From the age of platform heroes that also brought us such luminaries as Bubsy, Awesome Possum and Punky Skunk comes Aero the Acro-Bat, the flying mouse with attitude who completely failed to set the world on fire.
Aero’s escapades are chronicled in three games: Aero the Acro-Bat, Aero the Acro-Bat 2, and Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel. The latter is possibly the best game title ever. But regardless, this review covers the original, and, in my opinion, the best of the series.
The evil circus clown (is there any other kind of circus clown?) Edgar Ektor, also a powerful industrialist, has some issues. He was banished from the circus when he was a child and he swears vengeance upon the world of amusements. He also kidnaps Aero’s girlfriend, Ariel! I know, I know, what a bastard. But, astonishingly, it’s up to Aero to save her and defeat Edgar.
Control is fairly easy, with nice response and a lovely set of moves. Aero can perform a drill attack by tapping the jump button twice. This is used both to defeat enemies and to reach distant platforms. Aero can also hover, but this move has little practical use in-game.
Fun? Definitely. Aero’s adventure takes him through many varied levels, with frequent innovative touches. There are plenty of theme park rides to try out—many of the levels play at high speed. Each level has a different mission, which include finding a certain number of Star Platforms, to jumping through a set number of hoops.
This game is large, and the absence of a password system or battery back-up of any kind makes it a little laborious to play through. There are many obstacles that instantly remove one of your lives (if it’s sharp, it’s always a killer) and the trial-and-error-based nature of a few of the levels means that you’ll be unfairly brought down one too many times. This damages the game’s replay value somewhat considerably—although the levels are packed with secrets and hidden bonuses, replaying all the old levels multiple times, only to be killed on the Barrel Roll (absolutely hideous level), is far too frustrating.
The music is also a failing—never have I heard such grating, shrill tunes coming from a console. Thankfully, the music can be switched off. Leave the sound effects alone, though—they’re very pleasant. The visuals make up for the audible failings. They’re very colourful, with dynamic sprites and some appealing scenery. Nothing spectacular, mind.
Aero the Acro-Bat is a good platform game. It’s worth buying on the cheap, but there are several better platformers available for the Genesis.