Catalogue of Arcade Emulation Software - the Absolute Reference

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

Large CAESAR Logo

Centipede (bootleg)

Centipede (c) 1980 Atari.

Shoot The Insects In A Mushroom Patch! The player is represented by a small, insect-like character at the bottom of the screen. The player moves the character about the bottom area of the screen with a trackball and fires laser shots at a centipede advancing from the top of the screen down through a field of mushrooms. Shooting the centipede's head creates another mushroom; shooting a body segment creates another centipede.

If the centipede reaches the bottom of the screen, it moves back and forth within the player area and adds segments to itself as it traverses each row. When all the centipede's segments are destroyed, a new centipede forms at the top of the player area. A player loses a life when hit by a centipede or another enemy, such as a spider, a flea which leaves mushrooms behind when less than five are in the player area, or a scorpion which can poison a mushroom and send the centipede hurtling straight toward the player area. When a player loses a life, any mushrooms that have been partially destroyed and/or poisoned are also restored.


Centipede came in three different form factors, upright, cabaret, and a cocktail table.

* The uprights were by far the most common. All of them can be converted to "Millipede" with only minor effort. They all have control panels with a trackball, although the upright version uses a larger ball than the other ones do. All of the trackballs are prone to wear and tear, but replacement parts are readily available. The upright was in a white cabinet that was similar in construction to the Asteroids cabinet. The game featured ornate painted side-art of a truly evil looking green bug, while the monitor bezel and marquee basically copied the same picture, but from a different angle.

* The cabaret was an ugly looking little thing, with wood-grained sides, and a nameplate down by the coin box.

* The cocktail version is black and wood-grained, and has two control panels. The only graphics on this one are a pair of Centipede logos underneath the glass (the same design is also repeated on the control panels.

Game ID : 136001

Main CPU : M6502 (@ 1.512 Mhz)

Sound Chips : POKEY (@ 1.512 Mhz)

Screen orientation : Vertical

Video resolution : 240 x 256 pixels

Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz

Palette colors : 8

Players : 2

Control : trackball

Buttons : 1

=> Fire


Centipede, completed in 1981, was an Atari coin-operated game that swiftly won a wide following in the arcades. Apart from its smooth game play, Centipede was praised for its refreshing approach to screen colors and for its whimsical mushroom world.

The first coin-op game designed by a woman, Dona Bailey. But Ed Logg did the majority of the work on Centipede, Dona only came up with the prototype idea, where the mushrooms were indestructible and it was more like "Space Invaders". Like "Pac-Man", this game has special appeal to women.

* The Creation of Centipede : Centipede was written by veteran Atari designer Ed Logg, who has become something of a legend in the world of video games, and a young game programmer who was credited with bringing a gentler touch to the world of video games with the enchanted mushroom patch. Steve Calfee : "Ed Logg is the world's greatest games designer. He's done the most, the best games. His line up starts with "Asteroids", which probably still is the biggest run we ever did. He's in [a long line of games]. He's kind of like Pete Rose; he has the most hits and he's also probably got the most strike outs. He just goes up to bat.".

* Remembrances from the Video Game Masters : The mushroom patch with its tenacious, never-say-die centipedes, bouncing spiders, mushroom-laying fleas and transforming scorpions provided an imaginative leap for players, just as did the hoards of aliens in "Tempest", the outer space adventures of "Asteroids", the eerie battlefields of "Battle Zone" and even the frightful scenarios of "Missile Command". Of these times, and the games that emerged from Atari, Rich Adam said : "We were a young group of fun people who were sort of treading on untrodden territory. We were out exploring what technology could do to entertain adolescent minds, and we were adolescent minds.".

In the early days of personal computers, before they became commonplace, and before sophisticated gaming programs were available for them, the arcades (and wherever else the coin-operated games were located) were the portals into these new fantasy worlds. And a river of quarters carried players into the electronic realms. Dan Pliskin described the coin-operated video game business as follows : "It was a wacky, extremely competitive business. I was there when coin-operated games were earning $8 billion in quarters a year. These games were out-grossing the record industry and the movie industry combined, in quarters! And when you looked at who was manufacturing these games, it was just a couple of Japanese companies and a few American companies.... There was incredible competition, all for kids' lunch and church money!".

The quarters are still rolling in. Dan Plishkin continued : "People say that video games have already seen their heyday and business has definitely gone downhill. Maybe it has gone downhill. Maybe it's only $4 billion worth of quarters now. It's still one heck of an industry.".

