The Force Is Strong With Star Wars Rebels Pinball

By John Gaudiosi (gamerlive.tv) - Mon, May 11, 2015

Disney XD has a hit with its computer animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels. The second season of the show hits the small screen in June, featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Gamers will be able to play with characters from the show this fall in the Disney Infinity Star Wars game, but they can jump into the universe now with Zen Pinball’s Star Wars Rebels table. Steven Hopper, director of communications at Zen Studios, explains how his studio worked with NVIDIA Tegra technology to bring The Force to pinball in this exclusive interview.

What were your goals with the Star Wars Rebels table?
When it came to the Rebels table, we really wanted to do several things. We wanted to make sure that we represented the characters from the hit show well and in a way that fans of the series would appreciate, while maintaining the lightheartedness and spirit of the show’s universe.

Most importantly, we wanted the table to simply be fun to play for fans of Zen Pinball and of Star Wars: Rebels, so we incorporated brightly colored environments, swooping ramps, high scoring game modes, and a great flow. This is our 11th Star Wars Pinball table, so we definitely wanted to make something special!

How have you captured the essence of the Disney show here?
What makes Star Wars: Rebels such a fun and exciting show is that it not only capitalizes on the unique feel of the Star Wars universe, but that it also presents a new host of characters teeming with personality. The Ghost’s crew is an eclectic group, and being able to give each crew member their own specific mode gave us a lot of room to have fun with them.

How did you work with Disney on this project?
We’ve had a very long and fruitful relationship with Lucas for several years now, going back to the original Star Wars Pinball and prior to their relationship with Disney. Together, they’ve both been fantastic and open to our pinball ideas for their properties.

What are some cool elements of this table you can discuss?
There are a lot of great elements in the Star Wars Pinball: Star Wars Rebels table! The main modes are nicely varied, but my favorite would have to be Chopper’s mode, which triggers a “Breakout” style mini-game as the little droid fixes the Ghost’s shields. Otherwise, the table is bright, fast, and extremely fun!

What does NVIDIA K1 technology open up for this table?
NVIDIA's K1 technology basically allows us to pull out all the stops when creating for the mobile platform. We are able to pack a ton of detail into the game and keep all of the exciting pinball action moving at a smooth clip.

How does Tegra X1 impact Star Wars Rebels?
The Tegra platform as a whole has always been one of premier ways for Zen to tackle the mobile platform, and its prowess at providing the best graphics and smoothest gameplay possible on mobile helps us maintain Zen Pinball’s reputation as not only the best looking pinball game around, but also the best playing.

What are your thoughts on how far mobile gaming has come?
The mobile platform has grown exponentially over the years, both technologically and in terms of worldwide presence. The platform’s ubiquity, when coupled with advancements in graphics and technology from innovators like NVIDIA, make for very exciting future developments.

How does pinball fit in with this mobile revolution?
In many ways, pinball is the perfect game for the mobile platform. The fundamentals are easy for just about anyone to grasp and do a few quick rounds on the go, while hardcore pinball fans will be able to hone their skills and improve their score through some more challenging goals. If you just want to do a fast session on the bus or spend serious time learning the nuances of a table, pinball has your number.

How did you work with NVIDIA on this project?
We’ve been working with NVIDIA on the mobile version of Zen Pinball for a very long time now, and their skills in driving technology and graphics on the mobile platform allow us to make our game look and play as phenomenally as we could hope for.