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Astro Boy: The Video Game

Score: 67%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: D3
Developer: High Voltage Software
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Arcade/ Platformer (2D)

Graphics & Sound:

Astro Boy: Omega Factor is one of the Game Boy Advance's best games. It's fast-paced, challenging, endlessly replayable, and above all, a total blast to play. Astro Boy: The Video Game tries to be Omega Factor, but it doesn't measure up to the standard. That's not saying much; Omega Factor is a tremendously great action/arcade game that set the bar out of reach for most other games in the genre. Unfortunately, Astro Boy: The Video Game isn't much more than another film cash-in. Nearly everything in this game is stale, uninteresting and forgettable.

Astro Boy captures some of the essence of the film's art style, but that's as good as it gets. Technically, it's not a great-looking game; with some exceptions in the flying stages, Metro City's hustle and bustle feels heavily manufactured -- I know it is literally manufactured, but do we constantly need to be reminded that we're only playing a game? The animations are heavily inspired (and almost borrowed) from Astro Boy: Omega Factor, from the Super attacks to the flying stages. The lip synching is easily some of the worst I've seen in a game.

In this game, Metro City is a boring and visually dull place, but it sounds even worse. The music is occasionally appropriate, but it doesn't sound like the kind of stuff you should be hearing when you're readying legions of metal scrappers for the junk heap. Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell each contribute a whopper of a phone-in performance. Hopefully, Ms. Bell will redeem herself with the release of Assassin's Creed II.


Astro Boy: The Video Game follows the story of the recently-released film, which very loosely follows Osamu Tezuka's beloved manga. When the noble scientific work of Dr. Tenma is twisted into something lethal by the President of Metro City, Tenma's son Toby (or Tobio, if you're a purist) is killed in a freak accident. Of course, that's only the beginning of the story. In his desperation, Tenma not only builds a robot in Toby's likeness, but he finds a way to instill the little robot with Toby's memories as well. As of this writing, I have not seen the film, but I highly doubt that the story has received the same treatment with regards to the game. Here, the fragments are haphazardly thrown together, which destroys the whole "I'm playing the movie" vibe.

Astro Boy follows the formula of Omega Factor by going the 2D route. It attempts to recall that old-school vibe that the GBA title so deftly captured. Unfortunately, the game simply doesn't feel like it was built to be an arcade experience; the combos don't feel natural or fluid in any way, and enemies don't seem to care that they're being pummeled. When you do get overwhelmed, the quick use of a Super attack will put you into temporary God Mode and unleash a devastating attack. You can over-rely on these attacks, which makes the game itself less satisfying.

Side-scrolling beat-em-ups are best played with another person, and Astro Boy allows for two-player co-op action. However, the camera is a bit too close to the action for comfort, and since both players assume the role of Astro himself, there's bound to be some confusion amidst all the bot brawling.


Astro Boy: The Video Game can be an unforgiving game at times. However, that only applies if you forget that you have a super move that allows Astro to regenerate some of his health.

If you play the game on the default difficulty settings, you'll be three-shotted several times on the first ground level. This happens primarily because, as I mentioned earlier, enemies don't seem to be aware that they are being attacked. You won't see them recoil or stagger about; more often than not, they will just keep on attacking. When you're dealing with clusters of enemies, it's all a matter of getting out of the way and using the Finger Beam from a distance. Once you've whittled them down enough, a good kick will finish them off. Of course, you can simply use a Super, which will obliterate most enemies after one use.

The combat mechanics are simply not satisfying enough to warrant a second playthrough; it's possible that you'll actually quit playing the game before you even finish it. It just doesn't offer enough to keep you coming back.

Game Mechanics:

Astro Boy: The Video Game borrows the entire movelist from Astro Boy: Omega Factor. If you've played Omega Factor, many of the attacks will look startlingly similar and borderline identical. Even the button assignments are the same -- two buttons trigger the Drill Attack, and you can't fire the Finger Beam unless you are holding Up on the Nunchuk's Left Analog Stick.

Since Astro has jets on his feet, it would seem fitting that he takes to the skies every now and then. He does, and I found myself having the most fun during the flying levels. They come closer to recreating the classic Omega Factor feel than do the ground levels. It's not perfect, however. The flying levels in this game won't make you think you can shoot down all the enemies in one go -- the controls simply aren't precise enough.

I have already mentioned how the game borrows Omega Factor's "Super" system, but I haven't had a chance to explain it yet: as Astro defeats enemies, a bar will fill. Once the bar is filled, a Super is earned and banked. At the touch of one or two special buttons, Astro can perform a special attack. These attacks range from the Arm Cannon to the Drill Attack to the Butt Cannon. They are appropriately overpowered, but Omega Factor encourages you to use them only when you need to. This game doesn't.

I give Astro Boy: The Video Game kudos for at least heading in the right direction when it comes to gameplay design. It's definitely aware of how great its predecessor is and it also aspires to represent the next generation of 2D action gaming. It's a shame it fell so far short of its goal. The finished product just isn't polished or fine-tuned enough to provide action gamers with the next Omega Factor - caliber title. Maybe next time...

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

Microsoft Xbox 360 Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space Nintendo Wii Bakugan: Battle Brawlers

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