* Popular from the Start : The prototype games were hand-built, wire-wrapped, one-of-a kinds that were created by the development team prior to ordering the circuit boards for the mass-produced versions. With just a single machine, people would come in at all hours of the night to play a new game.Dan Plishkin : "One of the things that kind of allowed everybody at Atari to have kind of a loose and enjoyable relationship was that management was kind of loose, too. An example of that happened with one of Howard Delman's games. I can't remember which one it was, but we sent the one and only prototype wire-wrapped version of Howie's game off to the AMOA (Amusement and Music Operators Association) show with strict orders not to sell it. "Of course the game was sold anyway, and a new prototype had to be assembled back at the labs. Dan Plishkin continued : "Several months later Howie gets a call from the person who bought this game. It had stopped collecting money and he wanted to know how to change the settings to make it play longer, or something, to see if it would earn more money. Howie had to tell the guy that if it ever collected any money at all, it was a miracle because it didn't have any coin routines at all. It had none, because we had wired it for free-play when we sent it to the AMOA show!".

* The Great 25-Cent Escape : Especially in the early 1980s a great many newspaper and magazine articles were written about the meaning of and possible consequences of the wave of video games that seemed to allure so many kids, and adults, to the arcades. But at the heart of it might have been the promise of a quick escape into another world. Rich Adam : "I kind of figured out, maybe years after the fact, what I think the lure of video games is. It's because people have so little control over their lives. This is especially true with kids, but even adults often have little control over the day-to-day part of their lives. You have to go to work. You don't get to control that much of your life. But for a quarter you can control this very complex machine. You can command it. For a quarter that's quite a bargain, to be able to do that for five minutes... When you're good at a game it gives you an incredible sense of power over the whole environment.".

Atari's second bestselling coin-op game. Approximately 55,000 units were produced. Centipede was the 1st UL (Underwriter's Laboratories) approved game.

Jim Schneider holds the official record for this game on 'Marathon' settings with 16,389,547 points on August 1, 1984.

Donald Hayes holds the official record for this game on 'Tournament' settings with 7,111,111 points on November 5, 2000.

Note : The upright side artwork features a grasshopper, while it is not present during game-play. In test mode you can cycle through the different graphical objects used in the game (the player, a mushroom, a spider, a scorpion, a flea and a grasshopper). Grasshopper?! Yes, the game was to originally have had grasshoppers but they were taken out. You can still see them in the test however.

Note 2 : 'Centipede' is also the name of a terrifying, man-eating monster of the size of a mountain. This Japanese legend say that the dragon king of that particular lake asked the famous hero Hidesato to kill it for him. The hero slew it by shooting an arrow, dipped in his own saliva, into the brain of the monster. The dragon king rewarded Hidesato by giving him a rice-bag; a bag of rice which could not be emptied and it fed his family for centuries.

Centipede inspired a catchy hit song by Buckner and Garcia called 'Ode To A Centipede' released on the 'Pac-Man Fever' album.

A bootleg was released by Olympia under the same name. Another bootleg of this game is known as "Caterpillar".

A French hack of this game is known as "Mill Pac". An Italian hack is known as "Magic Worm".

The default high score screen of "Cyberball 2072" features names of many Atari arcade games, including CENTIPED.

A Centipede unit appears in the 1982 movie 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High', in the 1983 movie 'WarGames', in the 1983 movie 'James Bond 007 - Never Say Never Again', in the 1983 movie 'Joysticks', in the 1984 movie 'Body Double', in the 1985 movie 'Teen Wolf', in the 1986 movie 'Running Scared', in the 1987 movie 'Death Wish 4 - The Crackdown', in the 1995 movie 'Species' and in the 1996 movie 'House Arrest'.

A Centipede mini-cabinet was shown at the 2003 classic arcade games show 'California Extreme' in San Jose, California.

In 1982, Atari released a set of 12 collector pins including : "Missile Command", "Battle Zone", "Tempest", "Asteroids Deluxe", "Space Duel", "Centipede", "Gravitar", "Dig Dug", "Kangaroo", "Xevious", "Millipede" and "Food Fight".

MB (Milton Bradley) released a boardgame based on Atari's Centipede.


Mushrooms & Poisoned Mushrooms : 1 point (Takes 4 hits to destroy) : When the mushroom patch is reset after a player loses a life, each partially destroyed/poisoned mushroom that is restored awards the player 5 bonus points.

Centipede (Body) : 10 points

Centipede (Head) : 100 points

Flea : 200 points (Takes 2 hits. First hit speeds it up, second hit destroys it)

Spider (Far) : 300 points

Spider (Mid) : 600 points

Spider (Near) : 900 points

Scorpion : 1000 points


* When you start the game, you will be put in the middle at the bottom of the screen. You have an area five mushrooms high (about a fifth of the playing area) to maneuver your shooter in. The game will start when the enemies enters the screen. Know your enemies! This is the single most important aspect of this game. If you don't know how each of the enemies behave, you won't last long. The enemies are :

1) Centipede (Body and Head) : Goes back and forth across the screen. Will drop to the next level when it encounters a mushroom or the side of the game field. It will go all the way to the bottom when it hits a poisoned mushroom.

