Atari’s Recharged series has been curious, to say the least. Asteroids: Recharged is the latest classic weighed down by its single-life approach. I ask the same question I asked in my Centipede: Recharged review: “why does it not have options that were present 40 years ago?” Without an answer, this is flawed fun at best.

In fairness, Asteroids: Recharged does have new features, most of which will be familiar if you’ve played a previous game in the series. Achievements and power-ups (earned via destroyed flying saucers) are both welcomed. Challenges are here as well, but the nature of Asteroids gameplay doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of variety as far as these go. Leaderboards still only offer a limited view with sizable room for improvement. To quote from our Black Widow: Recharged review: “you can only see your score (and that of the two people above and below) on the leaderboards. That’s it. You can’t scroll through the players.”

At least I haven’t run into any of the glitches that some of the other Recharged games have, thankfully. And don’t get me wrong. Asteroids is an iconic game. Not a classic in the way that Centipede is, but still iconic. I’m a middle-aged gamer now, so I find Asteroids entertaining and nostalgic in small spurts. I certainly have acquired enough copies of the game over the years!

But again, the single-life approach is nonsensical. Co-op helps with this somewhat as your partner can revive you if given the correct power-up. But I was longing for some dipswitch settings. Eventually, I returned to the Atari Flashback Classics collection. One could argue that a single life can last long enough it be inconsequential. But that doesn’t fly with me. It robs the intensity that can appear when you’re having a great run and are down to just one life. I reached out to the developers, hoping to better understand this approach, but never received an answer.

I’ve hemmed and hawed on this for a while. While Asteroids is iconic entertainment, this installment (like the Recharged series in general) is too conservative to vouch for at launch price. When I can say versions of these games from 40 years ago are just as fun, if not more, there is a problem. This series is running out of steam and needs a change in approach to revive interest. Your time in the Asteroid field will be best experienced on sale.