Disney Will Be Making All Kinds Of Star Wars Spin-OffsWe already knew that the newly minted Star Wars-owners at Disney are planning a new trilogy, the first film of which will be directed by nerd-king J.J. Abrams.

It's also been heavily rumored that Disney would be making spin-off movies outside of the trilogy. Sounds like that is indeed the way it's going to go down. Speaking with CNBC, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the House of Mouse is planning additional spin-off films based on individual characters. Here's CNBC:

And, big news "Star Wars" fans: Disney, which announced it would buy Lucasfilm last year, plans to make spinoff movies based on characters in addition to the three sequels it had previously announced, CEO Bob Iger told CNBC in an interview after the earnings report.

This raises all sorts of questions, the most fun one being: if you could see a spinoff Star Wars film focusing on any character from the films, which one would it be?

It's a little tough for me since half of my favorite Star Wars characters are from Knights of the Old Republic, but I'd totally watch a spinoff about Lando Calrissian wheeling and dealing, scoundreling it up with the ladies, always with a wink and a million-dollar grin. I'm sure Billy Dee could make a cameo or something.

But how about you? What Star Wars spinoff would you like to see?

(Top image via Scenic Reflections)

These Are The Dead Space Spin-Offs I Really Want to PlayI'm not a Dead Space guy. Oh sure, the series is great, but Fatal Frame and Silent Hill are more my speed when it comes to pants-wetting horror. But you know what would make me a Dead Space guy? Absurdist spin-offs and mods.

How about a survival-horror game starring legendary comedian, father figure and star of the Cosby Show, Bill Cosby?

These Are The Dead Space Spin-Offs I Really Want to Play

Or a spin-off in an alternate universe where everyone is a giant Shiba Inu puppy? All upgrades would be chew-toy related.

These Are The Dead Space Spin-Offs I Really Want to Play

Or perhaps a gritty sequel to the movie Office Space? Players can customize their own Swingline stapler.

These Are The Dead Space Spin-Offs I Really Want to Play

Or maybe if the Dude from the Big Lebowski played a space marine out of his element, trying to track down the Necromorphs that peed on his rug?

These Are The Dead Space Spin-Offs I Really Want to Play Got an absurd Dead Space spin-off you'd like to see become a reality? Submit it in the comments. Bonus points if you throw in some Photoshop magic.


Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The Kotaku ReviewSly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a pleasant PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita game that feels like it has been plucked out of a time warp.

It arrives on the eve of the expected February 20 announcement of the make-or-break PlayStation 4 and yet it calls back to an era of easy dominance by the PlayStation 2.

A decade ago, the colorful, cartoony Sly Cooper games were PS2 partners with its fellow PlayStation mascot exclusives, Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. These games were a PlayStation flavor of Super Mario, Banjo Kazooie and Sonic the Hedgehog. The Sly ones were, arguably the most sophisticated of that PlayStation bunch. They were globe-trotting heist capers (starring anthropomorphic animals, yes) that asked players to sometimes do something that colorful kid-friendly action games rarely asked players to do: be subtle. Hide. Climb across a city's roofs. Pickpocket. Get the drop on the bad guys. Use stealth.

The world seemed to move on from Sly Cooper, and from Ratchet, Jak, Clank and Daxter. Their creators did, bailing on all but the Ratchet series and putting some hair on their chest by making gritty first-person shooters and spirited, realistically-acted adventures. The Sly studio, Sucker Punch, switched to making two (and counting) Infamous games about an electrically charged super-hero who fights evil amid the squalor of damaged cities.

Now, Sly Cooper is back, from a different studio called Sanzaru. The new game is remarkably similar to the old ones, as if time didn't pass and things suddenly just became much prettier. But time has passed. Old-time Sly Cooper players are older and might feel that a return to the series is like a return to their childhood pajamas.

There's an odder thing about Thieves in Time. We last had a new Sly Cooper game in 2005. Two years after that, entirely unrelated, Ubisoft made a new globe-trotting action game series. The games in this series asked players to sometimes do something that action games rarely asked players to do: be subtle. Hide. Climb across a city's roofs. Pickpocket. Get the drop on the bad guys. Use stealth. Those games are called Assassin's Creed, and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time feels oddly, magically and pleasingly like a colorful kid version of one of them—My First Assassin's Creed, as it were. Sly has a new peer now.


