Astro Boy is Japan’s oldest and most beloved character, first appearing in “Shonen Weekly” in 1951. Created by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy has become a Japanese institution—even appearing on their currency! So WHY, oh WHY, has a niche developer like Treasure been chosen to create this game? Whatever the logic behind the decision, it has paid off. Astro Boy is outstanding.
This is a platform fighter quite unlike any other I have played. The gamer controls Astro, the eponymous Boy of the title, in laying the smack down on all kinds of monsters. And what scary monsters they are!
The game begins with a hovercar crash—Doctor Tenma’s son Tobio is killed, leaving the Doctor pining for his dead son: “I’ll do everything I can to bring you back! No… I’ll do better than that… I’ll make you better than human…” Thus begins the most labyrinthine and emotionally involving plot I have ever encountered in a platform game. You’ll gasp at every revelation, cry for every lost soul, cheer and punch the air with every vanquished foe! Well…I did.
The game’s controls are tight and responsive. D-Pad movies. A button jumps. B button punches. Other buttons and combinations give access to a formidable armoury, including a machine gun fired from Astro’s butt (seriously), and the Finger Beam. Astro also has access to a jetpack. He can use this to zoom around the levels at will—as long as he has enough Horsepower.
This game WILL surprise you at every turn. Astro faces some of the biggest, most fearsome challenges yet programmed for a handheld! Highlights? The “Artificial Sun.” The “Super-sized Roboid.” The glorious return of “Seven Force” (almost). Actually, I think I’ll go out on a limb and say that this whole game is a highlight.
Astro Boy is divided into bite-sized chunks of zapping, shooting, hitting, flying, and jumping. This is spiced up by Astro’s Omega Factor—his soul. Everybody he meets is imprinted on his Omega Factor, adding a Gotta Catch ‘Em All pull to the game. Most people Astro meets give him an extra Horsepower point to add to his arsenal. You can choose where to put these points to customize your game, but eventually Astro will max out.
The difficulty? Rock ‘ard. The enemies take and dish out obscene amounts of damage to Astro in comparison to what you can do to them. This doesn’t, however, make it unfair—the game is for those who have SKILLS. Unless, of course, you play on Easy mode…which is just TOO easy. (Unlimited specials? C’moooon!)
The score is an absolute masterpiece—wonderful in every way. It evokes just the right emotion at the right time. Flawless. The sound, however—a rather inappropriate “splodge” for the contact sound ruins the feeling a tad, but not in a significant way.
The game is amazing to look at—brilliant and vivid characters and awesome backgrounds. Check out the lighting on Astro boy when you perform a Finger Beam—wondrous. The cutscenes are nice as well.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll keep coming back to this game. It has various unlockables; a secret stage, a sound test, and an event test will keep you happy. But the ultimate present—the Tezuka Character List—is the real gem. It is an index of all the Tezuka characters that appear in the game, with several lines of background info for each one. Most impressive.
So…in case you haven’t decided, I like this game. A lot. Buy it as soon as humanly possible.