Release Date: 1982
Genre: Shoot’em Up
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: CX2676
This is a surprisingly solid port of the arcade classic.
You take control of a magic wand wielding elf who must protect his enchanted mushroom garden from a host of insect invaders. And yes there is a joke to be made about the designers being on “enchanted mushrooms” when coming up with this concept, but I’m going to be classy and ignore it.
You begin the game at the bottom of the screen and have free reign over the bottom third of the play field. Above you is a random assortment of rectangle shaped mushrooms that you are protecting from invasion. Ironically one of the most effective ways of slowing down the invasion is to destroy the mushrooms, which forces your main nemesis to take the long road to you. The centipede moves horizontally across the screen until it touches a mushroom, at which point it drops down a level and reverses course. So the fewer mushrooms there are, the longer you have to use your magic wand to dispatch it.
The centipede has nine sections that must be taken out before a new one emerges. Every time you destroy a segment it turns into a mushroom, which means if you don’t place your shots just right you will quickly have a centipede fueled nightmare on your hands. For example, if you hit the middle segment and turn it into a mushroom, both the front and the back halves start acting independently of each other, so instead of one giant centipede, you have two smaller and faster ones to deal with.
There are three other pests that you must deal with in your quest for the perfect mushroom garden. The easiest to deal with is The Flea, who will occasionally drop from the top of the screen leaving a trail of mushrooms in its wake. The Spider will be your most common encounter, harassing you at nearly every moment by bouncing around the bottom of the screen. The most annoying enemy is The Scorpion, which changes every mushroom it touches into a poisonous white mushroom. This is problematic because as soon as the centipede touches a white mushroom it drops straight down to the bottom of the screen. Nothing like getting bummed rushed by half a dozen centipede parts to ruin a perfectly good afternoon.
The graphics are very underwhelming, with virtually everything being rectangles or squares. Thankfully however the gameplay is fast and furious, which captures the arcade experience quite well. There is also trackball support for those who are purists, but the game plays quite nicely with just the regular old joystick controller. It is worth a look for fans of the arcade original.