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Astrosmash Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 92%
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When the Intellivision was first released, its biggest selling point to counteract Atari snagging the exclusive rights to the biggest arcade games of the era was that the Intellivision could do better games even without the licenses. However, Mattel had to find ways to tip-toe around the lawsuit-happy Atari who would've loved to have screamed "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT" at its biggest rival. Well, Mattel rationalized that since Atari had the rights to Space Invaders and Asteroids, they could mash the two together and Atari couldn't say jack about it. That Frankenstein's monster was called Astrosmash, and it is much more than the sum of its parts.

Astrosmash (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Like any classic arcade shooter, don't go into Astrosmash looking for plot, character, or deeper meaning. Here's all you need to know: you control a land-based turret; rocks and other objects are falling out of the sky; shoot them. The elements taken from Asteroids and Space Invaders are plain as day. Meteors come down in two sizes at different speeds and angles, and the large ones break in half when shot. There are occasional flying saucers shooting back that can also be destroyed by the meteors. If the satellites reach the ground, you lose a life no matter where you are.

Yet these disparate elements come together to make something fresh. Any meteors that reach the ground take points away. A thousand points get you an extra life with no discernible limit. The difficulty ramps up at a very smooth pace, and when the sky changes color at certain point thresholds, it feels just as rewarding as snagging an Xbox Achievement.

Astrosmash (Intellivision)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The fact that Mattel put its best foot forward technically helped as well. A lot of color comes in for the meteors (though using white for all the other objects like your turret and the satellites feels like a cop-out). The color changes to accompany hitting certain point totals is cool-looking if a bit jarring. The sound effects are loud but work. It was uncommon at the time for there to be so many different sound effects in one game. The only time they got annoying was when the sound effect used for the satellites (which sounds like the downward whistle always used when Wile E. Coyote would fall off a cliff) would be slowed down for the slower falling ones. That whistle blares so badly that you want to nail that satellite just to shut that sound off.

Astrosmash became a pack-in for the Intellivision later in the system's lifespan and for good reason. It is simply a blast to play. Out of all the Intellivision games that had shown up again and again on the various compilations, this is the one that deserves the most playtime. It's incredibly easy to get into, and it's every bit as addictive as both Space Invaders and Asteroids. If there's any game that should make you willingly cramp your hands with the awkward Intellivision controller, it should be this one.
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