Living Guide to Spectrum Software


There are two types of game which come under this heading, both very similar in appearance. The first is the sort where you are pitted against a centipede creature which descends from the top of the screen by moving left and right, line by line through a forest of mushrooms — the other is the sort where you are the centipede creature, travelling through a fenced garden, eating snails and whatnot else, whilst avoiding flowers, fences etc. Both types tend to be very fast and scores are improved with a joystick. Most versions are very similar — so it’s a question of personal choice...

Producer; CDS, 16K £5.95
Guide Bozy round the garden, eating snails, beetles and ladybirds, at the same time avoiding the fence, flowers and your own lengthening body. Each time you eat a beetle another segment is added to you and another flower appears. Eat all ten beetles and you enter another garden with a higher fence at a higher speed. Five levels, the fastest being quite demented. Automatic joystick selection if connected — Kempston. A nice touch is the tune, ‘In An English Country Garden,’ set off by bright and reasonably smooth graphics. Probably a limited appeal overall.

Producer: Ocean, 16K £5.90
Like Quicksilva, Ocean are moving on to better games than the basic arcade copies, however, their standard creepie has all the usual features and plays perfectly well.

Producer: CDS, 16K £5.95
CDS have produced a pretty classic version of the centipede game, with a fast moving caterpillar which reverses direction on contact with screen edge or mushroom, an irritating spider, an innovative mushroom-laying flea, and a poisonous scorpion which turns mushrooms red. If the caterpillar hits a red fungus, a segment drops off like a bomb. The man can move left/right and up/down (within four lines). Cursor keys so Protek, AGF joystick can be used. Lack of skill levels results in a limited playing appeal. Average value. Machine Code.

Producer: DK Tronics, 16K £4.95
This is another pretty standard version, complete with spider, but for its price it’s probably better value than Caterpillar.

Producer: Rabbit, 16K £5.99
Author: J F Cain
With its simple but charming graphics and machine code speed, Rabbit’s Centropods is probably the best of the lot. There’s a spider, a flea and a bottom line snail to avoid. The control keys are the most sensible I’ve come across — O for left, P for right and O/P together for up. You sail sedately down automatically. A fires. Continuous sound effects add to the thrills. If you clear the screen the wretched creature gets longer and faster. No need for a joystick here, excellent value.

Producer: Mikrogen, 16K £5.95
Author: S Townsend
This is a very ordinary ‘Centipede’ game, surprising that anyone would be offering something like this today. Apart from the creepy itself (and the mushrooms of course) there is only a spider and a simple flea to worry about. The colours are bright and the graphics smooth, sound continuous and the game very fast to play. But poor control keys (3/4/8/9) and the fact that it’s 12 months out of date are against it. Also the inlay states that there are user-definable keys — there aren’t. Overall CRASH rating (for its speed mostly) 58%. Joystick option: Mikrogen.

Producer: Silversoft, 16K £5.95
Author: I Hayward
Despite its title this is a centipede game. Instead of one fragmenting creature, you are presented with individual rats which work their way down from the top of the screen and there are even faster purple ones. They hide behind clumps of grass, and once they reach the lower levels of the screen you are hard put to avoid them. Cursor keys for movement and limited upward motion, no instruction on inlay card for firing (it’s 0), but Kempston, Protek or AGF joystick option. Because the game is simpler in layout than most centipede games, it is also much faster. One or two players. Average value for money.

Producer: Abacus, 16K £5.95 (1)
Author: Michael Lee
Difficult to decide whether this should be under the Galaxian heading or the one we’ve put it under, but at the end of the day Galactic Warriors is more of a ‘Centipede’ game than a ‘Galaxian’. Your mission is to save Earth by manning the last missile base. An alien mother ship (can be shot if you’re quick) spews out a row of smaller attack craft which then descend the screen in zig zag lines just like a centipede. About your head the sky is littered with small asteroids. When the train of alien craft hit one, they reverse direction, and the line is split into segments whenever you hit one of their number. The asteroids can be blasted out of the way by your laser — magenta ones take 2 shots, red ones only one. When hit, alien craft turn into magenta debris. As they traverse left and right, the aliens drop bombs on you in a continuous shower. Apart from dodging them, there is a force field which is effective against contact with aliens and missiles, but blows you up if you use your laser. Excellent ‘attract mode’, good keyboard positions, joystick: none. Overall CRASH rating 67% M/C.

