Hey look everybody, it’s Asteroids! Again. You’ll be pleased to hear that this is the last time Asteroids appears in the Atari Flashback Classics compilation, at least.
Today we’re looking at the Atari 5200 version of the game, which didn’t actually see a commercial release despite originally being intended as a launch title for the platform. It’s based closely on the version released for Atari 8-bit computers, and is a solid adaptation of the formula for 1-4 players simultaneously.
I didn’t like this all that much when I was kid (primarily because I was bobbins at it) but nowadays I find its chunky shooting action rather satisfying!
It’s that time again: the time when we strap ourselves into a small triangle and blast some space rocks into increasingly smaller space rocks until they disappear.
Yes, it’s Asteroids again, this time in its Atari 2600 incarnation. This was a well-regarded port at the time of original release, and noteworthy from a historical perspective for being one of the first games to make use of “bank-switching”, allowing for higher-capacity cartridges that made use of more data. Asteroids for 2600 is twice the size of earlier 2600 games at a mighty 8K!
It also offers “66 video games”. Can’t say better value than that, can you? Even if there’s actually only 33 video games, and they’re all very similar to one another…
How do you make Asteroids better in a more substantial way than just adding “Deluxe” to the name and making it look a bit nicer? Start by chaining two ships together and work from there.
Atari’s Space Duel was designed as another successor to Asteroids after the aforementioned Asteroids Deluxe regrettably failed to replicate the success and popularity of its influential predecessor. Featuring several ways to play — including both cooperative and competitive two-player modes — it’s a more obvious step forward than Deluxe was.
Don’t let the name fool you as it did me for many years, however; this game can very much be enjoyed single-player, and in one of its modes in particular provides an absolutely unique shooter experience that is well worth giving a go for yourself.
How do you make Asteroids better? Add the word “Deluxe” to its name, obviously.
Okay, 1980’s Asteroids Deluxe adds a bit more to the basic Asteroids formula than that, but it’s still very much recognisable. The whole experience is a bit smoother than the original, the presentation is sharper and cleaner (and blue!) and there are some additional enemies to deal with. But you’re still rotating and firing and dodging. And dying. Dying a lot.
I’m still no good at Asteroids, Deluxe or otherwise, but I actually enjoy it a lot more today than I did back when it was “current”. It’s a game that’s held up extremely well, and it’s a pleasure to revisit both of its most famous incarnations in the Atari Flashback Classics collection for Switch.
Asteroids is a longstanding classic with good reason: it made a solid impact on the early video games industry, and it has influenced a great many subsequent games over the years ever since.
There’s a beautiful simplicity to the sparse black and white vector graphics of the original arcade game, and it’s still enjoyable and playable today… so long as you can get your head around the whole “turn and thrust” movement system, which is something I’ve always struggled a bit with over the years!
Still, if you want to play early era space games, it’s a mechanic you better get used to pretty quick… and there’s no better place to practice than the original never-ending field of space rocks.