It's getting more and more difficult these days to think of a classic game that hasn't been revamped and rereleased on a current-day console, and Centipede is no exception. It first made its way to the PlayStation in May, and now the new 'pede-shooting adventure can be found on the Dreamcast. But while it's slightly better than its PlayStation brother, Centipede is still only average, at best.
This time around, the game has a plotline. You're Wally, a simple bean counter who's somehow chosen to pilot the Wee People's last hope, The Shooter, against the QueenPede and her countless brood. You'll fly about in five different worlds, shooting bugs, creating mushrooms, defending villages, and rescuing your fellow Wee People from the clutches of the vile centipedes. You've got better tricks at your disposal than you had in the original game, as you'll be able to upgrade your main cannon, fire secondary weapons, and use shields. However, the game is pretty much the same. You turn countless centipedes into mushrooms, blast spiders, and avoid touching anything dangerous.
Now that you're in a somewhat 3D environment you get a better control scheme. You can now use the shoulder buttons to strafe, making it easy to fly circles around your enemies. And instead of being limited to the bottom third of the screen, you can now roam wherever you like - up hills, across chasms, and through the villages of the Wee People. And now you can jump, which makes it easy to hop over troublesome mushrooms and climb ledges for special power-ups.
While much nicer than those in the PlayStation version, the graphics in this game don't really challenge the hardware of the Dreamcast. Everything looks fairly nice, but more advanced features, such as detailed lighting and shading effects, are absent. The game supports three views, which drastically change the appearance of the game. From the top-down view, you can see most of the level, and everything looks rather plain. When you switch to the first-person mode you'll notice nice details, like the eyes of the spiders and the menacing teeth of the centipedes. You'll also see that houses have doors, windows, and other nice details, and the Wees start to look like people. Once in the first-person view, you'll start to get a feel for the tiny world in which the Wee People live - from the lighthouses perched on pebbles to the windmills hidden beneath tall blades of grass. Unfortunately, once you've seen one Wee village, you've seen 'em all.
Sound effects are present in the game, but they give you the sensation that there's still something missing. A generic techno beat fills the background music, and remade versions of the classic sound effects tell you when you hit something, but at times it seems as though the appropriate sound effect is missing. Also, while the soundtrack and sound effects are clear, the audio that runs during the cutscenes has a lot of hiss to it, and, and it sounds rather low-quality.
If you've got a friend who's up for saving a few Wee People, you can play cooperatively. This mode is actually pretty cool, though with the exception of the split screen, there's no difference between this mode and the one-player mode. The frame rate stays at a smooth level, and the pop-up remains just as unnoticed.
Like most classic games being remade, Centipede also features a fairly accurate port of the original game. But unlike in the PlayStation version, the original game actually does well on the Dreamcast, with a perfect frame rate and accurate graphics and sound. Fans of the original will be pleased will the excellent translation.
Unfortunately, as with virtually all the classic games reborn on a current-day console, playing the new version of Centipede is really nothing like playing the original. What's really disappointing is that instead of shooting centipedes over and over, you could have instead been exploring a great 3D world and blasting away tons of cool enemies. But instead, Centipede tries too hard to latch on to the classic gaming experience, and it pulls what could have been a great 3D shooter into the hollows of the average.