We’ve given our games a bit of a break from our semi-regular Clash of the Classics challenge, where two games compete to earn the most quarters, with the winner earning a spot on our arcade floor and the loser exiled to storage. Now it’s time for another tough decision: Do we keep a well-known classic, or its more complicated sequel?
Centipede (Atari – 1980)
Centipede is widely considered to be the first arcade game developed with the female player in mind, as well as an all-time top-10 classic. Donna Bailey, one of the only women in the games industry at the time, specifically wanted to develop a game that not only stood out from the crowd, but drew a new group of players to the arcade. Both ladies and gentlemen took to the insect-inspired adventure, with the game’s success continuing from its 1980 arcade debut to ports for Atari’s line of home consoles. Known for its distinctive pastel graphics, its turbulent soundscape, and the top-notch side art, Centipede is a well-known classic for good reason, and deserves every bit of its enduring fame. Not many trackball games were quite so fast-paced at the time, as Centipede’s control scheme depends entirely on twitch movements and high-speed button mashing. And, while it takes after Space Invaders a little bit, the gameplay here is considered entirely original, spawning clones of its own.
The action starts slowly with the titular centipede descending down the vertical playfield. Any time it hits one of the many mushrooms scattered about it, it turns around and continues towards the player, who is shooting up from the bottom of the screen. The centipede splits when fired upon, and each segment destroyed adds more mushrooms to the playfield, further complicating matters. Additional flea and spider enemies take aim on the player, who must employ speed and accuracy to last any amount of time in the increasingly fast levels! NOTE: Centipede was recently moved upstairs at Ground Kontrol, so don’t worry – it’s not gone yet! Simply head upstairs, take a left, and you’ll find it near Aliens Armageddon.
Millipede (Atari – 1982)
Sequels were as unavoidable in the early days of arcade gaming as they are in modern gaming, and Atari worked fairly quickly to deliver a follow-up to their smash hit Centipede. Employing similar graphics and gameplay as its predecessor, Millipede is noted for being the far more difficult of the two games. One or two players use Atari’s “Trak-Ball” to control the Archer at the bottom of the screen. A single fire button is used to shoot the Archer’s ammo toward the approaching Millipede and its posse of bugs. Careful! One enemy strike and the Archer loses a life. Players must avoid and destroy all segments of the Millipede and other enemies in order to score as many points as possible.
The arrival of Millipede introduced new enemies and features not seen in Centipede. Additions included: inchworms that can slow time, DDT bombs that clear all nearby enemies, swarm waves as bonus rounds. Despite the additional features and more intense gameplay, Millipede did not achieve the same fame as Centipede. However, popular opinion today regards Millipede as one the most challenging and overlooked arcade games of all time!
It’s an age-old debate – what’s better, the sequel or the original? It’s up to you to decide! Each quarter dropped in both games will contribute to its success at remaining in Ground Kontrol’s library. You’ve got until Wednesday 7/20 to play one or both games as much as possible. In a week, we’ll weigh both coin takes and see who stays, and who goes!