Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: December 28, 1998
1998 has been a banner year for clones of the classic video hit Asteroids, first unleashed upon us way back in 1979. Earlier this year three small companies — Logicware, Reflexive, and Shepherd’s Worlds — released Astrorock 2000, Swarm, and Juggernaut Corps, each of which represents an excellent effort to update and enhance the original graphics, sound, and gameplay to entice the more sophisticated and demanding audiences of the 1990s. Astrorock 2000 has fun rock music and funky lighthearted swirling obstacles and pick-ups; Swarm has a dark foreboding reptilian mood and stunningly detailed visuals and lighting effects; and Juggernaut Corps has injected highly creative enemies, such as those that look and act like gnats, and highly original weapons, such as those whose projectiles ricochet off the side of the screen to get you. Each has its own well-developed personality, and each goes well beyond the boring task of simply blasting away large space rocks that are headed your way.
Into this crowded field, after my promotional ballyhoo, a major game company — Activision — has decided to enter the fray with an official licensed remake of the game (developed for the company by Syrox Developments) using the original name — Asteroids. Rather than attempt to add substantial new gameplay elements, as did the three earlier entrants to the field this year, Activision has decided to remain completely faithful to the original with the exception of vastly improved graphics and sound and expanded game options. Asteroids is so much within the spirit of the original that hidden within this new game is a version of the 1979 classic that you can play for yourself to imagine what it was like in those primitive days before the advent of the personal computer.
Remakes of the classic video games from the late 1970s and early 1980s by major game companies have not gone well lately, either because the games have deviated too far from the original or because they have not introduced enough solid gameplay for today’s game consumers. Microsoft’s attempts in this area, including Microsoft Arcade, Return to Arcade, and Revenge of Arcade, have all been widely hailed as duds because they simply reproduced the originals with nothing added or enhanced; Hasbro’s Frogger was nice to look at but largely unplayable for most people; and Activision’s own Battlezone was a quality game but had virtually nothing to do with its namesake. The only real winners so far in this race to return to past arcade thrills have been Interplay’s Tempest 2000 and Hasbro’s just-released Centipede.
Activision’s Asteroids was originally to be titled Asteroids 3D, but it was smart of the company to drop that extra label because, like this year’s other clones, the gameplay is basically two-dimensional with a few 3D-rendered objects rotating on the screen. I had originally hoped that this game would be from a first-person perspective, where you were looking out from the cockpit of your ship as the asteroids hurtled toward you, but such is not the case. It would have been really nice to have a choice of viewpoints in a game like this one.
Pages: 1 2 3