D3 PublisherDeveloped By:
High Voltage SoftwareGenre:
E10 (Everyone 10 and Up)Release Date:
October 20, 2009Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
In a failed attempt to revamp and export a classic Japanese Icon, Imagi studios managed to make a film that alienated both the fans of the original classic anime as well as general American audiences. In an attempt to transfer this film to a video game experience, D3 succeeded in creating a somewhat interesting action platformer that allows players to take control of a powerful yet adorable vintage icon- Astro Boy.
The story of Astro Boy the Video Game is directly derived from the recent film, but leaves great gaping holes in the story. The game begins with clips from the film itself and voice over narration explaining Astro Boy’s tragic origins. Dr. Tenma, President Stone, and Dr. Elefun were all working on a project involving mysterious and powerful red and blue cores. The red core was said to be the greatest negative energy, while the blue was positive. The scientists had intended to plant the blue core into a peace-keeping robot, but the stereotypically evil President Stone decided to use the red core instead. As a result, the peace-keeper went berserk and its first and only victim was Dr. Tenma’s son Toby who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is unclear as to what actually happened to Toby, but Dr. Tenma is nevertheless heartbroken. He becomes obsessed with “bringing back his son” and creates a robot in his likeness. The finishing touch? You guessed it- the blue core.
At this point, the story pretty much disappears; logic and continuity are thrown out the window as a random sequence of unexplained events follows. Between every level there are various cut scenes furthering the story, but there appears to be tremendous holes in continuity. The first level begins when the new Toby comes home. The player enjoys a brief tutorial and the story progresses as he falls out a window, realizes he can fly, and comes home to a father who has completely disowned him. Then he sees a robot kidnapping a coffee machine and spouting anti human propaganda. Astro chases after them and rescues her, then for some reason he decides to fly through the city, is shot down by a zeppelin, winds up in the garbage dump filled with zombie robots, meets some kids, saves a robot, fights in an arena, gets arrested and the thrilling climax occurs leading to a big Hollywood ending. The bizarre, disjointed fashion in which that sentence explained the game’s plot is actually how events are presented in the game.
The game play is pretty decent mixture of action/platforming and rail shooting with an excellent two player co-op mode. During platforming sections, Astro has a pretty wide arsenal of attacks, but their execution is awfully awkward. In the beginning it’s a little tricky to learn the clunky battle controls. As Astro moves in for an attack, he literally freezes in place to deliver his punches and kicks. He has a nice variety of moves, but as with most games of this sort, you will often find yourself using the same one or two. As Astro fights through levels, he also has access to various “Supers” which allow him to drill, blast, heal, and um… fart… his way through crowds of tough robot villains. Unfortunately, on co-op mode these supers are shared, so if your partner is a little trigger happy, you may find yourself unable to recharge your energy meter. I am admittedly not the biggest fan of rail shooters, but I found the rail shooter sequences of Astro Boy to be some of its most entertaining moments. The controls feel smoother and there is something delightful about seeing the hero in his iconic pose that has survived since its 1950’s Manga inception.
Astro Boy is also incredibly short and simple. It has nice features like collectible power-ups and cheat-codes, as well as an “Arena” feature that allows players to fight all of the game’s bosses in a survival/high score format. Even with these features, the game takes only three and a half hours to obtain 100 percent completion and enjoy the full experience of what the game can offer. For a children’s game this may be perfect, but serious gamers will find it lacking.
An old adage goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” This phrase seems equally true when it comes to multiplatform video games. Astro Boy the Video Game is available on PS2, Wii, PSP, and the Nintendo DS. I tried out the game on its highest generation platform- the Wii. Much to my chagrin, the graphics were utter DS. Given the disturbing number of visible polygon’s and utter lack of detail in the backgrounds I almost felt compelled to check and make sure it wasn’t my Nintendo 64 hooked up to the TV. That being said, the audio quality was quite pleasant indeed. The music was well orchestrated, but unfortunately repetitive. The sound effects were appropriate and of decent quality. The game’s greatest asset was its voice acting (which was at times, unfortunately marred by the completely un-matching pre-animated mouths). The game contains the voices of Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell- two of the leads from the film, and the other characters are all voiced by excellent voice actors commonly found in domestic cartoons, anime dubs, and video games (including the great John DiMaggio). Much of the game’s charm comes from the humorous lines blurted out by enemies at random moments – my personal favorite being “I blue screened…”
Diehard fans of the film…if there are any, should definitely check this game out! Parents looking for a squeaky clean fun 2-player game for their children may also find what they are looking for in Astro Boy the Video Game. But with an estimated retail value of $39.99 anyone else may want to steer clear or pickup the game on a cheaper platform. If you still really want to enjoy 3 hours of Astro-action, you could always see the film 2 times.6.3/
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