Centipede Game;5 Things You Must Know

Centipede is Atari’s most successful video game since Asteroids. The game was introduced in July of 1981, and has set proudly on the top 10 money-making list ever since. At present, the average machine rakes in approximately $225.00 a week.Centipede plays on our futuristic fears: in the end, the insects will prevail. In fact, the insects in Centipede are so huge (radiation, perhaps?) that we can no longer squish them flat or swat them dead: We must blast them senseless with a giant Bug Blaster.

The game is not for the meek. Centipede is a fast-paced game with incredible distraction devices. Your main task is to destroy every segment of a Centipede in order to clear the screen and make room for a new Centipede. The obstacles are numerous. The Spider tries like mad to kill you. The Flea clutters up the screen with Mushrooms. The Scorpion poisons those Mushrooms, driving the Centipede mad. New Centipedes bring new colors to the game and, of course, faster action. Every 12,000 points yields a new Bug Blaster.

If high scores aren’t enough, consider this: If you achieve a score of 800,000 points, the machine will “freak out.” Reports vary from odd letters at odd places to elongated Spiders and other unexpected video images. This seems to be an Atari trademark. Missile Command, as many of you know, also “freaks out’ at around 810,000 points. So this is our challenge to you: Get 800,000 points and tell us what you see.


A. The Centipede (10 points per segment 100 
points per head). The Centipede is the King of 
the video Kingdom. Your first priority is to kill the 
King, after which a new King — a new Centipede 
— appears: ail decked out in new colors. The 
King isn't King for nothing. This is one crafty insect 
that can divide and multiply as necessary. Don't 
let it divide: Always attack from the head or the 
tail and move progressively toward the other 
end. Don't let it multiply: Destroy every 
Centipede segment before it hits the bottom 
and reproduces. The worst position to be in is with 
segments attacking from both over and under 
your Bug Blaster. 

B. The Spider (300, 600, or 900 points, depending 
on distance from Bug Blaster). The Spider is the 
King's soldier. His immediate goal is to attack and 
kill you. He also eats a few Mushrooms now and 
then, which may provoke the Flea. Don't allow 
the Spider to interfere with your game. Only one 
Spider can appear at a time, and that Spider 
can never retreat. He can only move up, down, 
or forward. Kill the Spider if ifs convenient. If you 
can't easily kill him, don't fret. Some top scorers 
can kill the Spider consistently at 900 points. Don't 
attempt to do this when you're learning the 
game. Only attack the Spider after all other 
elements are mastered. The best initial advice is 
to be aware of the Spider at all times. If he's 
dangling up and down heading left, stay to the 
right and concentrate on the Fleas, Mushrooms, 
Scorpion, or Centipede. Once the Spider exits, 
however, be careful. Move to the center. A new 
Spider can enter from either side and from any 

C. The Flea (200 points). The Flea is the King's 
worker. His primary function is to replenish the 
Mushrooms you've destroyed at the bottom of 
the screen. It takes two shots to kill a Flea. We like 
to kill lots of Fleas, although some players simply 
scratch away at the Mushrooms they leave 
behind. Fleas only appear when less than five 
Mushrooms sit in your working area.
This working area is the distance from the bottom of the 
screen to the height your Bug Blaster can reach. 
Fleas will keep coming until at least five 
Mushrooms remain in that working area. It's easy 
to get out of a Flea's path. Don't let them distract 

The Scorpion (1000 points). The Scorpion is 
indeed the Queen. She's the prize. Her main 
function is to poison Mushrooms. If a Centipede 
hits one of these poisoned Mushrooms, it will dive 
quickly to the bottom. By all means, kill the 
Queen. She's your key to top scores. And the real 
trick is to kill the Scorpion fast, before she poisons 
the Mushrooms. 

E. The Mushrooms (5 points). There are three 
types of Mushrooms: those that are (1) supplied at 
the beginning of the game or by the Fleas; those 
that (2) appear when a Centipede segment is 
destroyed; and those that (3) are poisoned by 
the Scorpion. The Type 1 and Type 2 Mushrooms 
determine the path that the Centipede will take 
toward the bottom of the screen. You will learn, 
under Centipede Strategy, how to take control of 
that path. The only real difference between Type 
1 and Type 2 Mushrooms is that you score five 
extra points for Type 2's after your Bug Blaster is 
destroyed. You can get 5 points for destroying 
Type 1 Mushrooms. The poisoned Mushrooms are 
dangerous. If a Centipede contacts a poisoned 
Mushroom, it dives quickly to the bottom of the 
screen. The only way to stop its plunge is to kill it 
by the head! 

F. The Bug Blaster. This, my friend, is you. And 
you'd better keep yourself moving if you want to 
stay alive. Don't let yourself idle. Stay active. Be 
the athlete. Like Muhammad Ali, dazzle them 
with your footwork — and time your punches for 
the greatest impact.

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