FAQ by War Doc

Version: 1.02 | Updated: 10/15/03 | Printable Version

                            | C E N T I P E D E |

              GAME:  CENTIPEDE
           CREATOR:  ATARI 1980
AUTHOR OF THIS FAQ:  Kevin Butler AKA War Doc
            E-MAIL:  kevinb(at)technologist(dot)com
       FAQ VERSION:  1.02


                              TABLE OF CONTENTS


1.  Legal Stuff
2.  Version Information
3.  Acknowledgements
4.  Welcome
5.  Overview


6.  The Game

    6.1  The Controls
    6.2  The Playing Field
    6.3  Scoring


7.  Playing the Game

8.  Tricks


9.  Conclusion


To find a particular chapter or subchapter do the following:

1.  Highlight the chapter or subchapter name you wish to find.
2.  Press CTRL-C
3.  Press CTRL-F
4.  Press CTRL-V
5.  Press CTRL-F
5.  You will arrive at the desired chapter or subchapter.


********************************* U N I T  I **********************************
| 1.  LEGAL STUFF |============================================================

This guide may not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal
private use.  It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed
publicly without advanced permission from the author.  Use of this guide on
any other web sit or as part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and
a violation of copyright.  All content in this guide is Copyright 2003 by
Kevin Butler.  Only the sites listed below have permission to publish this
work or to display it:


If you wish to put this guide on your site, e-mail me and ask.  Save yourself
the headache of putting up with lawsuits and whatnot because you failed to ask
a simple "Can I post your guide on <insert site>?".  If you wish to use info
in this guide, please acknowledge that you have done so.

If you see this guide on any other site then the one listed above, please
e-mail me.  If you wish to ask questions or give input to this guide, please
e-mail me.  Just have Centipede as the subject so I know it isn't another kooky
vendor trying to sell me hair gel or another XXX site telling me I have new

| 2.  VERSION INFORMATION |====================================================

Version 1.0   10/13/03:  A guide is born.

Version 1.01  10/14/03:  Added a Tricks chapter.

Version 1.02  10/15/03:  1.  Fixed some errors.

                         2.  Added another trick.

| 3.  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS |=======================================================

The following are a list of people or organizations that have made this FAQ

My wonderful family (who has had to put up with the tapping on the keyboard)
Atari for making a great arcade game
GameFAQ's for putting up this FAQ
http://www.classicgaming.com/rcatt/ for assistance on the Tricks chapter

| 4.  WELCOME |================================================================

Welcome to my FAQ for Centipede.  Since the game is just a shooter that goes
until all your men are killed, there is no walkthrough per se.  Instead it will
be broken up into the game itself, strategies for survival, and some in-
teresting quirks in the game.  Input is appreciated along with constructive
criticism.  If you wish to e-mail me thoughts on this FAQ, better ways of doing
things, other strategies, etc., feel free.  Make sure you put Centipede as the
subject.  If you don't, I'm liable to discard the e-mail as spam.

| 5.  OVERVIEW |===============================================================

By the 1980's, Atari started to lose the dominating position it once held in
the arcade market.  Companies such as Taito, Namco, Cinematronics, and Midway
were just a few of the companies also putting out arcade games.  With this
"glut" of arcade machines, it wasn't much of a surprise that Atari was starting
to lose its market share.  Atari, however, wasn't down and out.  It had many a
trick up its sleeve and it was now using them.  They first developed the first
arcade flight simulator with Red Baron.  Later, they came out with Battlezone
(probably one of Atari's most popular titles).  The latter two games were some
of the first vector three-dimensional games put out.  Atari would later on be
the first to develop the filled polygon games.  Overall, the arcade market was
basically space or military shooters of some type.  Enter one of the female
programmers at Atari, Donna Baily.  In a market dominated by males, Donna
designed a game (the first arcade game by a woman) that put Atari back on the
map.  Centipede became a runaway success.  The gameplay basically had the
player destroying bugs and fungus on the screen while trying to stay alive.
The fast paced nature of the game endeared it so well to players, it became one
of Atari's biggest selling arcade games ever.  Good luck surviving the bug

******************************** U N I T  II **********************************

| 6.  THE GAME |===============================================================

Centipede is a two-dimensional shooter.  You use your shooter to take out the
insects and the mushrooms.  Your job won't be easy, though, since you will have
to deal with multiple enemies.  In addition, each of these enemies has a
certain pattern of attack that you must know to successfully get through each
wave.  Your dream of being an exterminator is now a reality.

/ 6.1  The Controls /__________________________________________________________

In order to become a master of this game, you must be familiar with the
controls.  The controls are pretty easy to work.  You just have to play the
game some to get used to them.

