Asteroids is considered by many gamers to be a true classic, a master piece. It remains to this day Atari’s best ever selling arcade machine, with a total number of 57,000 units produced for worldwide distribution. Asteroids did something no other game of the era did, it introduced real world physics of inertia into the gaming experience.
The history of Asteroids: Vector Graphic Nirvana
Asteroids was first released in 1979. It was developed and published by Atari Inc. and designed by Lyle Rains and veteran programmer Ed Logg. The game was a single or two player alternating turn multi-directional space shoot ‘em up.
As the player, you took control of a spacecraft surrounded by large asteroids that drift randomly across the screen. These large asteroids when shot, break into smaller pieces. The gamer had to clear the screen of all pieces before moving on to the next wave of attack. Occasionally various alien craft would also make an appearance. The larger craft would send out projectiles in random directions, while the smaller alien craft would aim directly at the players craft.
The beauty of the game was it’s technical excellence to introduce real world inertia into the game play. This meant that the craft would continue to move even after the thrust button was released. This was a significant challenge for the gamer. To be successful the player had to affectively judge the stopping distance of the craft, while maintaining a safe distance from the asteroids, which when shot, would send smaller pieces hurtling in random directions at varying speeds.
Conversions and Sequels
The popularity of the game in the arcade led to it’s release on various other home console and computers, including; Atari 2600,7800; Commodore 64; ZX Spectrum; Nintendo Game boy, Game Boy Advance and DS; Sony PlayStation; Sega Dreamcast and Saturn; Microsoft Xbox.
The game has also had four true sequels, including; Asteroid Deluxe 1981; Space Duel 1982; Blasteroids 1987; Asteroids Hyper 64 for the Nintendo 64 1999.