Your Guide to the Wide World of Star Wars Pinball Machines
When it comes to Star Wars pinball machines, there are a lot of options to choose from. Whether you're looking for a physical machine to add to your game room, or a digital table to play on your computer or video game console, there's definitely something out there for you. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the best Star Wars pinball machines available on the market today. We'll cover tables from Stern, Data East, Sega, Sonic and Williams, as well as digital tables from PinballFX and Arcade1up. So without further ado, let's get started!
The Enduring Popularity of Star Wars
Star Wars has been one of the most popular movie franchises for decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down. I mean, what's not to like about a grand tale of space wizards? Kids and families love the characters and story lines, and there's something for everyone in the Star Wars universe. It's no surprise then that Star Wars pinball and arcade machines are some of the most popular on the market. They offer a great way for fans to interact with the franchise, and they're (usually) a lot of fun to play.
Partly due to it's popularity as a licensed franchise, and partly due to how long the Star Wars franchise has existed within popular culture, there are a LOT of both physical and digital Star Wars pinball machines to choose from. We've rounded up some of the best below, so you can find the perfect one for your game room.
Best Physical Star Wars Pinball Machines
There's just something about playing a physical pinball machine that can't be matched by digital tables. Pinball machines are big, bulky and take up a lot of space - but they're worth it. When you have one in your own home, you can play whenever you want, without having to worry about finding a machine at the arcade or spending money on credits. In our order of preference, here are the best Star Wars pinball machines.
Stern Star Wars - The Mandalorian
In this exciting quest, players take on the role of the Mandalorian, teaming up with key allies to protect Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) while battling enemies across the galaxy.
The game design by Brian Eddy, designer of pinball classics like Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars, is fast and flowing with some challenging tight shots. The callouts by Carl Weathers and the theme music from the Mandalorian TV show add an extra layer of excitement to the game play. Plus the large Grogu toy on all models is a particular favorite feature.
Stern Star Wars - Comic Art Edition
Even though we like Stern's original Star Wars table, the Comic Art Edition that was released a few years later is enough of an improvement to put it second on our list. Same layout and rules as the 2017 edition, but features a completely redesigned art package that's meant to mimic more of a hand drawn comic art style. It's hard to find, but if you ever see one in the wild you'll see why we like it so much. It's amazing how much difference the art can make in a game, but to us, the changes really increase immersion in the theme and just the overall fun vibe of the game.
Stern Star Wars - Regular Edition
Not going to sugar coat it, this can be a very challenging pinball machine for some players. Classic Steve Ritchie design that plays fast and mean. The rules are approachable but the (sometimes confusing) multiplier system offers enough depth to keep longtime game owners and experienced players coming back for more. Once you get your shots dialed in and your strategy figured out, blowing up your score on the game can be extremely satisfying. Of all the Star Wars pinball machines on this list, this one probably possesses the highest "one more play" factor.
Learn more about Stern's Star Wars table in our games directory.
Data East - Star Wars
Originally released in 1992, Data East's take on the Star Wars license was essentially the definitive Star Wars pinball experience for many years, until Williams and Sega took their hand at some underwhelming releases later in the decade. It wouldn't be until 2016's Steve Ritchie designed game that fans would finally have something they felt to be a worthy inclusion into the Star Wars universe.
The Data East Star Wars pinball machine is light on the rule depth but generally fun to shoot with pretty excellent theme integration. The Jon Borg design offers a lot of flow and some satisfying shots (hello blowing up the Death Star).
Some pinball fans will put this game much higher on their personal lists of the best Star Wars pinball machines, but for us, it's just not as good as some of the modern releases by Stern.
Williams Star Wars - Episode 1
Famously part of Williams ultimately failed Pinball 2000 project, Star Wars Episode 1 was a John Popadiuk design and was meant to be part of a new machine that would allow owners to easily swap game playfields and other brandable elements rather then buying a whole new game. They only released one other table for this machine, the sequel to Attack from Mars, Revenge from Mars. The Pinball 2000 concept also included an integrated CRT display to give the player a feeling of additional immersion, and a blend of video game and pinball experience.
