The Game: As the pilot of a lone space cruiser, you must try to clear the spaceways of a swarm of free-floating asteroids, but the job isn’t easy – Newton’s laws of motion must be obeyed, even by asteroids. When you blow a big rock into little chunks, those chunks go zipping off in opposite directions with the speed and force imparted by the amount of energy you used to dispel them. To that screenful of bite-sized chunks o’ death, add an unpredictable hyperspace escape mechanism and a pesky UFO that likes to pop in and shoot at you, and you’re between several large rocks and a hard place. (Atari, 1980)
And sure, it’s not even a terribly faithful translation – the graphics, which more than adequate for a home version of the game, are vastly different from the look of the arcade version, and the complex control scheme was necessarily replaced by a simpler single-joystick-with-only-one-button convention that spoiled a lot of us the next time we had to walk into the arcade and contend with fire, hyperspace, thrust, rotate left and rotate right. But I’m willing to bet that Asteroids the cartridge contributed to the longevity and the popularity of Asteroids the coin-op. Fortunately, this is a very common 2600 cartridge, so if you’re one of the the six or seven people who has a 2600 but not Asteroids, you should be able to get your paws on some rocks fairly easily.