|Developer(s)||First Star Software|
|Publisher(s)||First Star Software|
|Release date(s)||1982 (Home Computers)|
|Display||Raster, 336 x 225 pixels, 256 colors|
Astro Chase is a scrolling shoot 'em up game originally released by First Star Software in 1982 for the Atari 8-bit family. The game was initially published by First Star Software. The company later licensed certain platform rights to Parker Brothers for release on several games consoles, and to Exidy for use as an arcade game.
Gameplay takes place on a 2D scrolling map of space around Earth, which the player has to defend from an alien force. The primary target are a number of Mega-Mines, which approach the Earth and must be destroyed. The game is level-based (there are 36), and after all the Mega-Mines are destroyed the game progresses to the next level where players encounter a growing variety of enemy attack ships, with different speeds and offensive capabilities. An animated 'cut-scene' is played between each 4th level.
In 1981, Atari introduced the "Star Award" for the best new program distributed though their Atari Program Exchange. Winner of the first $25,000 grand prize was Fernando Herrera, who won it for My First Alphabet, a kids game., Fernado was working at a computer retail store owned by Billy Blake who was also partners with Richard Spitalny at the time. Billy and Richard, then feature film producers, decided to start and fund an interactive software company to showcase Fernado's talents. Richard and Billy funded the company, naming it First Star Software. Astro Chase was the first release from the new company.
The game was released on 7 December 1982, and quickly became a best seller, spending three months in Popular Computer Worlds top-ten list and became the first game ever to be awarded “Computer Game of the Month” by Dealerscope. This success led to a Commodore 64 port, and soon after a license with Parker Brothers who released it on the Atari home computers in cartridge format, along with Atari 5200 and ColecoVision ports. Exidy also licensed it for arcade use.
In March 1994 the game was re-released on the Apple Macintosh by MacPlay as Astro Chase 3D with improved graphics and sound. This version won an International Summer Consumer Electronics Innovations ‘94 Software Showcase award, and Bob LeVitus said "This game is without question the most addictive, adrenaline-pumping title I’ve played all year"
The game opens with the player looking at a scene at a spaceport, in a simulated 3D view rendered using the Atari's multi-color system. A flying saucer is hovering just to the right of center, and the player's character is seen exiting a terminal building on the left, walking to the spaceship, waving goodbye, and then beaming aboard.
The view then cuts to space, where the player uses the joystick to cause the screen to rapidly scroll in the selected direction, creating the illusion of flight in the chosen direction. The screen is filled with planets and other objects. When the user presses the fire button on the joystick, the stick stops causing the ship to move, and instead fires its weapon in the chosen direction. The ship can simultaneously move and fire in different directions.
The enemy aliens attack the player with an endless supply of attack saucers; however, they are but a mere distraction. The real threat to Earth are the 16 Megamines that start at the end of the universe and then slowly make their way towards planet Earth, displayed in the center of the map. If a single Megamine manages to reach Earth, the planet explodes in a spectacular explosion.
The game's music is an endless loop of the 1812 Overture. Once the player destroys all 16 Megamines in a given level, he or she is able to move to the next level. Every four levels, the ship returns to Earth where a cutscene animation is shown. These start simple, but grow in complexity with each repetition.