It might not have 100 legs, but that’s fine.
The repackaging of classic arcade games for modern audiences has essentially taken two forms: either a compilation with ports that are fairly faithful to the original, or a newly invented version that changes the formula in one or more ways. Centipede: Recharged, as the name suggests, falls into the latter camp. It makes some clever tweaks to Centipede’s addicting gameplay, and the addition of leaderboards and co-op gaming in particular makes Recharged a worthy, buggy glow.
“Glow” is the key word here, with Centipede’s computerized wire-frame look: Recharged. While it’s pretty straightforward in terms of presentation, the gameplay remains largely compelling. In standard arcade mode, you compete to survive as long as possible and get the highest score. Centipedes appear at the top of the screen and move from side to side as they wander along the screen. The bottom half of the screen has a line that your ship cannot pass, and this restriction on movement adds to the challenge. Other creatures such as spiders, fleas, and scorpions enter the arena from different locations. So you need to keep an eye on every area of the screen to stay alive. Spiders are limited to roaming around your lower half of the screen, scorpions move horizontally in the upper play area creating toadstools that plunge centipedes into your space, and fleas shoot straight down from the top.
What sets Recharged apart from Centipede’s 1981 arcade release is the addition of 30 individual levels of challenge, co-op gaming, and special power-ups that are dropped from killing spiders. The challenges are all self-contained and have their own individual leaderboard. They challenge you to achieve a certain number of points, destroy a certain number of enemies, or survive for a certain amount of time. Neither of them last too long, but they mix up the gameplay in fun and interesting ways.
Playing multiplayer, either Arcade or Challenges, has its own leaderboards. It’s also a great addition on its own that works well for what Recharged is trying to do: creating a simple arcade experience to record and play with. In addition to Spreadshot, Rapid Fire, and Slow-Time Power-Ups, co-op spiders drop additional ships that can instantly revive your fallen partner.
Although Centipede: Recharged doesn’t have much depth, it still manages to breathe new life into a 30-year-old arcade booklet. In short bursts, Recharged plays well enough to be sure to deserve a spot in my rotation, and I’ll be happy to stop by from time to time to check out the various leaderboards. The art style gets a bit old-fashioned the more you see it; some additional color palettes or unlockable elements would certainly be welcome here. It might not have 100 of them, but as for arcade revivals, Centipede: Recharged definitely has legs.