Platform: ARCADE Game
Genre: 2-person Space Duel
I remember being fascinated by this machine sitting in the “game room” of a hotel. All those buttons, modifications, different game modes. Then that little asteroid flying around – it just looks exactly like an errant rock from a later Atari hit “Asteroids”. Just fascinating… even if you can’t shoot the asteroid in Space Wars, it’s still sure fun to try.
This is a hall of famer for finally creating a commercial version of the “Space War” concept. Nolan Bushnell tried with Computer Space in 1971, there was Galaxy Game around the same time. Even though “Space War” was first a game for MIT students in 1968… it took them 10 years to make it cheaply enough to have a commercial hit. It eventually sold 30,000 units!
What was the breakthrough? Instead of doing bit-mapped graphics, Cinemaware launched a new type of game — this was the first VECTOR GRAPHICS game! By drawing sharp lines defined by two points instead of trying to map low-res pixels… this game had a new look and defined this new type of graphics display.
So… a classic re-imagined, even as it is now its own classic. Unfortunately for us loners today — the bad news is it’s only for 2-players. But if you do manage to score a friend (or hook up an android)… there are plenty of game modifications to muck around with, great sound effects, and the crisp vector graphics are attractive in a way that you just have to see in-person. Finally, after almost 10 years of “Space War” type games, we have the legitimate arcade hit – one that was mass produced, made money, and finally reached more than a select few college kids. Oh how far things have progressed in the arcades in 6 years – just compare this to Nolan Bushnell’s Computer Space and see.