-  An optical track-ball

-  A fire button

/ 6.2  The Playing Field /_____________________________________________________

The playing field consists of your shooter and all the different enemies.  The
screens change color with each wave.  I have included an example of what the
playing field looks like (a little larger then normal):

    |  SCORE #SHOOTERS LEFT                                             |
    |  /\                                                               |
    |  ||<-MUSHROOM                                                     |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                     -\                            |
    |                  /\                   \__/<-SCORPION              |
    |                  ||                                               |
    |                                                                   |
    |                               /\             /\                   |
    |                               ||             ||                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |       /\                                     __                   |
    |       ||               /\/\-                /__\<-FLEA            |
    |                  BODY->\/\/-<-HEAD          ||                    |
    |                                                                   |
    |                    CENTIPEDE                                      |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |                                                                   |
    |    /\||/\<-SPIDER                                                 |
    |    /\||/\                  |                                      |
    |                           / \                                     |
    |                           \_/<-PLAYER'S SHOOTER                   |
    |                                                                   |

You control your shooter through these screens.

/ 6.3  Scoring /_______________________________________________________________

Scoring in this game is pretty simple:

Centipede (Body)  :     10 points
Centipede (Head)  :    100 points
Spider            :    300, 600, 900 points (Points increase the closer the
                                             Spider is to the player's Shooter
                                             when shot)
Flea              :    200 points (Takes two hits.  First hit speeds it up,
                                   second hit destroys it)
Scorpion          :  1,000 points
Mushrooms         :      1 point (Takes four hits to destroy)
Poisoned Mushrooms:      5 points (Takes four hits to destroy)

You start the game with 2, 3, 4, or 5 Shooters.

Depending on the machine set up, you will earn a free Shooter at the following

Every 10,000 points
Every 12,000 points
Every 15,000 points
Every 20,000 points

******************************** U N I T  III *********************************

| 7.  PLAYING THE GAME |=======================================================

When you start the game, you will be put in the middle at the bottom of the
screen.  You have an area five mushrooms high (about a fifth of the playing
area) to maneuver your shooter in.  The game will start when the centipede
enters the screen.

-  Know your enemies:  This is the single most important aspect of this game.
   If you don't know how each of the enemies behave, you won't last long.  The
   enemies are:

   -  Centipede (Body and Head):  Goes back and forth across the screen.  Will
      drop to the next level when it encounters a mushroom or the side of the
      game field.  It will go all the way to the bottom when it hits a poisoned

   -  Spider:  These appear from the top left or right of the player area.
      They will either bounce across the player's area at 45 degree angles or
      bounce in at a 45 degree angle, bounce up and down a couple of times, go
      to the middle at a 45 degree angle, bounce up and down a couple of times,
      then finally go to the right side (at a 45 degree angle), bounce up and
      down, then exit the area.  They destroy mushrooms they cross over.

   -  Flea:  These appear in wave 2.  They will appear when you have cleared
      out most of the mushrooms in the player area.  These never appear when
      you have an eleven segmented Centipede.

   -  Scorpion:  These appear in wave 3.  They go across the screen and poison
      all the mushrooms in their path.

-  The Centipede will start out as a head and eleven body segments on wave one.
   Wave 2 will be a head with ten body segments and a head that enters from the
   opposite side.  Wave 3 will be a head with nine body segments and two heads
   that enter from opposite sides.  This progression keeps going until wave 12
   when all that enter the screen are heads.  The progression then works back-
   wards for 12 waves, then starts back up again in a never ending cycle.

-  Shooting the Centipede can have two effects:

   -  If you shoot the head, then that part turns into a mushroom and the next
      segment becomes the new head and the Centipede will travel in the
      opposite direction (since it hit the new mushroom created).

   -  If you shoot the middle of the body, then the segment hit will become a
      mushroom.  The old Centipede will continue in the same direction.  The
      new Centipede will develop a head at the next segment after the break and
      head off in the opposite direction.

-  A good strategy to ensure you destroy the Centipede's in one stroke and to
   keep the Fleas at bay is to create "mushroom corridors".  Mushroom corridors
   are basically corridors between two rows of mushrooms where you can funnel
   the Centipede down and destroy it when it is moving head-first at your

-  A good defense against the Flea is to keep a certain amount of mushrooms on
   the screen.  There is no hard set value but when the Fleas don't come down,
   you have enough.  This number gets higher as your score increases.

-  Speaking of score, Fleas start traveling faster after 60,000 points.

-  Watch out for the Spiders.  They enter at either the top or bottom corners.
   Your shooter may be in the way if this happens.  In addition to collisions,
   the Spiders wipe out all mushrooms that are in its path.  This can create
   problems when you are creating mushroom corridors.  It can also cause the
   Fleas to appear since you won't have many mushrooms in the player area.  In
   later waves, multiple Spiders may appear in the player area.

-  Keep track of where the Scorpions move across the screen.  As soon as the
   Centipede hits a poisoned mushroom, it will immediately head for the bottom
   of the screen.  The only way to stop this headlong plunge is to shoot it in
   the head.  In the later waves, it is not uncommon to have multiple Scorpions
   going across the screen.  They also provide the most points in the game.

-  If you get unlucky and let the Centipede into your area, you need to destroy
   it before it gets to the top of the player area.  Once it reaches the top,
   it will descend again.  If it does reach the top of the player area, another
   head will come out from the opposite side to start its back and forth march
   across the screen.  This will continue until you destroy all the Centipede
   parts in the player area or until your Shooter is destroyed.  Of course, if
   you are trying the tricks from Chapter 8, then disregard this.

