- Asteroids (1982 on Nascom)
- Asteroids (1982 on ZX81)
- Asteroids (1982 on ZX81)
- Asteroids (1983 on VIC-20)
- Asteroids (1998 on Windows, PlayStation, 1999 on Game Boy Color)
Description official descriptions
Play the role of a spaceship pilot trapped in a gigantic asteroid cloud and pulverize incoming asteroids with the ship's photon cannon. When all asteroids are destroyed, the player can then move on to the next round. In addition to the asteroids, the player will also face an Alien Robot Saucer which shoots randomly across the screen.
The player using the controller may rotate the ship (left or right) in any direction or move the ship forward. Shots will be fired according to the ship's direction. The player has three reserved ships available to replace a destroyed spaceship. The spaceship is destroyed if an asteroid collides with the spaceship or is shot by an Alien Robot Saucer. Additionally, the player may opt to use the hyperspace warp to avoid a collision. The warp, however, may also destroy the spaceship in the process.
Asteroids when shot will break up into smaller pieces or be destroyed. There are three types of asteroids: large asteroids, medium asteroids, and small asteroids. Large asteroids and medium asteroids when shot will break up into two smaller sized asteroids. Small asteroids when shot will be destroyed.
Alien Robot Saucers come in two sizes: small and large. Both use photon lasers to shoot and will explode when destroyed. Alien Robot Saucers will not appear at the Novice Level.
Game Difficulty and Variations
There are 4 available difficulty settings: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert.
The game also offers three different game variations: Standard Play* - For one or two players, taking turns when a player's ship is destroyed.
Competition Asteroids - Two players appear on the screen at the same time. Friendly fire is in affect, which means shots fired from one player's spaceship will destroy the other player's spaceship. Each player has separate ship reserves.
Team Asteroids - Two players on the screen at the same time. Friendly fire is disabled, which means shots fired from one player's spaceship will not destroy the other player's spaceship and just pass through. Ship reserves for both players are combined.
The score of the Player 1 is viewable on the upper left side of the screen, while Player 2 on the opposite upper right side. A player will be awarded a new reserve ship for every 10,000 points.* Small saucer - 1,000 points
- Other player's ship - 500 points
- Large saucer - 200 points
- Small asteroid - 100 points
- Medium asteroid - 50 points
- Large asteroid - 20 points
Credits (Arcade version)
Average score: 76% (based on 21 ratings)
Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 118 ratings with 8 reviews)
In the Seventies, Atari released a number of cracking games including Pong, Breakout, and Lunar Lander. They were simple and straight to the point. They continued this tradition with Asteroids. I didn’t experience the game when it first came out in the arcades (I was just born), nor was I able to get a copy of it for the various home systems it was ported to (I only had a Commodore 64). I only discovered it through emulation.
You control a ship that can rotate left and right across the screen, fire from the front, and thrust forward. Numerous asteroids float across the screen, and your job is to break them up. The physics are amazing; if you keep holding the fire button down, your ship will keep zipping across the screen for a long time until it eventually slows down and stops. Your ship can also hyperspace, where you are transported to a random location on screen. It is likely that you will appear on top of an asteroid, especially if there are too many asteroids on the screen.
The asteroids wrap around the screen; when they go off the top edge, they re-appear at the bottom. This means that if you are close to the top or bottom, and you’re not paying any attention to your surroundings, then chances are your ship will be killed. I have noticed that if you do lose a life, your ship will not respawn if there are too many asteroids floating in the same spot; rather it waits until an area is clear of them.
When I played the original arcade version through MAME, I felt that when you fire upon one of the asteroids, the projectiles are very faint and you can’t see where they hit. This has been rectified in the Atari 2600 version. In my opinion, this version is superior to the arcade’s. For a start, there are sixty-six variations. Some of them let you use a shield instead of hyperspace, or face 180 degrees, allowing you to immediately fire upon an asteroid from behind. Then there’s the Deluxe variant. With the shield variation, it is designed to protect you while the asteroids float across your ship. Any more than five seconds, and your ship is destroyed.
One difficulty switch (in the “A” position) enables a blue flying saucer to appear and fire pot shots at you as it makes its way across the screen. Either it takes no notice of its surroundings, crashing into an asteroid, or it fires an accurate shot. If you make it to the later stages, you will be able to meet his little green brother who appears more frequently and is more accurate.
I am not a fan of Atari’s commercial for the game. An annoying, robotic voice I can hardly understand drowns out the dialogue between the actors. From what I can tell, the man of the spaceship went for a treasure hunt somewhere on Earth and managed to find a copy of Asteroids, which he returns to the spaceship to play with his children. They play for hours, to the point where his wife eventually gets so pissed off that she hurls a bowl of fruit at the TV screen. One positive thing I can say about this ad is that what you see and hear on the TV screen is what you’ll get.
