Asteroids Deluxe

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Asteroids Deluxe
Asteroids deluxe.jpg
Flyer for Asteroids Deluxe.
Developer(s)Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s)Atari, Inc.
Designer(s)Dave Shepperd[1]
Platform(s)Arcade, Atari ST, BBC Micro
  • NA: May 1981
BBC Micro
Atari ST
Genre(s)Multi-directional shooter
Mode(s)Up to 2 players, alternating turns
CabinetUpright, cabaret, cocktail
CPU6502 @ 1.512 MHz
SoundPOKEY, discrete circuits
DisplayVector monitor

Asteroids Deluxe is a vector graphic arcade game released in May 1981[2] by Atari Inc. as the sequel to Asteroids. It was followed by Space Duel in 1982 and Blasteroids in 1987. Key changes in Asteroids Deluxe were designed to combat the saucer-hunting strategy of Asteroids, which allowed experts to play for extended periods.[3] The game is significantly more difficult than the original.[4] Ports of Asteroids Deluxe were released for the BBC Micro in 1984[3] and the Atari ST in 1987.[5]


Like in the original Asteroids, the objective is to score points by destroying asteroids and flying saucers. The player controls a ship that can rotate left and right, fire shots straight forward, and thrust forward. When shot, larger asteroids break apart into smaller pieces and fly in random directions, while the smallest asteroids are destroyed when hit. Deluxe replaces the hyperspace feature with shields which deplete with use. This game also introduces the "Killer Satellite", a cluster of ships that break apart and chase the player's ship when hit.[6] Objects "wrap" from each edge of the screen to the opposite edge (e.g. from the right edge to the left), as in the original.

In addition to the shield feature and the Killer Satellite, the most significant change in this version of the game is that the flying saucers can now target the player's ship across the screen boundary - meaning that if the saucer is close to the left edge and the player is at the right edge, the saucer may shoot toward the left edge and across the boundary to hit the player since their ship is closer that direction. In Asteroids, the saucers could only fire directly at the player's location on screen without considering the boundary, which led to the popular "lurking" exploit that enabled players to play for very long periods of time on a single credit. This updated strategy was in direct response to that exploit.[3]

Technical description[edit]

The Asteroids Deluxe arcade machine is a vector game, with graphics consisting entirely of lines drawn on a vector monitor, which Atari described as "QuadraScan." The key hardware consists of a 1.5 MHz MOS 6502A CPU, which executes the game program, and the Digital Vector Generator (DVG), the first vector processing circuitry developed by Atari. The DVG used for Asteroids Deluxe was designed by Howard Delman, and used earlier in Lunar Lander and Asteroids.[7]

Most of the sound effects are implemented by custom circuitry, but some are generated via the Atari POKEY sound chip.[8]


  1. ^ Rouse, Richard (2005). Game Design: Theory & Practice. Wordware Pub. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-55622-912-1. I did not do Asteroids Deluxe. It was done by David Shepperd.
  2. ^ "SEC Info - Atari Inc".
  3. ^ a b c "Asteroids Deluxe". Arcade History.
  4. ^ Sullivan, George (1982). How to Win at Video Games: A Complete Guide. Scholastic Book Services. pp. 81–82. ISBN 978-0-590-32630-8. In fact, in the first few months after Asteroids Deluxe was introduced, it proved so difficult that many players turned their backs on the machine.
  5. ^ Hawken, Kieren (6 June 2017). The A-Z of Atari ST Games: Volume 1. Andrews UK Limited. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1-78538-701-2.
  6. ^ Staff Writer (10 May 1981). "'Asteroids game': trying to stay alive". Poughkeepsie Journal. Poughkeepsie, New York.
  7. ^ Margolin, Jed (22 April 2001). "The Secret Life of Vector Generators". Jed Margolin's Website. San Jose, California.
  8. ^ Early Home Computers. PediaPress. p. 142. GGKEY:LNJDBTBEW88. This chip is actually used in several Atari arcade machines of the 80s, including Missile Command and Asteroids Deluxe, among others.

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