Review: Asteroids (Atari 7800)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out another port of the classic Asteroids game. This time, we bust rock on the Atari 7800 version of this classic game. Does this version of this top-down shooter give this series a good name? We find out.

We’ve already reviewed the Atari 2600 version of this game. This time, we check out the Atari 7800 version which was released in 1986.

This port certainly is different than the Atari 2600 version in numerous ways. In this port, the asteroids move in a much more random fashion. This gives an added challenge instead of relying on a more or less vertical motion as seen in the Atari 2600 port.

The scoring scheme is relatively similar to the Atari 2600 version, but the threshold to gain extra lives is set at 10,000 points instead of 5,000 points, thereby doubling the difficulty in the scoring system alone.

Another key difference is the behavior of enemy ships. Instead of floating around randomly, the ships travel horizontally across the screen, but still shoot somewhat randomly. Enemy ships can also die if they come into contact with an asteroid.

Also, the asteroids are more spherical instead of the usual polygonal nature of the asteroids. I thought this was a weird design choice, but there is an effort to make the asteroids visually interesting by adding dynamic textures on them as they float by, so there are still improvements to be had here.

There’s no music, but there is sound effects. They are decent sound effects, I found.

Graphically, there are improvements overall, but they are not spectacular compared to other games released at this time. I would say the graphics are half decent overall.

Because of the tweaks to the asteroid behavior, this game is made to be much more difficult. You can push up on the control stick to warp your ship in case you find yourself in trouble, but this requires a certain amount of timing in and of itself because there is a bit of a lag between when you push up and when you actually warp the ship. There is also the risk of warping to a location occupied by an asteroid, so it’s always a gamble when you do choose to warp you ship.

Overall, this game is quite challenging and not a bad port to try if you are wanting something both interesting and somewhat challenging from the get-go. A decent game all around.


Furthest point in game: Earned 11,450 points before losing all of my lives.

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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