One of the most popular games of The Golden Age of Video Games. Debuting in 1979, it first appeared in the arcade, but was quickly ported to the Atari 2600, and has made its way onto most platforms since.
You control a Spacewar!-style ship in the middle of an asteroid field. All around you, asteroids are floating around. You get points for shooting them; the smaller the asteroid, the more points you get. But each time you shoot any but the smallest, they split in two, and the trajectory is different for both. Oh, and you have to avoid getting hit by an asteroid. Or shot by an enemy saucer that wanders by. In a pinch, you can press the panic button and travel through hyperspace to a random location... which may not be any better.
In 1980, Atari released a sequel, Asteroids Deluxe, which replaced Hyperspace with shields, made the saucers more intelligent (deliberately aiming at the player and at the asteroids), and adding a new type of enemy ship, the Killer Satellites.
In 1987, Atari released Blasteroids, a Spiritual Sequel with two-player simultaneous action, transforming ships, power-ups, and a lot more enemies (including an actual Final Boss, Mukor, who appears to be a distant descendant of Sinistar), but the same basic shoot-the-rocks gameplay.
If you were looking for a page about actual asteroids, see Asteroid Thicket.
- Asteroids Monster: The Trope Namer. The asteroids will split in two twice, before breaking into fragments small enough to be destroyed with one shot.
- Asteroid Thicket: The game takes place in one.
- Deflector Shields: The Atari 2600 version has such shields in some game variations, though they let asteroids and other enemies pass through your ship instead of deflecting them.
- Every 10,000 Points, the player is awarded an extra life. In the Atari 2600 version, you could choose whether you were awarded an extra life every 5,000, 10,000, or 20,000 points, or even not at all.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Even your own technology (see Random Transportation below). In the 2600 version, you can choose to play with Deflector Shields instead of hyperspace (similar to Asteroids Deluxe), but using the shields for more than two seconds blows up your ship.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: You want a game with asteroids? Then Asteroids is the game for you.
- In Name Only: Asteroids: Outpost as a first-person shooter. The only thing remotely close to the original is shooting the meteor-like objects Missile Command-style.
- No Plot? No Problem!: Here's a spaceship. Now shoot some rocks and flying saucers in space. Nothing more is needed for this game. (Some home versions add a small amount of backstory — your ship accidentally flew into an Asteroid Thicket, and now you have to blast your way out — but it's not necessary)
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Your ship is destroyed on impact with any obstacle.
- Power-Up Letdown: The Atari 2600 version had a third option if you didn't like Hyperspace or Shields: Flip, which simply rotated your ship 180 degrees instantly. Useful in certain situations, but not as useful as the others. Technically, there was a fourth option, which was having no special power at all.
- Random Transportation: Hyperspace is used as an emergency escape, sometimes dropping you right in front of another asteroid, with a chance that you'll break up on re-entry even without hitting anything.
- Songs in the Key of Panic: An early example, the "heartbeat" sound gets faster as each wave goes on, stops dead when you complete a wave, and then restarts at a slow pace when the next set of asteroids appear. In the 2600 version, the sound never stopped and slowed down again at set time intervals rather than with new screens.
- Too Dumb to Live: Seriously, who parks their spaceship in the middle of an Asteroid Thicket? In some home ports, the pilot unintentionally flew into one and has to blast their way out, but how they managed to get themselves in that predicament in the first place is anybody's guess. Either way, one touch is instant death.
- Updated Re-release: Activision released an enhanced version in 1998 for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color and Microsoft Windows in 1998, featuring massively updated gameplay, graphics and sound.
- Vector Game: The most successful example.
- Wrap Around: All-directional.