Reviews: Asteroids/Asteroids Deluxe (XBLA)

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It has been almost 30 years since Atari first released this vector-based game and Stainless Games has provided a faithful translation as well as a meager?attempt at an update through XBOX Live Arcade. Although I could not confirm, it is apparently Atari’s best-selling game of all time. They say that the coin-op machines had to have bigger boxes put in because the game was devouring so many quarters. Brilliant way to make some money, huh? An aside: those Crisis games are such coin-stealers, too, aren’t they? Is it possible to go through the game on one credit?

There are six different game modes, which provide for a considerable amount of replay value.?

Asteroids VS Deluxe: Those of you that played the games in their original arcade iterations know that the only upgrades in the sequel are the ability to use a shield (rather than warp to a random place and die)?and a new enemy that splits into eight separate pieces and homes in on you.

Classic VS Evolved: The classic modes are exact ports of the original arcade versions. Some have complained because the Deluxe version doesn’t have the blue tint, but somebody just needs to call a wah-mbulance. The Evolved versions have upgraded graphics, sounds, and music. The asteroids are glowing, rotating orbs. The explosions provide a colorful fireworks display. The player’s ship has a trail behind it when it is thrusting and when it is destroyed there is a?3D effect in which the bits and pieces?come towards the player.?It would?have been nice to have a?3D mode?which required those red and blue glasses.

Normal VS Throttle Monkey: I don’t know anyone in their right mind that would opt for the Throttle Monkey version. Basically, it just speeds up the gameplay to an intensely difficult and impossible-to-play pace. I will be going over the achievements later, but trying to get 10K in this mode to get the extra ship is likely to be more painful than passing a stone. Or, so I hear . . .

One of my first gripes was that there is no Online Multiplayer function. The menu is a source of confusion because the first option after selecting either Asteroids or Asteroids Deluxe is “Single Player.” Pretty redundant considering that’s the only mode there is. I don’t understand? . . . in this day and age what is the point of having that mode where two players alternate? Competing in the same asteroid field would have been a nice upgrade.

My second gripe is the control configuration. Early previews mentioned the ability to use the triggers for thrusting and shooting, but the final release forces you to perform all three actions using X, A, and B. This is awkward because thrust and shoot must be done with the right thumb. It would have been nice if they allowed you to configure the controls in the option menu.

My next gripe is a minor one. I know other reviewers have made a bigger deal about this than I will, but as pretty as the explosions are in the Evolved version, it can make it difficult to discern which direction the asteroid halves are headed. It’s difficult as it is when there are tens of asteroid bits all over the place, but the explosions create an additional level of confusion.

Lastly, it would also been nice if they had made an option to play this game widescreen. It is supposed to be an HD upgrade, right?

Although they do not seem difficult, they are actually difficult for the average gamer to achieve. One of the achivements is to stay alive for three minutes and another is to have four lives (you start with three). Another difficult achievement are the two that require you to pass the wave with less than a certain number of?shots.

The most amusing achievement is Clockstopper, which can be unlocked by scoring 99990. In the original game, the highest the score would go was 99,990 because the developers didn’t think anyone would get a score higher than 100,000. The world record is well over 40,000,000.

Buy it if ya momma gives ya points. It’s 400 points. 4 games for 100 points is actually not that bad (two classic, two evolved . . . not to mention the two speed modes). Retro arcade gamers will enjoy this. For someone like me, there was actually a high replay value, because when I got bored with one mode, I would switch to the other. I only tried the Throttle Monkey mode a few times and I may not hit them up again until I get all of the achievements.

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