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The historical origins of Centipede are of particular note because this title was co-designed by a female programmer. Dona Bailey and Ed Logg are credited as having equal parts in the design and structure of Centipede. Both went on to create many more well-known video game titles.
Centipede made its worldwide debut in 1981. The sequel to Centipede, Millipede came out in the year 1982. Both games were developed by Atari.
A revamped version of Centipede was made available in 1998 for two video game consoles as well as the computer. There are many differences between the original version of Centipede and the title released in the late 1990s. A second re-release of Centipede premiered in 2011. Multiple clones, ‘copycats’ and similar titles have since been released, all being based off of the original Centipede.
Game Play Overview
There are two main components to Centipede. The first part entails moving the centipede character through a labyrinth filled with mushroom caps. These mushrooms work to divert the centipede’s direction as it works its way downward to the bottom of the screen. The main character, which is represented by a small orange and green emblem near the bottom of the screen, is equipped with a laser. The main character also goes by the name of the Bug Blaster.
Players are able to move their characters up and down, to the left or to the right while shooting at the oncoming centipede at the same time. As shots are fired upon the centipede, it will become smaller and segmented, with the struck pieces turning into mushroom caps. Ideally, the centipede will be completely eliminated before it gets into your territory. When this does not occur, the difficult of this game increases tremendously.
Rather than progressing by levels, players advance in Centipede by contending with continuous waves of attacks. There is no definitive end to this title. Instead, you will continue to play until you run out of attempts. There are several different enemy types such as spiders, beetles, poisonous mushrooms and scorpions.
Shooting enemies awards Centipede players with bonus points. When a centipede is completely destroyed within a single series of laser attacks, players get 100 bonus points per destroyed centipede segment. Just destroying the centipede head will not impede it. Your main and only method of attack is the laser beam, which gives you an unlimited supply of firepower.
Mushroom Caps – There are regular mushroom caps that stand in the way of centipedes, causing them to get to the bottom of the screen faster. You need to hit regular mushroom caps with four shots before they are destroyed, and you receive 1 bonus point. The poisonous variety are dangerous because they send regularly slow moving centipedes spiraling downward at a fast pace. Players get 5 bonus points when a poisonous mushroom cap is shot. Four shots are required to eliminate poisonous mushroom caps.
Centipedes – Centipedes are your main enemy. They will move faster with each progressive wave. Destroying centipedes adds to your total score.
Fleas – These enemies walk across the screen, spawning mushroom caps as they pass. Shooting a flea will award you with 200 bonus points.
Spiders – Players receive 600 or 900 bonus points when a spider is destroyed, depending on its proximity. Feeding off of mushroom caps, spiders have the ability to move freely throughout the board.
Scorpions – Mushrooms caps can only become poisonous when they come in contact with the scorpion. Shoot these enemies down and get 1,000 extra points.
Bug Blaster – This is the main character. The Bug Blaster can move in all four directions, but it is restricted to the bottom quarter of the screen.
How to Play Centipede
Fire the laser and move around the bottom quarter of the screen to take out centipedes and all of the other insects crawling around. The action key shoots the laser while the directional buttons move the Bug Blaster left to right, up and down. The main goal in Centipede is to get the highest score possible.
With each new wave, different mushroom cap field configurations will emerge. Eventually, there will be more mushrooms on the screen that there is open space. This will give insects and centipedes less ‘wiggle’ room, and you will have to contend with more enemies.
Shoot a centipede in the middle will cause it to split up, essentially turning into two or more centipedes heading in your direction. Centipede is not a ‘winnable’ game, which makes getting a high score the main objective. Whenever a centipede is completely eliminated, one emerges at the top of the screen to take its place. Newly spawned centipedes have fewer segments than their predecessor, but they slither across the board at a quicker rate.
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Hints and Tips
– By shooting regular and poisonous mushroom caps, you can slow the pace of oncoming centipedes.
– Even though players can shoot with a limitless supply of laser beams, you risk filling the screen with mushrooms if you are not careful. More mushrooms on the screen will send the centipede into your area faster. Be selective, aim for the most dangerous enemies and you will be able to anticipate the centipedes’ next moves.
– Instead of moving back and forth to shoot opponents at random, try clearing the board column by column. To do this, you should fire single shots, clearing away mushroom caps first. You can also target fleas, but don’t worry much about other enemies at first. After you have gotten rid of the majority of the mushroom caps, go after the scorpions and spiders. This will allow you to focus all of your attention on the centipede and greatly increase your accuracy.
– Highly skilled players can also create a trap of sorts out of mushroom caps. This is done by firing upon the end and center segments of the centipede purposefully to create a virtual ‘net’ of mushroom caps. Note that you may also cause the centipede to become split in two, which will force you to divide your focus. If done successfully, the centipede(s) and several other enemy groups won’t be able to get to the bottom. Note that there are a few opponents that will appear at random, so the trap technique will not fully protect the Bug Blaster.
Centipede is a vertically oriented shoot ’em up arcade game produced by Atari, Inc. in 1981. The game was designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey.
The player is represented by a small, ‘somewhat humanoid head’ at the bottom of the screen, later depicted as a caped, elf-like character on the Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Atari 7800 cartridge graphics (though described as being a garden gnome in the trivia section of the cell phone interpretation).
The player moves the character about the bottom area of the screen with a trackball and fires laser shots at a centipede advancing from the top of the screen down through a field of mushrooms. Shooting any section of the centipede creates a mushroom; shooting one of the middle segments splits the centipede into two pieces at that point. Each piece then continues independently on its way down the board, with the first section of the rear piece becoming a new head. If the head is destroyed, the section behind it becomes the next head.
The centipede starts at the top of the screen, traveling either left or right. When it hits a mushroom or the edge of the screen, it drops one level and switches direction. Thus, more mushrooms on the screen cause the centipede to descend more rapidly. The player can destroy mushrooms by shooting them, but each takes four hits to destroy. Centipede-Arcade.
If the centipede reaches the bottom of the screen, it moves back and forth within the player area and one-segment ‘head’ centipedes are periodically added. This continues until the player has eliminated both the original centipede and all heads. When all the centipede’s segments are destroyed, a new centipede forms at the top of the screen. Every time a centipede is eliminated, however, the next one is one segment shorter and is accompanied by one additional, fast-moving ‘head’ centipede.
A player loses a life when hit by a centipede or another enemy, such as a spider or a flea, causing the game to turn any poisoned or partially damaged mushrooms back to normal whole mushrooms. Points are awarded for each one of those mushrooms after the player loses a life. The flea leaves mushrooms behind when fewer than five are in the player area, though the number required increases with level of difficulty. Spiders move across the player area in a zig-zag fashion and occasionally eat some of the mushrooms.
Scorpions poison every mushroom they touch, but these never appear in the player’s movement region. A centipede touching a poisoned mushroom hurtles straight toward the player’s area. Upon reaching the player’s area, the centipede returns to normal behavior.