Arcade Mania – Millipede (1982)

Millipede

Some people don’t like bugs, and who can blame them? They’re scary looking, they hide in dark places, and sometimes they carry contagions. But sometimes, bugs can be fun, just as they are in the classic Atari arcade game Millipede. Although, you still have to be careful about contagions, because playing Millipede may give you a serious case of “just one more game” syndrome.

The game is the sequel to the original 1980 Centipede, and like that game, Millipede is a vertically oriented shooter in which you have to destroy the titular multi-segmented insects, all the while avoiding an onslaught of other creepy-crawlies. However, it’s much more frantic than the original, and with a much larger variety of bugs that attack you in different patters and cause various effects, such as changing the position of the mushrooms or even slowing the action down temporarily. There are also DDT bombs that you can shoot, and the explosion destroys any bugs within its radius. Otherwise, the basic gameplay is pretty much the same, which is to say that it’s just as much fun as it’s always been.

Millipede
Is it me, or does your "ship" look almost like a tiny Atari logo?

The game was designed by Ed Logg, who co-designed the original with Dona Bailey. A new version of Centipede came out in the late 90s, although it used polygonal 3D graphics and played much differently than the previous arcade games because it was more free roaming. At the time of this posting, Atari is getting ready to reinvent the franchise yet again with Centipede: Infestation, although this time it looks to be more of an arena shooter type of game.

Millipede isn’t quite as common as Centipede, but it’s still available in numerous ways. You can track down ports on old consoles, like the Atari 2600 or NES (the latter being ported by HAL Labs, interestingly). It’s currently available for download on Xbox Live Arcade, and was included in Atari’s Greatest Hits Volume 2 on the Nintendo DS. Of course, you can also just go to Atari’s official website and play it online (legally) for free! However, nothing beats playing the original arcade game with its trackball controls. Nothing quite recreates that same level of precision.

I remember Millipede being fairly common in arcades back in the 80s. I didn’t play it a whole lot, but I usually dropped at least one quarter into it when I had the chance. I personally like it better than the original Centipede because of its extra variety and added challenge. It feels more frenetic and action-packed, which to me makes it even more addictive.

So, go find a version of Millipede and get your bug-blasting fix for today!

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