Atari announced last week that it's bringing back the antediluvian arcade classic Asteroids as an open-world sandbox survival game entitled Asteroids: Outpost. If you're anything like me, that bit of news led immediately to one very simple, obvious question: Why?
"Our goal with Asteroids: Outpost is really to expand the world of Asteroids beyond a single gameplay mechanic and explore the wider context of the game," Executive Producer Peter Banks told VentureBeat. "While we certainly intend to appeal to longtime fans of the franchise, we also want to open up the game to newcomers and those used to more modern gameplay conventions."
Asteroids: Outpost is actually set on an asteroid and will involve defending yourself and your base against asteroid showers, which Banks said "evokes classic gameplay without specifically reproducing it." And it's not easy making a game of that vintage relevant to modern audiences: Asteroids was hot stuff in its day, but that day was in 1979.
"Some of these titles have really compelling gameplay mechanics we want to focus on. Others present rich or well-loved settings we feel can be explored," Banks said. "In the case of Asteroids—the core concepts are a satisfying destruction of asteroids and an evocative, deep space setting. We love the challenge this kind of process presents us—it gives us a blank canvas to create something really compelling while at the same time providing us with this rich vein of history in which to inspire us."
That's maybe stretching the situation a bit—I'm not sure I'd give Asteroids quite that much credit for its emotionally-resonant ambiance—but in the big picture it fits with Atari's plan to reboot some of the better-known games in its catalog for modern audiences, something it has already begun with Alone in the Dark and Haunted House. Like those games, Asteroids: Outpost will launch on Early Access, but no release date has been announced.