Star Wars Episode I is a licensed pinball machine by Williams Electronics based off of The Phantom Menace. Designed by John Popadiuk and released in June 1999, it is notable for being the second and final ill-fated Pinball 2000 game, the first being Revenge from Mars.
The game itself has the player follow the footsteps of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he moves up the ranks of the Jedi Order to ultimately become a "Jedi Spirit". Along the way, the player progresses through over a dozen scenes from the movie, interspersed with fights against Darth Maul.
This pinball was the final game Williams made before the company's shareholders decided to close the pinball division, which is noted in the game itself (see Arc Number). The making of the game is profiled in the documentary Tilt: The Battle to Save Pinball.
This pinball machine contains examples of:
- Arc Number: Spelling "JAR-JAR" earns you 19,992,510 points, which represents the day Williams left the pinball industry: October 25th, 1999.
- Butt-Monkey: Jar-Jar. Especially in the "Jar Jar Juggling" mode, where the player intentionally tries to trip him while he's juggling various objects.
- Call-Back: A meta example: The gameplay for the Jedi duels will feel very familiar to anyone who's played the Wizard Mode from Tales of the Arabian Nights, another table designed by John Popadiuk.
- The Sub Escape mode is also basically the same idea.
- Character Level: You go through the Jedi ranks by spelling "JEDI" and fighting Darth Maul.
- Combo: By either consecutively shooting ramps in normal play, or by making shots in quick succession during the Darth Maul fights.
- Creator Cameo: Kevin O'Connor, one of the artists for the game, plays Darth Maul via motion capture. Opposing him is designer John Popadiuk, who plays Qui-Gon Jinn.John Popadiuk: "I had long hair like QG and kinda the same build, so it worked. I had to take some Jedi lightsaber training as well... [Kevin and I] used to practice the scenes at his house in the driveway! All the neighbors would stare at us."
- Easter Egg: During the attract mode, pressing the flipper buttons in a certain sequencenote will show a picture of the development team.
- Hologram: The "Pinball 2000" platform, which projected video images onto the playfield.
- Every 10,000 Points: Unlike many other pinballs, by default, extra balls are given out at two point plateaus.
- Flawless Victory: Some missions will award higher completion bonuses if done perfectly. For example, Space Battle will award a Perfect Shooting bonus for double the normal completion bonus if every shot or laser destroyed a ship.
- Licensed Pinball Table
- Life Meter: Used during the Jedi duels.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Certain machines had a plaque declaring it "The Final Collector's Series of 100", though there's no real difference. Rumor is that they were simply used as a marketing gimmick to sell remaining machines during the Williams' closure.
- Match Sequence: A droid gets sucked through a pod racer engine, and the match number is spewed out the other end with the debris.
- New Game Plus: The Jedi Battle venues repeat after achieving Jedi Spirit, and the difficulty of the battles is at Jedi Spirit level. Additionally, after all of the scenes are played, they all become available again with increased completion bonuses.
- Real Song Theme Tune
- Skill Shot: Plunge the ball so that it barely goes past the one-way gate in the plunger lane and down the hole to the left of it for a moderate amount of points. Perhaps more importantly, the third Skill Shot achieved will award a JEDI letter.
- Smart Bomb: The laser and torpedoes, activated by the action buttons.
- Smart People Build Robots: Assemble the pieces for C-3PO to earn various bonuses.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The same tune plays whether Qui-Gon wins or loses the Jedi duels.
- Space Battle: One of the game modes.
- Spelling Bonus: You level up by spelling "JEDI", and other times you'll have to spell "JAR JAR" and "GUNGAN".
- Universal Ammunition: The "Lasers", used by hitting the Action Buttons sometimes manifest as torpedoes, or other non-weapon effects such as shuffling the chairs in the Jedi Musical Chairs mode, but they are all part of the same pool of ammunition.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: See Butt Monkey above.
- Zerg Rush: The "Ground Battle" mode, where you fight off a Trade Federation Troop Transport unloading hordes of battle droids.
- Zonk: The 11th completion of C-3PO is worth a measly 10 points. For comparison, awards of 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 are common for other completions.