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Centaur

mwong168

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Nov 14, 2012
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Adam Analyzes...

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As I just finally got my Centaur II working and playing again I thought this would be a good time to go over that game. A lot of people really like it, but I don’t think most people understand just how great the rules are for a game of this era, they focus more on the features and look of the machine. Keep in mind this game came out in 1981 and what it has to offer is the most in depth rules for the era in existence as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know who programmed it but whoever did should be brought back in by some manufacturer as considering what he was able to accomplish with so little back then, I bet he could work wonders on a machine now. Anyway let’s start...

I think Centaur is the first game with auto launch (I could be wrong) but it’s the earliest machine I’ve ever seen with it. So you are able to get up to 5 pinballs on the playfield at the same time without having to use actual physical locks that were being used up to this point. The basic premise of the game is to spell ORBS which then collects orbs and then you need to release those orbs.

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Spelling orbs lights the 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 at the bottom of the playfield by the flipper which act as virtual locks to a degree. The number of orbs you have spelled determines the number of balls on the playfield when you release them.

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Now there are any number of ways to release orbs onto the playfield. The simplest way is to spell ORBS in order, this I think is a great feature. If you spell orbs in order, you get one ball released onto the PF and also one collect on your virtual locks. You can do this as many times as you like, I like it since going after those targets are risky, they send the ball screaming back at you, but you need them. So this creates a nice bit of risk vs reward. I need the targets, so I’m going to hit them, but if I hit them in order I get another ball which means less risk in going after them.

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There are also the inlanes/outlanes there are 4 inserts that can be moved via the flipper buttons that once you get all 4 it will add another ball onto the playfield. There is a software setting so that this can happen only once a ball or as often as you can complete all 4. I like to set it at once a ball, but I can tell you, it’s very satisfying to have a ball heading down the outlane, only to light that last insert and have it serve another ball into play. Speaking of outlanes, there are posts and one way gates, so you can try and nudge your ball back into play, similar to the quick escape on Indiana Jones (Williams), but implemented on both sides.

Now I haven’t talked yet on how you actually release your orbs, there are two ways to do that, both very unique and interesting.

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On the left you have the Queens Chamber, which is a set of 4 inline drops that you have to knock down to get at the release target that are hit by a captive ball. What is really cool about the Queens Chamber besides the inline drops (which are always fun) is the value associated with them. Sitting in front of them you have a value 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 thousand. Now what is cool there is two ways to hit the captive ball:

1) First way is head on, just hit it as hard as you can to knock down the targets, works fine enough and you will get the lit value.

2) Second is a small orbit to the left, if you hit the captive ball that way, you get double value instead! Again more risk vs reward, the shot is harder, but the potential for points is better, at the max value of 50,000 getting 100,000 on a single shot in a 7 digit game is huge and you are working toward your multiball release. It’s just such a smart way to reward the player by simply changing the shot a little and making it a bit harder.

For the other release on the right hand side you have just a release target, but it also acts as a collect bonus. Now to activate either the collect bonus or release you need to do one of two things.

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1) On the right hand side there is a set of 4 drops. If you drop all 4 in any order this will light only the collect bonus, but if you can drop them in order, from top to bottom this will light the release target.

2) Now what is also cool is that the programmer knew this would be tough to do considering where the targets are located. So he did two things to not make it frustrating. On the left hand side there is a standup target that acts as a reset, if you are desperate to get your multiball release and hit a target out of sequence you don’t have to feel frustrated that you now need to knock down the other 3 to reset the targets and try again, just hit the standup on the left and you can start over. He also added a standup way at the back right beside the pop bumpers, his this target and it will drop the targets for you in the correct order, or if the targets are already out of order, drop the next target from top to bottom.

Again really thinking about the player and making it so that at no point he is frustrated with the current situation.

Now in another stroke of brilliance the collect bonus on the right hand side also comes with a very neat feature. Once lit, there are multiplier inserts that will strobe between 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x. in quick succession. You can multiply the overall value of your collect bonus by those multiplier values if you can time you shot and hit the standup target when the multiplier is lit. It starts slow and makes it so the 5x is basically on a hair trigger, you have to get the timing and shot perfect to actually get it. Just such a cool feature to again reward the player for skilled play. All of this building up to the release which by hitting the target for the collect/release or through the captive ball in the queens chamber, you get a nice satisfying 5 ball mutiball.

That really sums up what I love about Centaur, and I haven’t even touched on the normal features of bonus, and super bonus and bonus X since those are the same features that can be found in almost any Bally/Stern from the era. I wanted to really highlight what makes Centaur such a great game.

Side Note:

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The other cool thing is the availability of Centaur II. Like allot of you the 3K price tag on a really nice Centaur has always been a deterrent for me in getting the game. Thankfully, Centaur II is much less popular due to the crappy design of the cabinet, but if you are like me and care more about the game play, it is exactly the same in every way from a game play perspective to Centaur and can be had for much less then the 3K mark of the regular Centaur.

