Friday, January 25, 2013

The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600 #7


How does a game this simple get to be ranked so highly on this list?  Challenge.

It takes about 5 seconds to learn to play Astroblast.  Posting an impressively high score, however, will take you a lot of time and practice.  Astroblast poses perhaps the best challenge of any game on this list.   The base game is absurdly simple.  Defend your planet from the endless onslaught of falling space rocks raining down upon it.  Score points for every rock you blast.  That's it.  And yet...for every rock you miss you lose points.  Miss enough and your score will drop to 0.  You have to keep blasting to keep your score up.

Honestly, that alone is challenge enough, but another great aspect of Astroblast's game play is the steadily increasing difficulty.  At first you have to blast the rocks, but as your score increases you will unlock new and more deadly targets.  Spinners must be shot before they reach the planet or you lose a laser base.  Pulsars move in diagonal patterns and target your base.  And finally, UFO's streak horizontally across the sky carpet bombing you.  Furthermore, as your score increases the speed at which everything falls increases as well.  The game holds many of these little surprises in reserve until you get really good, which gives you plenty of time to practice before the entire sky collapses upon you.  Extra bases are awarded regularly and you will be glad for it as you try to stockpile as many as you can before things get intense.

Astroblast is a simple game, but it has tremendous replay value and minimal frustration making it a lot of fun to play.  Some of the best games are those that take moments to learn and a lifetime to master.  Astroblast is just such a game.  I play a lot of Astroblast and I play it with a joystick (you have the option of using paddles!) because that's how I've always done it.  For a real challenge, try it on Difficulty A.

My Top Astroblast Score: 44,745

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