Asteroids for the 7800
Review by Scott Tirrell
You say you like Asteroids? Fan of the arcade classic, are you? Well, then run, don't walk, to your nearest pawn shop or back alley Atari dealer to pick up a copy of Asteroids for your 7800. If you were disappointed with the ease of the 2600 version or the lackluster version for the Atari 8-bit like I was, abandon your skepticism right now. The fun of the original can be translated across to a console and this proves it. For those who don't have a 7800 and are stuck with a mere Falcon or ST, go ahead and get Dave Munsie's Asteroidia. It'll give you a good Asteroids fix. But that's not what this review is all about.
The graphics of 7800 Asteroids are very impressive. For those who have seen Atari Games coin-op update of Asteroids, Blasteroids, you have an idea of the route that Atari took with this conversion. The asteroids have a three-dimensional look to them, colors, and they spin convincingly, and at different rates, through space. This game also proves the hoopla about the 7800's ability to effortlessly handle tons of stuff on the screen at once. It almost gets a little out of hand in later levels and you almost have no room in which to maneuver.
At first look purists might be disappointed. I, for example, would still like to see a translation of the original vector coin-op graphics for a console or computer. But Asteroids for the 7800 doesn't merely try to copy the original but actually tries to improve on it. Classic arcade fans might find this akin to blasphemy, but I think Asteroids for the 7800 does improve on the arcade classic.
The sound is the 7800's weak point as many know (and I remind you in every 7800 review) but Asteroids really didn't have impressive sounds to emulate from the arcade version. The sound was simplistic but effective with booming explosions that almost seemed to shake the cabinet of the arcade game. The sounds in 7800 Asteroids are fair. They are certainly not something that will blow you away and are very reminiscent of the sounds in the 2600 version. You can hear the faint ominous tones of the original. Unfortunately, the sound effects drown them out. Note: The Jaguar's ability to control sound and music volume independently is very nice. There is also a little embellishment on the original sounds with some random "spacey" sounds. The game's sounds are just fair, really, but at least they don't detract from the game. The cheesy noise of approaching alien spaceships is ear piercing but it does give you advance warning of danger.
If you're familiar with Asteroids, you pretty much know how this game works. With a home version, though, it starts out easy enough for younger and inexperienced players to still have fun unlike the arcade. There are several skill levels to choose from and the easiest takes enemy spaceships away from the equation.
Thrusting, firing, and hyperspace work much the same as the original. Unlike the 2600 version, you cannot just rotate your ship in the middle indefinitely. You'll have to get good at controlling your ship. Movement is necessary to prolong your gameplay in Asteroids for the 7800.
7800 Asteroids even has two different two player games- competitive and cooperative. The only difference is the effect of your shots on the other player. In competitive mode, you can kill your friend (or enemy). This obviously adds quite a bit of playability to the game and makes it a great party game.
The 7800 version of Asteroids requires skill, strategy and luck to stay alive. It gets hectic and very fun. Control is perfect and the speed is set just right. Some asteroids will slowly roll towards you while others will scream through the playfield. Using hyperspace is always a risk because you never know where you'll end up and that just adds another aspect of strategy to the game. Asteroids is wonderful; you should buy it and soon.