Atari Asteroids (or just “Asteroids”) was a video game released to the general public on November of 1979. Its creation supposedly stemmed from a conversation between Atari Executive Lyle Rains and Atari programmer Ed Logg concerning making a video game where you destroy Asteroids and make them smaller over time while keeping track of a score. The resulting game would make gaming history and be fondly remembered for generations.
The concept of Atari Asteroids was quite simple. You float around in a triangular spaceship and shoot asteroids. The asteroids get smaller when shot and they eventually disappear while adding to your score. As the levels continue, more asteroids would appear on screen with other foes like aliens approaching. The game is also famous for featuring a zero gravity environment where movement would continue until equal movement was applied to counter-balance and change your trajectory. The addition of a scoring system and many different levels made the game incredibly appealing to many people and only added to its appeal. These simple, though revolutionary, aspects would capture the hearts of gamers the world over.
The results were nothing short of phenomenal. Upon its release in various arcades, tens of thousands of units were sold with a number requiring modified coin-holding boxes to accommodate the large number of players. Asteroids became so beloved that A number of future Atari games were modified at arcades to instead play Asteroid. Even to this very day, there are still tournaments held for Asteroid players to compete for the highest score possible.
Although greatly enjoyed in the beginning, there still was a flaw in the original that kept it from reaching its highest potential initially. The 1979 version had a scoring glitch that made it somewhat difficult to reach the highest score you could gain. This glitch, however, was quickly found and the 1980 version helped cement Asteroids as a game where anyone could compete to reach their highest score.
As Atari’s highest-selling game, the love that the gaming community has given to Asteroids is continued to this very day. Very few games have been modified or bootlegged as often as Asteroids has. Many amateur programmers often add their own features to the game as they mod them, only adding to the legacy that Asteroids has had. There have also been various official versions released on home computers, consoles, smartphones, and other electronic devices. With fans around the world, Asteroids will continue to be enjoyed for years to come.