The structure of Thieves in Time will be familiar to longtime Sly Cooper players and to players of, say, the multi-city Assassin's Creed II and III. The game is set in six different cities, each an open-world hub full of streets filled with guards, roofs to run across, collectible items to find and nodes that lead to missions. The Thieves in Time twist is that each city is in a different era. In each era lives an ancestor to Sly Cooper, raccoon thief. He must find them. You will get to play as them. One of them is an old ninja Cooper named Rioichi who can jump unusually far. Another is a wild west outlaw who turns this series, ever so briefly, into a third-person shooter. He's the most fun of the bunch.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The Kotaku Review
WHY: A game that looks this good and that tries so hard to make you smile deserves some of your attention.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Developer: Sanzaru
Platforms: PlayStation 3 and Vita (reviewed across both)
Released: February 5th

Type of game: Single-player heist caper starring anthropomorphic animals; an interactive Looney Tune.

What I played: The whole thing, mostly on PS3, but sometimes on Vita. No internal game clock, but maybe it took 10 hours?

Two Things I Loved

My Two Things I Hated

  • Too easy. Worse, really: it's too simple.
  • Bad Vita gimmicks a byproduct of trying to me-too the Wii U.


  • "Start your kid's Assassin's Creed experience right here!" —Stephen Totilo, Kotaku.com
  • "It's too easy, except for that darn archery mini-game." —Stephen Totilo, Kotaku.com

Assassin's Creed games have always shown their seams and, mixing metaphors, sputtered to contain the ambitions of their creators. Like Sly games, they were and are rich with accents, packed with dialogue and jammed with different kinds of gameplay. The games are made to let us seemingly go anywhere, meet anyone and do anything. They're at their worst/best when the gameplay part of that seems to surpass what the technology and controls tied to the games can handle. To put it another way, if you've played an Assassin's Creed game you've experienced at least once (probably more like 28 times) a moment when you try to make your assassin run one way and then jump ahead, but the dope jumps 90 degrees in the wrong direction and you fail whatever you were trying to do.

Sly Cooper games never did that. As Thieves in Time does, they err on the side of helping the player too much, of overcompensating for badly-entered controls. Try to nail a running jump in Thieves and the game expects you to tap the circle button to initiate an automated course-correction. You'll see Sly or one of his ancestors shift, mid-leap, toward the intended target. It's Assassin's Creed with training wheels.

This feeling of playing a junior stealth game permeates Thieves in Time. If you've spent the post-Sly years, as I have, honing your video game stealth skills in the less forgiving grounds of Assassin's Creed, Dishonored, Mark of the Ninja and Far Cry 3 (wow, what a year we just had for stealth games!), then you've been conditioned to a less forgiving world than Thieves in time. It's jarring to jump to a rooftop in one of this game's gorgeous cities, bump into a guard (who is an armed owl or stork, because this is a Sly game!), have that guard give chase and see that all the other guards within view—the ones in the streets and the ones on other roofs—don't care at all about what's going on. Big ape guards in this game prowl cobblestone streets, their lamps emanating a disc of light in front of their feet. You can stand in front of one of these guards and, as long as you're not in that disc of light, the guard can't see you. Pickpocketing is so easy-and fun!-in this game that the challenge isn't to pickpocket an enemy once but to snatch the coins from his wallet three times in rapid succession. The third pluck will often yield a treasure.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The Kotaku Review

The primitive stealth systems in Thieves in Time might be a bother, except for two things: 1) those of us who played the older Sly games have grown up some and this game isn't really for us, so, hey, no sweat that it's all a bit simple; 2) who cares about this stuff when you're playing one of the best-looking, best-sounding games of this console generation.


One pity of the Wii was that we were kept another six years from seeing what some of video games' most colorful series would look like if they were built, from the ground up, for HD graphics. On PS3, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time shows what could have been. Here we have a colorful, cel-shaded game in HD. It is stunning.

How stunning?

This might be a little mean, but the comparison will help.

Here is Thieves in Time running on the PlayStation Vita, Sony's powerful handheld:

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The Kotaku Review

Here is the same game running on the mighty PS3. Same level geometry. Much more detail.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The Kotaku Review

Thieves in Time is a stop-and-stare game. It's a showpiece, a game whose rooftops you'll climb in order to take a moment and pan the camera. This is thanks to Sanzaru's skills, the PS3's power and to the driving aesthetic of the game: great cartoons. Every character, building and vehicle in Thieves in Time is looks like a piece of bright, lovely, angular linework, all painted by people hoping to make you happy. The music, by Grim Fandango and Psychonauts composer Peter McConnell, is mostly jazzy, perpetually peppy and varied. To nail the tone, Sanzaru brings back one of the series' best audio gimmicks: when you sneak Sly close up behind his enemy he appears to switch to tiptoe and each footfall resounds with the rapid, playful pluck of a cello string. If you don't feel like you're playing an Assassin's Creed when you're playing Thieves in Time you might feel like you're playing a Looney Tune.


