Avatar (full title: James Cameron's Avatar) is a pinball machine based on the popular 2009 Science Fiction film by James Cameron. It was designed by John Borg and Lonnie D. Ropp, with artwork by Kevin O'Connor, and released by Stern Pinball in 2010.
As one would expect, the game follows the highlights of the movie, recreating Jake Sully's encounters with the natives of Pandora and their resistance against the Unobtainium mining plans of Colonel Quaritch and the RDA. As Jake, the player will ride a giant Banshee, befriend the Na'vi, collect the seeds from the Tree of Souls, and play with the helicoradian plants. Receive gifts from Eywa, battle the Valkyrie bomber, topple Quaritch's AMP suit, then lead the Na'vi in the Final Battle for the fate of the planet.
Avatar was released at a time when Stern Pinball was moving towards simpler games to reduce costs, and a first glance at the sparse playfield leads many people to think it's a pushover. In reality, like Pandora itself, this is an unforgiving and brutally difficult title, one that requires precise aim and well-honed shooting skills to prevail. While the rules are not too deep, they still require mastery of the entire table, and the blazing speed means careless players can lose their ball in an eyeblink. Players tend to be divided as a result, between those who relish its Nintendo Hard challenge and those who wanted a more forgiving game with broader appeal.
The game includes a 3D backbox translite and custom voice clips from Stephen Lang (Col. Quaritch). In addition to the standard game, a Premium Limited Edition of Avatar was also available, with a motorized marching AMP, a shaker motor, additional playfield models, and a lighter ceramic Powerball that increases scoring when in play.
The Avatar pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Aerith and Bob: The six Na'vi characters — Jake, Neytiri, Eytukan, Mo'at, Tsu'vey, and Grace.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The AMP suit is vulnerable via a single target between its legs.Quaritch: "Missed me!"
- Bond Creatures: Lighting the game's three "Bond" rollovers allows the player to instantly collect one of the Na'vi.
- The Computer Shall Taunt You: Colonel Quaritch constantly insults you during the game.Quaritch: "You're gonna need more points than that, son."
- Ethereal Choir: Used in the game's soundtrack.
- Everyone Meets Everyone: "Na'vi Multiball," which requires gathering the game's six Na'vi together.
- Giant Flyer: "Fly the Banshee" mode. Limited edition games also have a large Banshee toy at the top of the playfield.Quaritch: "I hate these flyin' lizards."
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: The blue-skinned Na'vi, of course.
- Horse of a Different Color: The six-legged blue direhorse.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The full title is James Cameron's Avatar
- Large Ham: Stephen Lang, who delivers the game's custom callouts as Quaritch in full Drill Sergeant Nasty form.Quaritch: "AMP Suuuuuuuuuit Jackpot!"
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Limited Edition table, of which only 250 units were made.
- Match Sequence: A clip of Eywa seeds surrounding Jake is shown, with the match number superimposed on it.
- Mini-Mecha: The AMP suit, which topples over when it is defeated. In the limited edition table, it also marches at times during the game.
- Nintendo Hard: The fast speed, narrow chutes, and strict rule requirements make this game a lot harder than it looks.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The playfield is decorated with Avatar action figures from Mattel, including the AMP suit and a Banshee in the limited edition.
- Score Multiplier: On Limited Edition tables, scores are doubled when the Powerball is in play.Quaritch: "I want results, gentlemen."
- Selective Magnetism: The area in front of the AMP suit has a magnet to throw pinballs around.
- Shielded Core Boss: The AMP suit, which requires knocking down a retractible target bank before the AMP's vulnerable spot is exposed.
- Skill Shot: Plunge the ball into the flashing RDA lane for a bonus.
- Spelling Bonus: R-D-A increases the bonus multiplier, N-A-V-I enables Na'vi Scoring for Na'vi Multiball, A-M-P starts AMP Multiball, and B-A-N-S-H-E-E starts Banshee Multiball.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Explosions are shown liberally on the display and used as playfield decorations, most notably as the bumpers and as the background for the AMP suit.
- Unobtainium: It's an actual playfield target.
- Wizard Mode: "Final Battle", which is available after completing the game's six main features. This is a four-ball multiball mode, where the goal is to hit enough targets and switches on the playfield, then shoot the Unobtainium target for the Jackpot.
- Violation of Common Sense: Instead of hitting the Unobtainium target, if the player lets the ball drain down an outlane with a lit Unobtainium light, the Jackpot is increased and the ball is automatically returned to play.
- Zombie Gait: Appears in some of the Limited Edition tables, if the Na'vi action figures are carelessly positioned.