-  If your Shooter gets destroyed, all partially shot up mushrooms are re-
   generated and you start at the beginning of the wave you got killed on.

-  Depending on machine set up, all enemies (except the Centipede and Flea)
   speed up at the 1,000 or 5,000 point mark.

| 8.  TRICKS |=================================================================

There are a couple of tricks in Centipede that will allow you to rack up a lot
of points.  The key to doing these tricks is to do precision shooting because
you will be using the mushrooms created by the destroyed Centipede pieces to
trap the Centipede.

/ 8.1  Bottom Side Tunnels /___________________________________________________

To perform this trick, you must do the following:

-  When the Centipede is one row over the player's area (fifth mushroom up), go
   to the opposite side that the Centipede is on.

-  When the Centipede turns around, it will be in the player's area.  It then
   will make it to the side you are on.  Right when it hits the side of the
   screen and turns around, shoot it.  This creates a mushroom and forces the
   Centipede to turn around and go down one level.

-  Again, after the Centipede hits the wall, shoot it, create a mushroom, and
   force it down another level.

-  Continue to do this until you have only the bottom part left.  There are two
   ways to do this:

   -  If you get killed by the Centipede, this will also create a mushroom and
      you will have a vertical line of mushrooms along one of the side.

   -  If you are quick, you can pick off the Centipede and create this last

-  Repeat this for the other side.

-  Regardless of how you create this "Side Tunnel", you will now have a trapped
   Centipede since the only thing it can do is go up and down within the
   player's area.  New heads that come out will also be trapped.

-  Now you can pick off enemies at your leisure.  The only enemy you need to
   make sure you take out is the Spider since it can wipe out part of your
   "Side Tunnel".

-  Good players consider this "cheating" since it basically lets the player
   have free reign over the game.

-  When you have completed your task, you should have something that looks like


                      |                              |
                      | #         PLAYER'S         # |
                      | #                          # |
                      | #           AREA           # |
                      | #                          # |
                      | #                          # |

/ 8.2  Central Tunnel /________________________________________________________

This trick works along the same line as the Bottom Side Tunnel trick.  The
difference is that you create a tunnel down the center of the screen.

-  When the Centipede starts its descent, hit it.  This will cause it to
   reverse direction after hitting the new mushroom.

-  After going one or two mushroom lengths, hit it.  Again, this will cause it
   to reverse direction.

-  Continue to do this until you have built a "tunnel" that touches the
   player's area.

-  Also make sure you build up mushrooms to the left and right of the tunnel
   to prevent the Fleas from coming down and depositing their random mushrooms.

-  From this point on, when the Centipede approaches your tunnel, all it will
   take is one hit to force it to descend.  In a sense, you are causing the
   same effect that a Scorpion causes, but on your terms.

-  Since you are keeping the top left and right areas clear, it should take a
   longer time for the individual heads to make it to the player's area.

-  It will take a few waves to build up your areas.  Once built up, you should
   be the master of the game.

-  As for the other tunnel, make sure you take care of the Spiders when they
   first enter so they don't do any damage to your "Central Tunnel".

-  Also make sure that you keep your tunnel cleared out by destroying any stray
   mushrooms within it.

-  When you have completed your task, you should have something like this:


                      |                              |
                      |             # #              |
                      |             # #              |
                      |####    ###### #######    ####|
                      |####    ###### #######    ####|
                      |####    ###### #######    ####|
                      |####    ###### #######    ####|
                      |####    ###### #######    ####|
                      |                              |
                      |                              |
                      |                              |

/ 8.3  Fortress /______________________________________________________________

If you are patient, you could build a mushroom fortress around your Shooter. 
Then all you would do is shoot Spiders for the rest of the game.  It would look
something like this:


                      |                              |
                      |                              |
                      |                              |
                      |             # #              |
                      |             #S#              |
                      |              #               |

********************************  U N I T  IV *********************************

| 9.  CONCLUSION |=============================================================

One of the more interesting games from my youth.  Centipede was definitely
something that was different then all the other shooter games that were out at
the time.  Instead of dealing with invading aliens or being in space having to
subdue an invasion, you were presented with the problem of having to go bug
hunting.  Not ordinary bugs mind you, but bugs that were intent on your de-
struction.  If one didn't learn the behavior of the various enemies, you
wouldn't make it very far in this game.  The other interesting aspect was
getting used to the track-ball.  Most of the games used a joystick so the
track-ball was definitely something one had to get good with.  The action was
constantly fast paced and as you progressed through the game, things didn't get
much better.  I enjoyed the fact that you never quite had the same game each
time you played.  That, I figure, was what made this game a lot of fun to play.
Unfortunately, it is very rare to find this machine anywhere.  However, through
the miracle of emulation, a whole new generation is realizing what we "old"
folks enjoyed those many years ago.  I hope this guide helps you in being able
to get the most amount of gameplay for this game.  If you do have other ideas
or thoughts, please e-mail me and share them.  Who knows, maybe I'll start a
Q&A Chapter in this guide if enough people ask the same questions.  Anyway,
thank you again for reading this guide.

To see other FAQ's I have written please go to:


           ~~~  No trees were harmed in the making of this FAQ ~~~