By the time Sucker Punch got to Sly 3, the series was overflowing with things to do. Sly adventures were always about thievery... about climbing to the tops of museums, opening their skylights, circumventing their security systems and making off with some treasure. Literally and proverbially, depending on the mission in question. That basic concept was constantly expanded. Players could control Sly sidekicks Murray and Bentley. While Sly-based gameplay was about agility, climbing and stealth, Murray missions were about being the kind of bruiser you'd expect a pink cartoon hippo to be. The wheelchair-bound turtle genius Bentley, who remains, sadly, one of the only playable disabled characters in all of video games, could fight a little but was mostly good for hacking. Sucker Punch used these characters to introduce a stunning variety of gameplay that would make a WarioWare designer envious. By Sly 3 we'd not just run, punched and hacked in the style of old arcade games, we'd also flown biplanes, had dialogue-driven arguments with ourselves, and, most amazingly of all in the third game, suddenly switched to playing a massive open-world adventure in which we could sail a wooden frigate, hunting treasure and getting into naval cannon duels with other large-masted ships (insert yet another Assassin's Creed remark here?).

That wild variety has been tamed a little in Thieves in Time, which is a bit of a shame. You can still go on missions as Murray and Bentley and a handful of other characters. There are arcade-style hacking mini-games. There are turret missions. None of them are all that hard, except for one weirdly-tuned late-game archery contest. But there's more of a return to focusing on the core thievery than there was in Sly 3. More platforming, more sneaking, less of a grab-bag of other activities.

Experienced gamers might find many of the missions in Thieves in Time a shade tedious. Most of the game's tasks are so simple that they need the garnish of the game's great graphics and stellar soundtrack to keep players interested. That window-dressing is helped with smart writing and plotting. Sly and his gang of thieves banter well. They sound like cartoon characters, but they also sound like real friends. And they're put in situations that, well, other games should try. For example, one series of absurdly-simple mini-games would be condemnatory if they weren't presented as an interactive Rocky-style training montage that was ultimately about getting a character in shape for a major mission.

One of Thieves in Time's laughably easy spy missions would be mere busywork if the guy you were tailing wasn't having a hilarious time trying to maneuver his way into a better area of cell phone coverage for his trans-time telephone call. The poor villain keeps getting his call dropped. Why did it take a Sly Cooper game for a bit like that to pop up in a game I've played?

More games should sparkle with this much wit and charm.


You could play Thieves in Time all on a Vita, but you shouldn't. The audio carries over but, as shown above, the visuals don't. On the Vita, the game merely looks decent. If you have a PS3, play it there. After all, why stare at the postcard when you can admire the real thing? The answer is because the real thing doesn't travel well, and, so, yes, the Vita version is good for continuing the game on the go. It's bundled free with the PS3 version, and I took advantage of the ability to transfer my save file, through the cloud, from one machine to the other. It's a matter of convenience and feels as futuristic as it feels ostentatious to bring this game from expensive device to expensive device. Hey, if it works for some iPhone and iPad games…

More games should sparkle with this much wit and charm.

Thives in Time's other Vita implementations are sad. The Sony handheld can do a wretched Wii U imitation by operating as a second-screen scanner. In theory you can hold the Vita up, pointing it at the TV and possibly, maybe, having the Vita screen act as a viewfinder, displaying markers where hidden items lie in the graphics on your TV. I couldn't get this to work and will stick with ZombiU's much more effective version, thank you very much.

You can also hit a button on the Vita and make it just match the visuals of the PS3 version but with a green night-vision filter, again to highlight hidden items. This would be nice if I had a third hand to hold the Vita while wielding the PS3 controller that I'm ostensibly using to get Sly to pick up the hidden stuff marked on the Vita screen. Unfortunately, I don't have a third hand. I had to rest the Vita on my lap, hold my hands to the side and repeatedly glance from Vita to TV to get this to work. If Nintendo wants to advertise the wisdom of baking the second screen into a controller so that the screen is between your hands and not falling off your lap, they might want to see if they can feature Thieves in Time in one of their commercials as an example of what not to do.


Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has the potential to be a lot of things to a lot of people: a PlayStation nostalgia piece, a gentle introduction to stealth game newcomers, a beautiful interactive cartoon. It succeeds at most of that. It's biggest problems are that it's too easy and not a very successful lab rat for the Vita. Those aren't all that damning. It's a pleasure to have this series back.


Wow, PC graphics have really come a long way.

YouTube user PerfectHandVideos created this fascinating, 130-minute-long collection of real-time PC graphics, using Nvidia demos, graphics benchmarks and in-game benchmarks in chronological order from 2000 to present day.

The 3DMark 2001 Matrix scene still looks stunning, that's for sure.

The Evolution Of Real Time PC Graphics [YouTube]


Zynga Cancels Three Games Less Than Four Months OldDuring today's Zynga conference call it was announced that the company would be closing CityVille 2, the incredibly promising The Friend Game and the mobile Party Place, three recent releases that performed below expectations.

CityVille 2 was launched at the beginning of November 2012, delayed slightly due to Hurricane Sandy's effect on the Baltimore development studio. Party Place dropped in early December, and The Friend Game, which some of us loved, was an early December game as well.

While these closures will no doubt come as a shock to fans, they do signify that the company is done taking chances on games that don't take off.

The closure of CityVille 2 might have something to do with the recent departure of Zynga's chief game designer Brian Reynolds last month, as he played a key role in the development of the title.

Six Comics You Should Get This Week If you're here in the Panel Discussion programming block, you might be a lapsed comics reader, trying to find a way back to the JLA Satellite. Or you might someone killing time until you pick up your weekly Wednesday pull list. Or maybe you've said goodbye to dozens of longboxes to embrace the promise of digital comics. Whichever it is, you're still interested in the good stuff.

Welcome, then, to the Panel Discussion Dozen Sextet, where I pick out just-released or out-soon comics that I think are worth paying attention to. Ready? Then, let's meet the sequential art that'll be draining your wallet this week. Be sure to chime in with the books you'll be picking up or that you think everybody should be reading in the comments.

Six Comics You Should Get This Week Green Arrow #17
The title featuring DC Comics' resident archer has struggled to find its groove ever since the publisher's New 52 relaunch more than a year ago. The take was essentially "Steve Jobs as a bow-and-arrow superhero" and it floundered no matter who was writing or drawing it. But the new team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are off to a promising start in their debut issue, which puts newly-bankrupt Oliver Queen on the run from killers who clearly outclass him. Lemire's penchant for strong character dynamics and snappy dialogue finds great realization in Sorrentino's moody, stylized art. I'll definitely be back next month to see what happens.

Six Comics You Should Get This Week Animal Man #17/Swamp Thing #17
The Rotworld mini-crossover between the flora and fauna-empowered characters ends this week and, while I've enjoyed the individual issues, I really hope there's a genuine status quo shift that comes out of this plotline. Incremental changes have happened in each series but this is the blowout that each has been leading to. It'd be a shame if these already good books don't get invigorated after Alec Holland and Buddy Baker face down this horrific future where decay rules the Earth.

Six Comics You Should Get This WeekSnapshot #1

This image comic comes from the same team that did the under-appreciated Losers series at DC/Vertigo. If you didn't read it, you should know that Andy Diggle has a knack for cool, taut thrillers and artist Jock is one of the best guys at using shadow and minimalism to create tension and release. Maybe you need more. Here's the solicitation info:

Jake Dobson is your typical nerd; works at the Near-Mint Rhino comic-book store in San Francisco. But when he finds a lost cell phone, he's horrified to discover it's full of snapshots of a murder victim. Suddenly he finds himself hunted by a vengeful hitman who wants his phone back... and Jake in a body bag! And then things start to get *really* complicated...

Six Comics You Should Get This WeekFearless Defenders #1
I loved Matt Fraction's just-canceled Defenders book and should be wary of this new-direction take on Marvel's non-team. But I'm a sucker for odd-couple pairings and a title built around Asgardian warrior Valkyrie and bionic private eye Misty Knight could make for some interesting friction. We'll see how this one goes.

Six Comics You Should Get This Week New Avengers #3
Yes, I love the Black Panther. But I also love the core premise of this book, which is: the smartest, most powerful leaders in the Marvel Universe thought they knew better only to be proven wrong. And now they get another chance to band together, without the luxury of messing up again. Hickman's gotten a lot of conceptual mileage from this so far and thing look to get only bigger as the series continues.

