Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on
For some reason that I haven't been able to figure out yet, Sega and Treasure have given us an Astro Boy game far better than we deserve. If you need an action game that isn't a port or remake, this should be on the top of your list.
If there's one thing you should expect from a Treasure game, it's a huge amount of strange boss battles. And Astro Boy doesn't disappoint, it has literally dozens of bosses in all shapes and sizes, each with their own attacks and patters. In some parts of the game the bosses outnumber the regular bad guys, yet you never feel overwhelmed or frustrated. These bosses never quite hit the highs set in Gunstar Heroes, but they definitely shine with creativity. You never know what you'll see next, and you can't wait to find out.
Astro Boy isn't especially short, either. A dedicated gamer probably won't have much trouble blasting through all eight worlds in a couple days, but there's quite a bit to do and see in each of the areas. It's the kind of game that demands more than one time through, it even allows you to jump to any level you want to so you can pick up all of the things you might have missed the first time through.
The game looks stunning, full of busy backgrounds and large characters. There aren't a lot of enemies, but those that do show up tend to come in all colors and sizes. It's common to be fighting one sized character on one side, only to have to contend with much larger versions of those characters on the other side. It would have been nice to see more variety in the enemies, but when they are darting at your one after another, you don't have much time to complain about the small details.
We've all seen great looking GameBoy Advance games, but most are dogged down by the fact that we've seen them and have already been wowed by their graphics on other systems, like the Super NES. Astro Boy is different, it's the type of game where you never know what will come next, and you can't wait to find out. The visuals aren't just interesting; they are filled with small details and plenty of moving parts. It's clear that there was a lot of attention given to making the levels look just right, and it doesn't go unnoticed.
Gamers who grew up playing 3D action games may not see the pure genius that radiates in Astro Boy; but those old enough to remember U.N. Squadron, Midnight Resistance, and other mindless, but completely addictive, arcade shooters will have no problem falling in love with this cute little robot kid. What we have here is the first great GameBoy Advance game of 2004, a game every 2D fan should own.
Astro Boy exceeded my expectations in every possible sense; giving me optimism for the future. This is what Mega Man should be, an imaginative, engrossing, surprising adventure chock full of bosses and lots of secrets to uncover. If Sega is able to make the sequels bigger and better, we may have one great franchise on our hands. But until those days come, we should just be happy that we have one great game on our hands.