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|Also on: Acorn Atom, Apple II, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, Atari Lynx, Coleco Vision, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, Mattel Intellivision, Nintendo Game Boy Color, Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation, Texas Instruments TI 99/4A, Tiger Game.com|
|Centipede TV Commercial (Atari 5200 Version)|
|Centipede is a 1- or 2-player game with a color raster-scan monitor. The fast-moving game action takes place on a play-field filled with mushrooms and includes a variety of insects that drop down from the top of the screen or enter from the sides of the screen, most of them to attack the Bug Blaster, controlled by the player. The Bug Blaster is represented on the screen by a somewhat humanoid head. The object of the game is to shoot at and destroy as many of these insects and mushrooms as possible for a high point score, before the player's lives are all used up.|
Player control consists of a Mini-Trak Ball control and a FIRE button. The Bug Blaster is moved by rotating the Mini-Trak Ball control. The Bug Blaster can be moved in all directions, but only within the bottom 5th of the screen. However, the Bug Blaster must move around mushrooms, since these are fixed, not 'transparent', objects. Pressing the FIRE button causes the Bug Blaster to fire individual shots upward, either singly or in rapid-fire mode, if held down constantly (Only one shot appears on the screen at a time).
Game play begins with a playfield of randomly placed mushrooms. A Centipede starts snaking its way across from the center top of the screen. The Centipede changes direction when it runs into a mushroom or either the left or right boundaries of the playfield.
When a segment of the Centipede is shot, it is destroyed and a mushroom appears where that segment was shot. When shot, the Centipede breaks into two smaller centipedes, each with its own head. When a Centipede reach the bottom of the screen, it starts back up, but remains within the area of the Bug Blaster (the bottom fifth of the screen).
If a Centipede reaches the bottom of the screen without being shot, it releases its tail. This tail changes into a new head. Also to provide the player a challenge, if a Centipede is still alive when it reaches the bottom, new heads will enter the screen almost at the bottom of the sides. More of these heads will appear as time progresses.
A round of play ends when all Centipede segments are destroyed.
The randomly moving Spiders also appear in the first wave. The Spiders can destroy any mushrooms they move over. This eliminates many mushroom targets for a player. Depending on a special option switch setting, the Spider moves slowly until the player reaches a specific score, and then it speeds up. If the Bug Blaster and a Spider collide, both are destroyed.
A bombardment of Fleas starts after the first wave; as the Flea descends, it leaves a trail of new mushrooms behind it. The Fleas appear when a certain number of mushrooms remains at the bottom of the screen. This number increases as the game progresses, meaning Fleas appear more often later on in the game. The Bug Blaster must hit a Flea twice to destroy it; the first shot just speeds it up.
When a Centipede with fewer than eleven segments appears, a Scorpion enters from either side, moving at a relatively slow speed. As the player earns more points, the Scorpion's speed increases.
As the Scorpion travels across the screen, it 'poisons' the mushrooms that it moves over and changes their colors. These mushrooms cause any Centipedes that would collide with them to head straight towards the bottom of the screen, rather than continue snaking around. The Bug Blaster can stop a poisoned Centipede by shooting its head.
In addition, these poisoned mushrooms as well as any partially shot mushrooms add 5 points to the player's score as the playfield resets after a player loses a life.
If the players are very skilled and earn at least 60,000 points, two things happen to increase player challenge : the Fleas descend at a faster speed and the Spiders restrict their movement to a smaller area at the bottom of the screen.
An important new feature of this game is the operator option for easy/hard game difficulty. In the easy game, the Spider moves slowly up to a 5,000-point score, and then bounces at a higher speed. It also changes direction less often throughout the game than at the hard setting.
In the hard setting, the Spider moves slowly only for the first 1,000 points, and then speeds up. It also changes direction more often throughout the game. In either setting, the spider always moves at a 45-degree angle or straight up and down.
Game description from www.arcade-history.com