Too Bad This Mega Man & Sonic Comic-Book Crossover Isn't an Actual GameThe long-teased crossover between Capcom and Sega's iconic characters inches ever closer and each bit of preview art makes fans teases fans with the fact that this mash-up doesn't exist in playable form.

Hey, if Mega Man can take on the World Warriors of Street Fighter and Sonic can duke it out with Mario in their Olympic-themed titles, then why can't this happen, right? Until the two Japanese publishers that own Sonic and Mega Man see the light, crossover fanatics will have to make do with this Archie Comics event. Who knows where would such a game fit in each character's canon? But it would probably be fun to have the Blue Bomber and the super-fast hedgehog explore each other's worlds.

Too Bad This Mega Man & Sonic Comic-Book Crossover Isn't an Actual Game


PR Vs. Reality: A Dead Space 3 Story

Once upon a time there was a video game publisher named Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts was a very big video game publisher with lots of money and friends. Every year, they would release lots and lots of video games, which they would sell for lots and lots more money and friends.

One day, Electronic Arts was ready to launch a Very Big Game! It was called Dead Space 3, and Electronic Arts wanted people to buy it. But how could they make it look as good as possible? Electronic Arts thought and thought. Suddenly, they got it! They would write a Press Release! They would fill it with mystical alchemical ingredients with exotic names like Hyperbole and Cherry-Picked Review Scores.

So Electronic Arts sent out the Press Release to Media and Investors all across the world.

Dead Space 3 Launches Today to Global Critical Acclaim – Heralded as One of the Best Games of This Generation

Dead Space 3 is an International hit having received a 9.0 from Multiplayer.it in Italy, 9.0 from AusGamers in Australia, 8.8 from 3DJuegos.com in Spain and a 9.75 from Game Informer magazine in North America. As a result of these four, the game is launching with an average score of 91, and being raved by Game Informer magazine who said Dead Space 3, '[is] one of the best games of this generation.'

Electronic Arts was happy! The Press Release was a success. They would sell lots of video games and make lots of money and their Investors would all be very happy.

But then, Big Bad Reality came lumbering in with an ugly smile on his face. "I come from the city of Metacriticopolis," he said, "where all of the numbers people assign games live."

"I have a message for you from my city," he continued, in a gruff voice. "You did not get a 91. You got a 79."

And Electronic Arts was heartbroken, and they cried and cried. But they learned a lesson that day: To stop spinning and distorting, because telling the truth looks a lot less ridiculous than trying to skew it just to make yourself look good.

The End.

Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing Artwork That Will Make You Think Batman Actually Exists I didn't like Lee Bermejo's take on the Batman costume at first. For someone like me who grew up on Jim Aparo and Don Newton's versions of the Dark Knight in the 1970s and 1980s, the way he rendered certain elements of that classic costume felt… off. The stiff lower part of the cowl? The chunky seams on the uniform? Visible eyeballs?! Where was all that signature Bat-sleekness?

But then it clicked. Bermejo's Batman threatens to jump off the page and into reality.

If a real person was as rich and crazy-driven as Bruce Wayne, then he could get all the stuff on Bermejo's drawings. Buckle-laden boots, multiple layers of Kevlar, military-grade ouch belts… all of it could be cobbled together. And Batman would exist. That thinking—"what would this creature-of-the-night look like if it swooped past me tomorrow night?"—is readily apparent in Bermejo's work. He's one of the most distinct artists working in comics today. Here's why I like him.

Why His Style Rocks: With Bermejo, it's the way that he grounds the fantastic to real-world materials. Costume stitches pucker across superhero musculature, fending off the easy cheat where a uniform is just a colored physique. The singlemindedness—whether maniacally evil or altruistic—of superhero fiction comes alive on a Bermejo page. Superman, Joker and all the rest really, really have to believe what they do to do it. And Bermejo really has to believe in what they do to draw it.

Best Known For: Loads of covers for Marvel and DC. His highest profile projects are probably Batman: Noel, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker (both of the latter two with writer Brian Azzarello).

Personal Favorite: Joker. Azzarello writes a Clown Prince of Crime that's multifaceted in this graphic novel: almost sympathetic, repulsively sexy and lethally stylish. Bermejo makes all of those aspects hypnotic to look at in one of the most memorable takes on Batman's mortal enemy.

Original Art: If you want to own a piece of Bermejo's work, Splash Page Comic Art (http://www.splashpageart.com/artistgallerytitles.asp?artistid=85) is a good place to start.

