Asteroids Deluxe

Arcade Video game published 42 years ago by Atari, Inc.

Listed in MAME

Asteroids Deluxe screenshot

Asteroids Deluxe © 1981 Atari, Incorporated.

Asteroids Deluxe is a 1 or 2-player game with an X-Y or vector-generator monitor. The game depicts a third-person view of a player's spaceship battling to destroy asteroids, flying saucers and enemy ships or 'death stars' (shaped like clusters of triangles). When hit, the asteroids and death stars will break into progressively smaller pieces.

Players can put up an octagon-shaped 'shield' to temporarily protect their spaceship. However, this shield wears out with use.

Large asteroids appear and drift in from the outer edges of the display. By pressing the ROTATE LEFT and ROTATE RIGHT pushbuttons on the control panel, the player may aim a spaceship toward any of the asteroids. The player uses the FIRE pushbutton to shoot at the asteroids and other objects.

When shot, each large asteroid divides into two medium-sized asteroids, and the game adds 20 points to the player's score. Medium-sized asteroids, when shot, divide into two small-sized asteroids, and the game awards 50 points to the player. When shot the smallest asteroid disappears and the game adds 100 points to the player's score.

In addition to asteroids, the players can score points for shooting the various enemy ships. When hit, the large ships ('death stars' shaped like hexagons) score 50 points and break into three diamond shapes. The medium-sized enemy or diamond, when hit, grants the player 100 points and breaks into two small triangular pieces. These small pieces disappear when the player hits them, and the score increases by 200 points.

At any time during game play, a flying saucer may appear from either side of the display. The game awards players 200 points for shooting a large saucer and 1,000 points for a small saucer (the latter is a smaller target for players, though not any faster moving than the large one. It also shoots more accurately).

The player's objective in the game is to shoot and destroy as many asteroids, saucers, and enemy ships as possible before all his or her spaceships are destroyed. A ship is destroyed if an asteroid, saucer or enemy ship smashes into it, or if a flying saucer shoots it. To prevent losing a ship, the player may press the THRUST pushbutton to move out of the path of an oncoming object.

As an emergency maneuver, a player can press the Shields button. An octagon will then appear around the player's ship as protection from all enemies. For challenge the shield power lasts only about 10 seconds, but the power is renewed with each ship. The amount of shielding power available is shown by the brightness of the octagon (dim means almost exhausted power).


Spaceship - This is you, the player. You can rotate 360 degrees, fire bullets, thrust forward in any direction, and use the shields if you feel you are in danger.

Large Asteroid - These are the large rocks that fill the screen at the beginning of each stage. Hitting one with a bullet will break it apart in to two Medium Asteroids.

Medium Asteroid - Slightly smaller than Large Asteroids, but faster moving, shooting one of these will result in two Small Asteroids.

Small Asteroid - These are the smallest and fastest rocks on the screen. If a bullet hits one of these, it will vaporize.

Hexagon - This addition to Asteroids appears when the stage is nearly free of rocks. It floats in one direction until it is shot.

Diamond - When the Hexagon is shot it breaks up in to three separate diamonds. These begin to track and slowly follow you.

Triangle - When a Diamond is shot it breaks up in to two separate triangles. These will move very quickly and zero in on you if you don't destroy them fast enough.

Large Saucer - Large flying saucers appear on the screen from time to time, randomly firing shots around the screen. Approximately one out of every four shots will be aimed directly at your ship. They will also target Hexagons if any are on the screen at the same time.

Small Saucer - The small saucers are deadlier than the large variety. They are much more precise with their shots, and are more likely to kill you. Eliminate them quickly or get out of their range.

