Millipede / Super Breakout / Lunar Lander
GBA, DSI Games/Atari (2002)
DSI Games’ latest game pack consists of three games, Super Breakout (1978), Lunar Lander (1979), and Millipede (1982). DSI has a consistant track record of offering gamers two newer games (Gauntlet/Rampart, Paperboy/Rampage, Spy Hunter/Super Sprint) or three classic games (Pong/Asteroids/Yars’ Revenge, Centipede/Breakout/Warlords) per pack. This pack contains three classic Atari games, although none of them will hold your attention for long.
Super Breakout is the sequel to Breakout, the spiritual successor to Pong. As Mitch Hedburg once said, “The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how much I play, I’ll never be as good a a wall. I played a wall once. They’re relentless.” The same goes for the miles of bricks waiting for you in Super Breakout — eventually, you’ll lose. Other than Pong itself, there is really no more simplistic game. In Super Breakout you control a paddle and must bounce a ball against a wall of bricks. DSI’s port plays exactly like the original arcade version, which is no technical feat of wizardry as most cell phones can do the same thing.
No more technically impressive but slightly more entertaining is Lunar Lander. In Atari’s first vector game, you must land the Lunar Lander on one of several landing platforms, varying in size and difficulty. Each thrust of your engine uses some of your fuel (which cannot be replentished), so you’ll want to make adjustments sparingly throughout the game. In the arcade you could buy more fuel throughout the game by inserting additional quarters, but that’s not an option here. There are several different difficulty levels to choose from, but a finite fuel supply guarantees your game will be over in just a few minutes.
Millipede, the newest game included in the pack, is the sequel to Atari’s Centipede. Millipede these days would be called “Centipede, Part II” or, at best, be a free downloadable expansion pack. Back then though, a couple of program tweaks equalled an entirely new game. In Millipede, gamers must defend themselves from waves of centipedes, this time backed by an army of inchworms, beetles, mosquitos, spiders and even earwigs. Yes, earwigs. There are also now DDT bombs on the playing field, which release bug-killing clouds of poison when shot.
None of the three included games originally used a joystick. Lunar Lander handles the best with the GBA’s control system. Millipede is (at best) “okay” — while it’s difficult to be accurate, at least it’s not as frustrating as Super Breakout is to control. Which, in it’s defense, is no worse than playing any other game designed for paddles with a joystick and/or d-pad. My average game length in Super Breakout is about 37 seconds. Lunar Lander games last upwards of two to three minutes, which makes a five minute session of Millipede seem like a marathon. In all three instances, my interest level lasted about the same length as the games did.