Mission Asteroid (On-Line Systems) - 1980

This review is part of the “Let’s Adventure!” series. See all reviewed games sorted by rating here.

Mission Asteroid is a graphic adventure game for the Apple II written by Ken and Roberta Williams and released in 1980 by On-Line Systems. It was later ported to the Atari 8-bit family and Commodore 64.

You’re not really introduced to the game in any way other than being plopped from the title screen to the first playable screen, but apparently an asteroid is on a collision course with the earth, and you play as an astronaut tasked with flying to the asteroid and blowing it up before it’s too late.

I don’t want to say the plot of the movie Armageddon was very loosely based on this game (because I have zero evidence to back this up), but I want to believe it’s possible …

The graphics may not be great … but at least it’s not JUST text on screen right?

For a game released in 1980, the graphics actually aren’t too bad - though the character portraits really look like they were drawn by a child. Seeing as these early games weren’t using bitmap graphics but vector-ish graphics as each scene is “drawn” from coordinate details, I’m guessing their tooling was limited and this was the best of the best at that time.

Though ScummVM supports all these ADL engine games, I chose to play the Apple II version on microM8 just to give myself an excuse to try out a new emulator. I play a lot of these games on an old MacBook Pro, and my go to for emulating Apple II games was AppleWin, so it’s good to know I have a viable alternative for OSX now.

Ah shit, I PUSHed the throttle instead of PULLing it … and now I’m dead

It wouldn’t be a Sierra On-Line game without you being able to fuck up and die by typing the wrong command, and Mission Asteroid is no different. There really aren’t that many game screens to explore so your chances of messing up are pretty slim - but they do exist.

As with any of these early adventure games, save early and save often.

Ken and Roberta thank you for saving the planet!

This game was promoted as an entry level game to get players used to these types of adventure games, so you can forgive the simplicity. There’s no real character or plot development, no music and I don’t think there were really any sound effects.

If you’re just starting out with adventure games I highly doubt you’d be going back this far as your entry point into the genre, but if you do this is a pretty easy game to get you going.

Game Information

GameMission Asteroid
DeveloperOn-Line Systems
PublisherOn-Line Systems
Release Date1980
SystemsApple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64
Game EngineADL

My Playthrough

How Long To Beat?1 hours
Version PlayedApple II via microM8


See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.

Atmosphere (20)4
Story (25)3
Experience (15)4
Impact (10)2
This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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