A homage to the arcade original that falls woefully short.
For some unexplainable reason, we missed Atari's Centipede Infestation when it debuted on 3DS in November, but decided to check out the game after learning it was developed by WayForward, the same talented studio behind Aliens: Infestation, Shantae: Risky's Revenge and Mighty Milky Way.
In other words, we set the bar too high.
The result is disappointingly average given the company's pedigree and legacy of the 1980 Centipede arcade game.
At first, the concept seemed cool. Instead of copying the original effort, the developers set out to make Infestation its own game, with a hero (Max) out to defend a young woman (Maisy) from swarms of insects using a bunch of high-powered weapons.
That's the first problem. Said weapons are lame. We expected crazy stuff normally reserved for Konami's Contra series. Instead, Max's gun goes from firing white orbs to orange ones, while a Laser Gun emits a plain yellow beam that fries anything in its path. The Missile Gun leaves behind tiny mushroom clouds, but that's it for special effects.
Oddly enough, the game contains light elements of tower defense, as you not only hop into a gun turret every once and a while, but watch as smaller turrets appear from thin air to help splatter the swarms, but you don't have control over what goes where.
On top of that, Centipede Infestation is unattractive, to put it nicely. It's a hodge podge of bland looking and cramped locations devoid of detail, from a post apocalyptic city to a garden setting. Some of the bugs look decent, particularly the fast moving (and huge) centipedes, but there's no way you could show this to a 3DS critic and have him or her take you seriously. As for the glasses free 3D, it does little to enhance the experience, and we eventually switched it off.
The story, meanwhile, is largely forgettable. We stopped caring about Max and Maisy and just skipped to the action.
Speaking of which, the game definitely shows signs of greatness. Eventually, Grubs, Bomb Spiders and Ants flood the screen, forcing you to make split second decisions while grabbing all the power-ups you can carry, but it's tough to muster the interest to keep pushing ahead. Not even two-person local play was enough to get us excited.
Sadly, Centipede Infestation has "first generation 3DS title" written all over it, from the lackluster guns to the average graphics. You may enjoy it in bursts, but don't pay full price.
Review copy provided by Atari.
[Editor's Note: It seems this trailer only shows Wii footage.]
What's Hot: Multiple characters, lots of bugs crawling all over the place, attractive artwork.
What's Not: Terrible graphics, unimpressive weapons, weak story.