Anyway that is my analysis of Centaur, hopefully you found it informative, next up in the series, not sure yet, could be another positive analysis of say Quicksilver or Frontier since those are mostly unknown games or maybe why Theatre of Magic sucks, we will see how the mood strikes me next time I feel like writing.
 

luch

Super Member
Nov 18, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Well done . Looking forward to many more updates . If you need any of my machines for future updates feel free to call me . Great job. Mike
 

Vengeance

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Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

luch said:
Well done . Looking forward to many more updates . If you need any of my machines for future updates feel free to call me . Great job. Mike

Thanks Mike, but I don't need a machine in front of me, I wrote that entire article from memory.
 

Slam_Tilt

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Nov 20, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Great job Adam. Looking forward to more write ups. I always enjoy your opinions on games and their rule sets.

I think instead of having one thread with your write ups I'd rather see you have your own category with each write-up being a separate topic. This will be easier to find your thoughts on certain games without having to go through pages finding it and also easier to comment on each.
 

Vengeance

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Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Let see how far I get, I don't want to be another Menace Files with my own section and no content ;)
 

mwong168

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Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Slam_Tilt said:
I think instead of having one thread with your write ups I'd rather see you have your own category with each write-up being a separate topic. This will be easier to find your thoughts on certain games without having to go through pages finding it and also easier to comment on each.

I will be meticulously maintaining an index in post #2 as new game write ups from Adam are done. If things pick up will break each game into a post if the other admins agree on creating a separate section for it. I am also planning another thread or section for a general pinball buying guide on what to look for and will have posts or threads for game specific known problems along with pictures. This way people who are just getting into the hobby know what sort of questions to ask and pictures to request from the seller or when to walk away!

Vengeance said:
Let see how far I get, I don't want to be another Menace Files with my own section and no content ;)

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Oh no you didn't
 

Menace

Well-Known Member
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Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Vengeance said:
Let see how far I get, I don't want to be another Menace Files with my own section and no content ;)

Your words cut deep my friend... deep!

I do have content to post actually, I just need to plop my ass in front of my PC for long enough to hammer away at the keyboard. Problem is my free time these days is split between repairing everyone else's games and my girlfriend. :cool:

As Wong has always said.... culo trumps all. (and I tend to agree) I'll get more content posted in my section eventually guys!

D
 

Beafraid

Active Member
Dec 13, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Great write up. Makes me want to get one. Seems like some cool features for an older game. I would love to read your write up of Tron rules. I think it would awesome to do a video of you talking about all this and showing how it all works on the games with the glass off just tossing the balk around by hand. Hearing about it and seeing it happen at the same time I think really helps.
 

DRANO

Super Member
Nov 15, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

I agree, it's in depth videos that made me decide to buy a Farfalla sight unseen.
I would never have gravitated towards it otherwise.

Thanks for the write-up.
Centaur is a great game. Along with 8BD, probably my favorite early ss from Bally.
 

Luckydogg420

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May 12, 2013
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Great thread. As an official super noob, I'd like to say thanks. A collection of great game info from a top player is priceless. You've made me think differently about games in the past, and now I always consider the risk/reward shots in a game rather then let the game dictate the next shot to go for.
 

tim.sanderson

Active Member
Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Slam_Tilt said:
I think instead of having one thread with your write ups I'd rather see you have your own category with each write-up being a separate topic. This will be easier to find your thoughts on certain games without having to go through pages finding it and also easier to comment on each.
+1

Great thread, Adam. I'm looking forward to sopping up the gravy that is your knowledge, with the biscuit that is my brain.
 

tkaye

Active Member
Mar 17, 2013
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Never knew a thing at all about Centaur. Thanks Adam! It's a great read and I'm looking forward to more as well!
 

Vengeance

Well-Known Member
Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Glad everyone is enjoying it thus far, I'll try to have at least 1 game a week until I run out of material stored in my head :lol:
 

REVOLUTION

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Nov 13, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

Thanks for all the hard work, Adam and Mike. This content will be a HUGE asset to the Pinball Revolution community, noobs and veterans alike (not sure where I fall in there lol)

- B
 

mwong168

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Nov 14, 2012
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Re: Pinball with a Vengeance

REVOLUTION said:
Thanks for all the hard work, Adam and Mike. This content will be a HUGE asset to the Pinball Revolution community, noobs and veterans alike (not sure where I fall in there lol)

Well I always enjoyed Adam's colour commentary in the past when it comes to explaining why a particular game is great for tournament play and why some are not. Some people enjoy it because they now have a better understanding of a game or some get offended and probably think he is a total buzz kill for the hobby. Regardless we all collect and play for different reasons and Adam's happens to be for competition. I can't wait till he rips into some of the games I personally own such as The Shadow, Congo and even TOM!
 

DRANO

Super Member
Nov 15, 2012
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I finally scored a nice Centaur and went back to read this overview again.
Thanks again for posting this Adam. It makes one appreciate the game that much more!
 

HPR pinball

New Member
Jul 27, 2013
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Nice review about Centaur :) Amazingly nice art package, just this point justify the high value. Also very fun to play with unique sound effects.

Did you try Stern Catacomb ? It is very interesting in term of deep rules for that era and very hard to master.
In my opinion, from a strategic point of view and skill shots to accomplish, it is much better than Centaur.