Back in the early 1980’s the Nintendo GameBoy was yet to be invented and so if you wanted a portable video game you had to go for one of those single game systems which used LCD or LED displays that had all the possible graphical combinations that the game required built into them.
Of course, portability was normally a bit of a stretch on some of these games, as they were certainly too big to fit in your pocket, and normally required four of those big chunky batteries to power them, which weighed the entire thing down somewhat.
Some of these games were pretty naff it has to be said, but some of the better ones were brought to the UK courtesy of electronics company Grandstand. Â Whilst most of their games were actually sold under license from other companies, they did at least pick the cream of the crop for their line up. Â I’ve written before about the excellent Munchman game that was in the Grandstand range, but the other top game from them was Astro Wars.
As it’s name probably suggests Astro Wars was a GalaxiansÂ clone and a very good one too, given the limitations of the technology available. Â It used an LED display which displayed the different elements such as the player ship and the aliens in different colours, which was quite unusual at the time as most games were generally monochrome.
You controlled your ship with a little metal joystick that only went left and right, and hit a big black button to fire missiles at the aliens. Â The display was very tall and thin, meaning that there was only room for five aliens across the display, and therefore only five positions for your ship to occupy when dodging the enemy bullets. Â The aliens also dive bombed your ship so you had to avoid them as well.
Your score was displayed at the top of the display as a four digit number, meaning there was a top score of 9999, although the chances of you achieving this score were fairly minimal as the game got quite hard when it started to speed up.
Want to see the game in action? Â The clip below shows it running, although in trying to demonstrate everything about the game in only a minute there is rather a lot of unnecessary camera movement!