We then hit a brick wall in trying to remember the name of the small, battery-powered games console that became ultra-addictive. Needless to say, using the vast reach of Google Search via images, 10 minutes later we had it.....Astro Wars!
Compared to the extraordinary visuals and complexity of today's suite of scarily-realistic and forever-lasting games, Astro Wars was fairly basic in task and appearance and yet this is what made this game so addictive.
To "clock" Astro Wars, you had to score 10,000 points in classic "shoot em up" style and via various spacecraft docking stages. Once you heard the celebratory anthem for clocking Astro Wars, you were invincible, an Olympic champion, a conqueror of your own little Everest.
What made Astro Wars so wonderful yet frustrating to play at the same time was that you could only lose five ships and the docking stage seemed so simple yet so impossible. This game was and is a classic example of how less, much less is more, much more. You quickly forgot that was a game, this was everything, this was your reason for being. Because the graphics were so basic, you became fully immersed in the game-play, the power of destruction, the obsession for victory.
The key to victory in this game was to be patient, be rhythmic, two things I am not particularly good at. The game had a flow to it, that once you were in beat with made sense, logic and the ability to enjoy the game. The problem therefore obviously was that once you feel out of rhythm, you invariably lost a ship and to add insult to injury, heard the most condescending, banal explosion sound.
What also made Astro Wars so unique was that despite its bulk, it was actually portable. Powered by either four C batteries or a power chord, this was a unique option in 1981. If the truth be told, after a number of times of getting near clocking the game only for battery-fail to thwart my conquering ambitions, I very rarely (for this, please read never) sought to conquer the universe without my trust power chord.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that this game is now 35 years old and still looks awesome. I couldn't believe that a quick search on-line found versions in mint condition and still operating. Yeah baby, how cool is that!
I guess it does show if something is cool, really cool, it will not only live long but indeed "live long and prosper!"