Astro Blaster was a table top arcade game released by Hales (and Tomy - I'm not sure what the difference was) in the early 1980s.
I was given one of these for Christmas back in 1982 - which I think is the year that this table top game was released.
Put it this way - I was still playing it come the summer of '83!
So let's have a look at another table top electronic game that fans of Scramble games such as myself really enjoyed...
Astro Blaster Gameplay
This game was basically a clone of the classic arcade game Scramble by Konami, one of the most famous right to left scrolling shoot em ups of all time.
It had the usual two skill levels (Professional and Amatuer - 'Pro' and 'Am' that table-top games were known for) to play with, and you were treated to a rousing fanfare of music when the game began.
The display was nicely coloured with vibrant cyan's, reds and oranges (the colourful space-ships, bullets and enemy installations scrolled past the black background) and I think it used vacuum fluorescent technology to make those alien ships whizz by.
This vibrant colour scheme made playing the game in a dark room really exciting as those little graphics took on an almost Tron like luminescence!
Just like the arcade game you could shoot horizontaly and drop bombs downwards to take out surface based enemy rockets and fuel dumps.
Again just like in the game Scramble fuel dumps had to be destroyed to keep your fuel level up, although how blowing up fuel kept your tanks filled is anyones guess!
There game was split into stages:
- Take out enemy ships and ground targets
- Negogiate the asteroid field (the asteroids were representd as simple dots)
- Alien 'swarm' attack - blast and dodge those nasties
- Maze run with enemy ships and fuel dumps to destroy. This section required some careful and fancy flying to avoid crashing into the maze walls and to also ensure your fuel levels did not drop to empty.
- The final battle where you had to destroy a 'rebuilding' wall four blocks deep before shooting the mothership that was protected by the rebuilding wall. The palms were sweating as you tried to shoot that mother before your fuel ran out...
Once you had destroyed the mothership the game cycled back to the beginning for you to test your skill again.
Despite the simplicity and repetitive nature of the game I spent hours, nay months of fun at the controls of Astro Blaster!
Astro Blaster in action
Tomy Alien Attack In Action
TOMY Alien Attack
Different Versions of Astro Blaster
The version I had was released by Hales and was encased in the classic red and blue plastic housing.
There were also a number of other versions of this game by those giants in the table-top gaming market, TOMY.
In some cases it was still called 'Astro Blaster', another version was called 'TomyTronic Scramble', and in yet another version was named 'Alien Attack'.
Aside from the differences in the outer casing, game name, colour scheme and a slight variation in controls, the game-play in the different versions remained absolutely identical.
For me, whatever version you may have had, this game represents a classic title in table-top arcade gaming.
As far as Scramble clones go for the home gamer, this was probably about the best version you could lay your hands on in 1982.
TomyTronic Scramble In Action
Another Video Of TomyTronic Scramble
A Good View Of Astro Blaster
The legacy of table top games
These table top games were very popular in the early 1980s until the 8-bit home computers really took over.
Computers were bought for many children as something to 'help with the homework' and as an educational tool.
Little did many of these parents realise that these computers were also becoming a totally viable and superb platform for gaming.
Every genre was being covered by the 8-bit revolution and the most popular games from the amusement arcade were being coverted to pretty much every popular home computer at the time.
As the decade wore on and 8-bit machines such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Oric Atmos, Acorn Electron, BBC Micro and Amstrad CPC 464 became more popular the demand for table top electronic games (and hand held electronic games such as Tomy Sky Attack) lessened.
By the mid to late 1980s the genre was pretty much finished as gamers got stuck into the likes of ZX Spectrum Games or yet more advanced Amiga Games where the graphics, sound, gameplay and diversity was a world apart.
Versions of these older desktop games are becoming popular on mobile and hand-held devices which proves that the legacy that this old technology provided us with still lives on in today's hi-tech market.
Still - a good condition and fully boxed Astro Blaster is a true collectors item, and fans of Vintage Classic Toys will no doubt want to own at least one of them.
If you like the game Scramble then this version is definitely worth a play.
Retro Gaming and Classic Toy links
- Acorn Atom
The Acorn Atom was the ancestor to the BBC series of computers
- Acorn Electron
The Electron was an 8-bit Micro manufactured by Acorn
- Amiga CD 32
Commodore's attmept to enter the console market...
- Amiga Games
The best for your Amiga
- Amstrad CPC 464
During the 1980s entrepeneur Alan Sugar made a foray into the home computer market
- Asteroids Game
Asteroids is classic arcade gaming
- Astro Wars
Another legendary table top arcade game...
- Atari ST
The Atari ST was a 16-bit home computer
- Awesome Graphics
Some awesome graphics were created on many retro computers
- AY Music
- BBC Micro
The BBC, known as the BBC micro
- Best PC Games
Best Gaming - get the best in online games
- Budget Spectrum games
Mastertronic were kings of the ZX Spectrum budget range...
- Commodore 16
The C16 was an 8-bit micro manufacured by Commodore
- Commodore 64
The C64 was the flagship of Commodores 8-bit fleet
- Commodore 128
The last of Commodore's 8-bit machines
- Commodore Amiga
We love the Commodore Amiga!!
- Crash Magazine
Crash magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available covering the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and it's games
Who played Frogger back in '81?
- Funny Games
Games to tickle your fancy
- Games Online
Play classic and modern games online
- Ground Zero
Grim yet quality text adventuring
- Miniclip Games
Just what are Miniclip games? Well, if you are into online gaming...
- Missile Command Games
Missle Command - a world famous arcade game
- Nostalgia Rainbow
- Ocean Software
Ocean Software was one of the biggest developers of arcade games within Europe during the 1980s and 1990s
- Oric 1
The Oric 1 was a British computer
- Oric Atmos
The Oric Atmos was a British computer that superseded the Oric 1
- Pacman Game
Who can forget the year of 1980 when Pac-man first appeared in the amusement arcades?
- Scramble games
Arcade classic Scramble
- Sinclair Interface 2
A fantastic add-on
- Space Invaders
Space Invaders, an all time classic
- Spectrum emulator
Want to play those classic Spectrum games? Please read on
- Spectrum Game Characters
Wally Week, Miner Willy, Brian Bloodaxe...
- Spectrum Games
Great games, great programmers, great stuff
- Spectrum Programmers
The 48K Spectrum was pushed way beyond it's limitations...
- Sport Billy
The 1979 cartoon that became the 1982 world cup mascot!
- Star Wars Computer Games
Feel the force
Tetris is the all time classic puzzle game that spawned many sequels and clones. The Game Boy version remains a firm favourite
- The Game Intro
A nice intro could make a game even more exciting Once the 16-bit machines such as the Commodore Amiga (and consoles) took hold of the home gaming market - more elaborate intro's to games became commonplace....
- TV Theme Songs
Vectors at their best
- Vintage Classic Toys
Classic Toys - it's an aladdins cave I tell ye!
The Sinclair ZX80
1K of RAM!
- ZX Spectrum
We love the ZX Spectrum!!
- ZX Spectrum Music
The original ZX Spectrum was never designed to compose masterpieces...
- ZZap 64
ZZap 64 magazine was one of the most popular monthly magazines available covering the Commodore 64 and it's games
- 8-bit to 16-bit
Two classic machines from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras
- 3D Sky Attack
Tomy 3D Sky Attack. The ultimate in Tron-alike thrills