Playable Works of Art
© Copyright 2002
By John L Patton, tiltjlp
Often in our rush to download and play all of these wonder- ful recreated and original pinball tables, we might forget both the person behind the table, and the natural beauty in many of them. And while some of the originals have a less complete or quality look to them, I think we need to offer our thanks to each of these talented individuals. We should remember, too, that these are hobbyists, each with varying degrees of knowledge and experience in the many skills that are needed to build a table out of thin air. I, for one, do not have a clue. I wouldn’t have any idea where to begin.
That said, I’d like to take a closer look at the creativity of Sphere, who actually is Goerg Reiter, and lives with his cat Fireball near Munich, Germany. If you’d like to learn a bit more about this teacher and musician, you can do so by visiting www.shivasite.com., and read my profile of Sphere, titled The Melding of Music and Pinball. To find out more about Sphere’s music, feel free to visit his band’s Website at www.foreignspaces.de/.
In his collection of twenty-two tables, you’ll discover much variety and many interesting themes. Georg uses both classic artwork and music, as well as original material. Many of his inventive tables are less well lit than what we’ve come to expect in pinball games. Besides creating a varied range of moods, he explained that he just doesn’t want to intrude on the artwork.
While a handful of Sphere’s tables look quite similar to tradition tables, each has features that are very much his and his alone. Phaeton, which uses Georg’s original music and artwork, also has negative scoring. I’m surprised to see a minus in front of my point total. Still, there is sense of satisfaction if the game ends with your score on the plus side. It just doesn’t seem right to finish with a 10 as your score, but you’ll soon get used to it.
One of his favorite creations is Anna’s Colours, because so many of the youngsters enrolled at his after school study institute like it so much. Once their studies are finished, Sphere organizes VP game tournaments, and they often ask to play Anna’s Colours, especially the girls. He seldom ignores their request.
Featuring music and artwork from Anna Gast, Anna’s Colours is fun to play. One interesting part of this table is that when the ball in play is captured, the replacement ball is a different color. If you are a skillful enough player, I seldom am, you will see a rainbow of six different colored orbs displayed on the right side of the screen. Combined with the smoothing music and appealing artwork, you should fine this table a delight.
Georg’s tables feature a wide variety of music, from his own to Yes, The Doors, Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Ashra, and more. This music is often triggered to certain roll- overs, bumpers, and targets, which I found to be a really nice touch. The bonus collector and advance lights add to this very pleasant visual experience.
Another table which I really do enjoy playing is Space Is Deep, an out-of-this-world design using stainless steel and four flippers. There is a ball capture rack, where just the perfect shot will give you both points and another ball. A keen eye is needed to see where the new ball is hatched. A futuristic game that feels comfortable.
Part of what makes Sphere’s tables intriguing challenges is that many of his games launch the game ball from unique and surprise locations. A few are launched from the standard right side plunger we are accustomed to, but they might be put into play from any of a dozen places. One starts the ball from between the two lower flippers, another from the left side plunger spot, if there were a left plunger. But be alert, the game ball might appear from the top of the playfield, or a third of the way from the top on either side of the table. Or maybe even a cross-table entry.
Another favorite of mine is Dragon, where the ball launches from between the flippers, and a red dragon dominates the center of the playfield. There is also a smaller playfield at the top of the table, with a pair of flippers what are active only occasionally. Besides being a beautiful object of art, it has a nice playability to it.
Another World Two uses artwork by MC Escher for the play- field graphics, and bumpers which a part of that artwork. That makes it difficult to know where the bumpers are till you are actually playing. As one of Sphere’s friends said to him, he has created “quite an Escher pinball world”. A world that you might find yourself visiting often.
While I could go on endlessly about the many unique tables Georg has given us, I’ll let you explore them yourself, to be delighted and amazed by his originality. I doubt it you will be disappointed. And, I believe that Georg may be the only developer to have a table created in recognition of his creativity and imagination. But BJ’s Sphere’s Dream is such a table, and I think Georg would be proud. Sphere’s Dream not only has that unique quality that is a part of Sphere’s own work, but also is a tribute to the skills of BJ, as well.
© Copyright 2002 By John L Patton, tiltjlp.