By Sega/Bally/Midway

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  • Sega first previewed a prototype of Astron Belt, the first ever laserdisc video game, at the 1982 fall AMOA show in Chicago. Its unveiling there marked the official beginning of disc fever within the industry. However, Sega opted not to release the game in the U.S. due to several hardware and software bugs and it was beaten to market by not only Dragon's Lair but a slew of others. As Sega was preparing to finally release Astron Belt (it was technically the first commercial laser release since it debuted in Japanese arcades in mid-1983), Sega's U.S. arm was acquired by Bally/Midway, who subjected it to much fine tuning and location testing. The result was a laserdisc game that was much improved but it was a matter of too little, too late.

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  • Appearing in upright and environmental (or sitdown) models, the premise of Astron Belt is as basic as they come. Similar to many space games the object is to shoot at anything that flies in order to score points. Your spaceship is represented by computer-generated graphics and is easily and accurately maneuvered around the screen by use of a Tron-style trigger joystick.

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  • From a behind-the-ship perspective, you fly through realistically-detailed, laserdisc-generated special effects backgrounds. You'll zip through moving fields of stars, approach land on planets, and watch gaseous nebulas cloud the heavens. What's more, a never-ending armada of menacing spaceships (that look as good as anything you saw in the Star Wars films) will zoom in and out of your firing range, occassionally blasting your spaceship as they whiz by.

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  • All in all, Astron Belt is your standard shooter that is quite polished as far as laserdisc games go. The space ship movie scenes in the background of Astron Belt were actually taken from the '70s Japanese movie "Message from Space." .The laserdisc-generated effects are smooth, and the game cuts from scene to scene, and scene to explosion, without the blackouts that plagued Dragon's Lair. Had it not taken Sega and Bally/Midway over a year-and-ahalf to perfect Astron Belt, it may have been more of a commercial success. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

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