My Gaming ABC's : A is for Asteroids
I've played and owned a lot of games in my life. They all played their part in my gamer identity. In this series, I'll expore one of these games by letter of the alphabet. Today we start with Asteroids, the origin of my retro-gaming.
Welcome to my world! Well, not really my world, but a more personal side of blogging. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about games on such a personal and emotional level; A level that I thought I couldn’t reach. Don’t get me wrong, I can get as passionate as the next gamer when it comes down to gaming debate, but I feel like I lack the connection to my games. This is where my Gaming ABCs come in. I want to stroll through my collection and talk about a specific game. Not my favorites, but those that defined me, throughout my life as a gamer. Originally, I had trouble choosing the game, but I recently purchased Okami and with the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom I received for Christmas, I own a game that starts with every letter of the alphabet, hence the name of the blog series. The great thing about choosing from a specific letter? I will have to let go of the mainstream series. I will have to ignore the Marios, Metroids, and Supers which will make the game I write about even more special to me. So stay with me as the next year will be filled with 26 posts about MY games.
Welcome to the first part of this series. In the intro, I mention a good thing about choosing one game per letter of the alphabet. Today, I’ll mention the other one: “rare letters”. Of course, for most of you, A is for Assassin’s Creed, but I haven’t played these games, yet. So I fall back on the other choices. It came down to Arkanoid and Asteroids, with a honorable mention to Adventure of Lolo. Then I played both games again and the choice was made.
Playing Arkanoid, it was easy to see how much I played that game before and the fun I have with these little “casual” types of games. Then why did Asteroids stick out so much? If I like Arkanoid so much, why did I have a problem choosing? Thinking about it, I remembered that it was what Asteroids meant to me.
Asteroids is originally an arcade game developed by Atari and released in cabinets in 1979. It was ported to the Atari in 1981 and that is the version I own. At the time, the big difference between this game and the other arcade classics like Galaga and Space Invaders was that instead of having pixel-based graphics, Asteroids had vector-based graphics allowing for better shapes, but no color. The goal of the game is to use your ship, standing in the middle of the screen, and destroy the asteroids floating around. Like every other arcade game at the time, it is a pretty simple concept. You can barely move, and when you do, inertia physics have you moving all over the place until you stabilize. You can get attacked by UFOs and when you split an Asteroid in two, it can go anywhere. Quick, challenging, simple, fun!
As I grew up, I had a Game Boy version of this game on a 50-in-1 cartridge. (Yep, those existed on the Game Boy) I remember playing this game a lot at some points in my life. So, in the end, I was playing a really old arcade game instead of the new games getting released. I didn’t have to rent games, I could have plenty of fun with these old ones. At that point, I did have an SNES. Once in awhile I went back to NES games, but with Asteroids, it was different. I had never played that game on the original systems. In short: I was retro-gaming! 11 years old and retro-gaming.
There is a strong increase in the number of part or full time retro-gamers, especially around Screwattack. Of course, with the internet, memes, comics, remakes, re-releases, digital versions, emulators, it’s easy to understand why. These games are easier to discover and you hear a lot more about them, even if you never played them. Back when I was 11, there were not many of these things. Retro-gaming was one of these three things: a classic arcade game at the arcades, utterly blinded by nostalgia, or just not owning the last console to be released. Of course, Asteroids is a classic arcade game, but after this one, I was ecstatic when playing Burger Time on a ColecoVision (at one of my grandma’s friends house), I was thrilled to play an good NES game I never played before. I was hooked on any game good enough and not blinded by the advance in graphics, and Asteroids started it all.
This is why this game is important to me. It is one of the first instances of retro-gaming in my life and it showed me that I can enjoy an old game I never played before. I didn’t realize it at this time, but it really contributed to shaping my philosophy as a gamer.
Well, this is it for the first entry. I’m glad I had the intro because Asteroids can’t be elaborated for very long. Hope you guys enjoyed reading. Since I’ll write another 5 of these, any volunteer to make me a better header?