Was not a hit on release and hasn't had much staying power since. Many complain about its lack of depth (calling it a one shot game), repetitive nature, and really that it involves Jar Jar Binks to any degree. Probably a game only for Star Wars diehards or people really curious about the Pinball 2000 era of pinball history.
Sega - Star Wars Trilogy
Released in 1997 and designed by industry vets Joe Balcer and Joe Kaminkow, Sega's Star Wars Trilogy game was meant to encompass all three movies from the original Star Wars trilogy, instead of just a single film like the 1992 game would do or the upcoming Episode 1 machine would also take.
This machine has some things to like, for example an art package that's done well and a fairly creative layout. Rules are simple and easy to understand.
However, the game does suffer from some questionable design choices, and more advanced players my tire of its simple rule set much faster then normal. Can also be clunky to shoot.
Stern - Star Wars Home Edition
Honestly Stern's Star Wars Home Edition game could probably get ranked higher up on this list, but it's not a full size pinball machine, so we're inclined to keep it pretty low. This is essentially a reskin of an already stripped down version of a full-size pinball machine which includes fewer complicated mechanical components, simpler rules, a smaller screen display, etc.
Its existence in the market is to give people new to the pinball hobby a more attainable price point for entry.
Even though it looks similar to the 2017 Steve Ritchie Star Wars game, this revised version is actually designed by George Gomez. Folks who have played it generally report enjoying their experience. The game has a lot of enjoyable flow and some satisfying gameplay. People who buy one likely won't be disappointed, but if you're a more serious pinball collector or hobbyist, this may not satisfy you for very long.
Bonus: Segasa-Sonic - Star Wars
It's rarely if ever seen in the wild but technically there is another physical Star Wars pinball machine that was produced in 1987 by Segasa-Sonic, a Spanish coin-op amusement company established by Sega Enterprises.
There's not a lot to say about the Sonic Star Wars! It's unknown how many were produced, and those who have been able to get their hands on a copy report a pretty limited ruleset and barebones playfield.
Enjoy this video, as it's probably the closest most of us will come to this particular Star Wars pinball machine!
Best Virtual Star Wars Pinball Games
Now that we've covered the physical Star Wars pinball games, it's worth mentioning that there are also a ton of virtual options for Star Wars fans who may not want to commit to purchasing a single physical game. Fans have all kinds of options, from console and PC games to physical cabinets that run many different virtual games on them.
Some of the best options for digital Star Wars pinball out there include:
Arcade1Up Star Wars Virtual Pinball Machine
The Arcade1Up Star Wars Virtual Pinball Machine is about as close as you can get to real deal Star Wars pinball. The Arcade1Up uses a physical cabinet with a giant LCD display screen that's meant to look similar to a full size pinball machine, but at a fraction of the size (and cost). This virtual pinball table runs 10 tables from Zen Studios PinballFX Franchise, so you get some nice variety for your money.
- Boba Fett™
- A New Hope™
- Ahch-To Island™
- Battle of Mimban™
- Darth Vader™
- Masters of the Force™
- Star Wars: Rebels™
- Han Solo™
- The Force Awakens™
- The Empire Strikes Back™
Zen Studios PinballFX Franchise
Zen Studios - a Hungary based software and game development company, is best known for their PinballFX franchise of digital pinball games. Zen creates their own series of wholly unique pinball experiences from a variety of both licensed and unlicensed themes. Over the years, they have released a number of Star Wars focused pinball tables, which can be downloaded and played just about anywhere, including most major video game console systems and gaming PCs.
PinballFX Star Wars Pinball Tables:
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The Clone Wars
- Boba Fett
- Star Wars Rebels
- Rogue One
- Han Solo
- Return of the Jedi
- A New Hope
- Starfighter Assault
- Darth Vader
- Masters of the Force
- The Force Awakens
- Might of the First Order
- The Last Jedi
- Ahch-To Island
- Calrissian Chronicles
- Battle of Mimban
Whether you're a fan of the physical machines or the digital ones, there's no shortage of Star Wars pinball games to choose from. Our list includes some of the best options for each category, but it's by no means exhaustive. We hope you'll find something that interests you and brings you hours (or even days) of enjoyment!