From the back of the box:
Enter the World of Centipede. A strange land of squirming centipedes, deadly scorpions, dangerous spiders, and poisonous mushrooms. Danger lurks at every turn as your centipede snakes through the winding mushroom field. Try to reach your opponent's home base before your opponent reaches yours. Shoot your opponent's centipede with your gun to slow it down. Move the scorpion to plant poisonous mushrooms along the path. When your centipede hits one it turns and takes a shortcut. Use the spider to attack your opponent's gun or to destroy poison mushrooms so your opponent can't use them. Move fast and shoot straight and you'll win the game.
Includes: gameboard, 2 plastic centipedes, 1 plastic spider, 1 plastic scorpion, 20 plastic mushrooms, 2 plastic guns, 10 cardboard poison mushrooms, 1 spinner, and instructions
The Making of Centipede
I developed the board game for Centipede while working full time as a game inventor at Milton Bradley Co. Most of the work at Bradley consisted of assigned projects, and one of my assignments was to create a board game based on the Centipede arcade game. Not being much of a player of video games (I knew the classics like Pac Man and Donkey Kong, and even had played Centipede), I went to the local arcade during the work day and, after some futile attempts at getting a descent score, enlisted the help of a young teenager, offering to pay for his games (at Milton Bradley's expense, of course), if he would explain what he was trying to do and how he was doing it.
I took notes, and back in the office (the Milton Bradley plant in East Longmeadow), I spent the next few days creating a two-dimensional paper version of the game (the art department made the board and pieces, including the three-dimensional, two-sided centipede segments attached by a chain).
You have to consider all the things that are going on in the arcade game and try to incorporate them into the board game. There’s the moving of the Centipede, the shooting, the “killing” of centipede segments, and the various elements that are moved or removed, consisting of the mushrooms, the scorpion and the spider. Then you need to determine how often you want each thing to happen; in other words, you have to work out mathematically how many times each action will occur in reference to every other action. Hence, the simple spinner, though symmetrical (as demanded by the art department), is designed so that the movement of the centipede will occur more often (i.e., occupies more space on the spinner) than the other events.
The goal is to make the board game as close to the arcade game as possible, though, naturally, players would be substituting strategy for action. The difficulty in adapting any game is that the original has probably already met with much success, which you need to replicate in an entirely different medium. It would be interesting to know if the people who played Centipede in the arcades also played the board game. My guess is they may have tried it once or twice, but then they probably went back to the high-speed, action-packed, noisy arcade game. Centipede the board game was, I think, more for people like me – those who could never do that well on the arcade game but could hold their own against another player at the dining room table.