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Astron Belt

version: jp - year: 1984 - developer: toei, sega - publisher: laserdisc corp. - format: msx1, ld-700, laserdisc - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

The only home port of Astron Belt

 

Press F1 to select the easiest difficulty level or F5 for the hardest.

 

Backgrounds looks really astonishing and are clearly reminiscent of Star Wars. In fact, according to KLOV, some of the footages were borrowed from a few sci-fi movies, among which "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan".

 

An impressive decent into a planet atmosphere

 

The canyon looks really great, but collision detection is very picky.

 

There are some slight differences in this MSX1 port compared to the coin-op.

Review - I clearly remember seeing this game back when it was released and...I could not believe what I saw!

I was in Las Vegas with my parents, and when casually walking around in the Arcades in the Caesar Palace Hotel, my eyes stumbled upon the coin op of Sega’s Astron Belt which was comfortably sitting next to another revolutionary Sega game called Time Traveler, probably the first holographic game ever! But that’s another story...

Back to Astron Belt, needless to say, I was in shock and owe when I saw it running because it looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Those graphics were so beyond their time that they had a devastating impact on me. Such mind boggling special effects...what was the trick?! The trick was called Laserdisc technology and the backgrounds were so awesome because they were basically filmed and the graphics of the main ship was simply overlayed on top of the movie.

I was still a kid, the game was expensive to play so I ended up playing it only a few times while getting incinerated pretty quickly. Since then, I waited for Astron Belt to be somehow released for the home market since finding a cabinet to play it was basically impossible in my area.

Years later, I realized Astron Belt was released for the home market after all, but it was running on the obscure and rare Palcom MSX systems. Eager to re-enact the magical moments of the past, I went on a quest to get a copy of the game as well as the needed equipment to run it.

After putting the game into the Laserdisc tray and initiating the loading instructions, the game starts loading for a long time. In the meantime, it plays parts of the beautiful backgrounds movies.

Initially, the game seems a very close port of the coin op. Background graphics look just as good but the sprite of the ship is MSX 1 quality, as well as the explosion when you get hit.

One thing that really bothered me is that after shooting down any of the incoming enemy ships, the game suddenly switches scene instead of playing through the whole scene, and this without any transition! The effect is poor and also disorienting as it will initially leave you wondering if you have been shot or not. The only way to enjoy the whole background movies is to go through levels without ever shooting enemies. This is kind of hard to do and also not very fun, so you’ll probably end up shooting enemies as soon as they show up to avoid being incinerated.

If you get adjusted to this poor design decision, the game is kind of fun to play if only to witness the memorable canyon scene which simply looks gorgeous. This level is rather tough because it is easy to actually crash onto backgrounds and the collision detection requires careful maneuvering.

Bottom line: Astron Belt created a small-scale revolution in its hay days when it hit the arcades with its revolutionary aesthetics. Today, it remains a beautiful curio, testimony of the innovative hardware Sega was using to develop games at the forefront of technology. 7/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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