Is it worth more than a few quarters??
Recently it seems that more games has been trying to jump on the classic-game-conversion bandwagon, a fad that started around the time that Hasbro made some big bucks with their Frogger conversion. Some conversions, like Activision's Battlezone, took a few "creative liberties" and added a whole slew of new technology available in this day and age, while others, like Hasbro's Frogger or Centipede stayed relatively close to their predecessors.
Asteroids, Activision's latest classic conversion, leans more towards the latter - there are the obvious improvements in graphics, and sound, but the game's basic gameplay stays relatively the same. Now, if you aren't aware of how Asteroids is played, well, I represent the entire gaming community when I hang my head in despair.
We all remember the usual blowing up of larger asteroids into smaller and smaller pieces until they are all gone. Maybe there was an important story, maybe there wasn't. The point is that it doesn't matter. Asteroids (like many classics) was not played to save the earth or to protect the universe. It was played to get farthest and get your initials on the high score list.
Now, generation later, Syrox (developers) came and gave the game a damn story. Nobody cares! We just want to get back to that classic Asteroid action. The bottom line is that the story makes no difference to the game and cut-scene and pre-mission briefings are just nuisances that get in the way of the action.
With that little chip aside, technologically speaking Asteroids is exactly what you would expect from a modern day re-creation and, unfortunately, nothing more. There a few interesting graphical effects that take advantage of the current available hardware, some improved sound effects, an attempt at a story (ugh), and minimally expanded gameplay. Yes, the usual rotating, boosting and firing are still there, but in addition powerups appear throughout the level giving "niceties" like extra lives, extra points, and powerful weapons like heat seeking missiles or mines.
While the asteroids are still the focus of the game, new types of asteroids with unique properties have been introduced. Indestructible asteroids, fireball comets, crystal asteroids that can regenerate, alien egg asteroids (releases many aliens when destroyed) and ancient energy asteroids all make their way into the game.
A handful of different alien enemies are also thrown into the mix to take your attention away from the precious asteroids. Other than a couple quirks, Activision's latest plays almost exactly like the original.
The game is divided into five different zones (again with that story thing), each with a clear objective and an utterly useless FMV. Here's a quick formula for every single story: (Name of company) wants you to clear (name of area) so they can build/clear/explore (name of another area). Clear out the asteroids, watch out for (name of new obstacle). And that's about it. With five zones and fifteen levels per zone (do the math)...well, let's just say you shouldn't be playing Asteroids for its variety of gameplay.
As mentioned before, Asteroids does take advantage of all the latest technology available. While this is, in essence, a 2D game, the re-creation uses 3D objects with a static camera. A number of cool effects, nice particles, lens flare and sweet-looking explosions, have all been incorporated nicely into the game. While the usual 2-player action on one screen is there, no network play is supported.
In the end, while Asteroids is just a rebirth of the original, one question still remains: is it worth dishing out hard-earned bucks for copy? Well, other than a few powerups, the gameplay is almost exactly the same as the original. So the bottom line is that, other than the impressive visual effects, Asteroids has no real advantages over the hundreds of other (free) clones floating around on the internet, some of which may support network play. Take it for what it is: the original Asteroids with a makeover.