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Asteroids Review

Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1981 Also On:
Atari 7800, Atari 8-Bit

How can it be?! No one has reviewed this yet?! What kind of review site are we?! Well, let me fill in the gap. Asteroids is one of the most legendary video games in history, one of the most popular Atari 2600 titles, and one of the most influential games of all time. It spawned countless rip-offs and pretty much an entire genre. You might not even have to read further to get my drift, this is an awesome game.

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As far as the graphics are concerned, Asteroids is generally quite simple but good for the system. You have your ship, which was consequentially reused in countless 2600 games, the asteroids, and a satellite and UFO on harder settings, that’s it. The asteroids are different colors and your ship can phase in and out of reality and move around, but other than those features you don’t have the densest or most complex of graphics. However, by combining the smaller size of your ship with the larger asteroids (at least their initial size), the programmers really did a good job of using the graphics to create tension. Those asteroids look pretty menancing, in spite of the fact that they’re just collections of pixels. Overall, good work in this category.

One of the most iconic parts of Asteroids is the sound. Awesome. The shooting, explosions, separation of the asteroids, these are all stock to the Atari 2600 and were eventually reused in countless games. What it really has going for it, however, is the stellar soundtrack. In spite of its repetition, there is just nothing better than the legendary, Jaws-like track that keeps your blood pumping. It’s one of the most recognizable themes in video game history with good reason.

So, it’s doubtful you don’t know about it, but in case you don’t, here we go. In Asteroids, you control a spaceship stuck in an asteroid belt, and your job is to destroy wave after wave of the things for as long as you can. The asteroids continue to move all over the place, separate into smaller pieces when shot, and also speed up. You can shoot, thrust, and warp around the playing field, but that’s it. This is a perfect example of play that made several Atari games so famous. Also, I’m not sure how, but somehow this game never gets old even though it’s the same thing over and over. One of the ways they avoided this is the game variations. Up through game eight and some later, you can warp around the playing field. Other games give you a shield to use instead or allow you to quickly flip completely around to make short work of asteroids. Changing the difficulty adds satellites and UFOs, which can fire back. The controls are fluid, easy to learn, and the tension combined with the graphics and sound is excellent. Can’t say I have any problems with Asteroids. Great game. Check out some of this classic stuff:

As for creativity, Asteroids was one of the biggest influences on video games during the golden age, and its impact is still felt today in many ways. There were a few games like this during the time that followed suit. Why? Simple, Asteroids set the bar with its simple layout, challenge, and ease of play. Definitely set the standard. Atari, in fact, reused the idea in countless titles, such as the arcade game Blasteroids.

Asteroids is without a doubt one of the few retro games I could say newer gamers would even enjoy it, not to mention Atari 2600 fans. This is one of those few titles that deserves to be played again and again, and, more importantly, you’ll actually want to do it. Length depends on how good you are and how long you can last. No problems there for me.

Asteroids is a perfect example of why the 2600 had such an impact on video games. This is definitely one of the top five in nearly every fans list, and definitely a Top-10 all-around for anyone else. Asteroids is easy to get into and hard to put away. Plus, the programmers did a pretty good job of translating the original vector graphics of the arcade to the specifications of the system. Excellent game, period. A must own for any 2600 fan and a title that every true gamer needs to say they played at least once.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.9
Written by Stan Review Guide