Astro Blaster

Less than three years after Space Invaders and Galaxian popularized the two-dimensional space shooter, Astro Blaster completely redefined the genre, using speech-synthesis, fuel and laser management, and challenging gameplay. Though players and arcade owners initially complained about its difficulty, Astro Blaster was so unique for its time that it pulled quarters from pockets faster than a computerized voice could say, "Fighter pilots needed in sector wars! Play Astro Blaster!"

Gameplay: Astro Blaster adds a few twists to the basic space shooter: Unlike in other games where you can hold down the fire button and hope for the best, your lasers will overheat if you fire them too rapidly, taking them offline for a few precious seconds while they cool down. Also, if you take too long to clear out a sector, you'll run out of fuel and lose a ship. To balance these limitations, you can use a warp button once per sector to slow down your enemies for about 10 seconds, making them slightly easier targets.

There are seven sectors for you to clear out, and if you make it through them all, maybe you can challenge Gus Pappas, who holds the official record high score of 299,100 points—a record that has stood since 1982.

Could be mistaken for: Gorf, Moon Cresta, Megamania.

Kids today might like it because: When you have one ship left, your Astro Blaster's computer will advise you to "use extreme caution." How helpful! Thanks, computer!

Kids today might not like it because: Well, gosh, computer, maybe if you'd warned me to be careful earlier in the game, I'd have more than one ship left. Thanks for nothing, jerk.

Enduring contribution to gaming history: Because it was released the same year as classics like Frogger and Donkey Kong, Astro Blaster doesn't stand out like it should. However, it was the first space shooter to touch the monolith, and set a new standard for games in its genre.

 

Wil Wheaton's fuel status is marginal.

Filed Under: Games

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