Activision really made lots of enemies after their 2600 Classics debacle. Its Atari 2600 compilation for both Playstation and PC were atrocious emulations of the original, and not only insulted the intelligence of the classic gamer but also did a disservice to videogame newcomers by telling them that the games in the CD were true to the originals. After half-assing such an easy effort, would the company ruin yet another treasured franchise? Thankfully, with its Asteroids remake, Activision has somewhat righted the ship.

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Taking the virtues from the original Atari coin-op and enhancing it for the 90's, Asteroids is an example of a classic game properly updated. It's apparent that its developers carefully thought through the elements which should be retained (nearly everything) while adding some pizzaz without compromising the gameplay. The vector graphics have been replaced by a breathtaking 3D polygonal playfield and filled it with snazzy visual effects, earth-shattering explosions and dual-shock rumble ability.

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And while they went balls out in the audiovisual department, its creators played it safe with respect to gameplay (which is a good thing!) The familiar rotate, thrust, fire and hyperspace are there, along with the shield which found its way on Asteroids Deluxe. Tasteful power-ups have been added, among them which include a plasma drill, smart bomb (called Armageddon) and homing missiles. While the general gist of the game is still to clear the area of floating Asteroids, there is much more emphasis on battling alien forces (yep, the flying saucers are also present) in this one. In addition, you'll have to contend with crystal rocks and floating satellites that get in your way.

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The new Asteroids is mission based. You receive a briefing from the commander who clues you in on your objective. It's really only an excuse to play the game, and it wasn't necessary. The goal is still the same: to blow up everything in sight. There are five missions in all, with fifteen screens (or levels) in each mission.

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By respecfully keeping the original's gameplay intact while juicing up the graphics and sound and adding powerups and new enemies, the developers managed to walk a perfect tightrope in bringing Asteroids into the 90's. The graphics, while not cutting edge by today's PlayStation standards, are still gorgeous. The lighting effects, animation and explosions are tastefully done. The presence of environmental effects such as a black hole -- which sucks you in unless you're not careful with the thrust button -- add to the challenge and graphical experience. Music isn't anything special, but it's subtle, and effectively gives you a feeling that you're out in space on your own. As a thoughtful touch, the sound effect of your ship's fire is reminiscent of the original. Explosions will rock your speakers and your hands (if you own a dual shock controller.)

If there's any gripe to be had, it's with the classic Asteroids that is hidden in the game (don't worry, it's easy to unlock.) It sucks. The sound effects are way off, the speed of the asteroids are much faster than the original, and the physics is nothing like what you're used to. And since when did the tiny UFO appear on the screen within ten seconds of play? Listen up, Activision: If you're going to spend considerable time and resources to do a modern update, for god's sake please get the original right! A minor gripe for some, but I'm deducting a full point from the score.

Title Asteroids
Publisher Activision
System Sony Playstation
Graphics 7
Sound 6
Gameplay 7
Overall 7
Reviewer Keita Iida

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