2) Spider : These appear from the top left or right of the player area. They will either bounce across the player's area at 45 degree angles or bounce in at a 45 degree angle, bounce up and down a couple of times, go to the middle at a 45 degree angle, bounce up and down a couple of times, then finally go to the right side (at a 45 degree angle), bounce up and down, then exit the area. They destroy mushrooms they cross over.

3) Flea : These appear in wave 2. They will appear when you have cleared out most of the mushrooms in the player area. These never appear when you have an eleven segmented Centipede.

4) Scorpion : These appear in wave 3. They go across the screen and poison all the mushrooms in their path.

* The Centipede will start out as a head and eleven body segments on wave one. Wave 2 will be a head with ten body segments and a head that enters from the opposite side. Wave 3 will be a head with nine body segments and two heads that enter from opposite sides. This progression keeps going until wave 12 when all that enter the screen are heads. The progression then works backwards for 12 waves, then starts back up again in a never ending cycle.

* Shooting the Centipede can have two effects :

1) If you shoot the head, then that part turns into a mushroom and the next segment becomes the new head and the Centipede will travel in the opposite direction (since it hit the new mushroom created).

2) If you shoot the middle of the body, then the segment hit will become a mushroom. The old Centipede will continue in the same direction. The new Centipede will develop a head at the next segment after the break and head off in the opposite direction.

* A good strategy to ensure you destroy the Centipede's in one stroke and to keep the Fleas at bay is to create ''mushroom corridors''. Mushroom corridors are basically corridors between two rows of mushrooms where you can funnel the Centipede down and destroy it when it is moving head-first at your shooter.

* A good defense against the Flea is to keep a certain amount of mushrooms on the screen. There is no hard set value but when the Fleas don't come down, you have enough. This number gets higher as your score increases.

* Speaking of score, Fleas start traveling faster after 60,000 points.

* Watch out for the Spiders. They enter at either the top or bottom corners. Your shooter may be in the way if this happens. In addition to collisions, the Spiders wipe out all mushrooms that are in its path. This can create problems when you are creating mushroom corridors. It can also cause the Fleas to appear since you won't have many mushrooms in the player area. In later waves, multiple Spiders may appear in the player area.

* Keep track of where the Scorpions move across the screen. As soon as the Centipede hits a poisoned mushroom, it will immediately head for the bottom of the screen. The only way to stop this headlong plunge is to shoot it in the head. In the later waves, it is not uncommon to have multiple Scorpions going across the screen. They also provide the most points in the game.

* If you get unlucky and let the Centipede into your area, you need to destroy it before it gets to the top of the player area. Once it reaches the top, it will descend again. If it does reach the top of the player area, another head will come out from the opposite side to start its back and forth march across the screen. This will continue until you destroy all the Centipede parts in the player area or until your Shooter is destroyed.

* If your Shooter gets destroyed, all partially shot up mushrooms are regenerated and you start at the beginning of the wave you got killed on.

* Depending on machine set up, all enemies (except the Centipede and Flea) speed up at the 1,000 or 5,000 point mark.

* Bottom Side Tunnels : To perform this trick, you must do the following...

1) When the Centipede is one row over the player's area (fifth mushroom up), go to the opposite side that the Centipede is on.

2) When the Centipede turns around, it will be in the player's area. It then will make it to the side you are on. Right when it hits the side of the screen and turns around, shoot it. This creates a mushroom and forces the Centipede to turn around and go down one level.

3) Again, after the Centipede hits the wall, shoot it, create a mushroom, and force it down another level.

4) Continue to do this until you have only the bottom part left. There are two ways to do this :

a) If you get killed by the Centipede, this will also create a mushroom and you will have a vertical line of mushrooms along one of the side.

b) If you are quick, you can pick off the Centipede and create this last mushroom.

5) Repeat this for the other side.

6) Regardless of how you create this ''Side Tunnel'', you will now have a trapped Centipede since the only thing it can do is go up and down within the player's area. New heads that come out will also be trapped.

7) Now you can pick off enemies at your leisure. The only enemy you need to make sure you take out is the Spider since it can wipe out part of your ''Side Tunnel''.

8) Good players consider this ''cheating'' since it basically lets the player have free reign over the game.

* Central Tunnel : This trick works along the same line as the ''Bottom Side Tunnel'' trick. The difference is that you create a tunnel down the center of the screen...

