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The Tech Deck

This week’s free game: “Centipede”

Centipede, released in 1980, was the first coin-operated video game developed by a woman (Atari's Dona Bailey). The company released a flash version with updated graphics as part of its online arcade.
Centipede, released in 1980, was the first coin-operated video game developed by a woman (Atari's Dona Bailey). The company released a flash version with updated graphics as part of its online arcade.

Are you a gamer? Do you like free things? Of course you do!

We here at the Tech Deck are just like you: poor gamers looking for cheap entertainment. And nothing's cheaper than cost-free gaming. Each week, we'll bring you a title (or two or three) you can legally play at home without plopping down a single dollar. If you see games you think we should be featuring on the blog, email us at dang@spokesman.com or kiph@spokesman.com.

Many shoot 'em ups in the early days of arcades put you in the cockpit of a spaceship or fighter jet. "Centipede" dispensed with the aerial and interstellar combat and instead tasked you with eliminating a menacing, 100-legged monster as it crawled slowly towards your defenseless body. Yeah. Arcades were messed up in the 1980s.

Atari is allowing you to re-live the experience of extermination as part of its arcade classics collection. Play a remastered version of "Centipede" for free in your browser by clicking below!

Click here to play 'Centipede' for free in your browser!

The brown patch of mud at the bottom of the screen represents the area your gnome can move. Fire using the space bar, and avoid spiders, scorpions and other nasty creatures while you blow away sections of the titular monstrosities. The mushrooms will change the trajectory of the insects, so watch out!

The version of the game above increases the fidelity of the graphics from its 1980 predecessor, which displayed the player as a head, rather than the full-bodied garden gnome in later iterations. Atari released a version of the game for its 2600, 5200 and 7800 home consoles throughout the 1980s. The original game was one of the first smashing successes of a female game developer, as Dona Bailey helped create the title with Ed Logg as the only woman in Atari's coin-op division. 

The original arcade version included trackball controls. You'll have to make due with the arrow keys for this port. The game also included grasshoppers at one point, but they were removed from the final version. A drawing of grasshopper remains on the original cabinet art.

What's your favorite bug-starring video game? Did you spend your allowance battling centri-pods at the arcade in the early 1980s? Let us know in the comments below, and check back next week for another free game.



Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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