Back in 2004, Astro Boy: Omega Factor was released for the Game Boy Advanced.Â The side-scrolling brawler was praised for its great gameplay, as well as minor RPG elements such as upgrades. I played the crap out of this game, so when I heard there was a game for the DS being released alongside the game, I hoped that they would take the concept and gameplay elements from Omega Factor and ramp them up for the DS. However, it feels more like a step back than a step forward in this gameplay formula.
Astro Boy DS starts off by throwing you straight into the game without a tutorial of any kind. I actually found myself learning the game mechanics by trial-and-error. After playing the game, I still have no idea what the weird charge up thing he does is for. Once you figure out what the controls are though, the game feels like an old school brawler that belongs in a early 90s arcade:an onslaught of baddies and hard as Hades.
There are two level types in the game, brawler levels and flying levels. Both are decent, but not amazing. Like I said, the brawler levels feel like they are straight out of a 90s arcade game. Astro has two attacks–punch and kick–with combos for each. As he collects little blue orbs, his energy increases and he can then use power-ups (which are activately quite effectively using the touch screen). The game’s AI is very weak, and to ramp up difficultly the developers just throw more enemies at you with more HP. The bosses are very simple, consisting of a basic pattern that you’ll need to figure out before you stand a chance at beating them.Â The flying levels are pretty good, if not a little bit simple.
The difficulty, on the other hand, is intense, especially for a game based on a movie aimed at kids. By the third world, I was becoming so frustrated with the game that I had to put it down. I would set it down, and later come back it it, fail at passing the level about five or six times, and realize I wasn’t enjoying myself, so I would put it back down. The simplicity of the game leaves your success only to timing, luck, and chance, and that does not result in a very enjoyable experience.
The graphics, however, are pretty good. Nothing awe inspiring or anything, but they get the point across. The enemies are often recycled sprites, and you see them over and over again (with only a slightly different hue).
Astro Boy DS did many things in a mediocre manner, but it only did one thing in a great way: make me want to play Astro Boy: Omega Factor again. It feels like a game that was put together by lazy developers, most likely forced to cut corners to make their deadline around the movie release.