The Game: The end of the world is near: asteroids and meteors are careening toward the surface of your planet at breathtaking speeds. Manning a speedy mobile laser cannon, your job is to take out or dodge the falling fragments from space. Letting stray impactors past your defenses will actually diminish your score, but blasting them while they’re still incoming can create another dilemma: they split into smaller pieces which are still falling toward the ground. You’ll lose a cannon if debris lands on it, and you’ll lose the game (please note the air of certainty there) when you run out of cannons. Apparently this asteroid apocalypse is no force of nature either, as bombs both large and small fall toward you as well… (Mattel Electronics, 1981)
Memories: As was the case with the Odyssey2, some of the early arcade-style Intellivision offerings were near-beer versions of bigger brand-name hits – to which Atari, more often than not, held the rights. Astrosmash is one of the Intellivision’s signature games, and it’s a beautiful example of making a virtue out of not being able to ape a popular game too closely.
Originally conceived as the Intellivision’s answer to Asteroids (the console already had a Space Invaders clone called Space Armada), Astrosmash took on an entirely different form. By taking the basic concept of Asteroids‘ physics – large incoming rocks that are shattered into equally-if-not-more-dangerous smaller shards by the player’s fire – and putting the player’s back against the wall (also known as the bottom of the screen), Space Invaders-style, Astrosmash becomes completely unique. It’s obviously not Asteroids or Space Invaders, but is instead its own animal.
Astrosmash is also a tough animal to tame. In some respects, the game play experience you get from Astrosmash presages the kind of fight-or-flight rapid-mental-processing you have to have to survive Robotron. It’s fast, furious, and not at all forgiving. This is one of the games that the Intellivision is remembered for – and that’s high praise indeed.