Asteroids was released circa November 1979 by Atari who also developed the game. Asteroids is a 2D space shooter.


The objective of Asteroids is to destroy asteroids and saucers. The player controls a triangular ship that can rotate left and right, fire shots straight forward, and thrust forward.

To change direction the player has to think about vector thrust as the game is more like real space.

When hit the larger asteroids break into several smaller ones which make it harder to survive. Collision with an asteroid will kill the player’s ship.

The game also has a hyperspace button which can instantly transport the player out of harm’s way but the arrival location is random and it could be even worse.

The game also wraps around at the edges of the screen. This gives the game a toroidal map.

Two flying saucers appear periodically on the screen. The big saucer shoots randomly and very poorly, while the small saucer  fires frequently with better aim at the ship. After reaching a score of 40,000, only the small saucer appears.

The game slows down as the player gains 50-100 lives and the player can “lose” the game after more than 250 lives are collected. Most players never get this far,

The machine uses a 6502 CPU.The monochrome monitor is vector drawn.

Atari sold more than 70,000 machines. They sold for $2000 a console.