Astron Belt is basically an enhanced version of the simple space-shooters that were popular at the time. The player controls a lone spacecraft on a mission to singlehandedly take down the entire enemy armada. Enemy fighters and ships shoot at the player, and there are mines and other objects that must be shot or avoided.
The game is divided into waves. At the end of each wave is a command ship that must be destroyed. In later waves the enemy fighters move and shoot more aggressively, and their shots are more accurate. Some waves take place in open space, while others require the player to battle enemies while flying through narrow trenches and tunnels.
The player is on a timer at the beginning of the game, with an unlimited number of lives available. The length of the timer can be adjusted by the machine operator, but is normally 60 seconds. After the timer expires, the player is given a limited number of additional lives. When all of those lives are lost, the game ends.
Astron Belt came in both upright and cockpit cabinets. The cockpit version featured illuminated buttons on the control panel, a larger 25″ monitor (the upright used a standard 19″), and a vibrating seat.
The background videos used in the game are a mixture of original artwork and borrowed material. In addition to the scenes created specifically for the game, the designers also incorporated footage from three science fiction movies: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Battle Beyond the Stars, and Message from Space.
Astron Belt performed modestly well in the arcades, but not nearly as well as Dragon’s Lair or Space Ace, which set the gold standards for successful laserdisc games.
Sega and Bally Midway released a sequel called Starblazer (also known as Galaxy Ranger) in 1984. It had the same controls and very similar gameplay to Astron Belt, and one machine could be converted to the other by simply changing the laserdisc, game ROMs ROM and the sound board.
To date, Astron Belt has only been ported to the MSX Computer System.