The Many Incarnations of Asteroids

This article is part of a series I call “The Many Incarnations of… ”, a column which will chronicle the different game titles that have been released over the years featuring a central character or theme. Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting tidbits of trivia about each game!


♪ Hyperspace, Push on the button and I'm back in the race. Hyperspace, Shooting my rockets all over the place. ♪ Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: On June 17, 1980, Atari's Asteroids and Lunar Lander were the first two video games to ever be registered in the Copyright Office. The first 200 Asteroids machines were actually Lunar Lander cabinets complete with their original Lunar Lander cabinet art. Asteroids was so successful that Atari cut Lunar Lander's production run short and converted the remaining Lunar Lander cabinets to Asteroids machines.

Asteroids Deluxe

Hey - wait a second this look like a rehash of the last game but with better backgrounds! Man some companies will try anything! We're not all as dumb as Inky looks! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Although the attract screen claims a 1980 copyright, the game was officially introduced in March of 1981. The front glass on the upright was originally flush with the cabinet, which produced an unpleasant glare on the screen. Atari later released a glare reduction kit which provided an angled glass frontage to be fitted onto the cabinet, thereby reducing the glare. Once applied, the kit enclosed the speaker which resulted in deeper base tones.

Space Duel

Honestly, aside from muchin' ghost monsters what could be more fun than blastin' rocks or each other out of space! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Space Duel is the first and only multi-player interactive vector game by Atari. Asteroids Deluxe and Space Duel were created at the same time, however Asteroids Deluxe was given the green light for production first. When Asteroids Deluxe failed to reach the success of the original, Space Duel was taken off the shelf and released to moderate success.


Hmm... Blasteroids sounds like a treatment for... well... never mind, just play the game! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Background space-scapes, pictures of space ships, asteroids and other obstacles are actually digitized pictures of real-life objects. The asteroids were digitized by none other than ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), Lucasart's industry-leading special effects company.

♪ Asteroids around me, don't know where to run; I'm somewhere between the moon and the sun! ♪ Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.

First Published March 2009