Date: 7th January 2008.

Stern are to make a limited run of Shrek-themed pinball machines.

The game will feature the loveable ogre and the supporting cast of characters from the movies, but the playfield design will not be totally new.

In a return to earlier ways, Stern will re-use the playfield layout designed by Pat Lawlor for Family Guy and re-theme it with new artwork, sound and dot matrix animations. Artist John Youssi will create the new artwork for the game just as he did with the Family Guy original.

Although many players enjoyed Family Guy's gameplay, the theme was widely seen as a potential turn-off and only appropriate for an adult audience.

A Shrek-based game addresses these concerns and extends the life of the design beyond the remaining Family Guy re-runs.

Stern have said their initial run of Shrek games will be 500 machines but that could be extended or repeated if sufficient demand is found to exist.

Backglass image courtesy of Pinball Sales

While special editions of new Stern games have become commonplace over recent years with games such as Black Spider-Man and Elvis Gold Edition aimed at the home collector market, a total re-theme is less common and using such a big license as Shrek makes it all the more unusual.

Pat Lawlor's NASCAR was re-branded as Grand Prix outside North America but that was part of the plan from early in the development cycle. It was re-versioned once again into Dale Earnhardt Jr. fairly recently but that was mainly an exercise in cosmetic changes with new playfield, plastics and cabinet artwork while the playfield design and rules remained unaltered.

The most recent total change of theme was the range of NFL games created from the 2000 Striker Xtreme design but once again, the third movie in a trilogy has been the trigger for a new pinball - just as it had been with Terminator 3, Austin Powers, The Lord Of The Rings and Spider-Man.

The Family Guy layout is obviously designed with reference to the Griffin family and their individual characteristics, so playfield toys such as the beer can Brian stands upon and Stewie's pinball machine will need to be re-worked to seamlessly tie them into Shrek's world.

It has been suggested the mini-playfield will become the Gingerbread Man's, while Donkey will take Brian's position,Shrek replaces Peter, Fiona takes over Lois's role and Chris turns into Puss-In-Boots. However, those substitutions still create a problem for the mini playfield where each character's name is spelled out with playfield inserts. While some names work (Shrek/Peter, Fiona/Chris, Lois/Puss) there aren't too many three lettered character names to replace Meg.

Shrek is expected to start production in early February with delivery around the middle of the month.

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