Have a favorite piece of Lee Bermejo art? Share it in the comments below.

Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing Artwork That Will Make You Think Batman Actually Exists Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing Artwork That Will Make You Think Batman Actually Exists Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing Artwork That Will Make You Think Batman Actually Exists Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing Artwork That Will Make You Think Batman Actually Exists


When Zen Studios went to Lucasarts about a year ago, they offered a straightforward pitch for a series of Star Wars-themed pinball tables. OK, here's the Original Trilogy pack: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi. OK, now here are the three prequels ...

"They said no," said Neil Sorens, Zen's creative director, "we want you to explore. Go into the expanded universe, get into the characters, everything. 'We'd like you to pull out some surprising and interesting stuff.'"

That's why the first three tables in Zen's Star Wars Pinball series are not Episodes IV, V and VI, but The Empire Strikes Back followed by a dedicated Boba Fett table, and then one based on The Clone Wars animated feature. The series will arrive for Zen's pinball game on "a multitude of platforms," principally the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Mac. Other platforms are still being worked out, a Zen spokesman said. Pricing and a release date have yet to be specified.

Star Wars has a long and noble history in pinball—on real tables—so when Zen first started constructing virtual ones, fans naturally clamored to see it, too. "Ever since I've been in the company, when we first started working on pinball, Star Wars has definitely been at the top of everybody's list," Sorens said. "Fans would bring it up and we'd also say the same thing: 'Wouldn't it be cool?'

"But at that point, it was completely unrealistic," Sorens said. Zen had just gotten started with unlicensed tables like Speed Machine and Agents. It wasn't until Pinball FX2 introduced its Marvel Pinball series in 2010 that Zen acquired the creative and reputational heft it would need to land a Star Wars-sized deal.

"Working with Marvel, I think, Lucas saw that we were able to treat their brand with respect and do well with it," Sorens said. Their Lucasarts liaison pointed to what Zen did with Blade, a relatively minor Marvel character, as a reason why Lucas wanted Zen to explore all that Star Wars had to offer, rather than stick to a liturgy of movie-themed releases.

That said, beginning with The Empire Strikes Back was almost a no-brainer. "If we were going to do a movie table, that would be the one," Sorens said. "It's the most iconic and well liked movie, the apex of the classic Star Wars films."

The main table missions in Empire will be scenes from the film, Sorens said, "very easy to start, very accessible." A lightsaber ball return positioned by one of the sinkholes will appeal to advanced players, and the game's wizard-mode showdown will feature Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader in Cloud City's reactor. Movie scenes will play out on the game's dot-matrix board, calling to mind other pinball adaptations of Star Wars, principally Data East's brilliant 1991 table.

Sorens said none of the 10 tables planned will be derivative of earlier works. "We've generally stayed away from imitating other pinball tables or being referential to them," he said. "Earlier on, when some of our [unlicensed] tables were derivative of real-world tables, we looked on that as sort of a black mark on our history. So we've really tried to get away from that."

Boba Fett, the second table in the series of three, is at once an unorthodox but obvious choice. "He's a guy with a lot of name recognition and popularity, very disproportionate to the amount of screen time he gets in the series," Sorens said. "We wanted to introduce people to the character, and it's also sort of a fan service to those who like Boba Fett." Its audio features all-new dialogue, including Jabba the Hutt, speaking in Huttese.

As for The Clone Wars, the table is "based largely on the plot of the movie. It's ramp-heavy and you'll see a lot of combos, a mix of getting the ball between the upper and lower playing fields," Sorens said.

As a centerpiece product for Zen, working on Star Wars Pinball was unquestionably a preferred assignment for the staff's 30-man team working on pinball in Zen's Hungary office. Nearly everyone had a Star Wars pinball concept in mind years ago, so Zen had to rotate creative staff to make sure all the developers got a shot. With 10 tables in the series, they will (the themes and release window for the other seven have not been announced.)

"Some people might say, 'Oh, it's just pinball,'" Sorens said, "but when you work on it, it's still super cool. Back in the days when we were doing original tables, people generally liked them, but it wasn't the kind of stuff they write about in The Wall Street Journal.

"We've been happy to work on pinball whether it's the big mainstream tables or not. But the large stuff really makes you feel that you've come into your own, and you're legit now."

Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: Boba Fett
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars Pinball Proposes a Unique Trilogy With Its First Three TablesStar Wars Pinball: The Clone Wars.