The Canon: Centipede

Let’s get out of games that were published while I was alive. This week let’s discuss my all time favorite arcade game, Centipede, which was released in 1980 by Atari.

In Centipede you are an archer taking down bugs in a mushroom forest. The premise is expressed in simple sprites. The thing that sets Centipede apart from of other vertical shooters is the use of a trackball. It makes controlling your character frenetic and smooth. As you progress, not much changes screen to screen. The enemies move faster and mushrooms can start to accumulate making the centipede’s movement erratic and hard to track, but that is about it.

Centipede was rereleased on Atari home consoles and all sorts of collections, but the real way to play is to track down a machine and get the whole original experience.

In addition to the fun arcade experience, you can take pleasure in the fact that the primary programmer behind Centipede was Dona Bailey, the only woman in Atari’s coin-operated division. Check out this Motherboard video for some more details on her story,




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