The surprising thing is, the Commodore VIC-20 version of Centipede looks like it actually could have been better than all of AtariSoft's other home computer versions. The sad thing is, it isn't.
The centipede moves much more fluidly here than on any other 8-bit computer, and all of the enemies are present and accounted for. Sound is typical for a VIC-20 game, muffled but not really all that bad. Game play is where this version breaks down, however. The centipede never splits off into independent heads, always attacking whole. The flea's attack is constant, no matter how many mushrooms are present, and soon fleas are choking the screen with mushrooms. The scorpion can poison two rows of mushrooms at a time. Worst of all is the player's speed. You cannot outpace the centipede, scorpion, or any other enemy once it has passed you, and that really hampers your ability to play when things get hectic. Of course, since the centipede never breaks up, things don't ever really get as hectic as in the arcade. Even so, with fleas on the warpath and the field becoming overgrown with mushrooms, things certainly get hectic enough!
When comparing this version to Centipede on the Atari 2600, which had to make do with much less memory, one can't help but wonder why the enemies couldn't have been programmed more intelligently, especially the centipede and flea. One also can't help but wonder why the player wasn't given the ability to move faster, which should have been possible with any amount of memory. On its own, this version isn't a total write-off, but it is a disappointment. Once again the best versions of Centipede are found on game consoles instead of computers