Centipede Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1982 Also On: None

I hate bugs. I’m sure many of you do also. Thus, a game where the objective is to kill bugs by zapping them with a magic wand is certainly something that appeals to me. On top of that, I am a fan of vertical space shooters, and Centipede could, without stretching the limits of game classification too much, be classified as a vertical space shooter. Although aesthetically mixed, Centipede proves to be an addictive game when I was younger, and it hasn’t lost its addictiveness now.

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The concept of the game is simple. You control a magic wand. Well, officially I think you’re actually controlling the holder of the wand, but since what you control is a block I’m going give the game the benefit of the doubt on this one. With your wand you want to kill the bugs that infest your mushroom garden, which consists of a bunch of rectangles of a color. In each level there will be a centipede which has many segments, and you beat a level every time you take out an entire centipede. You know that this has happened because the color of everything except the background will change. You lose your wand when you get hit by the centipede or a spider. Like most Atari games, you play until you lose, and you will gain an extra wand every 10,000 points.

Most of the graphics are blocky with large pixels, although the spiders and the centipede look quite good and are very detailed by Atari 2600 standards. It is unfortunate though that the most colorful and impressive graphics are reserved for the title screen. Each enemy has its own unique sound so that you can tell which enemies are attacking, and they all sound fairly good. The spider sound is particularly done well. Overall, the graphics are a little below average and the sound a little above average, but, like most Atari 2600 games, neither is the reason why you should be considering a game anyway.

The main question with this game, rather, is whether the gameplay holds up to the level set by other games on the Atari 2600, and the answer is yes. The game controls well, although you seem to be limited to the bottom fifth or so of the screen for your own movement. That, however, is more than enough space to maneuver in most cases, and, indeed, is more than you get in many games of this type which only give you horizontal movement. The addictiveness of this game is very high as well.

Therefore, despite the limited, even by Atari 2600 standards, graphical quality of this game, the gameplay and addictiveness more than make up for that limitation. If you are a fan of the Atari 2600 and you do not have this game, I highly recommend you get it. Doing so would be a choice you would be very unlikely to regret.

Graphics: 4
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

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