Goodies for Asteroids Deluxe
Click to enlarge
(members only)

This particular machine was released in three different formats; an upright, a cabaret, and a cocktail, with the upright being the most common, and the cabaret being the least common. All three versions were nearly pin compatible with an original "Asteroids" board-set, only a few wires had to be swapped.
* The upright was a rather interesting looking design that actually bulged out toward the player from the control panel on up. Atari went all out with the side-art on this one, it completely covers the sides from the floor to the top of the machine (it is a scene of a ship in an asteroid field, similar to the one on "Asteroids", but more detailed). The control panel layout is a little more subdued than the red, white, and blue monstrosity on the original "Asteroids". Just a dark surface, a few instructions, and some buttons (this title, like the original, did not use a joystick, although it plays well with one).
* The cocktail version was almost identical in appearance to the original "Asteroids" cocktail (and just about every other Atari cocktail). It was black and woodgrain, with only a minimum of ornamentation behind the glass.
* The cabaret version (a cabaret is a mini upright that is less than five feet tall), is an ugly little creature, with woodgrain sides and a black front. The nameplate is down low on the machine near the coin mechs (which makes the game hard to identify at first).

* Upright dimensions : 71in. (180.34cm) high x 26,75in. (67.95cm) wide x 25.25in. (64.14cm) deep. Weight : 313 lbs (140.85 kg). Monitor : 19in. QuadraScan.
* Cabaret dimensions : 54.25in. (137.79cm) high x 20,44in. (51.91cm) wide x 23.75in. (60.32cm) deep. Weight : 193 lbs (86.85 kg). Monitor : 15in. QuadraScan.
* Cocktail dimensions : adjustable from 21.5in. to 27in. high x 32in. (80.5cm) wide x 24in. (60cm) deep. Weight : 164 lbs (73.8 kg). Monitor : 15in. Quadrascan.

Game ID : 0351xx

Main CPU : MOS Technology M6502 (@ 1.512 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Discrete, POKEY (Pot Keyboard Integrated Circuit)

Screen orientation : Horizontal
Video resolution : 256 x 231 pixels
Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette colors : 32768

Players : 2
Buttons : 5


Asteroids Deluxe was released in March 1981, selling at an MSRP of $2095 (Upright). Approximately 22,300 units were produced (exactly 18142 uprights).

The original "Asteroids" proved to be wildly popular, but there was one problem. The game was simply too easy for expert players (many people could play for hours on a single quarter). So Atari decided to make a more difficult sequel, Asteroids Deluxe. They succeeded a little too well, and had to scale the difficulty back after their initial version proved to be too difficult for the average player. This game was created out of modified "Asteroids" code. At the same time this game was being produced, "Space Duel" was in the works, but was shelved as Asteroids Deluxe was green-lighted for production. Despite its similarities to the hugely popular original, Asteroids Deluxe was a commercial flop and Atari later released "Space Duel" to moderate success.

Asteroids Deluxe features modified game-play intentionally designed to challenge players who had mastered the original "Asteroids" :
1) The addition of new ships. When hit, the large ships ('death stars' shaped like hexagons) break into three diamond shapes. The medium-sized enemy or diamond, when hit, breaks into two small triangular pieces. These small pieces disappear when the player hits them. The diamond and triangular ships pursue the player's ship until killed.
2) The small and large UFO's have been improved :
a) Their shots now 'wrap-around' the screen. This means that a shot fired off the right or left side will re-enter the screen on the left or right side.
b) The accuracy of the large UFO's shots have been improved. Now every one out of four shots are aimed at the player's spaceship. If there are no other targets, all shots go toward the player's spaceship.
3) The player's ship was redesigned to include two side fins and a narrower body, keeping the overall ship dimensions identical to the original game. The ship has the same maximum velocity as in "Asteroids", but can accelerate twice as fast.
4) The high score now 'rolls over' at 999,999 points instead of 99,999 points.
5) A graphic overlay has been added to give the game more of a feeling of depth. It also makes it slightly harder to see the vector graphics.
6) The hyperspace button has been replaced by a shield. The shield lasts 10-12 seconds per spaceship and cannot be recharged.
7) Firing is now automatic, holding down the fire button will release a maximum of four shots (on screen) at a time.

