Asteroids (Atari 2600)

Asteroids was developed and published by Atari in 1981. The original arcade game was developed and published by Atari in 1979.


Prior to its arrival on the Atari 2600, Atari’s Asteroids was released in 1979 in the arcades. Featuring black and white vector graphics that was typical during the era, it is often considered one of the major hits of the golden age of arcade game. About 2 years later, it was ported to the Atari 2600 by Atari themselves.

In the instruction manual, it is stated that the player is part of the Cosmic Space Patrol, patrolling boulevards of space. Waves of asteroids are detected and the player has either the choice to dodge them or destroy them.

Unlike the Arcade, the Atari 2600 port is raster graphics due to limitations. However, it is a full-colour game and the rock are easily noticeable.

The goal of the game is having the highest score possible. Asteroids come in three shapes and a variety of colours. The smaller they are, the faster they go. If the player set the Difficulty Switches to A, two enemies will appear from time to time, giving a large amount of point when defeated. The first one is a large satellite and the second is a fast but small UFO. Both can shoot at the player and the asteroids. If they end up crashing on the rocks, no points will be awarded.

The player starts in the middle of the screen. You move by pushing joystick toward the desired direction. Doing so will cause you to float in space. Thrusting is a key in order to control the speed of your ship, especially when the player navigate through the asteroids. Depending of the game variation, you also have the ability to use three functions.

  • Hyperspace: Teleport around the area of the ship’s current angle.
  • Shield: Protect yourself from asteroids
  • Flip: Perform 180 degrees turn

The player starts with four spaceships and it’s possible to get a new ship for each 10 000 points. The game and when all ships are gone, showing the trademark colour changing unique to the Atari 2600.

Asteroids playthrough

The first revision of the USA version of asteroids is used for this run. The main difference between the two USA version is that the later one has a copyright screen and bug fixed related to the rock set up after a level is cleared (it can take a while to for the ship to spawn back if there are many rocks).

Variation 32 is chosen for the run. It features fast rock, no extra life and no extra features. The difficulty switches are also set to an in order to have a satellite and UFOs attacking the player in the game.

The main goal is to have the highest score possible before the overflow. In the Atari 2600 version of asteroids, the maximum possible score is 99990.

TAS tools were used in this playthrough.

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