$13.74 used on eBay
- 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: 75% (based on 23 ratings)
Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 121 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
It just keeps going on, and you get another life every 5,000 points you get. Your not stuck in the middle or just on one line, like other games.
Hard to beat.
The Bottom Line
Great game. Definitely one to buy if you own and still play your Atari 2600!
Atari 2600 · by Alex K. (3) · 2003
The graphics, sounds control and feel of the game.
Would have been nice to have a Hi-Score save integrated into the cartridge.
The Bottom Line
The game starts at the title screen with huge letters blazoned across "ASTEROIDS". I pressed the fire button on my trusty joystick and the game starts. The first thing I notice that really catches my eye is the colors. They are really used to a good effect. The asteroids each use multiple colors each to give a rendered lighting effect, they are also strewn with impact craters and rotate quite nicely. There are various colored asteroids, nothing like the blocky mess I came to love on the 2600 but nice rounded crater pitted asteroids. Your ship is a basic yellow and there are twinkling multi colored stars in the background (something Atari 7800 Galaga is sorely missing). The enemy UFO or Saucers that randomly come out have a distinct look and movement as well and really add to this already classic atmosphere and they come in two sizes as well.
The sound is basic but effective, you have your standard blaster sound as you shoot the asteroids. You also have the from previous asteroids games the familiar dun dun dun dun tones. When the UFO comes out besides looking really sharp you have the sounds it emits as well as eerie outer space sounds that would have been found in science fiction movies of the 50's. The Asteroid explosions are appropriately done, overall the sounds given the limitations of the Atari 7800 ala same sound as the Atari 2600 are really really good for this title.
The game has a nice progression. You will encounter more asteroids and the trajectories of each one is much more inline with the arcade than with the 2600 version. I have not noticed any slowdown with all of the action that goes on, this really shows the power of the 7800.
The last set of features that makes this a must own for your 7800 collection is the gameplay options. You can choose the following
1- Single player
2 - Two player (gameplay alternates)
3 - Two Player Competition (both ships are on the screen simultaneously fighting each other and Asteroids)
4 - Two Player Cooperative (both ships are on screen just blowing up everything besides each other and you are unable to kill each other as well)
There are multiple skill levels for each type of gameplay as well.
Overall all the game looks, sounds and plays much better than the arcade and is far and away better than any other offerings of this time. If you are a fan of Asteroids do yourself a favor and play this. If you don't yet own an ATARI 7800 then play it emulated it will be worth your time.
I would give this game a 95% overall.
Atari 7800 · by Trekster (29) · 2008
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|Jan 26, 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!
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Servo.
Game added April 12, 2003. Last modified March 2, 2024.