Astro Boy: The Video Game Review

I’m quite fond of the original Astro Boy anime. While not a diehard fan, I came across the anime during a late night cartoon block and immediately fell in love with the character and world he inhabited. There was something so innocent and pure about the animation, Astro Boy himself, and the adventures he went on. Now, with Astro Boy having a resurgence in popular culture thanks to the new animated movie and the video game based on this movie, the question to be asked is this: Does this new take keep true to the wonder and fun of the original anime and license?

Unfortunately, if the game is any indicator of the movie’s story or action, it looks like Astro Boy fans might want to plug their ears and run from both.


Astro Boy: The Video Game tells an expanded version of the plot from the new movie. In the high tech metropolis of Metro City, Dr. Tenma and his assistants have discovered a meteor of immense energy. After harvesting the meteor, a tragic accident takes the life of Tenma’s son, Toby. Tenma then makes a new son, Astro Boy, and gives him life with parts of the meteor. After Tenma decides that this new creation cannot replace his son, Astro Boy must struggle to find himself and his purpose, as guardian of Metro City.

Right off the bat, the game recalls memories and similarities to a previous Astro Boy game, Astro Boy:Omega Factor on Game Boy Advance. This new game takes its inspiration and ideas from that game wholesale, but does it in a poor and haphazard fashion. Astro Boy is made up of side-scrolling beat-em-up stages and horizontal shooter stages. While the latter is the actual fun part of the game, it only makes up 20% of the game. The other part is made up of the boring beat-em-up stages that drag on and offer no excitement or fun at all.

These beat-em-up stages have you controlling Astro Boy through platforming challenges and combat. This sounds like a foolproof plan for an action game, especially since Omega Factor did it so well. Yet, it falls apart so frequently. Platforming is slippery and Astro Boy jumps so awkwardly that it’s hard to gauge your jump or your landing, leading to numerous falls. It also doesn’t help that the platforms in some levels are so small that even the smallest error means falling. Astro Boy does recover and fly up after a fall, but you lose a portion of your health, and it happens so often that it only becomes an annoyance. Combat fares even worse. Your standard attacks are mapped to the B button on the Wiimote, but are uninspired and boring. You’ll find yourself jabbing on the B button to kill enemies, with no impact or spectacle. It looks like you’re punching paper dolls. The enemies flop over and then blink away, and nothing looks cool in any remote sense. Astro Boy also has his laser cannons and guns, but again, these attacks look bland and pack no punch or spectacle. These problems are amplified in cooperative play. Your buddy and you can play through the game in co-op, but the constant falling causes aggravation and slows you both down, and the hand to hand combat doesn’t incorporate any team attacks or interaction. You would think that controlling a boy robot with super strength and attacks would lead to some devastating or fantastic blows, but that’s not so in this game.


The graphics are just as bad as the gameplay. It’s bewildering that a game based on a great looking movie wouldn’t have some nice visuals to it as well. Astro Boy himself is a jaggy and monochrome mess. His character model looks like a low-res PS1 character and his facial expressions are of wide-eyed confusion or anger. The game’s levels and enemies don’t look any better. Backgrounds and level models are pixelated and bland, while the enemies are recycled throughout the game. You’ll be fighting security robots in the city levels, and when you get outside the city and to the junkyard, those same cop bots will appear. I didn’t know Metro City’s influence went that far.

The game’s only redeeming factor is the horizontal shooting stages. In these stages, you’ll control Astro Boy as you fly and dodge enemies while blasting them out of the sky. These stages actually show some variety in both enemy design and bosses. Enemies pour onto the screen, and they all look varied and interesting. The bosses are huge robots or ships that fill the screen, and are animated quite nicely. They have different moving parts and attacks that require strategy and an itchy trigger finger. These stages also require use of all of Astro’s attacks, with each one offering a different strategic option, while in the side-scrolling stages, some attacks are utterly useless and bothersome to use. An example of this is Astro’s butt cannons, which hit all enemies on the screen and clear them out in the shooting stages, but when used in the beat-em-up ones, only do a minimal amount of damage.

The game also sports an arena mode, where you can take on waves of enemies in the beat-em-up or sky stages. While a nice idea, the combat is so poor that you won’t want to fight for any high score, and the patterns and levels are the same for the sky stages making replay moot.

Astro Boy: The Video Game could have been an amazing game. It started right by taking cues from Omega Factor, but then seemed to forget to actually add some fun and interesting level design. Bland enemies, boring stages, and horrible visuals make for a movie-based game that doesn’t capture the essence of the anime or the excitement as playing a powerful boy-robot.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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