|Frank Hausman & Sean W.
|Different than the
Atari 400/800 version
Centipede holds a special place in gaming history as the first
arcade game to be designed by a woman. Even though Atari
touted this fact (a clever marketing ploy), Centipede was
actually a collaboration between multiple people including Dona
Bailey and Ed Logg. It is said that Dona came up
with the game concept and did half the programming, while Ed
Logg did the other half. The marketing ploy worked and
Centipede was the first game to be more popular with women than
men. I guess all women really do have a deep hidden desire
to kill every bug they run across.
It's a well known fact that for the most part Atari
400/800 and 5200 games are exactly the same (same hardware, same
games), but there are a few games out there that are different.
Centipede is one of these games. The Atari 400/800
version was done by David Getrue in late 1981, and while this
version was adequate (done entirely in character set graphics),
Atari wanted something better to show off the power of its new
system. So in 1982 Frank Hausman & Sean Hennessy
created a new version of Centipede featuring graphics that were
very close to the arcade and offered support for the new 5200
trak-ball. It's no coincidence that Centipede is
considered to be one of the 5200's best games as it shows off
the machines power beautifully.
The real beauty of 5200 Centipede isn't in its
graphics, but in its controls. Plug in a 5200 trak-ball and
you'll swear you're playing the arcade game. Atari touted
the 5200 as "Personal Arcade Machine" (this was one of the early
names for the system), and amazing ports like this showed the
public that Atari wasn't simply blowing smoke. The attention
to detail Sean and Frank put into this version is amazing,
everything from the screen ratio to the sound effects screams
arcade perfection. Too bad Atari didn't put this much detail
in its later arcade ports...
As an internal pet project, the programmers created
a super hard version of Centipede dubbed "Killer Centipede".
This version moved at a much faster pace and featured
amazingly smart spiders (and more of them). Although this
version of never meant to be released to the public, more than one
prototype is rumored to be out there. Expect more
information on this version as soon as the rom surfaces.
to 5200 Software