Centipede is a 1980 video game. The player controls a gun with a trackball that can only move in the bottom fifth of the screen. The object is to shoot a centipede that works its way down to the player area through a field of mushrooms. Other attacking enemies are fleas, spiders, and scorpions.The object of the game is to destroy as many enemies as possible. During every level, you must destroy all the segments of a centipede. Once the centipede enters the bottom area of the screen where the gun moves, the player is in danger of colliding with the centipede. The centipede will break into pieces as its segments are shot. Once it makes it to the bottom of the screen, it heads back up until it reaches the top of the player zone. It then repeats the process. Once the centipede has hit the bottom of the screen, new segments are created that move within the player zone. When a centipede segment hits a mushroom or another segment, it reverses direction.Every level, the centipede configuration is different. On the first level, all segments are attached. On the next level, one segment is independent. On the next, two are independent, and so on until all segments are independent.The flea will drop from the top of the screen and fall all of the way to the bottom when there are less than a certain number of mushrooms in the player zone. It leaves mushrooms behind. Unlike most enemies in the game, it takes two hits to destroy, and falls more quickly after the first.The spider is another enemy that threatens the player. It bounces around within the player zone, eating mushrooms as it hits them (which tends to draw fleas).The scorpion streaks across the screen periodically, changing any mushrooms it hits into poisonous mushrooms. When a centipede segment hits one of these, the centipede plummets to the bottom of the screen and then heads back up.This was one of Atari's biggest hits; it was popular with women, mainly due to the pastel color scheme. Additionally, one of the creators of the game was also a woman, Donna Bailey.note It was ported to several consoles, including the Atari 2600, and got a sequel in Millipede.
Centipede provides examples of the following tropes:
- Big Creepy-Crawlies
- Bug War
- The '80s: The decade the game originated in.
- Every 10,000 Points: Extra lives are awarded every 12000 points by default.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: All the bugs kill you on contact. The mushrooms don't, but they get in your way and send the centipede down faster.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Palette Swap: The entire game gets one of these with every centipede you destroy.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: An official comic by DC Comics released with the Atari 2600 Centipede has the main bad guy being a wizard, and a boy is trying to stop him. He eventually zaps the wizard with his own staff (which turns him good, for some reason), and everyone is holding up the boy in praise, even the (turned good) wizard.
- Shoot 'em Up