Astro Fighter was a bottom of the screen shooter created by Data East and was released by Sega/Gremlin in 1980 for the arcade.In the game, players faced a multitude of enemies that all behaved differently, making the game fairly unique when it was released, as games with only one type of enemy/behavior was still common back then. Enemy warships would start out at the top of the screen and make their way downwards; if a player allowed one or more ships to slip past them, they would have to start the wave over, but with their ship bumped up a notch on the screen, having less time to react to enemies’ attacks, as well as wasting fuel in the process.
Along with enemy ships moving in certain patterns, they also fired diagonal and vertical shots at the player. Meteors would also appear throughout the game, traveling straight down the screen, from top to bottom. Being hit by anything would destroy the player’s ship, and the game would end once there were no reserve ships remaining or if the player ran out of fuel, as their fuel was constantly depleting.
At the end of each level, a Master ship that read "GS" would appear (for Gremlin/Sega), which, if destroyed, would refill the player’s fuel tank, then the game would start over with the first set of enemy ships again.
- Move warship–left/right buttons
The first wave of enemies the player faces are blue ships that stay in a small formation, moving from side to side, then occasionally dropping down a notch. The second wave of ships are purple, which behave in pretty much the same manner, although their formation covers a much wider area, spanning across almost the entire width of the screen.
The green ships afterwards (which somewhat resemble T. I. E. Fighters from the Star Wars movies) fly at a diagonal, reverse direction, then fly at a diagonal again, and the final round of yellow ships only occupy a few vertical rows that move straight down.
At the very end of each level is the GS ship, which is positioned at the top of the screen and moves from side to side.
- For some reason, the left/right buttons on the game did not respond well. This was intentional.
- The game had a write-up in the 1981 book of How to Master the Video Games (which mentions the above problem with the controls).
- The very similar Astro Wars was also released by Zaccaria, which was a licensed version of the game. Enemy behavior was changed, as well as some minor details and the game's tempo being sped up.
- Astro Fighter was followed by Super Astro Fighter several years later.