The first and most defining aspect of Centaur is its striking visual design, with its predominantly black and white art punctuated by bursts of red and amber. The backglass is dominated by the game's Centaur, a hulking half-man half-motorcycle creature carrying a leather-clad punk woman on his back. Between the artwork and dark theme, reverberating background, and Machine Monotone voice, this is a hauntingly memorable table, reminiscent of Heavy Metal or Cyber Punk.
As a pinball table, Centaur is held in high regards by many players, who rank it one of the best Bally tables ever made. The ruleset is deep but not too complex, with quick action and lots of different shots to go for. Subtle wrinkles in the rules and design reward expert players, such as the outlane gates that can save a drained ball with a good nudge, or the ability to prolong multiball (or even start it early) by spelling ORBS in order.
Centaur was only a modest success for Bally, selling around 3,700 tables, but there was enough demand that the company released Centaur II in 1985. Despite the name change, the game was the same, except for the cabinetnote and some internal changes.
A digital version of Centaur was formerly available on The Pinball Arcade until the license to all WMS tables expired on July 1, 2018.
The Centaur pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Antagonist Title
- An Axe to Grind: Centaur's main weapon is an axe with a pick on the back.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Pinballs are "Power Orbs" here.
- Cool Shades: The Rider has a pair— no, wait, she has compound eyes like an insect!
- Decapitation Presentation: The sides of the backbox show a skull impaled on a spear.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The cabinet, backglass, and playfield art are almost entirely in black and white, with slight hints of red and amber.
- Dominatrix: The Rider is implied to be one, with her leather outfit and bullwhip.
- Echoing Acoustics: Centaur featured an echo/reverb board attached to its sound card, which added echo effects to the sound.
- Excuse Plot: "Destroy Centaur" is basically the "plot" in its entirety.
- Femme Fatalons: Seen on the Rider.
- Fur and Loathing/Pretty in Mink: The Rider is wearing a large fur shawl on the backglass; the interpretation of this is left ambiguous.
- Machine Monotone: Played with, since the synthetic voice actually sounds slightly more human-like, and less robot like.
- Nonstandard Game Over: Unlike almost every other game of the solid-state era, by default, a tilt ends the entire game for that player rather than just the current ball.
- Numbered Sequel: Subverted: Though there is a Centaur II, it's more of an Updated Re-release than a true sequel.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Part of the Rider's dominatrix ensemble.
- Organic Technology: Implied, as the Centaur appear to be grown from pods, including the motorcycle bits.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: Centaur is a predominant mix of human, horse, and motorcycle, but there are some other odds and ends as well (in particular, that hind leg/kickstand doesn't have a hoof but clawed toes).
- Recycled Set: It used spare backboxes from Rapid Fire.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Centaur has small red eyes.
- Savage Piercings: Centaur sports a nose ring, adding to his bestial appearance.
- Spelling Bonus: The right 1-2-3-4 sequence enables multiball, while O-R-B-S can reward points or add an additional ball, depending on whether it was spelled in sequence or not.
- Take That Player: Centaur will taunt, "Slow, aren't you?" or, "Bad move, human," if you send the ball down a lane that's already lit.
- Tattoo as Character Type: The only spot of color on Centaur himself is a small red heart tattoo on his upper-left bicep.
- What the Hell, Player?: Tilting the machine causes Centaur to remark "No class, human."
- Whip It Good: The Rider has a large bullwhip with a miniature copy of Centaur's head on the hilt.