Millipede

Name:
Millipede
Company: Atari
Model #:
CX-5248
Programmers:
Stephan R. Crandall (Programmer), Gary Johnson (Graphics), Brad Fuller (Audio)
Year: 1984
Released?
No
Notes:
Originally called "Centipede Plus"

 

As most people know, Millipede was the sequel to the arcade smash hit Centipede.  Although Millipede never reached the same level of popularity as its multi-legged cousin, it's still a great game in its own right and deserves more recognition.  Apparently Atari felt the same way as Millipede was planned for all four of its game systems: 2600, 5200, 400/800, and 7800, but only the 2600 and 400/800 versions ever made it out the door.

 

As with most sequels, the basic goal of the game is same.  You must stop a horde of rampaging Millipedes which have invaded your mushroom garden.  However this time around the Millipedes have brought along a whole slew of new friends to make your life miserable.  Earwigs, Inchworms, Dragonflies, and Beetles are all out to make sure this battle is your last.  But thankfully you have one new weapon this time around, DDT bombs!  These deadly chemical weapons are sure help turn the tide of battle in your favor and make sure you have a silent spring...  What?  Don't you get it?  Read a book people!

 

Introducing Millipede's all new line-up of bad guys for 1984.

 

Millipedes
Other than a slight color change, Millipedes are exactly the same as their Centipede cousins.  Wipe them out... all of them!
Spiders
Those ever annoying spiders are back, and this time they've brought a few friends along for the ride.  Spiders can now appear in groups of two or three making them especially deadly.  Thankfully they seem to be a little slower this time around.
Beetles
Beetles are an annoying little pest which like to crawl on the bottom of the screen where you can't shoot them.  However beetles are vulnerable for a few seconds as they come down the screen, use this chance to knock them off.  If you manage to shoot a beetle the entire screen will move up one line.  Moving the screen up reveals more mushrooms and more DDT bombs.
Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are deadlier than they first appear.  Moving quickly down the screen in a diagonal pattern, they also like to swarm between stages.  Mosquito swarms are especially deadly so watch out!
Bees
Bees replace the fleas from the first game.  Bees drop down from the top of the screen making mushrooms as they go.  Bees like to swarm between levels, moving in erratic patterns which make them hard to hit.
Inchworms
Inchworms move slowly across the screen just begging to be shot.  Shooting an inchworm will cause all the creatures on the screen to slow down for a few seconds.  Use this time wisely!
Dragonflies
Dragonflies are similar to Mosquitoes, but they move in a weaving zigzag pattern.  Hitting Dragonflies can be very tricky, and to make matters worse they like to swarm!  Watch out!
Earwigs
Earwigs replace Centipede's Scorpions and poison the mushrooms they touch.  Poison mushrooms cause the Millipedes to go crazy when they touch them, so shoot earwigs quickly!

 

 

Even though Millipede was dubbed a sequel to Centipede, it's really more of an enhancement (hence its original name "Centipede Plus").  While the enemies have new names and graphics, their behavior is mostly the same.  However Atari made a few tweaks to the computer AI and added "Swarm Stages" to prevent players from using the same strategies they used in Centipede (such as the mushroom fort) that allowed them to play for hours at a time.  This may have lead Millipede to suffer from "Asteroids Deluxe Syndrome", in which players begin to reject a game due to the inability to develop long play strategies.  Then again some of us were never able to use these strategies in the first place....

 

Although the 2600's version of Millipede left alot to be desired graphically (square mushrooms, bland colors), the 5200 made up for past sins.  Not only is the 5200 version on par with the arcade game graphically, but the gameplay is dead on.  And with the addition of Trak-Ball support you'd swear you were playing the real thing.  The 5200 version even included a cute animated title screen, a rarity in games of the time.  It's obvious alot of work went into this game.

 

So why was the 5200 version of Millipede never released?  Two words: "Jack Tramiel".  Millipede was complete and ready to ship when Atari was sold to the Tramiels and almost all video game development was put on hold.  Although some Atari 400/800 games were still allowed to proceed (to help bolster the Atari computer line), it was decided that the 5200 was not in Atari's future.  As a result Millipede and several other finished 5200 games were never released.  Chalk up another casualty of the Tramiel regime.


 A prototype box can be seen in this picture (second row, first box)


Version Cart Text Description
1/5/84 Millipede 1-5-84 Nearly complete, but needs polishing
1/31/84 Millipede 1/31/84 Final version

 

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