Centipede Arcade Game
Centipede Arcade Game
Centipede was a fast paced vertically-oriented trackball arcade game produced by gaming giants Atari way back in 1981.
Once again they were onto another winner with this game.
The aim of the game was to take on the mighty 'centipede' whilst also evading or destroying various other insects, arachnids, poisoned mushrooms and a myriad of creepy crawly type creatures and bugs.
Unsurprisingly, all of these creatures and fungi were deadly to the player.
It's time to take a look at another 1980s classic game from Atari which appeared just as the golden age of the amusement arcade was gathering steam.
Read on to find out more or to reminisce about Centipede...
Centipede Arcade Flyer
Centipede on Amazon
The player controlled small rotund 'thingy' at the bottom of the screen which could be moved in all directions in roughly the lower quarter portion of the game area.
The player moved the character around the area of the screen via the use of a trackball (as also used in Missile Command) firing at the centipede (which was made up as chained together 'sections', with one end being the head of the creature) as it negotiated it's way from the top of the screen downwards through a field of mushrooms which dotted the play area.
If you shot any section of the centipede it was destroyed and left a mushroom on the play-field; shooting one of the middle segments caused the centipede to divide into two pieces at the point that you shot it.
Each piece then continued to move independently with the first segment of the rearmost new centipede becoming a new head.
If you managed to obliterate the head then the next adjoining section became the new head and so on.
The centipede, in however many sections would continue it's relentless movement towards the bottom of the screen until it came into contact with you or you took out the last remaining section.
Centipede Arcade Screen Shot
Centipede was a popular arcade game with females
The Centipede Arcade Game In Action
Various Enemies in Centipede
The centipede always began it's crawl at the topmost part of the game screen.
Whenever it hit a mushroom or the edge of the screen, it dropped by one level and changed its direction of movement.
This game-play mechanic cleverly ensured that the more mushrooms present on the screen, the quicker the deadly centipede would descend.
It was possible to lower the amount of on screen mushrooms though by shooting them, with each requiring four shots to destroy.
Once the centipede made it to bottom of the screen it crawled back and forth within the player 'movement area' with the added distraction of one section heads being added to it every few seconds.
These 'heads' continued to be added until you eliminated the entire centipede along with these new head segments.
Once the centipede had been completely wiped out a new centipede would appear at the top of the playing area barely giving you a second to rest before taking to the controls again.
The colour scheme would also change on each level up change too.
This next creature would be one segment shorter and accompanied by one rapid action head centipede.
Any contact with the centipede or any of the other on screen creatures resulted in the loss of a life, and there were plenty of other on screen beasties to avoid or destroy.
For instance a flea would drop vertically from top to bottom leaving mushrooms in its wake if there were less than five mushrooms present in the designated player movement area.
This always made sure that the bottom third of the screen was populated with mushrooms so no matter how many you destroyed they would re-appear almost as quickly as you made them disappear.
Deadly spiders would jump around the player area too in a random fashion, generally being a nuisance although they would devour a mushroom from time to time. Any player contract with the spider resulted in the instant loss of a life.
Scorpions ran across the screen horizontally, poisoning every mushroom they came into contact with. Luckily they always appeared above the player move area so poisoned mushrooms would only be in a certain section of the screen.
These poisoned mushrooms added a further element to the game as they caused the centipede (if it came into contact with the poisoned mushroom) to descend rapidly downwards in a 'berzerker' mode.
If you could get underneath it and hit it with rapid fire then it was a quick kill for you. If you did not have the time to do this then you had to be fast at evading the creepy crawly as it moved rapidly around the bottom area of the screen.
Seat of the pants stuff!
Legacy of Centipede
This arcade game was another big hit for good old Atari.
It went on to spawn many sequels and spin-off games and it was also converted to pretty much every home computer and gaming console of the era.
Unofficial ports (such as the extremely playable Spectipede) appeared on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, and of course the Atari home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and 5200 were treated to great conversions of this classic game. In my opinion the Atari 2600 version remains very playable today.
The game is best played on an original cabinet with the good old trackball control - emulators are great but the original is the best!
You just cannot beat that trackball control for ultimate playability and for dodging around those on-screen nasties...
A Guided Tour Of An Original Centipede Cabinet - With A Slightly 'Tetchy' Player!
The Actual Centipede Arcade Machine In Action Again
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