The Game: As the pilot of a lone space cruiser, you must try to clear the spaceways of a swarm of free-floating (and yet somehow deluxe) 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. Only this time you have shields. (Atari, 1980)
Memories: As an unspoken, unwritten internal rule, Atari’s coin-op division just didn’t do sequels. While other companies were happy to keep turning out endless variations on the same basic themes and attaching a number to the title each time, or some extra designation like “plus” or “deluxe,” Atari’s arcade designers reasoned that they had so many good ideas that they didn’t need to do sequels. The surprise success of Asteroids, however, was one case where Atari realized it could cash in if only it could ignore that rule.
Arcade operators eagerly snapped up Asteroids Deluxe, and players gladly dropped quarters and tokens into the machines for a while to see what was different. But Atari ruffled some feathers by asking a premium price for the new game – those arcade operators who wanted the next guaranteed big thing would have to pony up handsomely for it. Another Asteroids sequel, the two-player color vector game Space Duel, hit the market, but for lack of an obvious hint in its title, fared less well than its forebears.