Review by Retro

"Why did it have to be a track ball game?"

Centipede was always a fun and original game. I had played and enjoyed Centipede for years on the Atari 2600 before I ever saw it in the arcade where I could play it. Once I finally got the chance to play the arcade version of it, I noticed that the graphics were a lot different from the 2600 version (well that's a gimme), and that the gameplay seemed a bit faster. But the biggest difference between the two is the way the game is controlled.

You have to control what is supposed to be a wand that has shooting power in order to take out the various kinds of infesting insects that invade the machine's screen. Of course, your main enemy is the centipedes themselves, since that is the name of the game.

Each stage features a long and winding centipede. The centipedes can either be slow or fast, depending on which stage you're currently playing. Scattered and jumbled up all over the screen, are TONS of mushrooms. The centipedes run or crawl to the left or right until they run into a mushroom or the side of the screen. Once the multi-segmented creature runs into a mushroom or the side of the screen, it drops down a level and continues its horizontal journey.

You can shoot and destroy the mushrooms. You'll need to keep the mushrooms from getting all jumbled up close together because the closer they are to each other, the faster the centipede will reach the bottom of the screen where you reside. The mushrooms can also be used as a form of strategy for killing the centipedes at a faster rate. Whatever you do, don't let any of the centipedes reach the bottom level, because if you do, the segments of the centipede will no longer be as one. Instead, separate segments will start coming from each side close to the bottom of the screen until you get rid of all of them and proceed to the next level.

The centipedes and mushrooms would seem like enough, but instead, there are a few other insects that greatly add to this game's fast-paced action and big challenge. On a consistant basis, there are spiders that pop out from one of the sides at the bottom of the screen and frantically jump up and down while making their way across the screen. The spiders take out any mushrooms they touch, which can be an advantage, but don't let any of them touch your wand unless your goal is to get a game over.

Apparently smelling some kind of flesh, fleas fall from the top of the screen to the bottom, but not until you take out so many of the mushrooms. The flea adds more mushrooms to the screen as it falls, making your exterminating expedition all the more compelling and hectic.

Finally, there is a poisonous scorpion that appears from time to time that scrolls from one side of the screen to the other. Shooting the scorpion will give you more points than destroying of your other enemies will, but there is a catch to it. Any mushrooms that the scorpion touches will automatically be poisoned. If any of the parts of a centipede touches any of the poisoned mushrooms, the segmented monster will plummet straight down to the very bottom of the screen as if a 50 pound brick was just attached to it. Therefore, if you don't want that to happen, you need to destroy any poisonous mushrooms as fast as you can.

Centipede is a fast-paced and fun action game. It's a lot of fun to try to get the highest score, but as the saying goes, it's easier said than done. Centipede itself is just like it's supposed to be for any arcade goers looking for fun, but there's just one problem. I don't know many people that would praise how great it is using the track ball instead of the joystick.

GRAPHICS - Colorful and for the time they weren't bad. You can tell what all the insects are, the colors of the insects changes each level, and the animation is also well done. 9/10

SOUND - There is a constant beat in the background which really gets the adrenaline flowing, and all the insects except the centipedes have their own sound, letting you know when any of them makes a cameo appearance. From the classic fluttering sounds of the spider, to the menacing sound of the scorpion, none of the sounds should make you want to punch the screen and mute it. 10/10

CONTROL - Here was the killer for me. It's not really the control of Centipede that I don't like, it's what you have to control the game with. I don't care who you are, you either love or hate using the track ball. Myself, I HATE using it. I've played a few arcade games that have the track ball and I haven't ever been good at any of them. The control of Centipede is well done on the other hand. You can move up, down, left, and right and either press or hold the shooting button in order to show the bugs what you're all about. I would've liked using a joystick much better. 4/10

REPLAY VALUE - If it wasn't for the track ball, I would've played Centipede a lot more throughout the years. However, the game does still have good replay value since it is so challenging and since it is a lot of fun. 9/10 for the game itself, 5/10 for the game along with the track ball.

OVERALL - I would give Centipede a 9 if it wasn't for having to use the track ball. Centipede is one of the most classic arcade games of all time, but the track ball isn't all that classic in my opinion. 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/08/01, Updated 05/20/02


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