Game: Centipede: Recharged
Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PS4, Xbox, Atari VCS and Steam)
Developer|Publisher: AdamVision Studios, SneakyBox | Atari
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $9.99 | UK £7.99 | EU € 9,99
Release Date: September 29th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Atari
Back in the Day
The original 1981 Centipede game from Atari has certainly earned its place in gaming history. Developed by Dona Bailey and Ed Logg. Centipede would make its mark on arcades by appealing to a broader audience, particularly female gamers. With a simple but addictive formula, Centipede really felt like a game from the golden era of arcades.
But unlike other classics of this era, Centipede would not see a lot of revisions over the years. Just the odd entry like the remake on PSone and the odd console port of the original game. But now Atari has come back with a series of classic games to bring back the thrill of the old arcade classics but with some modern improvements. Centipede Recharged is the first in this series and what a game to start with! If you’re an old school fan or new to the game this is a great arcade title to discover.
A Beast Approaches
The formula for Centipede is pretty simple. You play as a wizard at the bottom of the screen who kind of just looks like a circle with a turret. Hey, back in the 80s we had to use our imaginations and it worked. But the star of the arcade show is the giant centipede itself that comes crawling down from the top of the screen. By shooting this beast of an insect, parts of its body will break off which will also crawl down the screen independently. When you successfully take out all the parts of the centipede another will spawn from the top of the screen until you are defeated in a single hit. But it’s not just the centipede that will cause you issues.
Mushrooms and Scorpions
The level is scattered with mushrooms which can be destroyed by shooting them. But if you’re really strategic you can use these to manipulate the centipede’s path causing it to flow down a shorter route making it easier to destroy. But mastering this skill takes a lot of practice, just like the old gaming days. No experience points here. You simply get better by playing the game. Additional foes include fleas, which drop from the top of the screen and lay more mushrooms.
Also, there are scorpions that scroll from left to right turning some mushrooms poisonous. Lastly, spiders will spawn near you which can be destroyed to obtain temporary weapon power-ups. These can help you out in a pinch but also keep the gameplay interesting. There’s rapid-fire shots, bombs to explode large areas and even a ghost powerup which will scare the centipede into retreat, giving you a moment to breathe and catch your bearings. Dare I say a recharge from the original. Bad jokes aside this feels like a brilliant homage to the original gameplay that is just as fast-paced and addictive as the original. Nothing quite beats the excitement you feel when you are surrounded by parts of a centipede and by some gaming miracle you figure out how to shoot or weave your way out of the situation.
Looks and Sounds
The graphics are a nice homage to the 80s. A beautiful neon design with simple sprite work that mimics the style of the original game. As you progress further into this game, the colours will gradually change giving you a helpful indication of your progress. To bring the experience to life Megan McDuffee has lent her talent to the game’s score. You may know her from her work on the River City Girls soundtrack. The soundtrack itself really brings back the nostalgic feel of the arcade days. But to be fair you don’t need to have any experience of this period to appreciate these funky beats.
The main arcade mode is simply you chasing the highest score possible on a single life. High scores can also be uploaded to online leaderboards where you can compare your skills and possibly feel quite sad. But if you need some more content the developers have also included 30 challenges that have you play through difficult scenarios. There are also several in-game achievements to acquire across each mode. What is particularly appealing is you can enjoy all game modes alone or with someone else in local co-op.
Another small option I noticed in the menu is you can turn on something called immersion mode, which has the camera zoom in on your character so you can’t see the full level screen. This adds a little extra layer of challenge to experience since you won’t be able to see where the centipede is coming from. A small feature but worth exploring. It seems a somewhat missed opportunity not to include the original game or possibly provide a little history about the legacy of the game. But for the price of entry, this feels like a good deal.
Conclusion – Atari’s Back With a Bang
Centipede: Recharged is a fantastic love letter to the legacy of the games. By keeping the gameplay formula simple with the added power up tweaks this feels like an arcade game worthy of being in its own cabinet. It’s just kind of a shame arcades are dead now, in the UK at least. This is a simple but addictive high score chasing fun. Add to that a brilliant soundtrack and neon retro visuals and you have a winning formula. The cherry on top is you can also enjoy the game in co-op with a friend, loved one or that neighbour you never say hello to. This brings back all the great memories of the high score chasing arcade games and I certainly look forward to more classic games in the Atari range receiving this treatment.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot