It seems Astro Boy returns every decade or so, and now American film makers have retooled the iconic character for another reboot. Albeit low budget looking and feeling, High Voltage Software put more life into Astro Boy: The Video Game than we’d expect from a movie tie-in.
Bright, sleek and silver, Metro City sets the stage for Astro Boy’s adventure against an evil robot-wielding president. There’s a story here, but amateur cutscenes only make skipping the story more appealing. No worries, you can see the movie at theaters later.
Surprisingly, the gameplay combines two totally old-school arcade genres: beat ‘em-up and shoot ‘em-up. Dodging glowing red balls, freezing enemies with ass-mounted machine guns and scissor kicking dancing robots defines arcade fun, and it’s even better when Astro Boy doesn’t cruelly punish us for not having our reflexes from 1993. Limited lives are for masochistics; Astro Boy puts fun ahead of challenge (harder difficulties are always an option away, anyway).
Chaining together special attacks and wall jumping is something our thumbs haven’t forgotten, but a seemingly simple addition changes each battle. Pressing the d-pad down stops our robot boy, while transforming all enemy projectiles into health. This adds a fantastic risk/reward angle to combat; near death experiences require you to get even closer to death as you let enemy attacks build up around you.
Unfortunately, Astro Boy slowly gets repetitive like most old arcade games. Switching between flying and ground levels keeps the game enjoyable longer than one would guess, but some levels drag on and overstay their welcome.
More than anything, Astro Boy is a great surprise for what many would assume is simply some child’s Christmas present. The Astro Boy coating is there so kids ask mommy and daddy to spend their holiday bonuses on it, but High Voltage Software felt nice enough to sneak in a fun game too. It’s like the whiskey Grandpa adds to the eggnog.
Oct 26, 2009