The One


Blasteroids

Author: Gary Penn
Publisher: Image Works
Machine: Amiga 500

 
Published in The One #6

Atari rifled its own archives to score another arcade smash. Gary Penn gets his rocks off.

Blasteroids

Atari's Asteroids is undoubtedly one of the all-time classic coin-ops. Its simplistic but addictive shoot-'em-up formula has been imitated over the years, but arguably never improved.

Undeterred however, Atari saw fit to release a sequel in 1987. This kept the basic concept, but the result was a far cry from the vector graphic predecessor. Both graphics and sound were glorified, with detailed planet backdrops introduced in the process. In addition, the hyperspace function was discarded and new features and adversaries added.

Mirrorsoft acquired the licence as one of its first titles for its Image Works label, but it's taken until now for Teque Software to complete its development.

Three-In-One

Blasteroids

The basic ship has three different configurations, transforming between them to the sound of a beefy clank.

  1. The Speeder is the only choice for speed freaks. It's nippy and versatile, with reasonable firepower, but the weak shell is a drawback.
  2. The Fighter is the headcases' delight, with planet-shattering firepower and adequate speed and armour.
  3. Those who hanker for all-round protection should choose the Warrior. However, what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts as both the speed and firepower leave a lot to be desired.

Equipment

Destroying enemy craft causes them to leave behind special equipment, the effects of which last for a limited period. The first time you collect an add-on, a description of its capabilities is given - a form of tutorial similar to that seen in Gauntlet.

  1. Shields - take the brunt of any impact, saving precious energy
  2. Blasters - pick these up for double the firepower.
  3. Extra Shot Power - increases the penetration of your laser bolts.
  4. Ripstar - Anyone who has seen The Last Starfighter will recognise the devastating effect of the Ripstar. Your ship spins around at high speed, firing furiously - just like the Death Blossom weapon.
  5. Extra Fuel Capacity - allows your ship to carry more energy, which means it runs out slower.
  6. Booster - increases your craft's thrust power.
  7. Crystal Magnet - allows you to pull Power Crystals like birds in the bar.
  8. Cloak - makes your ship invisible to the enemy.

Amiga

Once again, Tegue Software has succeeded in producing a competent reproduction of a cult coin-op, capturing all the playability and addictive qualities of the arcade parent. There are a few elements missing - at worse, the deep, bassy rumbling sound of the rocks - but the 16-colour backdrops are impressive, and most importantly the feel of the coin-op is intact.

Blasteroids

However, there is one flaw - but this applies to the original, not the conversion. Blasteroids isn't the improvement over the original that was possibly intended. The fact that Atari saw fit to provide the player with an objective means that Asteroids now has a definite end.

The original worked because you knew it would never end, so you could continually come back for more in an attempt to increase your score. The process of producing contemporary versions of age-old concepts like Asteroids always seems to follow a predictable pattern; i.e. take the original theme, tart up the graphics, beef up the sound and add a few new features. But somewhere along the line, the most important aspect is lost - the thrill and feel of the original.

How many Asteroids fans played Blasteroids, were initially impressed but, after a few games, realised that it wasn't anywhere near as atmospheric and nail-biting? It's fortunate that the gameplay is strong enough too make it work. But only just.

ST

The fact that the backdrops are only four colours doesn't make Blasteroids any less playable. In fact, the option to play in either 50 or 60 MHz mode makes up for the (hardly apparent) lack of colour.

Gary Penn

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