Stellar Wars is a pinball game designed by Steve Ritchie and illustrated by Constantino and Jeanine Mitchell. It was released by Williams Electronics in 1979, and is noted for being the first game Ritchie created for Williams.
Riding the popularity of science-fiction media in The '70s, Stellar Wars depicts a space battle between two sides over an unspecified planet. From the cockpit of your Space Fighter, shoot the various targets and repel the invading fleet. Hit the center targets to increases the Eject Hole value for an Extra Ball, hit the right targets to raise the values of the Spinner and the Captive ball, then shoot the left targets and go after the bumpers. Nudge the table to roll over the WARS inlanes, then spell STELLAR WARS and watch the Battlescope explode in a frenzy of firepower.
Although Stellar Wars is not a particularly deep game, it's endearing for its reliance on technical skills — players are rewarded for their patience and aim, making it a great game to practice basic pinball playing techniques. While it lacks the speed and flow that Steve Ritchie's later games are renown for, it's still regarded as a solid title with smooth shooting action. The one thing that sinks this game are the visuals; shoddy artwork, amateurish design, and garish colors make it look like a childish production.
The Stellar Wars pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Cool Starship
- Expy: The green spaceships are angular copies of the Cylon Raiders from Battlestar Galactica (1978)
- Frickin' Laser Beams/Ray Gun: Used by both sides.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: An operator setting allows the game to play a throbbing "Sweep" sound that speeds up as the player advances towards spelling STELLAR WARS.
- Impending Doom P.O.V.: The Battlescope crosshairs in the playfield flashes whenever the player scores a critical hit.
- Koosh Bomb
- Old-School Dogfight/Space Battle: But of course!
- Space Fighter
- Space Is Air
- Spelling Bonus: Spelling 1-2-3-4, S-T-E-L-L-A-R, or W-A-R-S increases the bonus multiplier. Getting S-T-E-L-L-A-R-W-A-R-S awards a 50,000 point bonus and a flashing light show on the Battlescope.