Black Knight: Sword of Rage Pinball Revealed: First Images, Video, Details, and an Interview with Creator, Steve Ritchie

After 3 decades, the Black Knight is back in Stern Pinball’s Black Knight: Sword of Rage. First appearing in the 1980s, the titular Knight may be pinball’s greatest adversary, especially in the 1989 sequel where he taunted players with delightfully ’80s-sounding robotic callouts and maniacal laughter.

In an upcoming 2019 game revealed today, the Black Knight will take his most prominent place in the game yet, with a massive, animated figure placed prominently in the playfield, thwacking pinballs back at the player with a flail and defending against your shots with a miniature shield.

Check out the first trailer for Black Knight: Sword of Rage below:

The first two Black Knight games were notable for their upper playfields, a raised wooden playfield in the rear of the game accessible via ramps and other methods with its own flipper and set of targets to shoot for.

The sequel is no different: Black Knight: Sword of Rage (at least the Premium and Limited Edition models) includes an upper playfield, now made from shiny Lexan (clear plastic) allowing views of the pop bumpers and rollover lanes below it.

While all models of Sword of Rage feature the Black Knight toy, resetting drop targets, a (kind of goofy) returning feature called Magna-Save (hit a button to catch your ball on a magnet before it drains), and color-changing LEDs, the LE and Premium models add a bunch of other features.

As mentioned above, the Premium and Limited Editions (LE) of Sword of Rage have the transparent upper playfield (and a six-ball multiball thanks to the unique ball lock on said playfield), and unique art packages. But check out the step up in the art package in the image gallery below for the LE: There’s unique body armor on the cabinet, mirrored backglass, and even art inside the cabinet sides, or “art blades.”

Images of Black Knight: Sword of Rage

Check out the image galleries below, one for each model of Sword of Rage. There are dozens of images for each, including images of the cabinets, close-ups of the playfield and toys, and more.

Steve Ritchie. Image provided by Stern Pinball Inc.

IGN: I heard it in the trailer but will the Black Knight 2000 theme song be returning in the game itself?

Steve Ritchie: The original Black Knight 2000 music is returning to the game in a special retro mode. The music in the new game, Black Knight: Sword of Rage, features music composed and performed by Scott Ian, of Anthrax. He has performed his own rendition of the BK2K music in his incredible style. It totally rocks! The first time we played the music through our game, everyone in engineering gathered around the game and marveled at Scott’s powerful and driving music. It makes me play better. BKSOR is a true battle game, and the music reinforces our feelings of urgency and the need to stay alert and play hard to beat the Black Knight.

IGN: What was the inspiration for the Black Knight 2000 theme song? How was it written?

Steve Ritchie: I wanted music that made me feel energized and excited, laced with urgency and drive.

I wrote most of the music as chord progressions first, and then added some leads and riffs to the main songs of the game. I wanted the music to be fast and furious to inspire players. I also wanted the sound & music package to stand out in a loud arcade. If all games in an arcade are set at approximately the same volume, you can hear the vocal chorus (“You’ve got the Power, You’ve got the might…) cutting through everything else in the arcade.

Brian Schmidt added great bass lines that transformed the music. Dan Forden wrote a bunch of lead lines and sampled my ‘72 Les Paul Custom through a Marshall 100 watt lead amp and a Marshall cabinet with 4-12” Celestion speakers. Dan laid out my guitar scale electronically for playing throughout the game. Dan created and engineered the entire sound package, including the sound effects, and enhancing & coaching my voice as the Black Knight. Dan Forden deserves a lot of credit for his spectacular work on this game.

Beat the black Knight.

IGN: What’s something cool that (almost) no one knows about designing any of the three Black Knight games?

Steve Ritchie: Black Knight (1980) was the first multi-Level game in pinball history, using a separate playfield connected by ramps and Vertical Up Kickers (VUKs). I got a patent for the concept which expired long ago.

IGN: How easy will it be for owners to remove the upper playfield for repair and cleaning?

Steve Ritchie: It’s pretty easy! Pull the playfield back and rest the playfield support brackets on the front molding ledge. Disconnect 3 cable bundles that protrude out the back of the back panel. Remove 3 mounting hex posts, 2 Phillips screws and the shooter trough deflector cap, and it’s free to lift straight up off the main playfield within 1 minute. The flipper doesn’t need to be removed. The upper playfield is made of Lexan, and can be cleaned, polished or replaced.

Samuel Claiborn is IGN’s Managing Editor and both fixes and breaks pinball machines in his garage. TCELES B HSUP to follow him @Samuel_IGN on Twitter. 

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