“There you go Astro Boy. On your flight into space. Rocket high, through the sky. What adventures soon you will make.” ~Astro Boy theme song
After nearly 50 years what adventures could Astro Boy still make? Astro Boy the Video Game (DS, Wii, PS2, PSP) seeks to discover just that, in a fun little old-school style adventure
Astro Boy is the story of an advanced robot, named Astro, who is created to replace the deceased son of a brilliant scientist. Unfortunately the scientist discovers his son can never be replaced and rejects Astro. Eventually he is found by another scientist who discovers Astro is more than he seems. This one teaches Astro about his abilities, to which Astro decides to use in the name of justice. If you’ve watched much anime this may sound cliche, however there is a good reason for that. First printed in 1953 Astro Boy is original manga, and in 1963 it also became the first anime. In fact it’s creator, Osamu Tezuka, has been dubbed the “God of Manga”. The game, and the 2009 feature film it’s based on are just the latest remake of this groundbreaking work.
One Game, Two Play Styles
The play style of the game comes in two parts. The first part is a side-scrolling plat-former in like Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man. The second is like a side-scrolling shooter like Gradius.
These two play styles, which are seamlessly intertwined, gives the game a distinct “old-school” feel. However, as seen in many of this generation’s platformers, the graphics have a bit of a 3D look to them while still keeping the side-scrolling nature. This makes the game have a lot in common with the Astro Boy: Omega Factor for Game Boy Advance, which was a very enjoyable GBA game.
The gameplay revolves around fighting weaker enemies to collect special attacks for use when things get tough. Each enemy you defeat builds up a special bar which banks a special once the bar is full. Those specials can then be used in one of Astro’s special moves including healing, arm cannon, rocket thrust, or his butt cannons (all from the original manga). Most of the specials you will want to save for the boss fights, which are much more challenging than the levels.
I played it on the Wii, and in that version Astro can be controlled in one of two ways. First is the default mode which simply uses the buttons on the wiimote and nunchuck. The second mode is for “motion” control, however the motion control is minimal and only activates special moves. I played the game both ways, but other than accidentally activating a special with the motion controls, I didn’t see any major differences between the two. However the control responses themselves occasionally posed some problems. There are so many moves mapped to the buttons sometimes Astro did something unexpected. In trying to jump off the wall he instead rockets up. Trying to jump and punch a flying enemy but instead Astro fires a finger laser. Fortunately the game has a high frequency of check points, so even occasional frustrations with the controls were dismissed as I could just try again.
Astro Boy the Video Game succeeds in providing a lot of fun adventures for those looking for that “old-school” NES era game feeling. While the controls could have used a bit more refinement, it’s still a very solid game. Plus, it’s always great to see the robot boy who started it all.
- Astro Boy: The Video Game
- Developer: D3 Publisher
- Platform: Nintendo Wii
- Buy it from Amazon.com
- Note: This review is based on a review copy of the video game