It’s you versus machine as Stern unveils the world’s first AI pinball machine

Legendary pinball machine manufacturer Stern is back, and this time it has Artificial Intelligence on its side.

If you ever felt as though pinball was a cruel game, as you watched your ball disappear down a hole with seemingly nothing you could do about it, well now you can rest easier in the knowledge that when that happens, AI is now laughing at you at the same time.

The new Stern John Wick pinball machine, limited to 1,0000 machines and adorned with Keanu Reeves likenesses will feature, at first glance, nothing different from the pinball tables we have known and loved over the years. However, this is 2024 and we need AI involved so Stern has set out to mix things up by introducing Artificial Intelligence where the AI will be responsive to player behavior and actively work to alter the game as you play.

Stern says: “To raise the stakes, John Wick pinball introduces Stern’s all-new dynamic AI combat system, an innovation that brings the frenetic combat of the legendary films to the game.

“The Stern team has created a primitive video game AI system to control the enemy lights on the playfield, setting the John Wick pinball games apart from prior pinball machines, where all lights were controlled by player actions, timers, and random number generations.

“In this new AI combat system, enemy icons are responsive to player behavior and will illuminate dynamically around the playfield to challenge the player. The enemies move tactically with this dynamic software to counter player objectives, creating a unique challenge in each game session.”

The use of the word “primitive video game AI” suggests Stern is not quite ready to have the argument that the computer is cheating just yet, but we might have to think twice about hitting the side of the cabinet to try and affect the ball in case the whole machine suddenly morphs into a T-1000 and ends our game early.

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Paul McNally