Firestorm Productions come correct with a blistering remake of Atari's 1980 arcade masterpiece!
I've been closely following the development of Prospero's Millenipede since it's initial release (as the highest scoring entry in SoCoder's 94th Wednesday Workshop challenge) and over the past few months Firestorm Productions have implemented a long list of changes, tweaking the game-play and generally turning what was once an unashamedly retro tribute to Atari's Centipede into a proud and accolade worthy piece of remake goodness.
Quoting the game's website, Millenipede certainly lives up to it's description - '50% Centipede, 50% Millipede and 100% 3rd Millenium'. For those of you unfamiliar with Atari's 1980 arcade classic, Centipede is a trackball controlled game in which the player's laser-wielding craft is confronted by waves of centipedes advancing from the top of the screen down through a field of randomly placed mushrooms. Shooting any section of the centipede creates a mushroom, and shooting one of the middle segments splits the centipede into two pieces at that point - each smaller centipede then continues independently on its way down through the playing arena.
The mushrooms not only provide the centipede with cover from your fire (each taking four shots to destroy), but they also increase the speed that the attacking insects progress down the screen; each time a centipede hits an obstruction it changes direction and descends one unit through the arena. If a centipede reaches the very bottom of the screen it will move back and forth across the player's area and cause further centipedes to spawn. There's no respite in the relentless combat - immediately after killing the last of the attacking arthropods the next (harder) attack wave begins.
Add to this chaos the jumpy spiders that attempt to pounce on the player from the left and right of the screen, turbo-charged mushroom-laying snails - and in Prospero's remake - flying saucers that transform regular mushrooms into a living nightmare, Millenipede really is a classic slice of intense retro gaming and it is far superior to the many commercial clones and official conversions (at least with regard to capturing the spirit of the original coin-gobbling arcade classic).
So what makes this Centipede homage stand out from the rest? Well, aside from the spot-on arcade quality game-play, Firestorm Productions have wrapped the game up with suitably retro audio, clear and precise pixel work and some beautiful particle effects and explosive eye-candy. Control is via keyboard, joypad/stick or mouse - and as you can imagine, the super-responsive mouse control method is the way to go (unless you've got a trackball, of course). Also, Prospero has helpfully included a continuous fire mode (toggled on and off by the spacebar) to save that your trigger finger from blisters.
Millenipede doesn't pretend to have any depth - but the game performs brilliantly as a short and rewarding distraction from work. Although you are unlikely to play it for extended periods, this top-quality remake is a great little game and one that I am likely to return to time and time again.
(Note that although only the Windows compatible version of Millenipede has been included on disc, there is also a Mac version available from the Firestorm Productions website.)