Company: Atari
Model #:
Dave Payne and Kevin Osborne
Year: 1987
Port of the 1981 arcade game


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.


The goal of Centipede is simple, shoot all the centipedes that come marching down the screen before they kill you.  Each time the centipede hits a mushroom it will change direction until it reaches the bottom of the screen where it will start to produce individual centipede segments until they're all destroyed.  If you let the centipede linger too long at the bottom of the screen things can quickly get out of control, so make sure you're quick about taking them out.  Shooting the centipede is easy enough, but you'll also have to contend with several other creepy crawlies as you make your way around the mushroom patch...


The most common pest you'll see are spiders.  Spiders appear suddenly from the sides of the screen and will quickly bounce around in an erratic pattern until they're either shot or make their way to the other side of the screen.  Most of your deaths will come at the hands of these deadly arachnids.  You'll also see fleas which drop vertically from the top of the screen at random intervals.  Fleas leave a trail of mushrooms in their wake, which can make 'mushroom tunnels' that allow the centipedes to quickly reach the bottom of the screen if you're not careful.  Finally there are scorpions that will dart across the top of the mushroom patch.  Each mushroom a scorpion touches will become poisoned.  If a centipede touches a poisoned mushroom it will go beserk and speed up quickly.  Try to destroy poisoned mushrooms if you have free moment.


Did you know that the original launch titles (Centipede, Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, and Dig Dug) were all supposed to have color labels?  Atari was originally planning on releasing the 7800 cartridges with the same color labels as the 2600 (only with a grid pattern and the artwork tilted), but decided to go with gray as a cost cutting measure.  A small number of each game with the colored label was made for the original test run of 7800s (the boxes for these games also had the grid pattern and the manuals were in color), but very few of these cartridges exist to this day.  Food Fight was also supposed to be made with a color label, but only pre-production art proofs exist. 


The Atari 7800 version of Centipede is very good.  The graphics are pretty close to the arcade version and the thumping bass of the centipede as it marches across the screen really adds to the thrill of the game.  In addition to the standard two player alternating mode, the 7800 version adds a few extra modes such as a two player cooperative mode where both players play at the same time and a two player competition mode where each players shots paralyze the other for a short period of time.  These extra modes really add a lot of replay value to the game and are not to be missed.


Version Cart Text Description
5/2/84 Centipede 5/2/84
Very close to final


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