|Space. As cold and empty as...|
Source // Wikipedia
Asteroids is awesome. It's simple to understand, tricky to master and addictive as anything. As with seemingly every Atari game on this list thus far, I've played Asteroids, I know I have, I just don't know where or how. I was looking forward to playing it again, which must mean I had good impressions of it from my distant past. Unless the nostalgia goggles have fused into my eyeballs.
Unfortunately though, I had troubles with this one. An early lesson learned in video game emulation: it doesn't always work. I had no luck with any arcade versions, and nobody should play the Atari 2600 offering unless desperate.
|Imagine a dark red 'triangle' in the middle of this screen. Imagine it, because I had trouble get both it and asteroids in the same image. One or the other. No time for Photoshop.|
So, the classics wouldn't play ball, the ports were... poor. What alternatives are available without having to track down an arcade machine? Atari themselves have a playable version online.
Once you sit through an ad. Because who the hell uses Internet Explorer. C'mon.
Once in, the graphics are obviously updated but still have that simple aesthetic. Play it on mute and imitate the pew-pew-pew's yourself though.
It's not the same, and it's not meant to be. You can charge up your shot, not that you need to, and can timeslip/sideshift/teleport to another location if you're in a jam, but at its core it's still shoot big things to make them smaller, shoot little things to make them disappear.
It's Asteroids, Jim, but not as you know it.
You know those incredible weighty spacey physics Asteroids has? Thankfully, that is in the updated version online. If it wasn't, it should have been another game entirely. Asteroids has that feel about it, both the physics and the simplicity, that stick with you, which I why I still need to try and play this game as it was intended to be played, with its white on black, no nonsense appearance.
There are imitators and variants, of course there are. It's an Atari game from the 70s, it'd be silly for it not to have been stolen, remixed, bettered, whatever. But those memories of a white triangle shooting jagged white blobs are going to live longer in the brain than the screenshots above.
The spaceship is also there, but as soon as it appeared and I recognised what it was, a previously fire shot had slammed into the back of it, blowing it up. So take that, alien scum.
Only the very dedicated will get scores in the 40 millions, but everyone will be able to go for a few thousand, and after a few attempts get it. The physics feel spacey and futuristic, even if the graphics don't, and that's survived even into modern gaming. There are no comparisons, one might argue, and no excuses to avoid playing Asteroids.
Even if you have to settle for a remake.
The previous world record score for Asteroids, at 41,336,440, set by 15 year old Scott Safran, stood for nearly 30 years until displaced in 2010 by John McAllister during a 58 hour long Internet livestream, with 41,338,740 points.
Asteroids, developed by Atari, Inc., first released in 1979.
Versions played: Atari 2600, 1981, via emulation.
Atari Arcade (Adobe Flash/HTML5)