In 1981 Atari released into the arcades a rather unique shooter where the player used a trackball to control a sort of ship that was tasked with destroying an oncoming centipede and other bugs (e.g., spiders, fleas, and scorpions). The game became a success which meant ports of the game to home systems, including the 2600.
For this version, Atari came up with a back story… Elves live in the enchanted forest bit they are facing a problem. Centipedes have infested the mushroom garden along with a gang of nasty pests and the elves just can’t seem to be rid of them. One day an elf called Oliver was cutting away a poisoned mushroom (courtesy of the scorpion) when he found a gleaming stick. Suddenly a flea was going to attack Oliver when he, instinctively, waved the stick only to find out it was a magic wand that made the flea disappear. With his newfound power, Oliver has set to clear the mushroom garden of all pests. Centipede on the 2600 starts up with a beautifully rendered title screen full of multicolored mushrooms and a large centipede. Sadly, the playing field doesn’t look as nice as the mushrooms are just a bunch of small rectangles. The pests, though, look pretty good and they are nicely animated. In fact, despite the graphical limitations, the game does a good job of capturing the spirit of the arcade game. The action starts a bit slow but it does pick up quickly, making for a rather enjoyable game. The game is designed to be played with a joystick but it can also be played using Atari’s trackball controller, which adds to the fun.