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Asteroids, one of the most memorable space games, was released by Atari in November 1979, and can be summed up as a game of cleaning up the screen. Player controls a ship in the middle of a field of asteroids and shoots large, randomly moving boulders to pieces, and continues shooting the pieces to even smaller pieces, while avoiding collision. When all the fragments have been destroyed, player enters the next field, where the asteroids are now moving faster. The ship possesses inertia, and when the asteroids blow up, they send pieces in many directions at different velocities. It is the first video game with a developed physics system.

There was yet another feature that made a breakthrough with the Asteroids. Usually, in earlier games graphics consisted of little groups of pixels. Here Atari introduced laser-sharp, angular game graphics with their "Quadra-Scan" vector monitor. Today vector graphics is no big deal, but at the time, it was very futuristic, and added a new layer of realism to video games.

Asteroids did not just pop out from nowhere. Its roots go back to the very beginning of video gaming. Its immediate precursor was an arcade game entitled Space Wars, where the wedge-shaped little spaceship already appeared. Space Wars in turn was direct offspring of the truly ancient computer game Spacewar, a program written in 1962 for PDP-1 machine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Game Controls:  Use the mouse to click Start. Arrows to move. Space bar to shoot.

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