A Bug's Life as done by blind morons.
It has been said that you can't ever go back. I remember (saying that makes me feel old) there was a restaurant that had one lonely arcade game called Centipede. I wasn't sure if I wanted to play it. At the time, there were already hotter and better arcade games… with stunning 8 bit graphics (Whoah!), perhaps more worthy of my Mom's quarter. But I went for it, and I had fun. A lot of fun. And I asked Mom for more quarters.
Now it's almost 20 years later, and yet another remake of an old game has been made. Centipede, for Playstation includes both the original game and a new 3-D adventure mode. Did I reclaim my youth by playing this updated game? Mostly no. While, the original Centipede included is still fun (though its presentation could have been better), the adventure mode is just another example of the industry trying to make a buck off this nostalgic trip. Everyone is taking old games and cheapening them for the 90's. The simplicity and challenge made those games great back then, but the standards for today's games have changed, and this game falls way short.
One thing that Centipede has going for it, is the opening movie. Lots of bugs crawling and gathering around a giant centipede like those demons in Fantasia. Then the voice of a wizened old prospector (is there any other kind) trails in telling a hokey legend about how the Centipede comes out once every hundred years or so. It's like some low budget Saturday morning cartoon. Good for a laugh. Perfect, because the rest of the game is a joke.
The 3-D levels have managed to keep the control and feel of the original centipede, which is good. You now have a full range of motion, being able to turn as well as move in every which way. Basically, the adventure game works by letting you move through a closed area of a level while a centipede winds its way down. After you kill it, another one comes. Kill enough, and a drawbridge comes down, taking you into another closed area for another set of centipedes. There are people and houses you can save for points.
The centipede seems less dangerous in 3D. It isn't as hell-bent on destroying you. Double back around it, and it gets confused. In fact, the simplistic AI of the enemies makes fighting them seem like a repetitious chore.
There's a jump button, but the jumping doesn't fit well into the game. It's useless for fighting, so between some of the areas they've stuck in some annoying mandatory jumps.
The graphics, well, make me retch. A plant's stem is a single column of green-no shading, just a rectangular, green column. The ground is the same bitmap of dark green and light green repeated endlessly. Rough edges hover around uneven polygons, there's a lack of smoothness, lighting is nonexistant-- we're talking less than first generation Playstation quality. Because there are limited environments and objects, each world looks the same, just in a different color scheme. And to top it all off, things are too small and blurry. You can change the view to first person, but once you zoom in, the graphics get even worse! And to top it off, even with these graphics, the framerate still has hangups.
The music sounds like it came from a rave--big heavy beat, electronic synthesized instruments, and spots of techno. It actually works for Centipede… but the game alternates between a few tracks that sound the same. You'll tire of it quickly. The sound effects used are the original bleeps and bloops, which sound good contrasted against the music.
Let's complain about some more things; I'm in the mood. Get too close to an edge, and what happens? You get stuck. You can't jump back to safety. Only way to go is down the hole. Cheap death. What else? This game, of any I've played so far, has the most pre-game company credits. With so many game development teams, one would think they could have crapped out something better. Then there are the loading times. A game like this has loading times? So, what do they do to fill up that time? They quiz you: "How many shots does it take to kill the flea?" "How many shield rings do you get when you get the shield power up?" "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop?" It's like those annoying questions they play before a movie starts. The only reason anyone pays attention to them is out of pure boredom. Boredom, programmers! Boredom!
Thinking back, what made the original Centipede so great? There was a sense of impending crisis that came from only a few pixels that was supposedly a centipede. With every shot from your little triangle-head, the centipede moved faster. It was clear, simple, fast and pulse-pounding. While the Centipede of old is great for my memories, this new Centipede isn't worth the price of admission.