What Was The First Interactive Movie Video Game?
Answer: Astron Belt
During the console gaming explosion in the early 1980s, there were hundreds of game developers chomping at the bit to create interactive, immersive, and awesome video games. They were, however, frustratingly constrained by the limitations of the early generation consoles that were barely capable of displaying distinct and unique player characters.
In order to work around these limitations (and to produce games with movie quality cut scenes that wouldn’t be feasibly computer-rendered for decades yet) several clever designers turned to a sort of choose-your-own-adventure format using the (for the time) spacious storage capacity of the LaserDisc. These games combined very simple game play (on par with the other games of the day) spliced together with actual movie footage to create a visually rich gaming experience light years beyond what could be rendered by early gaming machines.
The first such game was Astron Belt, produced by SEGA which combined a simple third-person space shooter with footage from three sci-fi movies (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Battle Beyond the Stars, and Message from Space). This technique, splicing video games together with already existing footage (typically from Japanese movies and television shows that would be unfamiliar to Western audiences) was very common as it helped keep production costs low.
Despite being the first LaserDisc-based interactive movie game, Astron Belt is not the most widely remembered. Released shortly after Astron Belt, Dragon’s Lair became the most popular LaserDisc-based video game in America, and is the game most people think of when they think of the genre.