Astro Boy has a long history that stretches back to the early 1950s in Japan where it debuted in manga form with a television series not long after. Most recently, the property saw a silver screen release with an accompanying video game that is loosely based on the original storyline.
Being a complete newcomer to the Astro Boy story line, I was surprised to find just how much of a departure the most recent version was from the original story. The story takes place in Metro City and takes us on a journey where a great scientific discovery with the capturing of the blue and red cores of The Fifth Element. Along the way, the son of one of the scientists is killed in a terrible accident and, in an effort to bring back his son, Astro Boy is created. Walking, talking, and acting like the boy he was modeled after, Astro Boy is ultimately rejected by his creator. The story continues as Astro Boy seeks to find his place in the world.
The video game, while sharing a very similar story to the movie, included settings and areas that didn’t directly appear in the film. It was close enough that it complimented the movie quite well from a plot and story standpoint.
Upon beginning your game you are given an option to select the control scheme you’d like to use: Standard or Motion. The two control schemes differ very little and ultimately I preferred the Standard control scheme even if the 2 affected actions utilized buttons that weren’t the easiest to use in-game.
Astro Boy features a nice “2.5-D” graphics system that shmup fans will find familiar. Much of Astro Boy plays just like a side-scrolling shooter, but there’s some action/adventure in the mix. The graphics were definitely not as crisp as I would have preferred, but were acceptable.
There are 2 gameplay options available in Astro Boy: Story and Arena. Story mode allows either a single player or 2 player cooperative play. This mode wasn’t terribly long, but was adequate given the price. The Arena mode pits Astro Boy up against wave after wave of enemies. After defeating the hordes of bad robots, your score is tallied and added to the high score list. Arena has ground and sky levels and features 1 or 2-player support with several difficulty levels.
My initial thoughts were that the controls felt very stiff and clunky, and I really didn’t enjoy anything about the game. I did revisit it with my kids and had a much better experience the second time around. We’ve played it both in single player and co-op several times since completing it, and it ended up being quite an enjoyable experience.
Astro Boy isn’t a blockbuster title, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a movie tie in game that does a good job of extending the theatrical experience while delivering decent gameplay that is suitable for a wide variety of gamers; my five-year-old played through several levels on his own. It definitely falls short in the graphics department, but in the end it delivers a quality experience. If you’ve got little ones that liked the Astro Boy movie it’s a no brainer, but for most it’ll fall into the budget title realm.
ESRB: E10+ for Fantasy Violence and Violence fictive. It’s your usual action adventure fighting.
Pros: Fun to play. Easy for the kids to enjoy.
Cons: Graphics are not great. Story was somewhat short.
Plays Like: Standard side-scrolling adventure game with a little schmup mixed in there.