Atari’s Centipede crawls onto the iPhone

When I was growing up, the local roller rink in my hometown had the classic arcade game Centipede. I remember it well because unlike some of my friends, I was really bad at it. And now I can be bad at it once again — on my iPhone.

Game company Atari brought a version of the game to Apple’s App Store this weekend. At $4.99, it’s not exactly cheap by App Store standards, but that will be a small price to pay for the game’s legions of fans.

And the port to the iPhone is a good one. With both ‘Arcade’ and ‘Classic’ mode, fans of the old versions of the game will be very happy. Game play is extremely simple. All you do to move your shooter (which you use to kill the crawling centipede) is move your finger left or right at the bottom of the iPhone’s screen. It’d be nice to see the game use some of the device’s more advanced functionality, such as the accelerometer, but in keeping it simple, it’s not breaking or convoluting a game that has already been proven to work.

The game does however step into a bit of an upgrade with the ‘Ultra’ mode. Playing this way gives you the ability to collect power-ups to super-charge your weapon. This includes things like an anti-centipede laser.

Centipede’s gameplay also allows you to play against an opponent. Unfortunately, it’s not using an online multiplayer component like some of the newer iPhone games. Instead, you have hand off the device to a friend sitting next to you after you die to see if they can beat your score.

It’s interesting how the iPhone is breathing new life into older gaming titles. There are of course the games that never really get old, like Tetris, but now we have Centipede and soon SimCity for the iPhone as well. I’ll throw out three older titles I’d love to see on the platform as well: Rampage, Bubble Bobble and GoldenEye. While I’m sure the first two won’t be a problem, GoldenEye, the hugely popular Nintendo 64 game based in the James Bond universe, still hasn’t made it to the more advanced online arcades such as Xbox Live despite rumors of its arrival.

For now, I’ll be happy to have games like Centipede on my iPhone. $4.99 actually seems like a small price to pay to feel like you’re 14 years old again.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qPhlnJdvug&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6]

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