Although the attract screen claims a 1980 copyright, the game was officially introduced in March of 1981. The front glass on the upright was originally square with the cabinet - this produced an unpleasant 'glare' on the screen. Atari later released a 'glare reduction kit' which provided an angled glass frontage to be fitted onto the cabinet thereby reducing the glare. Once applied, the kit enclosed the speaker which resulted in deeper base tones.

John McAllister hold the official record for this game with 3,333,360 points set February 12, 2009.

An Asteroids Deluxe unit appears in the 1982 movie 'Tron', in the 1982 movie 'The Thing' and in the 1984 movie 'Night of the Comet'.

An Asteroids Deluxe upright cabinet appears in the Judas Priest music video 'Freewheel Burning'.

In 1982, Atari released a set of 12 collector pins including : "Missile Command", "Battle Zone", "Tempest", "Asteroids Deluxe", "Space Duel", "Centipede", "Gravitar", "Dig Dug", "Kangaroo", "Xevious", "Millipede" and "Food Fight".

Goodies for Asteroids Deluxe
Click to see more
(members only)

There are two versions of the software; the original release proved to be so difficult that Atari released a revised version that had easier game-play. This new version was originally introduced in Europe and is often referred to as the 'European Version'. Determining the version can be discerned by noting the first appearance of a 'death star' - in the original version this is near the end of the second wave; in the revised version it appears near the end of the first wave and moves much more slowly.

Large Asteroids 20 points
Medium Asteroids 50 points
Small Asteroids 100 points
'Death Star' (Hexagon Shaped Ship) aka 'Snowflake' 50 points
Diamond Shaped Ship 100 points
Triangular Shaped Ship 200 points
Large Saucer 200 points
Small Saucer 1,000 points

* When you start the game, your spaceship will be in the middle of the screen with four large asteroids heading toward your ship. After all the rocks are destroyed, the next round begins. The number of initial large asteroids depends on the round number :
Round 1 : 4
Round 2 : 5
Round 3 : 6
Round 4 : 7
Round 5 : 8
Round 6 and up : 9

Your job is to blast those rocks, however, when you blast them, they break up into two medium rocks. Blasting a medium rock gives you two small rocks. Note : There is an exception to this rule. The game program only allows 24 asteroids on the screen at any one time. If the screen already contains 24 asteroids of any size, then when you shoot a large asteroid it breaks up into only one medium asteroid, and when you shoot a medium asteroid it breaks up into only one small asteroid. You can completely destroy a large asteroid with only three shots instead of seven when the screen is filled up like this.

In addition, you have to contend with large and small saucers and the 'death stars'. On the first couple of screens, you can sit in the middle and blast rocks. Be aware that a saucer will enter which will cause you to move lest you be hit by its shots. In addition :
1) You can have four shots on the screen at any one time. This is useful for when you are blasting rocks at close range. You can pretty much drill them to dust.
2) Your shots 'wrap around' the screen. This means any shot that goes past the edge of the screen will reappear on the opposite side traveling the same direction. The saucers also have 'wrap around' shots.

* After 10,000 points, the small saucer becomes a permanent part of the game. You can no longer sit in one place since the small saucer is able to track your ship and take you out with the first or second shot.

* Your shields have a maximum life expectancy of 17 seconds. Each collision with a rock takes away about six seconds of shield time. Once your shield runs down, it can not be recharged. In other words : use your shields as little as possible.

* Although there is danger from the rocks and saucers, you can also be a danger to yourself. Use the thrust carefully or you will find yourself careening out of control on the screen. Some players get really good, however, moving around and shooting.

