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SummaryA short game introducing users to Hi-Res adventures
The GoodAfter playing many Sierra adventure games, I decided to sit down and play an Apple II game called Mission Asteroid, one of their first games following Mystery House. The game was designed by Ken and Roberta Williams, the people who changed how adventure games were made. Adventure games at the time had a simple plot, with an objective that was not confusing. In Mission Asteroid, the player is tasked with stopping an asteroid from reaching Earth; and they are told when the asteroid is going to hit.
Although this is the third game in Sierra's Hi-Res Adventure series, Mission Asteroid was marketed as #0 as it served as an introduction to users who were not familiar with adventure games. During the game, it's just a matter of entering two-word commands (usually a verb-noun sequence). Entering commands not recognized by the parser will generate a lame “I don't know how to … something” message, but the parser only gets better in future Sierra games. As well as this, the user is required to follow instructions and write down important things, such as directions on how to get to the asteroid.
Although the color graphics in Mission Asteroid are awful, they were remarkable for its time. They were even better than Mystery House as that game only had black-and-white graphics. For nostalgia's sake, the player can hit the 'return' key without typing anything to switch to the game's text-only mode. There is hardly any sound in the game, but for a simple adventure game like this one you don't really need it.
The BadWhen the user is in text-only mode, they enter a few commands, and something happens on the screen, the game just changes back to graphics mode. The user then has to hit the 'return' key once more to get back to it.
Also, time passes with each command you enter by about five or ten minutes, which means that nobody can afford to experiment with the commands, to see what works and what doesn't. I was pissed off that I didn't manage to get back to Earth before the asteroid detonated, because of this experimentation earlier in the game.
The Bottom LineMission Asteroid is one of the earliest games from Sierra, and it introduces players to adventure games, with its simple parser and easy-to-follow instructions. It also features color graphics which is a refreshing change to other black-and-white, text-only adventures at the time. As well as entering commands, the player also needs to make sure to follow simple instructions to avoid getting lost.
If you want to track back Sierra's roots, grab yourself a copy of this game; or if you are unlucky not to find it, then grab the Roberta Williams Anthology which includes the game as well as an emulator to play it on.