Martin has been a software developer for many years. This is mixed with a passion for retro machines and game,
Astro Wars was an electronic arcade game of the 'table top' variety which were popular in the UK back in the early 1980s.
This one was made in Great Britain and released in 1981 by one of the biggest names in table top electronic gaming, Grandstand.
Astro Wars was an arcade game / shoot em up, with play involving four phases of dodging enemy missiles and battling with squadrons of attacking fighters, warships and command ships.
Put it this way, if you liked Galaxians then you were bound to like Astro Wars.
So let us have a look at one of the most popular table top electronic games ever to be released...
Astro Wars Game Play
Astro Wars was a quite similar to Galaxians, and for a 'home game' it was very good for the year; especially when you consider the limitations of the technology.
What made it stand out was the display, which catered for showing the player ship and the alien ships in different colours.
This was quite an unusual feature at the time as most games of this type were generally monochrome.
You controlled your ship with a little metal joystick which moved to the left and to the right, and hit a big black fire button (which was rather cool) to shoot your missiles at the aliens attackers.
The display was quite tall and slender, meaning that there was only enough room for five aliens across the width of the display.
This also meant that there were only five positions for your ship to occupy at the bottom of the playing area when dodging the enemy laser bolts.
In a sneaky move the aliens also dive bombed your ship so you had to avoid them as contact with them caused you to lose a life.
As usual your score was counted at the top of the display as a four digit number, with the maximum possible score being 9999.
If you ever reached this then you must have had superhuman reflexes as the game really sped up the more you played through it.
It should be noted that there are two obvious versions of Astro Wars.
The earlier version had the Astro Wars motif printed in red on the unit, with later versions were printed in white.
Astro Wars from Grandstand
Astro Wars Legacy
Astro wars and genre of the table top game were very popular in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, this was not to last though.
As the decade wore on and 8-bit machines such as the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and Commodore 64 became more popular the demand for table top electronic games (and hand held games such as Tomy Sky Attack and 3D Thundering Turbo) lessened.
Other 8-bit and 16-bit consoles also provided more variety for those that craved arcade action with their interchangeable cartridges.
Still - a good condition boxed Astro Wars is a true collectors item, and fans of Vintage Classic Toys will no doubt want to own at least one of them.
Early 80's home gaming with Astro Wars
A Fantastic Astro Wars Tribute And Gameplay Video
Useful Retro Links
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Styling of the Astro Wars game
It should be noted that the Astro Wars console itself was rather cool looking.
The brushed 'metallic' silver and black combo was far better than the usual white or red the casings that these things were usually housed in.
It doesn't look as dated as most other consoles of this type from the same era.
Any Astro Wars fans?
Taz on March 21, 2012:
I seemed to remember there was a bonus bit where your space craft/gun separated and the pointy bit took of and you then had to make it match up the with the base when it came back down.
I loved the sound effects, I'm still convinced you can hear Astro wars in the Lost Boys when Sam is in the comic store with the frog brothers. Great game, great film too.
Martin Allan (author) from Sunny Scotland on June 17, 2010:
Firefox F-7, I remember that one too!
The only one I had was called Astro Blaster which was very much like the arcade game Scramble.
uridium5 on June 16, 2010:
Ahh, I just remembered the game I had, it was called Firefox F-7
Here's a youtube clip:
uridium5 on June 16, 2010:
OMG - I'd forgotten about that, my friend had it. A also had a few of those type games, including the ones where you looked through the view finder, one of which I think the idea was taken from Tron, and there was also the car racing one.
happy days!!! Great article guys, as ever!!