Paperboy and these two 'pede games have something in common - they just don't translate perfectly to a home console. The track ball controller setup found on the original Centipede and Millipede arcade cabinets allowed for sometimes frustrating, but very precise control over the little weapon floating around the bottom of the playing field. And while the analog sticks in contemporary game controllers emulate the feel of said track ball better than ever, they're still not perfect.
That's not to say this latest Live Arcade game isn't fun. Even without the perfect controls, Centipede and Millipede are as much fun today as they were back in the golden age of arcades. Shooting the multi-segmented, multi-legged creepy-crawlies trying to invade your space never seems to get old, and you never die in a way that feels cheap. It's always your fault, so you keep trying one more time.
Especially when you're getting two arcade classics for such a low price. Kudos to Atari for not trying to bilk the consumer by releasing these games separately. It would have been hard to justify purchasing either of these games as a standalone for 400 points, but together the value is definitely there.
If there's anything sorely missing, it's an online multiplayer mode. While the online bits thrown into classic games by developers like Digital Eclipse always feel kind of tacked on, it's amazing how quickly you'll notice the lack of said option in Centipede/Millipede.
To make up for it, there's a new setting that ratchets up the speed and difficulty of each game for those of us who just don't find either of these classics challenging anymore. I'm not sure who those people are, but they must be out there somewhere.
Unfortunately, the touched-up graphics for both games are just embarrassing. The art itself is pretty awful, the "splat" of bug guts when projectile meets critter is just lame, and the resulting fireworks show comes off as a half-rate attempt to emulate the supremely beautiful Geometry Wars.
Luckily you're not forced to play either of the games with this ugly new coat of paint. The original visuals and sounds are all here. And despite the hiccups, Centipede/Millipede is another addition to Live's growing arcade that's definitely worth your 400 points.