The Many Incarnations of Frogger & Centipede

This month in “The Many Incarnations of… ” we take a look at the evolution of two popular but less-imitated gaming characters, Frogger and Centipede. As always, Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting trivia tidbits!

The Many Incarnations of Frogger

1981
Frogger

From the Flyer: Leap for you life! Life for frogs has never been more dangerous than with Sega / Gremlin’s newest video game, Frogger. The lily pads and ponds of yesterday are only a dream as players attempt to save Frogger from reckless hot rods and hungry crocodiles. It’s danger and fun rolled into one. Frogger leaps from speeding cars and trucks on a busy highway to slippery logs and diving turtles in a rushing river. His life is constantly in jeopardy, safe only in a protected swamp home along the treacherous river. A one or two player game, Frogger has a special place among other games, with happy, toe-tapping music and intriguing game play that’s fun for the whole family. Your profit skyrockets because Frogger scores big with every crowd. Frogger keeps things hopping. The object of the game is to guide Frogger home in 60 beats of the clock or less, without getting hit by cars, drowned or eaten alive by slimy creatures that slither through the river. Frogger must dart between cars and trucks on a five lane highway, ride on diving turtles and hop on rolling logs to get home. In advanced rounds, Frogger encounters deadly snakes, otters and crocodiles. Ten points are scored for each safe hop. Landing home earns 50 points, and if Frogger makes it home with time to spare, 10 points are added for each beat saved. Frogger earns bonus points by rescuing a lady frog from a log and giving her a lift home. Two hundred bonus points are scored when Frogger catches and eats flying insects and also if he lands at home where a fly is buzzing. Filling every home with happy frogs awards 1,000 bonus points for a job well done! Take a leap for the good life with Frogger, available in the upright and cocktail models.

That’s one small chomp for Pac-Man, one giant leap for Frogger! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Frogger was designed by Konami and licensed to SEGA for production in the United States. The original English title was Highway Crossing Frog, but SEGA decided to shorten it to Frogger.

1991
Ribbit!

From the Flyer: The “Ribbit” is so comical you’ll find it impossible to stop playing! This is a game in which the player operates either one of the 2 toads with only a Joystick (2P cooperative play is also possible) and tries to clear the game by eating the bugs, etc. that appear, while invading the enemy characters. You can play the game with only a Joystick! There is no complicated operating method / game rules. You can maneuver with merely a Joystick, so you’ll find it very simple and easy to play. Background and characters are realistically reproduced. The high-level graphics depicting spiders, rats, ladybugs, etc., not to mention a toad as the player, are so authentic, a feature that attracts the customers. Has in excess of 50 Game Scenes including the Bonus Stage! Only the operation is very simple. There are in excess of 50 Scenes including the Bonus Stage. The interesting features and profound depth were pursued in great detail. A Game System with an excellent cost performance! Although its game system incorporates a superb graphic function, the cost of the unit has been kept at a minimum, a fact that enables you to experience a stable income and appeal to a wider spectrum of customers. A truly enjoyable videogame that anyone can play, features which are sure to attract many challengers! There are more than 50 Scenes in which the desert, brook, seashore, factory, gears and 2 Bonus Stages will repeatedly appear.

This game is known in Japan as “Ribbit! – Gana no Sono” and according to my pac-translator that is “Ribbit! – Toad Garden” in English. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: There is a trick that will earn the player 99 lives. During the first game make sure that you get a high score (if you accomplish this the music will change on the time bonus screen). Lose all of your lives on the next screen and then use the continue option. When the next screen starts you will show that you have 0 lives. Die one more time and again use the continue option. You will now have 99 lives!


Beyond the Arcades

1984 – Frogger II: Threeedeep!
1997 – Frogger (3D)
2000 – Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge
2001 – Frogger’s Adventures: Temple of the Frog
2002 – Frogger’s Adventures 2: The Lost Wand
2002 – Frogger: The Great Quest
2003 – Frogger Beyond
2003 – Frogger’s Journey: The Forgotten Relic
2003 – Frogger’s Adventures: The Rescue
2005 – Frogger: Ancient Shadow
2005 – Frogger: Helmet Chaos


The Many Incarnations of Centipede

1980
Centipede

From the Flyer: Centipede is a new idea, a new experience in game play that challenges skill and concentration. It’s easy to learn, but the tension builds relentlessly as the game progresses. The player must destroy the centipede as it moves faster and faster through a colorful mushroom field, as well as protect himself from a deadly flea and a ferocious spider. A poisonous scorpion further threatens the player and makes a good target as it sails across the playfield, poisoning mushrooms that it touches. Centipede: The game that eats coins. The excitement begins as soon as the player’s gun is activated. The first centipede begins its treacherous path through the mushroom field. The Trak-Ball controlled “gun” can be positioned up or down, and side-to-side for maximum firing versatility. Players must destroy mushrooms to get a clean shot at the centipede and other targets. When the centipede runs into a mushroom, it turns and moves down another row. If the player hits one of the centipede segments, the centipede splits into two separate bodies and keeps coming. If the centipede, or any portion of it, reaches the bottom of the screen without being destroyed, it turns back and heads up the screen. As soon as any non-poisoned centipede makes it through the mushroom field to the bottom of the screen, new centipede heads will enter. As the game progresses, these heads will appear more frequently. When an entire centipede is destroyed, the screen changes color and a new centipede starts at the top. The centipedes will alternately move fast or slow. More monsters. More challenge. To add increasing challenge, a spider moves across the screen in a random up and down pattern. The spider can destroy the player as well as any mushrooms it passes over. The spider crawls very quickly later in the game. A flea drops down the screen, bombarding the player and leaving mushrooms in his wake. The flea appears if there are fewer than five mushrooms on the bottom of the screen. As the player’s score increases, the flea appears more often. A deadly scorpion “poisons” any mushrooms it touches. The centipede is also “poisoned” when it contacts a poisoned mushroom. As a result, it immediately turns and heads down to the bottom of the screen. The poisoned centipede can only be stopped before it reaches the bottom by shooting its head. Special High Score Table with Non-Volatile Memory - The eight best scores are displayed in attract mode, along with the corresponding player’s initials. New non-volatile memory retains the top three scores if power is off. Bonus Levels – an extra “life” can be awarded at 10,000, 12,000, 15,000 or 20,000 points. Game Time / “Lives” – Game can be set for 2, 3, 4 or 5 lives. Two Game Minimum – Available option. Coinage – 256 coinage options, including: 1 coin = 1 play, 2 coins = 1 play


Centipedes, fleas and mushrooms I can handle, but just the thought of spiders (especially the ferocious variety) give me pac-bumps all over! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Centipede was the first arcade game to be designed by a woman! The artwork on the side of the game features a grasshopper and while it is not present during game play, it can be seen during one of the test modes.

