Centipede: Recharged • History + Review

Centipede: Recharged, a brand new take on the classic Centipede arcade game released on consoles and PC today. I was able to get an early preview this week and I love how they’ve “recharged” the retro classic to make it feel fresh and new on today’s platforms.

It was also announced today that this is just the first of four “recharged” Atari classics coming this year. Coming up next month is Black Widow: Recharged (Oct 28), and Breakout and Asteroids will follow in Q4 of 2021.

A Brief History

This year marks the 40th anniversary since the original Centipede made its way into arcades all over the country in 1981. The original was one of the top three grossing arcade cabinets that year, and is still one of the most memorable arcade classics.

Centipede was also one of the first games programmed by a woman, Dona Bailey. Hired in 1980 by Atari as the first female programmer in the coin-op department. Creating Centipede was her first assignment with a team of four.

The Game: Recharged!

Centipede: Recharged is a brand new take on the classic game for today’s gamers. This game brings back the nostalgic feeling of playing the original, but adds enough to make it feel fresh and new.

It’s like having an arcade experience at home. What really brought me that classic arcade feel was having both good and bad runs back-to-back. Any time I play any of the old school, intense arcade games (Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders) it’s part skill and part luck — I can reach my highest score one run while getting my lowest on the next five. Each run is completely different, yet the same.

Centipede: Recharged – 10 minutes of gameplay (Arcade Mode)

There are many ways to approach these retro arcade games. You can test your skills and play with precision, you can try taking out each enemy with perfect accuracy or you can do what I usually do and mash your blaster the whole time, hoping to hit something.

In Centipede: Recharged I used a mix of repeatedly mashing my blaster button and holding it down for extended periods of time. While holding down X/Cross (on PlayStation 5) I learned about the random bonus bursts every few shots. Some were three consecutive shots, others were way more. I’m not sure if those bursts are synced to the game’s soundtrack.

The soundtrack features retro electronic music tracks by award-winning video game composer Megan McDuffee which are quite relaxing. These tracks remind me of the music of Tetris Effect, another redesigned classic. Centipede: Recharged also has a neon aesthetic that is similar to that seen in many Tetris Effect levels.

There are a large amount of new power ups, which all come in handy (rapid blast, spray shot, explosive shot and many more). Don’t grab them all at once. The trick is not to grab the next power up until your current one has run out of juice. Collecting your next power up too early will cancel (or override) the effect of your current one. Even if your board is packed with a few power ups it’s fine to let them sit around for a bit, they won’t disappear that fast. Of course, if you see one you like better than what you’re using go ahead an grab it.

Since every round is randomly generated, the arcade-style provides tons of replayability. As I mentioned before, you can hit your highest scores in between many quick low score runs. Centipede: Recharged also features a brand new challenge mode with 30 different challenges.

Centipede: Recharged – 10 minutes of gameplay (Challenge Mode)

-Arcade and Challenge mode can both be enjoyed solo and co-op.

The movement in the game is buttery smooth with my PlayStation 5 DualSense joystick. I also gave it a try on PlayStation 4 and the game ran pretty much as smooth as it does on PS5. You definitely need to pay attention to your surroundings because anytime my zone became too crowded with insects and mushrooms I would usually crash and die. You gotta clear those mushrooms. You only get one life each run, unless playing on co-op where you could sometimes save your partner (which I didn’t get to do yet).

One thing I wish they utilized more was some other buttons or the triggers on my controller. On PlayStation consoles the game only uses the X/Cross button to fire and the left joystick to move your ship. They could have done something with the triggers or other buttons. For example, implementing saving power ups for later by pressing a button or trigger when ready for use. Of course, I’m sure they were trying to keep the game simple like the classic arcade version and I respect that.

For those into high scores and trophies the game features both. You can keep track of your local high scores on your own console/PC and you can even see where you stand among the competition — both with friends and globally. The game also features many trophies and achievements which you will notice just by playing enough rounds.

While the classic arcade game was played on a vertical screen, Centipede: Recharged utilizes our new widescreens and monitors with a horizontal layout. Since you can only move through the lower third of the map, a horizontal layout gives you more of a safety net.

One More Thing: Immersive Mode

Centipede: Recharged – Immersive Mode

While searching through the menus I found one setting that was set to OFF called “Immersive Mode.” When I switched it ON I quickly learned that it’s sort of a “hard mode.” In Immersive Mode, the camera is zoomed in on your ship so you cannot see the entire map. Now you have to move around more to check for enemy insects. After playing a few rounds I decided that I was better off with “Immersive Mode” set to OFF.

The Verdict

Centipede: Recharged is a very fun classic arcade game, remade for the modern gamer. I would have liked to see some extra game modes and possibly more challenges. Who knows if the game will receive some updates down the line for new modes. I think this is a great game to have in your library since it’s quick and easy to jump in and out of, low-cost ($9.99) and it’s a fun couch co-op game to play with a friend. The past few nights I’ve been obsessed with playing “just a few rounds” which quickly turns into a couple of hours.

Centipede: Recharged is now available on Steam, Epic Games Store, PlaySation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and Atari VCS for $9.99.

*A review code was provided by the publisher for myVGBC.com.

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