Asteroids for the Atari 2600

Asteroids is in that rare pantheon of games that most people have both heard of AND played. You say Asteroids to a gamer and most people can picture the vector graphic original and hear the heartbeat audio in their head without much effort. So when anyone decides to redo this classic nowadays (or even anytime post VCS), they usually have to ask themselves, “how can we top the original”? In the case of the Atari 2600 though, it was a different question. The technology in the 2600 was lacking and so they needed to worry about how they could try and make a game as good as the original. For the most part, they succeeded and a young me had the joystick calloused hands to prove it. But not all was perfect in the 2600 version. Lets touch on what is wrong with the game and then I will talk about what I liked:

– For one the firing control is less responsive and you will feel wanting for another shot as an asteroid comes at you off your port side while your other 2 shots have already been fired.

– The colored asteroid are okay, but at their best seem just a little less high tech then the arcade version and at their worst it feels like your are fighting your way out of a fruit salad. Those bits of fruit salad are also a lot more predictable then the asteroid in the arcade version, so it makes the game a bit easier. Which makes me wonder why you get more starting ships?

Now what I liked:

– For the limits of technology, they did a great job translating the game and it is VERY playable (just like the original).

– Start flipping that select switch because their are dozens of variations of the game. Sick of hyperthrust? How about some shields? Not hard enough? Change your UFO enemies? They certainly did not skimp on the variants.

– The audio would drive the adults in my house insane, but I refused to turn it down. I loved the sinister heartbeat rhythm and the pew pew pew sounds. Slightly different bit very faithful.

– The game is colorful. Don’t listen to that guy who wrote the don’t like list, he is a grump and frankly I think he was grasping at something to pad out his review with. I mean c’mon we all know this is Asteroids and that it is a decent enough game, why does he gotta try and and come up with something negative to say. Oh and fruit salad?? Real clever ya jerk.

So as you can see, they positives far outweigh the negatives. So much so that I still play Asteroids on my Atari 2600 a few times a year and plan on doing so till the bottom rusts out of my system (I should have gotten that undercoating). Why? Because it is a semi-faithful translation of an arcade classic and because it works well on the system. So I am very happy to give Asteroids 4 out of 5 stars.

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