History: Asteroids is a perfect example of success stemming from failure. It's one of the most successful and influential games of all time, and it owes its existence to a proposed tabletop gaming system that never saw the light of day. In 1979, Lyle Rains, a chief engineer on the Cosmos project, talked to Programmer Ed Logg about a Cosmos game in the works. The game was a two-player space battle, where spaceships had to avoid or destroy static asteroids as they fought each other. Rains liked the game and thought that if the asteroids moved, it might work as a one-player experience. Logg agreed and set out to create a coin-operated version of such a game. He had the first prototype within two weeks.
Logg's prototype of Asteroids caught on so quickly with fellow engineers at Atari that he had to build a 2nd prototype just so they could play it. After production got under way, the assembly line would routinely stop just so that the workers could play a few games. Obviously Asteroids was destined for success.
In Asteroids, players control a triangular spaceship that starts off in the center of the screen. A number of big asteroids drift across the playfield. The player must destroy the space-borne rocks while staying out of their paths. Players can freely rotate the ship and apply engine thrust to move it. The ship moves realistically, taking a moment to reach full speed and continuing to move in the same direction even after thrust ceases
When you shoot an asteroid, it breaks into two small pieces that fly off with a random direction and velocity. Destroy those, and they break into two even smaller pieces.
Be careless with your firing, and you'll end up with a whole mess of deadly rocks hurtling around. To make things more difficult, two varieties of flying saucers fly through the asteroid field at regular intervals, breaking apart the big rocks while trying to destroy you. All this action is set to a Jaws-like thumping bass line -- still the best sound effect for getting "in the zone" ever conceived for a video game. . .
Finally, although it was not the first game to do so, Asteroids uses a vector graphics monitor to produce sharp, black-and-white linear graphics. The vector graphics fit the futuristic outer space theme very well.
Asteroids rocketed to dominance at the arcades, even managing to unseat Space Invaders as the then-current top moneymaker. According to the KLOV, Asteroids was so successful that arcade operators had to install larger coin boxes to hold all the quarters that players plunked into the machines. Now it's time to play the inverse to play