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Video Game / Space Race

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Space Race is an Atari Arcade Game from 1973. Two players fly spaceships from the bottom of the screen to the top. Asteroids fly across the screen from left to right and right to left; if one hits a spaceship, the ship is destroyed and another starts at the bottom of the screen. If the ship navigates the asteroids and reaches the top of the screen, the player scores a point and the ship wraps around to the bottom of the screen. The player who scores the most points before time runs out wins.


Space Race was Atari’s second game after Pong, and it re-uses the Pong hardware. The paddles have become spaceships, and the ball has become two scrolling asteroid fields. The game didn't sell well and doesn’t have a cultural legacy like Pong, but it did introduce the Death Course mechanic to video games.

Space Race provides examples of:

  • Asteroid Thicket: Two fields of one-pixel asteroids, one moving from left to right and one moving from right to left. They don’t appear to destroy your spaceship, just force it to restart at the bottom of the screen.
  • Death Course: The videogaming Ur-Example, two scrolling fields of deadly asteroids.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: No names, date, location, or plot is given, in fact the arcade cabinet was black and had no artwork except for the game's title.
  • Player Versus Player: One player can just see how many times he can reach the top of the screen, but this is supposed to be a two-player game.
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  • Scoring Points: One point for every time your ship reaches the top of the screen.
  • Timed Mission: Adjustable by the cabinet owner from 45 seconds to three minutes.


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