By Spencer . October 26, 2009 . 3:02pm
High Voltage Software tried to follow Treasure’s Astro Boy: Omega Factor formula. Astro Boy: The Video Game has a mix of beat ‘em up and shoot ‘em up stages. Astro even has the same core moves – a finger laser attack, a super arm cannon blast, and even butt machine guns (called “butt cannons” in the game).
But, something felt lacking right away.
Astro Boy: The Video Game doesn’t have the same charm in 2.5D. Part of this may lie in the hands of Imagi Studios, the company behind the Astro Boy flick and the look of Astro Boy: The Video Game. Even if Imagi is at fault, High Voltage created an Astro Boy game with bland backgrounds and boring enemies. You run into the same security guard and mobster robots in different colors. When Astro takes to the sky he fights generic spaceships and dangerous orbs. Thrilling.
Dull enemy design aside, the side scrolling shooting levels are the highlight of Astro Boy: The Video Game. High Voltage designed stages with light bullet hell patterns and a Suguri style dash move which allows Astro to fly right through enemies. Both of these were good ideas that weren’t executed to the fullest. Dashing is really in the game because Astro can’t turn around to attack. When ships appear from the back of the screen, Astro has to dash through them and blast them from behind. The brief moments of bullet hell should be the game’s toughest parts, but in a strange design twist they’re a piece of cake thanks to Astro’s absorb ability. This recovery move clears all of the projectiles on screen and converts them into life. So, whenever Astro gets overwhelmed with bullets he’s actually swimming in life tanks.
Absorbing works the same way during the beat ‘em up stages without being as game breaking. On foot, robots punch Astro more often than shooting at him. Astro can dodge hits by using his invulnerable air dash to get behind an enemy, the perfect place for a counterattack. High Voltage added some platforming elements with bottomless pits, but Astro has nothing to fear. If Astro looses his footing he automatically flies up and out of danger. Logically, Astro should fly, but as a gameplay mechanic it doesn’t work. Partially, because Astro doesn’t fly to a platform, he just goes straight up leaving the player to air dash onto a platform. However, if Astro misses a step he falls down and flies up again, sort of like an android yo-yo.
It feels like High Voltage wanted to make their version of Omega Factor, but then they remembered they were developing Astro Boy: The Video Game for movie viewers and distilled it into a kids game.