Centipede Preview

Hasbro Interactive is working on a re-make of this popular game for the PC.


Yes, Hasbro Interactive put a storyline behind its modern update of the arcade classic, Centipede. It goes something like this: Once every hundred years, an eclipse occurs, which causes the grandmother of all centipedes, the QueenPede, and her assorted insect minions to awaken and attack the lilliputian Wee People. They may be tiny and relatively peaceful, but the Wee People are also smart and have dealt with this before.

Every century the Wee People use all the magic and technology at their disposal to create The Shooter, a ship custom-built with plenty of items for destroying the enormous bugs. Meanwhile, the Wee People's Head Wizard brings his Magic Choosing Stick into town to pick a Hero to man The Shooter. In the past, this honor has gone to people who were fairly assertive, headstrong, commanding, and so on, but this time the stick has aimed itself at Wally, the town bean counter (a literal profession). Wally finds himself picked up, dumped into The Shooter, commanded "Go save us!" by his Wee People peers, and promptly abandoned.

If you hadn't guessed it yet, you're Wally. And you've got a fat lot of bugs to shoot. In arcade mode, the game looks pretty much the same as you remember it from our childhood days, but this time you'll play from a behind-the-ship perspective in a brightly colored 3D world. The game mechanics will be very similar to the original, in which you can move your ship forward, back, and side to side while onrushing hordes of many-segmented centipedes, spiders, and fleas attack.

The update takes hold, however, in the mission-based adventure mode, where Wally and the story come into play. From behind the controls of The Shooter, you must defend the Wee People and their towns from the insects, which appear from all directions, on land and even sometimes in the sky. The gameplay takes place over rolling hills and valleys, and in towns, and can be viewed from third-person, first-person, or bird's-eye views, or you can switch the perspectives, as you like. And you probably will switch them, according to designer Dave Walls. "In the 3D adventure mode, many people will play in third-person point of view, which feels very much like games of today, but the top-down perspective gives the game a different sense of play. , you can see everything around you and sort of play it how you would the classic game. I tend to switch the views around depending on the situation."

The goal in arcade mode is to get the highest score on the Top Ten list, just like in the original arcade game. In adventure mode, you attempt to save all the Wee People's towns, defeat the QueenPede, and turn Wally into a full-fledged hero. The latter of these goals is accomplished by getting the highest score possible in each of the levels, which can be replayed over again at any point. You will be able to tell how well you're doing by what medal you've been awarded, which of course runs all the way up to gold. Get gold on every level, and something special might happen.

The enemies are the same in either mode, with the old Centipede cast returning once again and a few new ones joining it. Fleas still run by, leaving mushrooms in their wake, scorpions still poison mushrooms, centipedes still truck along to the beat, and spiders still bound about all over the place. Plus somewhere in the vicinity of ten new bugs are set to appear, and each level will have its own unique bosses.

Will the enemies act the same as in the classic coin-op? Walls answers yes. "The AI of the original bugs matches the original game, so they're still doing everything you remember them doing. With the new bugs, we've tried to match what the original did so well: behaviors. Each new bug has a specific thing it's doing in the game so that in every level, isn't just shoot everything that moves, it sometimes takes a bit to figure out what's going on and then shoot what needs to be shot - when."

You (yes, they're discussing multiplayer options) will be able to see it all for yourself when Hasbro's updated Centipede heads for the PC and PlayStation in the fourth quarter of this year.

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