Astro Boy: Omega Factor (Game Boy Advance) Preview

By Adam Riley 20.02.2004 2

After roughly a decade in retirement, the world's strongest child, Astro Boy, is about to crash back onto the scene again in PS2 and GBA titles. Based on the immensely popular TV cartoon show of the same name, stretching back as far as the 1980s, Astro Boy for the GBA is a side-scrolling action game with a completely original story, pieced together from ideas contained within the brand new cartoon currently airing in Japan. Sega's Hitmaker has teamed up with 2D-gurus Treasure to produce the handheld outing, but can the magic be relived on Nintendo's baby?

All things considered, Treasure is the best third party company on the market for producing games of a two-dimensional nature. Hence Sega definitely made the perfect choice in choosing that particular team to resurrect Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy on the Game Boy Advance. The game is split into seven different hectic segments, each filled to the brim with exhilarating gameplay action, features and compelling progressive storyline updates. These story elements are currently unintelligible as the play-test was on Japanese version released in December of 2003, but from the animated sequences attached it is clear that there will be shocks a-plenty and much amusement throughout the adventure! All will be revealed in the English-language version later this year...

The action begins straight away without giving the player much chance to breath. Professor Ochanomizu takes Atom Boy (the character's original Japanese name) through a brief practice run-through and then you are dropped into the thick of the action. The super-human, mechanically modified Astro Boy must set off to rescue a girl called Chiyoko, who has been abducted by robots. Thus you will traverse inner city areas, underground hideouts, cesspits and even fast-moving trains whilst on your mission.

Screenshot for Astro Boy: Omega Factor on Game Boy Advance

One of the main attractions of Astro Boy is that it is such a simple game to pick-up-and-play due to its well-balanced control system. Anyone can come along and have him running, jumping, kicking, punching and generally causing havoc for any enemies that dare to cross his path in a very short period of time. Once you have mastered his hand-laser beam and flying abilities, you will be able to quickly uncover some of the hidden characters that can upgrade your range of moves and help Astro to become an all-round better hero.

Screenshot for Astro Boy: Omega Factor on Game Boy Advance

Just when you think you have the game figured out, though, it throws you a major curve ball, turning from a side-scrolling action game, to a horizontal shooting title. One minute you are merrily knocking enemies senseless, creating combos that are accompanied by cute little musical noises that rise in tone with each successive hit, and then all of a sudden the game switches modes. Despite being rather simplistic, with Astro Boy merely dashing around and firing his laser front and back to eliminate enemies, it does show that Treasure not only knows how to make platform games, but it has great expertise in the genre of shooters, as seen in the recent Ikaruga. This is exactly why Treasure is such a special company and Astro Boy: Omega Factor is such a marvellous prospect of a game!

Screenshot for Astro Boy: Omega Factor on Game Boy Advance

Astro Boy certainly will not end too quickly, if that is what some of you are worried about. The developers have included enough extras for completists, such as hidden characters and levels, so you can sit back and relax somewhat. There are two difficulty levels, normal and hard, the latter of which is far superior overall. The main problem with normal mode is that it is all too easy to collect special powers, meaning that you will breeze through the adventure in just a few hours as you can bombard even the toughest of bosses with your largest combos. Thankfully, however, hard mode rectifies that problem to a large degree, allowing only a maximum of three special attacks, thus forcing you to completely rethink your strategies and therefore extending battles massively. Although, in all honesty, once you have the main grasp of the game, the hard mode will not be too taxing either. However, as previously stated, the extras and general high quality of gameplay are more than enough incentive to return time and time again to play with the little boy in black pants...

Screenshot for Astro Boy: Omega Factor on Game Boy Advance

Final Thoughts

With fast action, graphics that are deceptively cute, yet amazingly detailed, pushing the GBA extremely hard at times, a rocking soundtrack that Japanese game fans will adore and a pretty steep difficulty option, Astro Boy is definitely one of those special games that deserves far more attention than it will probably receive,

Developer

Treasure

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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