Monday, December 13, 2010

Game of the Week: Asteroids for the Atari 2600

Asteroids (Atari 2600)In 1979, Atari introduced a video game called Asteroids to arcades.

And the world has never been the same since.

Asteroids was so popular, it seemed everyone wanted to play. And especially because it was an Atari game, it only made sense for the company to create a version of Asteroids for its hugely popular home video game system, the Atari 2600.

For those who might not know, what is the object of this game? Simple. You fly a little spaceship around a screen while avoid getting blown to smithereens by tons and tons of asteroids floating around. To help out, you can shoot at the asteroids, which makes smaller asteroids. Then you have to blow away the smaller asteroids to clear the screen and go on to the next screen, where you do it all over again. Every once in a while an alien spaceship will fly by and take a shot at you, but you can blow those up as well.

Sounds simple, and simplistic. It's not, on both counts.

Asteroids was a ton of fun to play, and it was addictive.

When the game was introduced to the Atari 2600, some fans were concerned that it wouldn't be the same. The arcade version of Asteroids was a vector based game, in layman's terms meaning there weren't a lot of filled-in graphics because everything sort of looked as if it had been drawn to be stick figures. Yes, it sounds stupid, but it was what is was (and it worked and was still a great game). The Atari home system didn't allow for vector graphics, so how would the company pull it off?

Simple. They just filled in the spaces with color. Sure, it looked a little different, but the gameplay was the same and the colored asteroids didn't hurt anything.

The arcade version of Asteroids was popular enough to spawn a few sequels, and it was ported to a few other home video game systems, including modern systems.

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