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Centipede

by J. Robinson Wheeler profile

Episode 2 of IF Arcade
Game/Science Fiction
2001

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Game Over, Man!, August 12, 2008
by C.E.J. Pacian (England)
Although I have great fondness for the IF Arcade submissions, it did take me a while to actually get around to playing this particular one.  The chief barrier was its verbosity. There's a lot of prose in here, fleshing out a non-stop chain-reaction of intense events. As a concept, inspired by a relatively bizarre arcade game, this apocalyptic sci-fi war story hits all the right buttons for me. It's cliched enough to foster the sense of participating in your favourite bug-blasting movie or novel, but tinged with a layer of multicoloured surreality that makes it rather original as well.

There's only one problem, and it's kind of a big one. It's not just that this game is wordy, it's that it's pretty much just a short story with command prompts between the paragraphs. Certainly, there's a little bit of branching in the airborne introduction, with a hearty number of prompted, non-standard actions (you're told that your forehead itches, for example, and attempts to scratch it are thwarted by your space helmet), but exploration of this sequence is made a little frustrating by the tight time limits and the way you can't 'undo' twice in succession. And once you hit the ground, pretty much nothing you do has any effect on the story. Something really bothers me about a game where I can just type 'wait' over and over again and watch my character take exactly the same actions as he would have had I typed anything else.

Still, it's short, it's atmospheric, it's witty, and it has far more character than plenty of similarly themed graphical games with multi-million dollar budgets.

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matt w (Matt Weiner), October 22, 2013 - Reply
In fact it does seem to be possible to win by taking certain actions in the introduction sequence: https://hkn.eecs.berkeley.edu/~mcmartin/if/solutions/centipede.sol

(Spoiler - click to show)The description of this makes it sound as though the game is actively hostile to any attempt to win. The timer is so tight you have to do everything two turns before it's clued.
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