1) When the Centipede starts its descent, hit it. This will cause it to reverse direction after hitting the new mushroom.

2) After going one or two mushroom lengths, hit it. Again, this will cause it to reverse direction.

3) Continue to do this until you have built a ''tunnel'' that touches the player's area.

4) Also make sure you build up mushrooms to the left and right of the tunnel to prevent the Fleas from coming down and depositing their random mushrooms.

5) From this point on, when the Centipede approaches your tunnel, all it will take is one hit to force it to descend. In a sense, you are causing the same effect that a Scorpion causes, but on your terms.

6) Since you are keeping the top left and right areas clear, it should take a longer time for the individual heads to make it to the player's area.

7) It will take a few waves to build up your areas. Once built up, you should be the master of the game.

8) As for the other tunnel, make sure you take care of the Spiders when they first enter so they don't do any damage to your ''Central Tunne''.

9) Also make sure that you keep your tunnel cleared out by destroying any stray mushrooms within it.

* Fortress : If you are patient, you could build a mushroom fortress around your Shooter. Then all you would do is shoot Spiders for the rest of the game.


1. Centipede (1981)

2. Millipede (1982)


Designed and programmed by : Dona Bailey, Ed Logg


* Consoles :

Atari 2600 (1982)

Atari 5200 (1982)

Atari XEGS

Atari 7800 (1984)

Colecovision (1983)

Mattel Intellivision (1983)

Atari Lynx (1987)

Sega Master System (1992, "Arcade Smash Hits")

Nintendo Game Boy (1995, "Centipede / Millipede")

Nintendo Game Boy Color (1995)

Sega Game Gear (1996, "Arcade Classics")

Sega Mega Drive (1996, "Arcade Classics")

Sony PlayStation (1996, "Arcade's Greatest Hits - The Atari Collection 1")

Nintendo Super Famicom (1997, "Arcade's Greatest Hits - The Atari Collection 1")

Sega Saturn (1997, "Arcade's Greatest Hits - The Atari Collection 1")

Sony PlayStation (1999) : features Arcade and Adventure games with 3-D graphics. This port is sometimes referred to as "Centipede 3-D".

Sega Dreamcast (1999) : features Arcade and Adventure style games with 3-D graphics. This port is sometimes referred to as "Centipede 3-D".

Sony PlayStation (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition Redux")

Sega Dreamcast (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition")

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2002, "Atari Anniversary Advance")

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2002, "Centipede / Breakout / Warlords")

Sony PlayStation 2 (2004, "Atari Anthology") : appears in both arcade and Atari 2600 forms.

Microsoft XBOX (2004, "Atari Anthology") : appears in both arcade and Atari 2600 forms.

Nintendo DS (2005, "Retro Atari Classics")

* Computers :

Atari 800 (1982)

Tandy Color Computer (1982, "Katerpillar Attack")

Tandy Color Computer (1982, "Caterpillar")

Tandy Color Computer (1982, "Colorpede")

Tandy Color Computer (1983, "Megapede")

Tandy Color Computer (1983, "Color Caterpillar")

PC [Booter] (1983, "Bug Blaster", a part of the "Friendlyware PC Arcade" suite)

PC [MS-DOS] (1983, "Centipede", Atari Inc.)

PC [MS-DOS] (1983, "Centipede", R. J. Grafe)

Commodore VIC-20 (1983)

Commodore C64 (1983)

Memotech MTX 512 (1983, "Kilopede")

BBC B (1983, "Bug Blaster" - Alligata)

TI99/4A (1983, "Centipede", Atarisoft)

Sinclair ZX-Spectrum (1983, "Spectipede", R&R Software Ltd)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1983, "Centi-Bug", Dk'tronics)

Amstrad CPC (1986, "Killapede", Players)

Atari ST (1992)

PC [MS Windows, 3.5''] (1993, "Microsoft Arcade")

PC [MS-DOS] (1997, "ChampCentiped-em" - CHAMProgramming)

PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (1998) : features "Arcade" and "Adventure" games. This port is sometimes referred to as "Centipede 3-D".

PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (1999, "Atari Arcade hits 1")

PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2001, "Atari Anniversary Edition")

Apple Macintosh (2001) : features 'Arcade' and 'Adventure' game variations with new 3D graphics. This port is sometimes referred to as "Centipede 3-D".

PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2003, "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One!") : appears in both arcade and Atari 2600 forms.

* Others :

Tiger Game.Com (1999)

Atari 10 in 1 TV Game (2002 - Jakk's Pacific)

Mobile phone [Motorola T720] (2002)

Atari Flashback 2 (2005)

Nokia N-Gage (2006, "Atari Masterpieces Volume 2")


F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc