Insects. Why does it always have to be insects? Especially large, segmented arthropods? Ah, Millipede, it appears you’ve followed me home from the arcade. In this bizarre sequel to Centipede, the player controls an elf firing magic arrows at a rapidly advancing millipede, once again against the backdrop of an enchanted forest. You play an elf (labelled as a “ship” in the game) firing magic arrows at the advancing creepy crawlers. The enemy is fast and tough and can occasionally overwhelm even the best players.
Really, the game can become claustrophobic at times, with the very fast and very angry enemies assailing your “ship.” Luckily there’s…DDT? When you shoot these letters, they explode in a cloud of dust, eliminating nearby enemies and mushroom barriers. It’s great to have power-ups in a game like this, but they aren’t terribly useful given the difficulty of each wave.
The music is basic, with sound effects to match. The sound of firing is loud and persistent, almost demanding one to mute the television. There isn’t really background music, just occasional melodies that just sound like beeping. It’s a bit bizarre.
The graphics are also basic, with little variation. The colors change from stage to stage…and that’s about the extent of it. The action takes place in a small corner of the screen with a larger than normal (or necessary) score/lives information area. It almost acts as a solid color border for the main game and is not only distracting, but makes the game more difficult by virtue of less screen space and smaller sizes for everything. Perhaps the developer was trying to retain the vertical dimension of the playscreen from the arcade version, but it’s just not ideally implemented on a normal TV screen.
The gameplay is also quite challenging. It feels like a chore to move and the space is limited. In the arcade a trackball would readily eliminate such stiff controls, but on the NES it just feels like work trying to position the ship to destroy the advancing bugs. Nothing ruins a gameplay experience quicker than poor controls.
Millipede had the potential to be gloriously fun and addictive, but the NES version just misses that mark. By the end of my playthrough, I felt more annoyed with its difficulty and poor controls than anything else and determined my days as an exterminator are limited.
At the end of the day, it isn’t much more than a “score attack” type of game and may ultimately lend itself best to short bursts of playing for a high score and competing with friends. That is, if you can get past the less than ideal controls and weird use of graphics.
Final Thoughts: BAD
Millipede is a bare bones extension of its arcade counterpart and does little to expand upon it. Older ports like those found on the Commodore 64 are better thanks to the addition of a trackball accessory. I recommend skipping this one.
Based in Colorado, David Buck is an author, musician, and media specialist. In his spare time, he composes music, writes science fiction, and builds scale models, mostly starships and movie cars.