#22 Centipede

Posted: 24th February 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

405th played so far

11023801Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1980
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

There are some games, such as today’s game Centipede, that always stayed a bit nebulous to me. I had seen in come by on floppy disks a long time ago, but don’t recall ever playing it. I’m not sure whether it was because I couldn’t get something working (an issue with controls) or because I did, but it didn’t stick enough with me. Probably the latter at some point.

Now, however, I get to play the game properly, with it being our next game (in order too). I finally get to start killing virtual bugs.

Our Thoughts

One of the interesting things about doing the blog is, as we’ve said before, seeing the evolution of certain genres. It’s especially strong in these early games, where the games are big enough that there was room for evolution, but developers also still seemed to be finding their feet and figuring out what they could do.

Centipede, at its core, resembles Space Invaders.  There are plenty of changes, but in essence it’s still a game with enemies coming down from the top of a single screen while you move around the bottom trying to shoot them. The twists, of course, are where the games get more interesting.

The enemy pattern, by the virtue of being a centipede that splits in half when you shoot a segment (more of a worm then) is quite different because of this, and the different paths both halves take after being shot (one goes left, the other goes right) proves as much. The obstacles they navigate – both because they stop your fire and because the centipede turns around and goes down a row when it meets one – are extra frustrating, being a bane rather than some protection.

Oh, and that’s only the main enemy, others, like spiders, occasionally show up as well.

Somehow, by virtue of the slower enemy, the game doesn’t feel as fast paced as Space Invaders or its other successors. The garden theme makes it feel a bit more leisurely while the (initially) single enemy focuses you quite well at the start. It mostly seems more fun.

The challenge isn’t necessarily less though, it’s more extended though. Because the mushroom fields move between levels, it becomes more difficult to aim, while more enemies slowly stack to make it more complicated. It’s never a single thing, but instead an accumulation of small things making you lose the game.

It’s a step up in complexity from Space Invaders, but the step is small enough that the game stays intuitive and fun that way. Centipede is still a good game.

Final Thoughts

Shooters might not be the most sophisticated, but it feels quite amazing how much the game packs into the small space – the way the worm grows and splits, and the large amount of different enemy behaviours that seem to show up, mean that the levels change in character quite quickly. It’s still incredibly entertaining and fulfilling to play through.