Review Date: January 13, 2021

And now, I enter the Mushroom Kingdom…oh, wait…wrong game.

Release Date: June ?, 1981 (must not have been this version, though; the title screen says 1982)

Platform: Atari 800 (and a whole spiderweb of others)

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: Ah, good old Centipede. No other game gave me nightmares like Centipede did. This game creeped me out. Between the scary spiders, the extra centipede heads flying in if the centipede hit the bottom, and the poison mushrooms, this game totally frightened me. I had a nightmare about that spider getting larger and larger and it was attacking me. I couldn’t play it much when I was little, and for about a year, I couldn’t play the game at all. It’s better now, but I still hate that spider.

Ugh, here comes that stupid spider. Go away!

Interestingly, I have learned that Centipede was designed primarily by Dona Bailey, who was supervised by Ed Logg (Gauntlet). The game was designed to attract female players to the arcades while not losing males, and it worked as intended. When Bailey saw a technician working on the cabinet, she really liked the colors she saw and asked to keep those in the arcade version.

While not as colorful as the arcade version, Atari 800’s version has plenty of color outside of the background.

Description: Your job is to kill the centipedes. A centipede starts at the top of the screen. When it hits a mushroom or the edge of the screen, it moves down a row and reverses direction. While you’re trying to do that, spiders will jump across the screen, the mushroom generator fleas will drop in, and a floating whatchamacallit (allegedly it’s a scorpion) will poison some mushrooms, which will then drop the centipede to the bottom. The round continues until all centipedes are defeated. At that point, the mushrooms change color and a fresh centipede enters.

That’s a scorpion? It looks like a Halloween ghost!

Positives: The sound is nice. The steady hum of the centipede is soft and not annoying. The sounds of the other creatures is clear, but I feel a sense of relaxation when it stops and goes back to the hum. I like how every decision in the game can have good and bad consequences, so decision making comes into play. Do I shoot that annoying spider, or do I let it clear mushrooms out of the way? Do I try to kill the flea when it speeds up on first hit? Do I let the scorpion poison the ‘shrooms so centipedes stay in two columns, or does that send the centipede to the bottom too fast?

Negatives: Sometimes, there is too much going on at the bottom of the screen and I can only shoot upward. Extra heads start floating in after the centipede reaches the bottom, and it can be a bit of a cheap trap. Eventually, you won’t see any bodies at all, only heads.

Game over. My high score for this session was 25,092.

Grade: A

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