Steven Scott Ritchie (born February 13, 1950) is an American arcade game designer, an industry veteran who is most reknown for his Pinball games.
Ritchie joined Atari in 1974 as an electro-mechanical technician, but soon advanced to their fledgling pinball division and worked with Eugene Jarvis on Airborne Avenger and Superman. Before the latter was released, however, Ritchie moved to Chicago and joined the prominent pinball company Williams Electronics. There, he developed an extensive list of renown pinball machines, including Flash, Firepower, Black Knight, High Speed, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Ritchie has also helped in the development of many video games for Bally and Midway, and provided the voice of Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3. Today, Ritchie is the lead of Steve Ritchie Productions (SRP), where he develops pinball machines for Stern Pinball, such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and AC/DC.
Steve Ritchie is known as "The Master of Flow" by pinball enthusiasts, as his playfield designs heavily favor fast ball speeds, large loops, and associated combos. He is an avid fan of PC gaming, motocross racing, and street motorcycles. He is married to Dianne Ritchie, and is the older brother of fellow pinball designer Mark Ritchie.
Steve Ritchie's games include:
- Airborne Avenger (Atari, 1977)
- Superman (Atari, 1979)
- Stellar Wars (Williams, 1979)
- Flash (Williams, 1979)
- Firepower (Williams, 1980)
- Black Knight (Williams, 1980)
- Hyperball (Williams, 1981)
- High Speed (Williams, 1986)
- F-14 Tomcat (Williams, 1987)
- Black Knight 2000 (Williams, 1989)
- Rollergames (Williams, 1990)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Williams, 1991)
- The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams, 1993)
- No Fear: Dangerous Sports (Williams, 1995)
- California Speed (Atari Games, 1996)
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Stern, 2003)
- Elvis (Stern, 2004)
- World Poker Tour (Stern, 2006)
- Spider-Man (Stern, 2007)
- 24 (Stern, 2009)
- AC/DC (Stern, 2012)
- Star Trek (Stern, 2013)
- Game of Thrones (Stern, 2015)
- Star Wars (Stern, 2017)
- Black Knight: Sword of Rage (Stern, 2019)
Tropes frequently appearing in Steve Ritchie's works include:
- Author Appeal: High Speed, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and No Fear: Dangerous Sports are but a few examples.
- Breakthrough Hit: Flash is widely regarded as this for Steve.
- Context-Sensitive Button: Many of his Stern-published games feature a button in the center of the lockdown bar that performs different actions depending on what's currently happening. For example, in Star Wars, it can disable the multiplier to allow changing of which shots are affected by the multiplier and then re-enable it or be used in a Button Mashing minigame where you try to blow up as many TIE Fighters as possible.
- Creator Backlash:
- Creator Cameo: Ritchie provides his own speech in many of his games, like the Black Knight in Black Knight and Black Knight 2000, Car 504 in High Speed and The Getaway: High Speed II, General Yagov in F-14 Tomcat, the male announcer in Rollergames, and Skull the Bone Head in No Fear.
- Guttural Growler: As noted above in Creator Cameo, Steve often uses his naturally deep voice for callouts in his games.
- Promoted Fanboy: He became a pinball designer after creating Airborne Avenger in his off-hours for a year, then showing his design to Atari president Nolan Bushnell.
- Rated M for Manly: As pointed out in the above quote.
- Signature Style: Ritchie's tables tend to have the following:
- An emphasis on combos and non-stop flowing shots.
- A Combo shot: outer left loop shot to the upper right flipper, for a shot to an upper loop or side ramp.note
- A wide left outlane, with a kickback to shoot the ball back into play.
- Two sets of three targets, just above the triangle bumpers.
- A preference for adversarial themes, where it's the player vs. the Big Bad (Black Knight, F-14 Tomcat, Terminator 3). Star Trek: The Next Generation pits the player against three adversaries, and Spider-Man pits the player against four adversaries.
- Trope Maker: First rollover lane change? Firepower. First progressive jackpot? High Speed. First autosave? F-14 Tomcat. First Wizard Mode? Black Knight 2000. First Video Mode? Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And that's just the gameplay tropes.
- Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Ritchie used to discuss both current and upcoming projects exclusively on the Pinside Forums, but has now since dropped his presence there completely due to Pinside's notorious vitriol.