In 1985, after Stern Electronics closed its doors, the pinball factory and assets were purchased by Data East, who resurrected it as their new pinball division. Their first table was 1987's Laser War, designed by Joe Kaminkow, programmed by Lonnie Ropp, and illustrated by Margaret Hudson and Kevin O'Connor.
Like the title says, the game is centered on a futuristic firefight between three teams welding Ray Guns shooting Frickin' Laser Beams. Hit the Red, Yellow, and Blue targets, then return to the corresponding colored bases to enable multiball. Charge up the Ion Cannon, then fire it during three-ball multiball for a devastating million points. Let the 2.1 stereo sound keep your adrenaline pumping, but don't get distracted by the nonstop lightshow and dazzling flashers.
Among pinheads, Laser War is known for three things — its Ham and Cheese-filled theme, amusingly schlocky translight art, and blisteringly fast and challenging gameplay. Many feel that the game could've found a bigger audience if it had a solid Science Fiction license behind it; as such, it is often overlooked by collectors, making it a surprisingly affordable table for the first-time buyer.
Laser War demonstrates the following tropes:
- '80s Hair: Most prominent on the women, but even the men can't avoid the curse of the mullet.
- Absolute Cleavage/Cleavage Window: All of the women warriors wear breast-separating jumpsuits that leave their centers exposed.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Red, Yellow, and Blue Bases.
- Dummied Out: Pre-release advertisements showed off a backbox topper that would display laser light patterns in time to the game action. Unfortunately, it was removed from the final game to cut costs, and only a handful of prototypes exist.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's war... with lasers.
- Frickin' Laser Beams/Ray Gun: Everybody has a Ray Gun that shoots easily-dodgable light beams.
- Future Spandex/Sleeves Are for Wimps/Space Clothes: Everyone wears identical sleeveless spandex jumpsuits, differentiated only by their Army's color.
- Have a Nice Death: Whenever the player drains a ball, the male warrior shouts, "Dang, I'm hit!"
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Even with all of the laser beams flying around, no one gets hit.
- One-Way Visor: Most of the men wear face-covering visors.
- Wave-Motion Gun: The Ion Cannon.Warriors: Shoot the Ion Cannon! Shoot the Ion Cannon!
- We Will Use Lasers in the Future