Astro Boy: Omega Factor

The amazing Astro Boy lives again thanks to SEGA


The Lowdown

Pros: Fun gameplay, easy to learn, two game play modes, excellent graphics, tight controls

Cons: Easy to beat, simplistic gameplay

Purchase at Play-Asia
Astro Boy has quite a legacy behind him. Osamu Tazuka created Astro Boy in comic book form back in 1960. Even though the series had its debut just shy over 40 years ago Astro Boy still remains a classic icon today. The story of Astro Boy is the story of an android created by Dr. Boynton in 2030 to replace his deceased son. However, he soon sells Astro Boy to a circus where he is picked up by a Robot Rights scientist named Dr. Elfun. Dr. Elfun imbues Astro Boy with special powers like super strength, rocket boots and a caring heart. Astro Boy's adventures are about him fighting the never ending forces of evil.

Astro Boy: Tetsuwan Atom captures the spirit of Astro Boy within the game. All of Astro Boy's famous powers can be used throughout the game. The game is actually two games in one. The first mode is a side scrolling beat-em up game and the second mode is a old school shooter styled game. In the side scrolling mode Astro Boy's standard attack is pounding his enemies silly and shooting a tiny laser by pressing up and B at the same time. The more damage you inflict, the more the green meter above your head charges. When it's full you gain one use of any of your special attacks. The special attacks are a "shoot all" attack where Astro Boy shoots a mass of shots from guns in his leg, a super laser beam attack which gives heavy damage and a flying charge attack. The super meter charges really fast and can even charge when a super is being used, which means you'll be able to use Astro Boy's special powers constantly. In the second gameplay mode Astro Boy is constantly in flight due to his rocket powered boots. In this mode you're primary attack is shooting a laser beam at enemies and you can also use your special attacks too. For both modes the controls are both simplistic and respond well. L and R are special attacks B is attack and A is jump, how much simpler can you get?

The enemies in the game come in all different shapes and sizes. Most enemies are about the same size as Astro Boy, but through clever use of the scaling effect in the GBA enemies can come bigger and smaller too. Bigger enemies are easier to hit, but cause more damage. While smaller enemies are tough to hit since they can duck under the standard laser attack, but in return cause less damage. There is a seemingly never ending stream of enemies to beat up. The best part is that the enemies come with a lot of variation in both the type of enemy and the size of the enemy. This means you'll have to switch tactics and do some thinking instead of just mashing the B button to survive. After beating all of the enemies and the occasional boss you'll complete the stage. The reward is a cut scene and a status increasing point. This point allows you to upgrade one of Astro Boy's many features, which include: life, power, beam, jet and search capabilites.

Don't expect too much difficulty though. It's clear that this game was designed with kids in mind, so it isn't the hardest game out there. One benefit of this is that you can jump right into the game without any tutorials or explanations and know how to play the game. The down side is that the game is easy to beat and since it has unlimited continues as well as a save feature. The game could be beaten in a mere number of hours. Once you get done with the game you can go back and save other characters from the Astro Boy series to fill up Astro Boy's atomic heart. Although, this is also pretty easy to do.

Graphically, Astro Boy looks very pleasing. The Astro Boy sprite looks clean and looks like how he looked in the 1960s cartoons. Granted, Astro Boy was never as detailed as some cartoon characters are now a days, its nice to see that he does look like Astro Boy. Astro Boy also has a lot of animations, all of which are clean and well done. When Astro Boy is flying around screen, flames spew from his feet signifying the rocket jets behind him. The clever use of scaling allows the player to see the detail in the enemy sprites, which are all look well done. However, the scaling effect also produces blocky on screen enemies, which is in contrast to clear sprites and backgrounds. The effect is somewhat muddling, but doesn't look sloppy as one would expect. The graphics during the cut scenes at the end of a level are all well done. The cut scenes look a lot like Sonic Battle or any other SEGA GBA game.

The only problem with Astro Boy is that you won't be getting a lot of replay value out of it. Sure, it's fun to play through once, maybe twice, but after that the game doesn't get harder and there isn't anything new to do. This problem is compounded with the fact that Astro Boy is a short game, those wanting an epic Astro Boy game will have to wait for the Playstation 2 version to come out.

Import Friendly?

Gameplay this simple this can be learned by anyone, but the story is all in Japanese.

US Bound?

Update: This game has a slated release date of Quarter 3 of 2004 for North America. Looks like this excellent game from Treasure won't be missed.

Overall

Astro Boy is a game that will entertain almost everyone looking for a simplistic fun platformer. If you're looking for a game that is epic and will last forever Astro Boy isn't it.