Producer: Quicksilva, 16K £6.95 (1)
Author: Jeff Minter/Salamander
This is not a TRON style grid game as the title suggests but actually a ‘Centipede’ with ‘Grid’ pretensions. Looking a bit like a series of blips on an oscilloscope the blue centipede dashes left and right down the screen following the red grid. To the left of the grid an alien ship fires objects into the grid which impeded the centipede, causing it to reverse direction. At the base of the grid, another alien craft moves from left to right firing a laser blast upwards, causing the creature to split into the traditional segments if hit. You’re just inside the grid, able to move along the base and upwards for a few lines. Your laser too destroys segments of the centipede, but watch out for the laser craft and the side ship, and avoid contact with the centipede. It’s designed to be fast and addictive, but none of our reviewers find it very inspiring. I/P left/right and zero to fire. Joystick: AGF or Protek. Small graphics, average sound and an overall CRASH rating of only 47%.

Producer: Softek, 16K £5.95
Author: Andrew Beole
Softek’s version of the noble creepy-crawlie game is just about as good as any. Here the scorpion lends to drop fleas rather as though they were bombs, which makes an interesting variation. Machine Code, nice graphics, nine skill levels. Good.

Producer: Artic, 16K £4.95
Author: D Campbell & G Porter
Millimon is a ‘Centipede’ game with the usual features, a descending centipede, darting spider and snails (snails?). Artic have chosen to place the status report down the left of the screen rather than at the top or bottom, which makes the playing area unusually square. The graphics are average, not at all smooth and the game is slow and pretty easy to play on the lower levels. 6/7/8/9 and zero make for poor control keys. 3 skill levels, 3 lives, 1 or 2 player games. No joystick option. There are better versions available. Overall CRASH rating 55% M/C.

Producer: Silversoft, 16K £5.95
Author: S Godwin
Slippery Sid is a large snake in a garden whose task in life is to eat frogs. Every time he does so a poisonous toad appears which he can’t eat until having consumed a magic mushroom. Death occurs instantly if he touches the brick walls or himself. Silversoft have given enough elements to this fast game to make it quite addictive. The keyboard positions, however, are a bit daft, but you can use a Kempston joystick. Five skill levels with an extra life for getting to the fourth garden. Sound could have been better, otherwise good value for money.

Producer: Artic, 16K £4.95
Author: P Baker
Snake is, of course, ‘Snake’, where you guide your pet reptile round the screen eating the files and avoiding the walls, poisonous mushrooms and his own tail. Every time he eats a fly his tail grows longer. The graphics are very lightweight with all the drawbacks of BASIC. The sound is continuous although unimaginative, but the game does have a nice ‘attract mode’. The control keys are another drawback — 6/7/8/9. Awkward to use. They seem as though intended for use with Sinclair Interface 2, but if so, it doesn’t say so. May please younger kids but there are much better versions available. Overall CRASH rating 45%.

Producer: R&R, 16K £5.50
A diet of scorpions, fleas, spiders and worms in addition to the ubiquitous centipede. Three skill levels and hi score. A well rounded version.

Producer: Protek, 48K £5.95
Now everyone has had their fill of basic arcade copies, many companies are getting down to producing better games and Protek have become noted for their simulation games like Airliner, which I suspect makes them far happier. Their creepie version is pretty respectable, however. All the usual features like scorpions, worms, fleas and the inevitable multi-legged monster itself. Three skill levels and hi-score. Can, of course, be played with a Protek joystick (and therefore AGF as well).