Atari - 1979
Machine: Arcade, and many others
Genre: Vehicle Shooter
Asteroids was the last great black-and-white video game. Like all early videogames, it was a product of ingenious programming: the programme scarcely uses more memory than this word processed file... It also looks terrific: It uses vector graphics to draw out your spaceship (a little triangular wedge) and the asteroids that threaten you. When you shoot the asteroids, they break into smaller, faster moving fragments. Occasionally a flying saucer turns up and tries to shoot you. You can use your thrusters to fly around and avoid the pieces of Asteroid. Like Space Invaders, the action gets progressively faster and faster. Last for as long as you can and get a high score... this was the first game to include a Hi-Score table where you could enter your initials to commemorate your triumph.
Asteroids really was an incredible game... it was a fixture in Arcades years after its original release. In many ways it was as simple as Space Invaders, but it had that little bit extra, that little bit more. For one, the ability to fly around the screen gave the game a wonderful edge of freedom AND chaos. Suddenly you found yourself steering away from a big asteroid only to discover that you're out of control (yep, the spaceship has inertia.) It was great to find this extra element of panic in a videogame. Every Asteroid machine seemed to have a really sensitive Thrust button and you found yourself flying off at a terrific rate towards a giant asteroid... This added ingredient of chaos was hysterical, especially as you tried to make it look like you knew what you were doing, just in case someone was watching you play.
Bubbaray 16 May '03
MAME - Search Google for the ROM file. Or just play online below...
Play Online - At the official Atari site.
Atari Times' Asteroids page - Lots of great information.