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Asteroids [game]

Entry updated 9 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (1979). Atari. Designed by Lyle Rains, Ed Logg. Platforms: Arcade, Others.

Asteroids is a two-dimensional arcade game (see Videogames) in which the player must shoot and ultimately demolish pieces of space debris before their Spaceship is destroyed by a collision with the increasingly many fragments – the smaller, the more rapidly moving. The design was derived from a Spacewar (1962) variant by increasing the number of independent "natural" objects and removing the second player. Unlike the earlier one- or two-player Spacewar-based game Computer Space (1971 Nutting Associates, Arcade) designed by Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney, Asteroids proved to be commercially very successful, illustrating the rise in popularity of arcade games in the US during the 1970s. Of all the popular space-based arcade machines of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Asteroids' relatively constant pattern of threat and manoeuvre may make it the game most suited to the achievement of a Zen-like trance of endless play.

Related works: Asteroids Deluxe (1980 Atari, Arcade) designed by Dave Sheppard made minor changes to the graphics and gameplay of the first game, while Space Duel (1982 Atari, Arcade) is a two-player version (with options for competitive or cooperative play) using colourful geometric shapes in place of the original's black and white asteroids. Blasteroids (1987 Atari, Arcade, Others) is a more complex version of Asteroids, featuring much improved graphics, different ship variants, and similar two-player options to Space Duel. [NT]

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