Centipede: Recharged – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade game, shoot-'em-up
Developer: Sneakybox, Adamvision Studios
Publisher: Atari
Platform: Switch, PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: Switch

Centipede: Recharged – Review

Site Score
Good: Challenge mode keeps things fresh
Bad: No online co-op
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Few games have cemented a reputation as firm as that of Atari’s 1981 arcade shmup Centipede. While it may not be top-of-mind for the current generation of gamers, there is a reason why retro game enthusiasts still get excited about this arcade classic. 40 years after it was originally released, the game now aims to entice a new generation with Centipede: Recharged. Can the venerable game still justify its legendary reputation or is this a bug that should have been permanently exterminated decades ago?


There isn’t a story present here, which makes sense. This is a game that debuted on coin-operated arcade machines, in a simpler time, when game developers didn’t care about drawing in players with a fleshed-out narrative after all. All you need to know is that there are lots of nasty bugs and that you need to blast them into oblivion.


Centipede: Recharged’s visuals accurately recreate the wireframe graphics of the original arcade cabinet version, albeit updated for modern screens. The game looks surprisingly slick, partly because the original aesthetics turned out to be timeless. Of course, the game still looks fairly simplistic and there isn’t a whole lot of variety present, but at least what’s present looks good enough to pass the judgment of a modern audience.


As you’re busy blasting bugs, you’ll be accompanied by classic laser pews and explosion sounds. These effects sound suitably retro. Of course, a high-tempo techno soundtrack is also present to keep your adrenaline rushing as you get caught up in the frantic action. The sound quality is good, with the soundscape encapsulating the feeling of playing a retro arcade game.


If you’ve never played the original Centipede, you might be wondering what the big deal is as it’s a very simplistic 2D shoot-’em-up game by modern standards. Given Centipede’s arcade origins and Centipede: Recharged aiming to stick as close to the original’s core gameplay loop as possible, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the new version feels slightly dated. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the game was designed with a different mindset and the simplistic core gameplay is still very fun. The aim of Centipede: Recharged is to rack up the highest possible score, by shooting as many centipedes as possible before you meet your premature doom. The game is played from a top-down perspective and your own movement is limited to the bottom half of the screen, with the centipedes moving in from the top.

Shooting centipedes causes them to explode into smaller centipedes as well as mushrooms that clog up the screen. Contrary to what you might expect from the title, there are more enemies than just centipedes too; although they’re all bug-based, ranging from fleas to scorpions. Unlike the titular centipedes though, other bugs can appear not just from the top of the screen but elsewhere as well; including in your own half of the screen. They all have their own unique way of attacking as well. Of course, some changes were made in order to rebalance some of the game’s more notorious enemies. Perhaps the biggest change went into redesigning the game’s spider enemies. Rather than the lightning-fast threats that they once were, they now serve as power-up carriers, and they move a lot slower as a result.

Aiding you in battling these arthropods from hell is a smorgasbord of weaponry obtained through power-ups, ranging from bombs, a rapid-fire gun, and the ultimate weapon: a laser shot that clears the entire screen of enemies. Being able to know how and when to use your arsenal to its maximum potential is essential to blasting your way to the game’s leaderboards. This core gameplay loop of blasting bugs to gain access to better weapons, enabling you to blast bugs in a more efficient way, is what Centipede: Recharged’s gameplay is all about.

By this point, you might be wondering what earns this port of the 1981 classic the subtitle Recharged, as it is a faithful recreation of the original title, apart from visual upgrades and the aforementioned rebalancing of certain enemies. The basic arcade mode remains virtually unchanged, but developer Sneakybox has gone out of its way to add several modes that keep the game fresh and engaging. The game truly shines when taking it on in co-op, for example, as you’ll need to really co-operate to stand a chance against the frantic action and increased enemy spawn rate. Thankfully, there are power-ups available that allow you to revive your teammate in case of death. The Challenge mode then provides you with objective-based tasks. The Challenge mode is without a doubt the best single-player addition to Centipede: Recharged, as it not only shakes things up, but by playing through it, you’re indirectly training yourself to be better at the core game.

Overall, Centipede: Recharged is a showcase of just how timeless the classic is, still feeling challenging and fresh 40 years later, with only a few minor tweaks to the core experience. One thing stands out like a sore thumb though: although the game features online leaderboards and local co-op, there is no online co-op to be found here. It’s a minor blemish on what could have been a perfect retro re-release of an all-time classic. It’s not the end of the world of course, and if it piqued your interest, then Centipede: Recharged comes highly recommended. Just be aware that you’ll either stand alone against the bug hordes, or that you’re going to have to invite a friend over.


Forty years have passed since Centipede first enthralled audiences and it seems like the old bug still has some legs left. This is essential stuff, even if you aren’t a retro games enthusiast, as it’s simply a thrilling shump. It’s a showcase of how a game doesn’t need fancy bells and whistles to still be really addictive and fun. Playing Centipede: Recharged may make you feel like you’re going back to basics, but if the basics are this good, then you won’t regret it.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Centipede: Recharged - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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