Every hundred years the legend begins again. The Queen Pede awakens and summons her insect minions from the dark core of the Earth. Swarming to the surface, they have one evil intention: Invade and destroy the Wee People of Weedom. The Wee People have faced this crisis before and are not about to give up without a fight.
Weedom is a land filled with magic and the Wee People know exactly what they must do. To defend their land and destroy the evil Queen Pede, the Wee People have constructed The Shooter. A mixture of magic and mechanics, The Shooter is a floating ship armed with bug stomping weapons. Now, who will pilot The Shooter?
In the past, the Magic Stick has always picked the bravest heroes. This year, it pointed to Wally. Until now, Wally Gudmunzsun had spent his days as a simple bean counter, but now he must climb into The Shooter and protect Weedom.
So begins the story of Hasbro Interactive's update of the classic Centipede. Centipede comes packed with two modes of play: Adventure and Classic. In Adventure mode, Centipede is played in a fully 3D environment. From behind the controls of The Shooter, players must navigate through six worlds and 35 levels, blasting mushrooms, centipedes, and other vile insects into oblivion.
Also in Adventure mode, players now have more than one weapon to use in their fight against the Queen Pede and her brood. The Shooter's weapons can be upgraded from single shot to double and triple shot. Also, secondary weapons, such as missiles and flame throwers, can now be used. As an added advantage, shields and armor can be picked up and used to protect The Shooter from the hordes of insects that attack from every side.
Centipede's controls have also been enhanced for Adventure mode. Players are no longer confined to the bottom third of the screen. The Shooter can be navigated in every direction over a colorful 3D environment now populated with houses, trees, rivers, and, of course, mushrooms. Also available is the option to alternate between first-person, third-person, or bird's eye views.
For players who want to experience the original Centipede, there is Classic mode. This is similar to the original game, where players navigate around the bottom third of the screen, shooting centipedes, spiders, and mushrooms in an attempt to get a high score. Both Adventure and Classic modes have easy, medium, and hard settings.
Take control of The Shooter and help Wally save the people of Weedom from the evil Queen Pede and her army of insects. The centipedes are back!
Hasbro has split the game into two completely different modes of gameplay - arcade and adventure. Fans of the old Centipede will immediately feel at home in arcade mode. It is basically the same as the classic but viewed from 3/4 top down angle and in 3D. I would have liked to see a 2D game mode just like the original for nostalgic purposes but unfortunately this option was not included. You won't have much time to cry over the missing 2D mode once you see the adventure mode. Laid out in a beautiful 3D world, you are free to spin, move and jump in any direction as you battle enemies on multiple fronts. You are briefed before each mission with your objective as well as a few tips to keep you in the land of the living. The goal of the game is to protect and rescue the humans and their villages from a diverse variety of baddies including huge bosses that don't go down without a real fight. To help even the score, you will find various weapon and shield powerups scattered throughout the levels.
Controls can be summed up in two words - silky smooth. Whoever did the Lode Runner 2 controls take note - THIS IS HOW ITS DONE. All of the maneuvers are easy to execute and work perfectly. You can use either the keyboard or mouse or better yet a trackball. One minor complaint is that the mouse lacked fine tuning options and I could never get it as responsive as I like it. I ended up using the keyboard and it worked great. A word to the wise - take breaks between levels; this game is really intense and I noticed I was getting sore wrists a.k.a. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after a few hours of play. Fortunately, you are provided with a overhead radar overlay in order to keep track of the action which is a necessity because often you get so immersed in a firefight with a 'pede that you don't notice a spider coming up behind you.
The visuals are a mixed bag. If you have a 3DFX card then you are in for a treat - smooth, clean, beautiful graphics are standard throughout the game in all of their glory. Unfortunately D3D mode isn't nearly as good; yes everything is in the same place, but it's much slower and as you may expect it doesn't look nearly as good. The original Centipede was actually designed by a woman and many have speculated that this accounts for the bright colors used in the game. Hasbro was wise to let a good thing be and chose a colorful and vivid palette for the remake. One minor glitch that pops up in glide mode was the "seams" of the tiles used to make up the landscape become partially visible from certain angles. I'm not sure what the technical reason is for this but it's not too much of a distraction and gameplay doesn't really suffer as a result. On the subject of landscapes, this is another place where Centipede shines. You will encounter a variety of scenery throughout the game including grassy hills, cobbled city streets, and even the snowy tundra of the ice levels. Moving textures are used to simulate the water flowing in rivers which crisscross the mountains, providing a clever method of limiting the size of the battlefield without feeling "boxed in".
Sound effects in Centipede are classic arcade gold. Even your weakest weapon has some "uNf" and this is a welcome break from the gutless weapons we've been seeing in games lately like Unreal and Trespasser. One term comes to mind when I consider the graphics and sound of Centipede as a whole: candy-coated. It's very high gloss and it works with the theme perfectly. Music is well suited and non-distracting which is really all you can ask for in an arcade title. When you rescue a little human critter they shout "Thanks Buddy!" in their cute little voice reminiscent of Lemmings or Worms - again, this goes well with the cartoony feel of the game. The sound seems to be somewhat directional and I could hear the source of the trickling water sound change as I rotated my ship next to a riverbank. This was really cool in multiplayer where you can hear your buddy taping down the fire button against some 'pede over to your right while you are dodging spiders and scorpions for all you are worth in a totally different section of the map.
Multiplayer includes a split screen mode for two players locally or a single screen using TCP/IP. Split screen is fully functional although it's just not my cup of tea - I don't have a big enough monitor to be cutting my real estate in half. Internet games are mediocre as far as speed and smoothness goes. This is really unfortunate because it's simply a blast to play side by side with a friend. Watch out though, you have to share the powerups just as you share the enemies so make sure you share up the goodies. =)
In the end, Centipede is just as much a work of art as it is a game. It is well designed and well implemented and it stays true to the feel of the original game. If you've got a 3DFX card, this is a must-get. If you are stuck with D3D, it's still rock solid gameplay wise, so you really can't go wrong. Hasbro, put this team to work on another classic - they've got the touch of Midas.
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