* For those desired high scores, you can use the hunting trick. It goes something like this :
1) After 10,000 points, the small saucers appear. They are worth 1,000 points apiece. First, blast every rock until you have one small rock left.
2) Go sit in the upper left or right corner of the game screen.
3) If the small saucer appears from the side you are on, then you can blast it before it gets off a shot. If it appears on the opposite side, use the shot 'wrap around' to take care of it. Some people have done this for hours on end and racked up scores in the millions. Of course, it takes a long time at 1,000 points a pop.
4) Also keep in mind that the small saucer can wrap shots so you may have to move out of danger.
5) Unlike in "Asteroids", the small saucers fire a greater number of shots so hunting is more of a challenge.
6) After 60,000 points, the accuracy of both UFO's goes up dramatically.

* The 'death stars' make their appearance in either the first or second wave :
1) It appears on the screen just lazily floating around. It can only be broken open by laser fire (yours or the saucer's).
2) Once open, the pieces pursue the player. Hitting one of the diamond-shaped pieces breaks it into two triangular pieces.
3) The best way to defeat this enemy is to accelerate forward, then turn quickly while shooting. This causes you to fly backwards while shooting at the pieces.


1. Asteroids (1979)
2. Asteroids Deluxe (1981)
3. Space Duel (1982)
4. Blasteroids (1988)
5. Asteroids (1998, PC, PS; 1999, GBC; 2000, Mac)
6. Asteroids Hyper 64 (1999, N64)
7. Asteroids Gunner (2011, App Store)


Programmed by: Dave Shepperd


usa Sony PlayStation (2001) "Atari Anniversary Edition Redux [Model SLUS-01427]"
usa Sega Dreamcast (jul.2, 2001) "Atari Anniversary Edition [Model T-15130N]"
europe Sony PlayStation (mar.1, 2002) "Atari Anniversary Edition Redux [Model SLES-03808]"
usa Microsoft XBOX (nov.16, 2004) "Atari Anthology [Model 26084]"
usa Sony PS2 (nov.22, 2004) "Atari Anthology [Model SLUS-21076]"
europe Microsoft XBOX (nov.26, 2004) "Atari Anthology"
europe Sony PS2 (feb.18, 2005) "Atari Anthology [Model SLES-53061]"
japan Microsoft XBOX (aug.4, 2005) "Atari Anthology [Model B7X-00001]"
usa europe Microsoft XBOX 360 [XBLA] (nov.28, 2007)
usa Microsoft XBOX One (nov.1,2016) "Atari Flashback Classics Vol.2"
usa Sony PlayStation 4 (nov.1,2016) "Atari Flashback Classics Vol.2"

usa Sony PSP (dec.19, 2007) "Atari Classics Evolved [Model ULUS-10325]"
australia Sony PSP (mar.7, 2008) "Atari Classics Evolved"
usa Nintendo DS (mar.8, 2011) "Atari Greatest Hits Vol.2 [Model NTR-BR7E-USA]"
europe Blaze Evercade (2021) "Atari Arcade 1"

BBC Micro Model B europe (1984) : Atarisoft
europe Atari ST (1987)
usa PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (apr.4, 1998) "Atari Arcade Hits 2"
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2000) "Atari Arcade Hits 2"
usa PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (jul.9, 2001) "Atari Anniversary Edition"
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (dec.14, 2001) "Atari Anniversary Edition"
usa PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (nov.11, 2003) "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One! [Model 25069J]"
europe PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (june.10, 2005) "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One! [Replay]"
usa Steam (mar.24,2016) "Atari Vault [Model 400020]"

usa Mobile Phones (sept.7, 2004)
usa Atari Flashback 2 (2005)
usa Nokia N-Gage (feb.2006) "Atari Masterpieces Vol. II"
europe Nokia N-Gage (mar.30, 2006) "Atari Masterpieces Vol. II"
usa "Atari Flashback 2+" (2010) : Atari 2600 version
usa Windows Mobile (feb.23, 2011) "Game Room - Asteroids Deluxe"
usa Apple Store (2012) "Atari Greatest Hits"
usa Google Play (2012) "Atari Greatest Hits"


Game's ROM.
Machine's picture.
F.A.Q. by Kevin Butler A.K.A. War Doc