1982
Millipede

From the Flyer: Millipede. In a forest faraway only you can stop the insect invaders. The saga continues. The bugs are back! The creepy crawlers of Centipede have given way to the ultimate generation of “nasties” in Millipede, an all-new one or two player video adventure fantasy. It’s new, it’s faster, it’s continuous high energy excitement. With new creatures, realistic new sound effects, a new player starting score select mode, more options that allow you to “program” Millipede for maximum profits. And new play-again features to challenge and entertain the entire family. Scoring – Mushroom = 1 point, Restoring a mushroom (after player death) = 5 points, Millipede Body = 10 points, Millipede Head = 100 points, Inchworm = 100 points, Bee = 200 points, Beetle = 300 points, Mosquito = 400 points, Dragonfly = 500 points, DDT Bomb = 800 points, Earwig = 1,000 points, Spider = 300, 600, 900 or 1,200 points. Any creature destroyed by DDT explosion is worth 3 times its normal value, except: Spider is always 1,800 points; and during bombing run the bee, mosquito and dragonfly will be worth no more than 1,000 points. Armed with only a Trak Ball controlled bow and arrow, the player is The Archer who must defend his homeland from hoards of marauding larger-than-life insects. He must rely on quick wits, skill and continuous firing capability to score. DDT Bombs – Four DDT bombs will be placed on the playfield in fixed locations. In emergency situations they can be detonated by The Archer’s arrow, exploding a large poisonous cloud that will destroy any mushrooms, flowers or creatures in the vicinity. The Battle Begins – The Millipede enters the playfield with startling ferocity, turning whenever it collides with an object as it snakes through a giant mushroom forest toward the player’s position. When an arrow finds its mark, the Millipede will break into smaller Millipedes and leave a mushroom where the segment was hit. When a large Millipede starts back up, it will release a tail segment that turns into a new head. And that’s just the beginning! Side Feed Mode – If the Millipede is not destroyed when it reaches the bottom, new heads will enter from the sides of the playfield, increasing in number as the game progresses. Bombing Mode – In certain play levels after a Millipede has been completely destroyed, the screen will fill with waves of bombing bees, dragonflies and/or mosquitoes. During these bombing runs, the three insects can be worth up to 1,000 points, much more than during regular play, but the player has to be quick to hit them. The Millipede is also in cahoots with a completely new family of ferocious friends who make this game more challenging, more unique. The Spider – Spiders jump up and down in a random pattern across the playfield, knocking out mushrooms, flowers and the player. The Bee – Bees bombard the player, dropping straight down from the top of the screen. They can appear in any wave, dropping mushrooms at random as they fall. It takes two shots to destroy the bee. A single hit only angers him and makes him speed up. The Dragonfly – Dragonflies also bombard the player as they blitz down the playfield in a crazy zig-zag path. Like the bee, they deposit mushrooms in their paths. The Mosquito – Mosquitoes fly diagonally across the screen. If hit by the player, the playfield scrolls up one row. The Earwig – Earwigs glide across the upper portion of the playfield, poisoning any mushroom they touch. These mushrooms will also poison any Millipede that turns into them. The poisoned Millipede will immediately head to the bottom of the screen. The Beetle – Beetles travel in a geometric pattern down, across and back up the playfield. Before leaving the screen, the beetle will transform any of the mushrooms he touches into flowers that cannot be destroyed by the player’s shots. Each time a beetle is hit, the entire mushroom field scrolls down one row. The Inchworm – Inchworms crawl across the screen, moving slowly until the player is more proficient. If an inchworm is hit by an arrow, the rest of the creatures on the playfield will slow down for about 3 ½ seconds before returning to their normal frantic pace. High Score Table – When the player gets one of the top 8 scores, he is asked to enter his initials on the high score chart. He must have achieved one at least one bonus level. The top three scores are permanently stored in memory. Select Mode – This new operator-selectable option offers increased player incentive. It allows a player to select a starting score level from Novice to Expert. The operator sets the maximum starting values. If the select mode is set for “disable”, every new game will begin at zero. Game Difficulty – Operators may select Easy or Hard side feed (Millipede heads), Easy or Hard Beetles (number of flowers on screen), and Easy or Hard Spiders. Game Lives – Adjustable for 2, 3, 4 or 5 lives. Bonus Levels – Selectable for 4 different bonus levels, including No Bonus, Bonus every 12,000 points, Bonus every 15,000 points and Bonus every 20,000 points. Self-Test – Allows operators to check all game and option switch settings and computer functions. Coin Modes – Includes over 150 unique operator-selectable coinage configurations.

Professor Pac-Man told me Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane has been banned since 1972, so I think I would rather take my chances with the bow and arrow! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: This game was originally titled Centipede Deluxe. When in test mode you will see a hidden ‘Logg’ sprite, which refers to the game’s programmer Ed Logg.


Beyond the Arcades

1998 – Centipede (3D)

After looking at ‘Frogger’ and ‘Centipede’ I think frogs have it too easy - they can eat what bugs them! Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.

First Published March 2007