Astro Warrior Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Tonka
Release Date: 1996 Also On: None

Of course, I had to come back to one at some point! Surely there is nearly
one space shooter for every letter of the alphabet for almost every system
in existence! Maybe not, but you’d be surprised by how many have been made
over the years. Some are quite good and really make you wonder how anyone
could have even thought of trying to do better. Try they did, with
disastrous results at times, such as the plethora of tiresome shooters on
the notorious Action 52 for the NES. Others were simply decent, but not
really worth too much trouble to play. Astro Warrior, I’d say, is from this
category. Before I start though, let me say this review is referring
specifically to the stand-alone version of Astro Warrior, not either of the
combo catridges it was also released on. These will be reviewed separately
in the future and actually would effect the overall score somewhat.
Regardless, on to the review proper.

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For its time, I must say the presentation, at first, is pretty good in Astro
Warrior. It’s a really nicely done intro screen with lots of colors and
detail. In the game itself, your craft is decent looking with lots of
intricacies. However, it also is static, there are no alterations to
suggest moving left or right and this kind of ruins it. The time period
doesn’t really matter because there were plenty of space shooters even
before this that added motion to your ship. Gradius comes to mind.

The background is just a drab black nothingness with little stars here and
there, but it’s broken up by these floating base type things with little
glowing targets to shoot at and so forth. I’m not sure what they’re
supposed to be, but it’s better than just darkness on and on forever. Some
interesting landmarks here and there would have been nice.

The enemy characters aren’t so hot either. Most of them have plenty of
color, but they tend to look awkward. Let me explain. One of the problems
this game has comes from the graphics and it has to do with a flaw present
in a number of space shooter games that I believe the programmers simply
didn’t think about. They’re treated as upwards scrolling games and thus do
not appear as though you’re moving through space if you look at it the right
way. Some shooters can hide this well, but Astro Warrior doesn’t because it
throws several characters out there that simply appear to be “cascading”
down towards you instead of directly at you as the perspective is supposed
to be. The one that really sticks out in my head are the “jumping jack”
looking things that have this springy motion to them. They come down,
“bounce” off the bottom, go back up, and then come at you. Thus they don’t
look like spacecraft, they look like random objects dropping from above,
which again is not the perspective here. Other characters are interesting,
but there are several like this that easily ruin the sense of “space” the
programmers are shooting for. That wasn’t intentional, I swear.

The last feature of the graphics to consider are the bosses. They’re
larger, as one should hope for, with more detail, more color, and generally
more movement. However, they’re also generally generic. The typical fare
you’d expect from a space shooter and thus nothing of note. Big ships that
shoot things. Yep, that’d be it.

Now the sound I was pleasantly surprised with. Though it loops, it’s
different every level and very fitting in my opinion. It’s not annoying and
the tunes tend to stick in your head. Nice job with that. The sound
effects are equally good, even though they’re not that numerous per say.
Your shots sound perfect and the explosions are well done. High marks

Then we come to Astro Warrior’s gameplay. As you can tell from the way I
opened that sentence, it doesn’t look good. It’s the typical space shooter
format. Fly around, shoot, hit this, hit that, collect power-ups, shoot
some more, die, get power-ups again, fight boss and continue. Speaking of
continue, the game just ends after three levels with nothing to show for it.
Back to the title screen and straight to the power button we go. I must
say the power-ups are pretty fun, but you don’t really have to work too hard
for them. You get full power in generally the first two minutes of play, if
that. Your ship upgrades its shape as you progress in power and you even
get these two little atom things that fire in addition to you, for extra
blasting. Nice touch, they look cool, though this idea isn’t very original
and was taken straight from Gradius. More options as far as weapons are
concerned would have really made this game.

So aside from the basics you don’t get much more. You shoot and that’s
about it. There are targets on the ground when you pass over the
non-populated, floating base things, but they don’t do anything other than
up the points, like you really care about that. I don’t sense anyone
getting together anytime soon for an Astro Warrior play-off. The difficulty
isn’t set very well either. The first two levels are generally pathetic and
the last level jumps up to rough in a few moments. In addition, Astro
carries the classic space shooter flaw that’s difficult to get around. As
the difficulty progresses, should you lose your power, you can pretty much
forget getting anywhere. Real obvious here. You’ll be quite lucky to make
it to the end if you lose your weapons in the final level.

To add to this, the bosses are completely worthless, posing no challenge at
all. The hardest of all of them would have to be the second because it
tends to move kind of erratically, though it does fire in a pattern. The
final boss can be taken out quicker than the first two and though it may
look a little better, it really should just have stayed home because it
poses less challenge than even some of the minor characters. Overall, Astro
Warrior is pretty bad in the gameplay department, but not too bad.

As far as creativity goes, there’s not much to say other than this game
pretty much has none whatsoever. It came early in the life of the Master
System and in the history of video gaming (relatively speaking), but it
doesn’t do much to stand out. It’s just there, a footnote to the 8-bit
gaming world, if noticed at all. If you’re really looking for a creative
SMS space shooter, stick to something like Power Strike, especially the
sequel because this game here just doesn’t cut it at all.

I really doubt I’m going to come back to this game at any time in the near
future, even in the distant future. It’s just too short and presents
nothing of interest. There are only three levels in total and if you get
the hang of it you could probably fly through all of them in fifteen
minutes. When there are so many other space shooters out there, some far
better than this, why would I want to come back to it or even try it in the
first place? Since it’s too late for me, do yourself a favor and don’t

Overall, I think I have to take back what I said in the opening, after
making all of my considerations. Astro Warrior is really a poorly done
game, though it does have some decent features. However, said features do
not really do anything to make it better in the essential gameplay and
creativity departments, so I have to end on a rather sad note. It’s really
strange that Sega decided to release this separately because it’s not too
bad if considered with another game on the same cartridge since you can
easily switch games without putting another one in, but alone it’s hardly
worth anyone’s time. Even further, around the same time they would release
Power Strike, but only made it a mail order in the NTSC market. Why, I
don’t know, but they did and most gamers were left with this to tend to.
What a sad Christmas, Birthday, Halloween, Easter or whatever.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 1.5
Final: 4.8
Written by Stan Review Guide

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