Sega’s Astronbelt is known for being the first laserdisc arcade game released commercially in Japan and Europe. Although developed before Dragon’s Lair, due to technical complications the game was released later in North America and therefore is the second laserdisc game released here.
In the game, the player controlled a lone spacecraft battling an enemy fleet. The fleet appeared in two waves, which could either be in open space or in small tunnels (the more difficult to navigate). At the end of every wave, the player destroyed an enemy command ship. To increase the difficulty, in the later levels of the game, the aim of enemy ships became more accurate, so the player was more likely to be hit.
The game used a timer, which usually was set to the 60 second mark. Within this stage, the player was given unlimited lives. However, when the minute is over, the lives available to the player were reduced to a limited supply. The game ended when the player runs out of these additional lives.
The background videos of Astronbelt are a combination of both original artwork as well as footage from popular space-themed films. The films included Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Battle Beyond the Stars and Message from Space.
The game was received well, however, did not perform as well in arcades as other laserdisc games such as Dragon’s Lair. However, the game gained enough popularity that a sequel was released called Starblazer (or Galaxy Ranger), although this is generally criticised for being too alike the original game.
Bega’s Battle (1983)
Bega’s Battle was Data East’s contribution of an early laserdisc videogame, using videos from the film Harmagedon. The game introduced full-motion videos between shooting stages, which acted as cut scenes. These were used to develop an ongoing plot throughout the game’s development. Later, this would be to become the standard approach to video game storytelling.
Within the gameplay, the player controlled a robot (Bega). The aim was to stop the alien Varga, who had invaded the planet and kidnapped three of the protagonist’s friends, who the player then went on to save in the later levels of the game.