Can Atari restore that old-school magic?
If you can't teach an old dog new tricks on the App Store, then you can always give it a fresh lick of paint, tart it up with a few new game modes and hope for the best. See Space Invaders Infinite Gene for the perfect example of how to take classic gameplay and evolve into an entirely new, but equally compelling, monster.
Next up for the modern reimagining is classic Atari game Centipede. Remember that? No? OK, it's a vertical shoot 'em up from the old arcade days, where swarms of insects appear on the screen and need to be shot, along with the centipede(s) which zig-zag down the screen towards your base. Kill the centipede and it's on to the next wave. Get hit by anything, and it's game over.
It's primitive stuff but very, very fondly remembered, and so it's with an admirable amount of respect that Atari has approached Centipede: Origins. 30 years later and we're taking on the role of a garden gnome doing battle against these same invading, insectoid forces. In many ways, the core gameplay remains entirely the same, with the mushrooms that litter the field both steering the centipedes around the course, and blocking off your shots until you've blow them to smithereens.
What's new about the game is varied, but to start with there are four different themed levels to work your way through and improve your high score on. Bumpkinpatch Gardens for example is the first and most primitive level, and it matches the classic gameplay faithfully. The Tarpit Excavation on the other hand, has more tunnels that those pesky centipedes can hide themselves in as you try to shoot them down. It's all very welcome indeed and does a great job of keeping an old game very fresh.
To spice things up even further, you can now bring in a whole box of toys to help you on your way. Before starting a game you create a sort of "load-out" where you can choose from an assortment of different weapons, from shotguns to crossbows. These provide a temporary boost during play, and you can even take advantage of time-slowing gadgets or massively destructive grenades.
The XP you earn through gameplay is used to unlock more and more of these options as you level up, adding an even further incentive to keep on playing. There is a store to purchase coins with real cash, but you'll earn more than enough during gameplay to keep you going. Be strong, and don't ruin the game for yourself by buying unfair advantages, it's simply not necessary.
Any bugs? Well apart from the ones flying around the screen, we noticed that the 'Try Again' button that appears after every death doesn't actually respond to your touch, and you'll need to wait for the next menu to come around before either taking another crack at the same map, or moving onto another level. Hopefully this isn't anything that an upcoming update can't fix.
Despite this minor niggle, we heartily recommend buying Centipede: Origins. It just goes to show that it's possible to take an old classic and actually improve on it, rather than simply rinse it for every cynical penny possible. Let's hope that approach proves to be successful for Atari, and that other publishers are paying close attention.
What's Hot: The gameplay hasn't aged a bit, and in fact it's even better now. Great variety of environments, gadgets and weapons, and the touch controls are perfectly responsive.
What's Not: A minor bug means it takes longer than necessary to get stuck into a new attempt at a high score.