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Interview: The Force is strong with Star Wars Pinball's Neil Sorens

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Posted by: Robert Workman

When Star Wars Pinball was officially announced a couple of weeks ago, fans went crazy for it, eager to play new tables based on The Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett and The Clone Wars (with seven more designs to come throughout the year.)  We decided to get more insight on the game, so we had a chance to briefly speak with Zen Studios' creative director Neil Sorens about the upcoming collection.  He had plenty of details on hand, but, sadly, did not bring a plastic lightsaber.  Oh, well.  Next time.

First off, this announcement has been a long time coming.  How did you guys go about talking with LucasFilm about Star Wars tables?

We’ve been talking to LucasArts off and on for a few years.  Once we’d proven that we had a quality product and that we could work with big brands like Marvel, they were more willing to finalize a deal. Everyone has enjoyed working together on the project. 

Did you have to make any changes to the agreement following Disney's buyout of the franchise?  Or was everything already set into place?

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No, the Disney buyout didn’t affect anything we were doing.  After having the same thing happen with both Marvel and LucasArts, though, we have to wonder if Disney is stalking us!

Now, with these tables, you're doing a diverse mix.  Some are based on movies, others on characters.  Explain how this design decision came about.

We originally just pitched one table per movie to start things out, but LucasArts wanted us to be less boring and predictable.  Of course, we were happy to oblige.  We still have a couple movie/show tables in the first pack to cover the must-do stuff, but we’ll get more into depth with tables based on specific characters – like the Boba Fett table - and events in future packs.

Do you use sound effects and soundtracks from the films, or are they completely original?  Were any of the actors called in to reprise their roles?

There’s a mix of both.  We did record some new voice lines using the actors that LucasArts wanted us to use.  You’ll hear some familiar voices saying unfamiliar lines.

What did the LucasFilm team think of the tables?

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They seem to be happy with the end result.  You’d have to ask them for their detailed opinion, though.

Did you make any design decisions based on previously released Star Wars arcade pinballs, or did you just stick with original ideas?

We just stuck with original ideas – that’s what our fans want from us.

Will we possibly see a table dedicated to Yoda?  Just wondering.

Possible, it is.

Tags: Star Wars Pinball, Zen Studios, LucasFilm, Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Empire Strikes Back, Boba Fett, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

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