Manufacturer: Atari
Released: 1980
Designer: Ed Logg & Dona Bailey
Added to my collection: November, 2001

Sold: April 4, 2008
Total Lifetime Investment : $594
Sale Price: $400
Current Condition : Sold (to make room for Family Guy)

Description
My Machine
Technical
Links

Description:

Centipede was one of the most popular arcade games of all time. It was, for some reason that no one has been adequately able to explain, a very popular game with female players--a rarity in arcade video games. I don't know how they measure that sort of thing in an arcade, but from the female players I've talked to, it seems to be true. My wife, Meghan, likes the game a lot (which made it a popular purchase).

The premise of Centipede is simple. You control the "shooter" (a wedge-shaped thing that looks something like a snake's head). Your movement is restricted to the bottom quarter of the screen. Your goal is to kill the never-ending march of centipedes (and centipede segments) that march down the screen, starting from the top. The bugs slither back and forth, turning around (and dropping down one line) when they run into the side of the screen or when they run into one of the many mushrooms scattered on the play field Every time you shoot a centipede segment, it turns into a mushroom, and the centipede splits apart, making it harder to hit. Complicating your mission are bouncing spiders (which try to stomp on you), fleas (which drop down from the top of the screen and drop more mushrooms on the play field), and scorpions (which slither across the screen and poison the mushrooms.) When a centipede hits a poisoned mushroom, it charges directly to the bottom of the screen. I always thought the scorpions were slugs. Shows what I know.

Centipede uses a trackball controller (which was invented by Atari for their Football game in 1979). Aside from the trackball, the only control is a fire button. The simplicity of the controls belies the difficulty of the game, however. At its default settings, Centipede is one of the toughest arcade games of the 80s (at least in my opinion). I'm not very good at it. But, hey! Now I can get plenty of practice!

Back to the top.


My Machine:

I picked up my Centipede machine at the Auction Game Sales auction in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The auction wasn't as big as the one I attended in 2000, but they had a decent selection of games. There were an unusual number of Centipedes--five uprights and one cocktail version. I had little hope of picking one up for a reasonable price--they go for up to $1000 on ebay--but I was heartened by the fact that the cocktail version (which was working perfectly) went for just over $400.

My machine was the third of the uprights auctioned off. The first one had a really bad CPO (control panel overlay) and a blurry monitor, and I stopped bidding on the second one when the price went over $400. When they came to the third machine, I was hesitant at first--the monitor image was rolling and twitching, and the last thing I needed was another machine with a flaky monitor! But, when I looked closely, I could see that the problem seemed simple--vertical and horizontal hold, most likely. So I bid on it and got it for $400.

I was right about the monitor problem--just a loose cable. When the connector is properly seated, the picture is fine. Unfortunately, the cable keeps popping loose. Should be easy to remedy, though. The only other problem was a total lack of sound. That turned out to be very simple--the leads to the speaker were broken. All it took was a $5 speaker from Radio Shack to remedy the problem. The controls work well. The monitor is burned in something fierce, but it doesn't bother me that much as the picture is nice and clear (when it's not rolling).

As for the physical condition of the game, you couldn't ask for much better. Other than a few dings in the cabinet and the side art and a small rip in the marquee (which is hardly noticeable), the machine is nearly perfect. As we were loading it on the truck, many of my fellow auction-goers were envious of the deal I had gotten.

With a little tweaking, the game should be good as new. It's the one of the most collectable games I have in my arcade--a really valuable addition to the collection.

Back to the top.


Centipede Technical Info:

DIP switch settings:

Centipede has three banks of DIP switches. The asterisks (*) indicate the factory default settings.

DIP Bank 1 (location N9) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Language English *
on
on
German
on
off
French
off
on
Spanish
off
off
Lives per Game 2 lives
on
on
3 lives *
on
off
4 lives
off
on
5 lives
off
off
Bonus Life at Every 10,000
on
on
12,000 *
on
off
15,000
off
on
20,000
off
off
Difficulty Hard
on
Easy *
off
Minimum Credits
1 credit minimum *
on
2 credits minimum
off

 

DIP Bank 2 (location N8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Credits Free Play
on
on
1 coin, 2 credits
on
off
1 coin, 1 credit *
off
on
2 coins, 1 credit
off
off
Right Coin Slot right coin x 1 *
on
on
right coin x 4
on
off
right coin x 5
off
on
right coin x 6
off
off
Left Coin Slot left coin x 1 *
on
left coin x 2
off
Coin Bonuses No coin bonus *
on
on
on
For every 2 coins inserted, game logic adds 1 coin
on
on
off
For every 4 coins inserted, game logic adds 1 coin
on
off
on
For every 4 coins inserted, game logic adds 2 coin
on
off
off
For every 5 coins inserted, game logic adds 1 coin
off
on
on
For every 3 coins inserted, game logic adds 1 coin
off
on
off

 

DIP Bank 3 (N11) Coin door has 2 coin acceptors Coin door has 2 coin acceptors and a utility coin switch in game Coin door has 3 coin acceptors
1 2 3 4
-- -- on on Both acceptors activate all coin counters simultaneously Do not use this setting All acceptors are the same denomination and activate all coin counters simultaneously
-- -- on off Both acceptors activate two counters separately Do not use this setting Left and center acceptors activate one counter; right acceptor activates another counter
-- -- off on Both acceptors activate all coin counters simultaneously Utility coin siwtch does not activate a coin counter if not hooked up; both acceptors activate all counters simultaneously Left acceptor activates one coin
counter; center and right acceptor
activate another coin counter. Not
for any currently designed 3-mech
coin door.
-- -- off * off * Both acceptors activate two
counters separately
Utility coin switch will not activate a coin counter, if you do not
hook it up. Left and right acceptors activate 2 coin counters separately.
Left, center and right acceptors
activate 3 coin counters separately.

Back to the top.

More Centipede Info:

Back to the top.