Why are the asteroids in different colors rather than just hollow like in the arcade version? This applies to all systems as well, not just the Atari 2600 version. Also, users who got the first revision of the machine or the Atari 2600 Jr. are unable to make use of this difficulty, since there is no such thing as a difficulty switch. Eric Schwartz’s “Asteroids Arcade” unofficial hack fixes both of these problems.
The Bottom Line
There is only one word to describe Asteroids: timeless. It can be played when you get home from work and feel like having a blast. If you love those classic Eighties shoot-em-ups, then give this game a try.
Atari 2600 · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2022
I was born in 1985, so Asteroids kind of went by me. As did the Atari 2600 as a whole. My first real experiences with the 2600 can be pinpointed to the months before The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released. I had run out of recently released games to play and had come with the marvelous idea to download an Atari 2600 emulator and have some fun with that.
And fun I had! Though it shines in simplicity and you are blasting away in space with ease in seconds, beating the game was quite a challenge. It was, however, the only Atari game I ever had the dedication for to beat! The premises is simple, just shoot asteroids and don't let them hit me, but it can get really intense.
I really liked the sounds in this game. And that's saying something, because for the most part I found the sounds that my emulator produced horrible and nauseating.
Later I played the original Asteroids using MAME and I must say that the original version is (not surprisingly) superior, due to the minimal capabilities of the 2600 system. The new bitmap graphics do give it a nice distinct feeling, but everything feels smaller and more crowded.
After a while the game gets rather repetitive and boring. Some variations in the waves would have been welcome. But with the Atari you can't have high demands like that, I guess.
The Bottom Line
Asteroids is fun! You get to blow stuff up in space! You'll get tired of it after a while, but not without having your share of fun. In my opinion it's one of the better titles of the system. But that's a retrospective opinion of someone who missed the first age of video games.
Atari 2600 · by vedder (68292) · 2014
For one of Atari's earliest offerings, this was a surprisingly accurate recreation of the classic arcade title.
This version of Asteroids was different in two significant ways: Its vibrant colors for the asteroids, and its unrelenting Jaws-like "dun dun" music. Oddly enough, when I think of this classic title, the 2600 version usually surpasses the arcade as my first thought that comes to mind.
The game controls well. If you can do it in the arcade, it can be done here.
Extra men can be earned every 5,000 points. While this may bother some, the game becomes more of an endurance test than skill in some ways. Can the player reach the next bonus life before the asteroids crush the ship again?
The game also has a tendency to respawn directly in front of an asteroid at times, meaning an instant death. The plus side is that's it's one less asteroid to contend with.
The Bottom Line
As mentioned, this is my default memory of Atari's classic game. As a shooter, it accurately recreates the arcade game's feel, and has become my preferred version over the years.
The game was released when the "Arcade comes home" concept was still an amazing possibility. From Atari's lavishly illustrated covers of the time, to the little black cart that held player cred over your friends and family to get the highest score possible, it was a fun time in the living room, and one of the few cartridges I actually still own.
Does it still hold up today? Microsoft recently released it for their "Game Room" on the Xbox, and the "dun dun" music put me back into an old "competitive mode, determined to crush a whole new generation of gamers. It's still a fun title, and the design, and the funk 1970's-early 1980's style colors really took me back to a different time.
Fun, simple, basic, and addicting. The true hallmark of a classic game.
Atari 2600 · by Guy Chapman (1746) · 2010
|free browser version||Rola (8131)||Jan 26th, 2014|
1001 Video Games
The Arcade version of Asteroids appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Asteroids was one of the "Fabulous Eleven" launch games for the Atari 7800.
The original Asteroids arcade control scheme (five buttons, no joystick) is identical to the configuration employed in the early PDP-1 Spacewar! implementation.
Internally at Atari the two flavours of UFO in Asteroids (slow and fast) were referred to as "Mr. Bill" and "Sluggo", after characters in Saturday Night Live skits. After this was disclosed in an interview, Atari was sent a cease-and-desist letter by NBC's lawyers.
References to the game
Asteroids was popular enough to have a song inspired by it on the full-length Pac-Man Fever album: Hyperspace.
The original Coin-Op game of Asteroids in the arcade machines contained 4 kilobytes of code and 4 kilobytes of graphic data. Programmers managed to squeeze it in to 1 kilobyte of data for the Atari 2600!
- MobyGames ID: 8872
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Servo.
Game added April 12th, 2003. Last modified November 28th, 2023.