Every now and again, a game comes along that truly inspires a gamer to sit down and play it from start to finish, and enjoy it from start to finish. These games stand out as titles that set a standard that many attempt to reach or even better, nearly all of them fail. Asterix and Obelix XXL is certainly an inspiring title, but you wont want to sit down and play it from start to finish; well you might, but you would have no consideration for your own sanity...
It all starts off pretty well, a nice little move to explain what is going on containing all those comedy names from the TV series and comic books Dogmatix and Fullyautomatix to name two. You are hounded through the game by a rather suspicious midget, who we suspect isn't actually wearing anything beneath his cloak, and on the subject of nudit,y wait until you get an eyeful of Obelix...
If you can bring yourself to ignore the graphics there isn't too much to offend in the games opening three or so hours of gameplay. When we say this game looks appalling we speak kindly, it is one of the worst looking titles on the GameCube. The developers seem to lack any understanding of the words 'texture, depth, detail, lighting' and many more besides. When you consider how easy it is to get a game to look decent nowadays there is no excuse for this title to look like a high-end PSOne title. Not to mention it slows down at the slightest sight of anything resembling complex action.
The gameplay in itself is a nice enough mix though. The games main thrust is that it has two playable characters (three if you include the dog). This works in a pretty structured way, but one that enables to game to stay fresh and interesting for far longer than most generic platformers. For most of the game you play as Asterix, a smaller weaker character who is more manoeuvrable and can fit through tighter gaps and use certain things Obelix can't. However, at times in the game you will need to be Obelix to progress. At these instances the game changes your character over for you, so for example you can smash some very tough boxes using Obelix's strength, or use his weight to help propel him up on a spring-pad to a platform that as Asterix you couldn't reach. Further examples include pushing about cannons that are used at points in the game and moving very big stone blocks. Nothing too revolutionary we admit, but it is fun...honestly!
So what do you get to do in the game? Well there is fighting, exploring, jumping, avoiding, racing, collecting, finding and sailing (plus some others we have undoubtedly forgotten) so you would expect there would be variety? Well sadly you would be wrong. The thing is there is a total imbalance and lack of logic to any of this game that makes most of it a pretty pointless and tedious romp.
When you think the game might just be coming to an end you are presented with what we now call with affection 'the row of death that could make a grown man cry and destroy anything with XXL written on it'. Why is it so grotesquely offensive? Simply because it is one of the most repetitive and tedious pieces of gaming 'action' we have ever played...ever.
It starts off with Mr. I Wear Nothing Underneath My Cloak telling you that Julius Caesar has placed his toughest and most experienced guards in the following section and you must destroy them all etcetera, etcetera. So off we go and up spring the number '1000' in the corner. This happens at any major fight, and you have to kill the number of guards shown in order to progress. When you kill them all a switch, button or item previously blocked-off can now be used. So with 1000 to kill and nothing but a few boxes and a fat idiot and a god to help you on your quest...your stuffed. Well you would think that, but after forty-five minutes of alternating between two buttons and doing a lot of running away we had killed them all whilst surviving ourselves. We then move on and have to kill another few hundred of the idiots in order to progress, then another three-hundred, then another five-hundred and then just when you are ready to run around making chicken noises you enter the next chamber only to see the number '1500' pop up.
At this point this game got put down we took a long deep breath and attempted to kill all of the buggers, we failed and died, only to be thrown back to the start of the section having to kill all 1 million Romans all over again. Not our idea of fun, and one of very few games we have failed to complete here at Cubed3. We did not fail to complete it because it was too hard, not because it was too clever, not because it was we didn't have the time, but because it was so painfully bad.
Those of you that have played any Spyro or Crash Bandicoot title out there will know just what to expect. With the exception of the character changing, some slightly different locations and people wearing Viking horns, this is just about the same. For long periods at the start it is an enjoyable, slightly predictable and repetitive platforming romp. But after about five hours of gameplay thing start to get really bad. We managed to force ourselves just over ten hours, but it was far from enjoyable.
What this game lacks could be written on the back of the world's largest postage-stamp (preferably novelty sized). It innovates about once during its duration, looks like a PlayStation title from 1997, is repetitive, sucks all sense of fun from your very soul, is horribly unfair, has no sense of the difference between the terms 'challenging because of clever puzzles and gameplay' and 'challenging because so painfully pointless' and we could go on for a long time yet. On the plus side, it would be a very nice rental title, but if you buy it , you can't say we didn't warn you, folks!
Just above average, but again nothing to get excited about. The problem with the game is it should end at about its halfway point, but regardless of the fact that the second 50% of it is nothing but painful and pointless it carries on. What is there is nice enough, the character swapping is neat and some of the levels are genuinely enjoyable. Beyond that, this title is only average at best.
Looks like the 'great' graphics we enjoyed when we first played Crash Bandicoot, that didn't look very impressive in the 90s and it looks even worse now.
Did you notice us saying anything about it in the review...no? Well that would be because we don't really remember anything worth mentioning. Utterly dull and forgettable.
It goes on for a very long time, and if you can endure all of it you will certainly spend enough time with this game to justify your knowledge. It all comes down to if you like to spend your gaming time having fun or wanting to smash something very hard and ram a Viking horn in its particulars.
Why did the developers bother? Surely when they tested it for bugs they would have realised that the second half of this title is the worlds biggest ever cockroach. We enjoyed it at times, we hated it beyond belief at others. There are some neat bits, some nasty bits, some bits that make you laugh, some that make you cry (for all the wrong reasons). At the end of the day the good and bad simply cancel each other out making Asterix and Obelix XXL fall perfectly on average.