racing South; the No. 29
GM Goodwrench Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing;
and the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford driven by Ricky Rudd of Wood Brothers Racing.
"NASCAR Pinball is the kind of game and license combination that comes
around only so often," said Lawlor. "We believe we have created an exciting game
for both the casual players and the more experienced players. NASCAR Pinball
is a fast-paced, action-packed game that should do extremely well at all of
A primary component of NASCAR Pinball is the racetrack that encompasses the
entire playing surface. Energized by magnets, the loop sends pinballs racing
around like cars racing around a track. NASCAR Pinball also features a
truck hauler that the player can launch a ball through along with a test toy car
that the player can bang with the pinball.
"NASCAR Pinball is a terrific simulation of the experience one gets while at
the racetrack," said Blake Davidson, NASCAR's managing director of licensed
products. "The speed and acceleration demonstrated by the race cars are
displayed through the game itself."
Other features of the game include a voice over from Allen Bestwick, NASCAR
television analyst for NBC, and recording artist Sammy Hagar's "I Can't
Drive 55," a popular tune among NASCAR fans.
The NASCAR Pinball was brought to life by Pat Lawlor Design industry
veterans Louis Koziarz and John Krutsch. Well-known pinball artist John Youssi did
the art package for the game, while expert sound engineer Chris Granner
produced the sound work.
Merging the speed of the raceway with the speed of the silver ball, Stern Pinball, Inc. presents its latest pinball machine, GRAND PRIX. Designed by Pat Lawlor and his team at Pat Lawlor Design, GRAND PRIX is a new kind of game for racing and pinball fans.
Grand Prix racing is an immensely popular sport in Europe and around the world today, and Stern’s GRAND PRIX pinball lives up to all the high-energy expectations of its fans. GRAND PRIX is a perfect piece for operators and homeowners who like real excitement in their pinball.
The main feature of GRAND PRIX is a loop that runs around the entire playfield. Energized by magnets, the loop sends pinballs racing around it like cars racing around a track. Collect three balls in the loop and start one of GRAND PRIX challenging multi-balls. GRAND PRIX also features a semi-truck hauler that the player can launch a ball through, and a test car toy that the player can bang with the pinball.
GRAND PRIX is available with English, Spanish, German, French, or Italian speech, dot matrix, instruction cards, and manuals. All languages are available for download through the Stern Pinball website, http://www.sternpinball.com/techsupport.shtml.
The GRAND PRIX pinball was brought to life by Pat Lawlor Design industry veterans Louis Koziarz creating the software and mechanical wiz John Krutsch. Renowned pinball artist Kevin O’Connor created the art package for GRAND PRIX, while expert sound engineer Chris Granner did the sound work.
Pat Lawlor says, “GRAND PRIX is the kind of game and license dream combination that comes around maybe once in a decade. I can't imagine a street location that won't benefit from the high visibility of this product. We have built an exciting game for casual players and a challenging game for location wizards. The GRAND PRIX pinball is fast, addictive, and sure to complement any locations earnings.”
GRAND PRIX racing is without a doubt the fastest, most furious and downright glamorous sporting contest found in the world today. Attracting television audiences in every country in the world, and it now ranks third behind only the Summer Olympics and football's World Cup in global appeal. Every year racers and their high-tech teams reel around the world leaving a trail of high-octane fuel and spilt champagne. Drivers risk life and limb in their pursuit of the ultimate racing accolade - to be acknowledged as World Champion.
Inside the United States and Canada, Stern will offer NASCAR, a pinball machine with its own original art package. The game will offer the same great gameplay and attractions for NASCAR racing fans.
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