Saturday, 29 October 2011


Hasbro Interactive are back to kick some bugs in Wild Canyon.

Where would the be without an Atari license? Well... probably in the same place - a warehouse, not selling. This is Centipede, a 1981 arcade game Hasbro just happened to own the license for back in 1999. But the question is, will it match Frogger?

Unlike most systems on the planet, mediocrity stands out on the By all accounts, Frogger was not an ideal gaming solution for 1999, but because the houses so much tat, slightly-above-par gaming becomes a must have purchase for the system. Whereas Frogger is based on strategic planning, Centipede is a fast paced, action packed shooter which was built to be played with a trackball. A trickier game to port, but perhaps more worthwhile in the end?

Before we start, there's something I failed to mention in my Frogger review - the "updated" mode, exclusive to the I missed it out for two reasons, a) because I'm stupid, and b) because it offers very little to the package. Updated mode brings to the table a new set of graphics and slightly tweaked difficulty - negligible stuff, but it means I was wrong about the port not offering anything new.

I point this out because Centipede has a similar system. Or rather, an identical system, because much of the presentation and aesthetics of Centipede were recycled from the release of Frogger. Same menus, same logos, that sort of thing.

Centipede on the is an unremarkable release. Though certainly not unplayable, there's little to paint it in a good light. Back in the 1980s Centipede was brought to everything, from the Atari 2600 to the ZX Spectrum. More importantly it was brought to the Nintendo Game Boy, so right off the bat there's a challenger.

I can't sit here and compare every port of Centipede to this one, but with at least 12 home versions in the 1980s it's instantly clear that the has plenty of competition. The Game Boy port is especially interesting, because not only was it released SEVEN YEARS EARLIER than this version, it was bundled with its sequel (Millipede) in 1995 (and a Game Boy Color update was released in 1998). In short, if you wanted to play bog-standard Centipede on the go, you wouldn't need to invest in a That is, unless, the version was nothing short of brilliant in every conceivable way.

But wouldn't you know it, it isn't. Centipede is laggy, not great on the ears, and is generally poor when compared to Hasbro's port of Frogger. Once again the level sizes have been reduced to fit the screen, and so gameplay is made slower in order to compensate. This gives the spiders an unfair advantage, but other than that, it's just as you would expect - not worth your time.

Classic mode is a carbon copy of the original game (or as close as one could get), while "updated" brings... erm... bigger mushrooms to the mix. Seriously, aside from that, difficulty changes and a new set of graphics, I can't tell the difference between the two modes. And unlike Frogger you don't even get a full set of re-drawn sprites - your ship looks identical regardless of which mode you choose, not to mention in both modes the sound effects are identical. In many respects I'd actually say the updated mode is worse, because now we have a mixture of the detailed and the ugly.

That being said, there's more contrast in the updated mode's visuals, so perhaps on real hardware it's easier to see.

There's really not much point in talking about Centpiede for too long. It's a minimalistic port and the's flurry of restrictive features saps out the fun you'd might have found in the arcade version. Obviously the purists will always discourage people from playing home ports due to the lack of trackballs on most systems, but in Centipede that shouldn't matter a great deal. Missile Command's a different story, but that one skipped the

I can only imagine Centipede exists on this handheld because Hasbro tried to remake it for the PlayStation, PC and Dreamcast around this time. I don't think this takes any direct influence from those versions, though that's probably for the better.

Overall I think it's a complete waste of time bringing this game to Tiger's handheld. There is absolutely nothing here that you couldn't find on other systems, and it arrived far too late to be a meaningful challenge to the Game Boy version. Whether it's slightly better or slightly worse doesn't really matter - there's a seven year gap between the two and it certainly doesn't display seven years worth of improvements.

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