Astro Grover

Astro Grover
Company: Atari
Model #:
Year: 1983
Astro Grover was released by CBS for the Atari 8-bit computers


Astro Grover (along with Muppet Go-Round and Big Bird’s Hide and Seek) was part of Atari’s planned children’s line of games for the Atari 5200.  These titles would have utilized the 5200 Kid’s Controller, which was actually just a giant keypad that would have easy for children with small hands to use.  However, while the 2600 children’s line was released (featuring completely different games), the 5200 games and controller never saw the light of day.  The games were however eventually released by CBS on the Atari 8-bit computers, although some were slightly retooled.


As you may have guessed, Astro Grover is an educational game featuring that lovable blue demon Grover.  Although the title suggests a game about discovering the solar system, Astro Grover is really about counting and numbers.  Atari simply borrowed Grover’s astronaut persona from the reoccurring skits on Sesame Street to make it more interesting.   Astro Grover consists of five different mini-games offering up some amusing edutainment that would appropriate for 5-8 year olds.


How Many Zips?

In this mini-game you have to count the number of Zips from the planet Zap (yes all the games have puns like this).  After watching the ship fly onto the screen, you must push a key to stop it, after which some Zips will fly out.  Now simply count the number of Zips on the screen and press the correct number on the key pad (I knew you could do it!).   After counting five groups correctly they will build a little city and the round will end.  As this is a children’s game you have an infinite number of guesses to get it right.


Beam That Number

This mini-game is another counting game, but with a bit of a twist.  Here Grover must shine his spot light onto the same number of Zips as the number displayed on his ship in order for it to launch (Why you ask?  Because it’s Grover and he’s $&@*! crazy that’s why!).   Pressing up and down will move the beam through a set number of positions, each spot lighting a different number of Zips.  If you get it right Grover’s ship will move up the screen a bit and eventually sail off into the wild blue yonder (or whatever exists outside the edge of the screen).


Adding Countdown

In this mini-game you must help the Zips get back to their mother ship by beaming them.  How do you beam Zips you ask?  By math of course!  After counting the number of Zips and pressing the correct number, a second group will appear and you will need to count them as well.  After successfully counting each group (you did successfully count them right?), a plus or minus sign will appear on the mother ship.  Now you must perform the correct addition or subtraction operation and type in the answer.  If you get it right five times the Zips will return home and build a city (I guess this city was built on math and not rock and roll as was previously reported).


Take It Away, Zips

Another counting mini-game.  Here you must first count the number of Zips on the screen (entering the correct number), then count the number of flashing Zips to launch them.  But you’re not done yet (you’re never done when Grover is in charge), now you must count the number of Zips that are left and enter that number.  If you do this correctly the Zips will build part of a city, do this three times and you’re done.  Why the heck do the Zips want to build so many cities anyway?


Sum Up, Sum Down

Am I the only one who finds this pun amusing?  Probably…

In this, the last of the five mini-games, you must count the number of Zips that fly down to laugh at Grover and his horrible math skills (err… to say goodbye to Grover that is).  Of course it’s not that easy (well actually it IS that easy, but this is a kids game after all), instead of just entering the right number you must select the correct number or combination of number from the bases at the bottom of the screen.  So for example, if there were 8 Zips you could either select the 8 from the bottom of the screen or select 5 and 3 to make 8.   If you guess wrong the Zips will move down the screen a bit (Space Invaders style), but they never reach the bottom.


Astro Grover is an amusing educational game, and was actually finished before Atari canceled it.  Since the 5200 was being touted as the Personal Arcade Machine (PAM was the 5200’s code name), it was decided that there was no room for children’s titles on it.  Why Atari ever considered making children’s games for the 5200 in the first place is anyone’s guess, but they may have simply decided to change strategies after seeing how the market was shaping up.  All this work did not go to waste however as Astro Grover and the rest of the CCW developed titles were released on the Atari 8-bit computers by CBS. 


Atari 5200 Kids Controller Prototype picture #1 (courtesy of AGH)

Atari 5200 Kids Controller Prototype picture #2 (courtesy of AGH)


Version Cart Text Description
8/3/83 Astro Grover Final 8/3 Final version


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