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.
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.
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
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!
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