- 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 20 ratings)
Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 118 ratings with 8 reviews)
Man, the elderly don’t get any props; maybe that’s why in the west there are so many old age homes—because once you’re tired of putting up with grandpa complaining about this or that, you can ship him off to this stop before he hits the boneyard. I suppose it could be worse; you could burn their bodies for fuel or exploit them as QA monkeys for some Wii marketing strategy.
No, something that is old usually has the connotation that it is outdated and useless, something that only too-well ingrained in the fast-paced world of video games. Probably more so than movie geeks are video gamers always looking towards the newest thing, something proven all too well by the very popular trend of making a game purchase the day it is released. Even if the game had prior reviews of it released, all the information to be had about said game really consists of marketing hype; there’s no word of mouth, there isn’t the chance to rent before you buy, none of that. However, one thing is certain and undeniable—it’s new. And new means good.
This idea of “in with the new” all has to do with technology. Video games are a medium where the expectations keep changing as the technologies becomes more powerful, quicker and cheaper. As new sequels to a franchise are released, people expect each new iteration to be prettier and more fun. If something is numbered “XII”, well then it must be better than something with “XI”, and so on.
Taking a futurist point of view and always believing that better things will come in time also means that the past is disposable and irrelevant. For video gamers it means older games from an era long before are quaint and curious, but a throwback to when games weren’t as good as today.
Let’s put this in context. Video games today are a billion dollar industry made by large companies with vast budgets and superior technology. Back in the eighties, the “Golden Era of Video Games”, it is usually one guy and a tall cup of coffee.
In truth, games made from this era are completely unplayable by today’s standards because of this gigantic leap in technology. Kids today can’t accept that you’re a green square on the screen, or that your hero doesn’t have a face to speak of. One would have to move forward to the mid-eighties arcade platform before someone would even consider downloading the emulator to play it. Furthermore, kids today can’t grasp the idea of old-school gaming. Nowadays you have life bars, adjustable difficulties, cheat codes and faqs on the internet to allow ruining a game for oneself. Gaming back then was dependent of memorizing entire levels and performing completely error-free runs; one mistake sent you back to the beginning of the level, and you usually only had three lives to spare.
And that was it. If you didn’t like it, you could go outside and play catch because there weren’t any other choice; video games were brand new and this is how they were. It seems some gamers are interested to go back and see how the electronic cup and ball game were back then, but you know, it doesn’t make any sense for those who didn’t catch it the first time because playing an ancient video game now is doing so all out of context.
This is such the case with that most classic of video games, Asteroids, originally an arcade game but ported to the Atari 2600. What seems quaint now was completely revolutionary back then, all in no part to the fact that nothing like it ever existed before. Imagine that: making a video game in which you couldn’t steal any ideas because there aren’t any other video games to steal from. If flying around in a space ship blasting rocks doesn’t appeal to you, then imagine what your options were for entertainment back then: either go to the arcade, read a book, or beat each other up. No internet, MTV, body piercings or the “choking” game.
If playing Asteroids for the Atari 2600 is lacking in features for you, then imagine: flying around using thrust with no brakes to simulate inertia in outer space—brand new (well, it may have done earlier in Space Wars but who cares about that? It wasn’t on the 2600). That “Duh-duh duh-duh” music you hear in the background—brand new for a videogame (but ripped off from Jaws). Dogfighting with enemy aircraft, spraying lasers towards them while dodging their projectiles—never seen before like this. Flying off the screen and warping back to the other side—this was a new strategy every gamer would incorporate to try to extend the life of their quarter. Also on the Apple II version (I think it’s Super Asteroids) two players can play simultaneously as co-op to clear the level or against each other—the first deathmatch (in space, Combat did it earlier with tanks, planes and jets). Over 25 years ago, this was freaking fun-tastic and at the time “BEST GAME EVAR”, though we usually spoke in full sentences then that ended with the word “gaylord”.
The Atari 2600 was a complete revolution back then because it offered you a chance to play those awesome arcade games without having to go to a seedy arcade and get your quarters from a sweaty, disgusting man. Other systems existed before it, but this was the standard where you can get all the biggest hits. Asteroids didn’t look like the arcade version (that had vector graphics), but it played like it and brought the arcade version home. That one guy can shoehorn this into the size of an electronic version of a mouse’s fart is another reason to marvel at (though Nolan Bushnell and a cat o’ nine tails yelling, “Quicker! I need more money for cocaine!” probably provided some encouragement).
This is Asteroids: you fly around in a space ship, shooting at space rocks as well as at enemy UFO’s that appear. And it was fun as hell. Once you shoot all the rocks, more appear and you do it all over again until you run out of lives. Pointless, ultimately defeating (I think Missile Command was the ultimate bummer, though) but the most fun you can have at the arcade—now available at home.
And if someone were to complain about the sudden re-materialization of space rocks and just as sudden loss of a turn, well welcome to the school of ye olde tyme gaming: it’s pretty obvious you’re used to having things made easy for you. This is clear in the arcade game that once you clear the stage you better be ready for the next wave and so stick to the center. Because you couldn’t ever stay in one spot from space rocks flying at you from odd angles, Asteroids was always about the strategy of dodging rocks but trying to get back to the middle, where you can see all the rocks and where they will drift to. If you think this game is unfair and uncompromising, well then you should thank god you live in an era where you can cheat using an online game faq and also go talk to your therapist.
Many ports of arcade games didn’t fare to well in the translation to home systems; basically, none of them did. Asteroids wasn’t that faithful, Pac-Man (2600) wasn’t anything at all like the arcade version, Donkey Kong for Colecovision was a real mess. However, how could they when your home console was basically the equivalent of an electronic toaster? Only years upon years later at around the NEO GEO platform did the technology for arcade and home systems start getting balanced. It was very clear from Asteroids to every single game released for the Atari 2600: the home system is just a poor facsimile of the arcade version. If you want the real version with better graphics and controls, then go to your sleazy neighborhood arcade. If you don’t want to wait in line, have any one laugh at your miserable skills, and conserve your quarters then you play at home.
So people, please don’t complain about Atari era games that the game play or the sound or the graphics are bad. Video games are not yet like books or movies where something can yet achieve mastery and a timeless appeal, they just haven’t gotten it right yet (though Shadow of the Colossus is one among a few true timeless classics). If comparisons are made between Asteroids and TIE Fighter, for example, do remember that one came before the other and influenced just about every space shooter ever made.
Kids won’t stay off lawn even after repeated yellings and waving of cane. Every mutter of “I’m getting too old for this shit” makes Danny Glover spin in his grave. Nobody remembers the good ol’ days when things were awful, but we liked it that way!
The Bottom Line
I sound like an old curmudgeon and may even be one, but man, Asteroids is a great game if for no other reason than the fact that is was among the first and so shaped all of video games to come. I’m not a nostalgist who thinks they don’t do things right anymore, I wouldn’t even recommend anyone even play this game. But it is an important game in the big picture of things.
And hyperspace. Let’s not forget hyperspace.
Atari 2600 · by lasttoblame (414) · 2008
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
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
|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.