Over 8 million people purchased Halo 3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sold a whopping 12 million. And Nintendo can’t defecate out Pokémon and “Wii Insert Random Thing To Do Here” games fast enough to completely satisfy the masses. But with all these amazing successes, there have been numerous games and even complete series that have fallen to the wayside. Remember: for every Super Mario Bros., there’s a. As a proud gamer, I feel that it is my privilege—nay, my duty—to take some time and offer a brief glimpse at many of the games that disappeared into bargain bins and trash bins alike due to overshadowing from more prominent titles, as well as titles that will forever remain sequestered within one region of the world. You’d better be prepared to be educated a little, because there is much that you haven’t seen.
AUGUST 2010: Tetsuwan Atom (Famicom)
UGH… THIS AGAIN…
That’s right! It’s time for another edition of “Gamera Obscura,” where we uncover strange and somewhat obscure games. And this month, I have something fun to show you.
MAKE IT QUICK. I DON’T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING RIGHT NOW.
Wow, you must feel like you’re living in the Stone Age. Anyway, instead of raving on with derogatory banter that is unconstructive…
WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY REASON WHY I EVEN BOTHER TO SHOW UP…
…I’ll just give you the heads up. You may have looked at the title of this article and, if you are relatively well-informed, scoffed at me and said, “Why are you covering Tetsuwan Atom, better known as Astro Boy? We know who Astro Boy is. He just had several games on the Game Boy Advance, the DS, the PlayStation 2, the Wii…” Yes, yes, you would be correct. But he didn’t just swing into popularity this past decade, no. Astro Boy…nay, Tetsuwan Atom (or “Mighty Atom”) has been around since 1952, though only in comic book form—or manga, if the fanboys prefer.
Yes, fanboys. Boys who are fans of things. Well, the Tetsuwan Atom franchise certainly predates the great home videogame craze by over 20 years, so there wouldn’t have been a tie-in title then. Luckily, a worldwide revival of interest in the series emerged in the 1980s, around the same time as the popularity of the NES! How convenient, says I. So naturally, a developer would not have to think twice about cashing in. Enter Konami, almighty lover of vampire whips, dancing like an idiot in arcades, and games with penguins, to finish the job. In 1988, out came Tetsuwan Atom for the Famicom. Yup, Japan only.
SO YOU ONLY CONSIDER IT OBSCURE BECAUSE IT STAYED IN JAPAN, UNLIKE MANY OF THE OTHER ASTRO BOY GAMES.
Yeah, pretty much. I guess I could say that the Astro Boy character isn’t quite universally known, making the game obscure to, say, 2-year-olds and the elderly.
GRADE-A BULLPLOP, MY ASSOCIATE. NOW TELL US ABOUT THIS GAME. NO MORE HISTORY!
All right, all right. Well, basically, Professor Ochanomizu’s laboratory has been burglarized and some crazy folks have stolen his funding. Damn, now we’ll never see his next work of mechanical art, Tetsuwan Atom 2: Electric Boogaloo. So Astro Boy/Tetsuwan Atom (ah, hell, I’m just going to call him Astro Boy from now on) has to rescue that loot. Now then…if you don’t have any prior knowledge about the series, much of the game will not make much sense. For example, I had a hunch that Astro Boy can fly, but I had no idea that he needs to run left or right and jump three times to get up there. Without knowing that’s how he does it in his manga and anime series, I’d consider that to be lousy controls. Actually, it IS anyway, even for a robot. As well, the concept of health being expressed in terms of uranium points, rather than just health in its own sense, is unusual.
Other than that, it’s a standard platformer with no major strengths or areas for improvement—just jump and punch your way through enemies, collect dropped cash, and buy upgrades with it as you progress through 10 levels of merriment and uninteresting graphics.
OK, WELL, LET’S GET DOWN TO THE CORE OF THE MATTER: SHOULD I TRACK THIS ONE DOWN?
Do you ever track games down that I recommend?
Then I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? Well, for Astro Boy enthusiasts, I’d say go for it, but beware: this game has a raunchy difficulty level. As in pretty much all games, Astro Boy is a weak little girl and falls apart after one hit. Luckily, the Professor can help to reheal you, but without continues and some control over the difficulty, you’d better be a little hardcore to figure this one out. I didn’t get past Stage 3 because the game was being a pain.
Well, I’m outta here. Catch you next month when I shall bring you news of fine obscure goods.